Replacing The Internal Hard Drive

Copied from Ian's (aka IanL-S) post on the old Topfield Australia Forum (now defunct).

Sooner or later you are likely to find that the HDD on your Toppy is not big enough to meet your needs [added by editor: or the old disk is failing and you ned to replace it]. Assuming you are not afraid of opening the Toppy's case (usually involves unscrewing three screws on the back and one on each side of the Toppy) the process is relatively simple.

Warning: Opening the case of the Toppy may void the warranty.

The first section of this FAQ deals with replacing HDD in current model Toppys (generally referred to as TMS Toppys).

What sort of HDD should I choose?

In choosing a drive there are several things to consider:

  1. the heat output of the drive (this usually increase with the amount of electricity consumption required to run the HDD).
  2. the noise of the HDD both when in use and when it is merely recording to the timeshift buffer.
  3. the power required to run the HDD (if possible, it should not exceed that of the existing HDD; if does it may lead to issues related to the Toppys power supply - particularly the case for Standard Definition and MPEG2 High Definition Toppys - 7000 and 7100HDPVRt).

Ideally you should use a HDD designed specifically for use in AV devices. The power consumption and noise level are optimised for use with devices such as a Toppy. The three most easily found types of AV drives are:

  1. Seagate Pipeline HD drives (3.5") or Video 3.5- sizes up to 4TB
  2. Western Digital AV-GP drives (3.5") - the model number usually includes "EURS" - sizes up to 4TB. The 1TB models have "EUCX" or "EURX". [Note: You may also find older models with smaller capacity (1TB or under) which have 'EVDS', 'AVDS', 'AURS', 'AUDX', 'AVDS', 'AVCS', 'AWS']. The WD AV drives are now called WD Purple.
  3. Western Digital AV 25 (2.5") - the model number includes either 'JUCT", "BUCT" or "BUDT" - sizes up to 1TB. (There is a suspicion that these were previously Hitachi dives.)
  4. Seagate Video 2.5 (sizes up to 500 gig)

AV SATA Drives

Power specifications of SATA drives used in Toppys

The size and power requirements of the HDDs shipped with Toppys have changed over time; the size has increased but the power requirements have dropped. The Seagate DB.35 320gig drive that shipped with the TF7100HDPVRt was rated at 9.4W, whereas the 500gig Pipeline drive in the TRF-2400 is rated at 3.4W and the 1TB Pipeline drive in the TRF-2460 is rated at 3.7W. The 320gig Hitachi CinimaStar drive that shipped with early TF7100HDPlus is apparently rated at 7.0W. The Pipeline drives rotation speed is invariably 5900RPM, the Hitachi CinimaStar is sometimes given as 5400 rpm and sometime 5700 rpm. The WD AV-GP has variable rpm depending on the data throughput. Note: the information for the Hitachi drive is from a secondary source and may be incorrect.

Some TRF-2400 have shipped with 2.5" HDD rather than a 3.5" HDD. All TRF-2100 have 2.5" HDD. The drives used seem to be Seagate Momentus drives (max size currently 750 gig).

Power and acoustic specifications of after-marked SATA AV drives

The power specifications of WD AV-GP drives are notionally slightly higher than the corresponding Pipeline HD drives. (The Seagate Pipeline series of drives are now called Video 3.5 or Video 2.5.) For a 2TB drive WD is rated as 5.3W and the Seagate at 5.05W. The WD 2.5TB and 3TB drives are rated at 6.0W. Similarly the notional sound rating of the Pipeline drives is slightly lower. The WD AV-25 drives the power requirements are much lower, but the sound rating is similar to the 3.5" HDD. Note: Seagate and WD report noise and power requirements in different ways, so the differences in numbers may not fully reflect differences in actual performance.

Using an after-market AV drive of up to 2TB should not overload the Toppy. Many users have upgraded to 2TB AV drives and have had no adverse outcomes. Note: 2TB drives have been successfully installed in TF7100HDPVRt,TRF-2400,TRF-2460 and TRF-7160. It it is unclear if the increased power demands of the WD 2.5TB and 3.5TB drives will over-streach the Toppy power supply.

Note: The SATA specification (I, II or III) does not matter; SATA drives are backward compatible. Most AV drives are now SATA III. Using a SATA III rather than SATA II HDD is unlikely to result in a performance difference.

Non-AV SATA Drives

It is possible to use a non-AV SATA HDD, however such drives are not optimised for AV use and may over-stretch the Toppy power supply and there is a possibility that they may not perform satisfactorily. Invariable the non-AV drive of choice are the so-called green HDDs. These a typified by the WD Green series HDD and more recently the Seagate Barracuta LP drives.

Green SATA HDDs

The main advantage of Green SATA HDDs is that they are considerably cheaper than AV drives.

The power ratings for the larger WD Green series HDDs are the same as the corresponding AV-GP drives, although the acoustic rating is higher (they are noisier). They also have a variable rotation speed. The Seagate Barracuta LP drives have the 5900 rpm rotation speed, but the power requirements are significantly higher 5.8W rather than 5.03W for 2TB drives. The data sheet does not include a acoustic rating. Unlike the WD Green HDDs, there are no reports of the Seagate Barracuta LP HDDs being used in a Toppy.

WD Red SATA HDDs

These drives are designed for NAS (Network Attached Storage), but they could be considered for use in a Toppy. The power requirements are less that the Green and AV-GP drives (4.4W for 3TB and 2TB; 3.7W for 1TB). They have variable rotation speed and the acoustics rating is slightly lower (better). The pricing for these drives is similar to that for AG-GP drives, so there is no cost advantage.

In optimising the drives for use in NAS they may be less suited to use in an AV environment than AV or green HDDs; there may also be as yet unknown performance issues (these drives only became available in the second half of 2012).

Other SATA HDDs

Heat, noise and power consumption is likely to rule out most other types of HDD. Typically they will have a rotation speed of 7200rpm. In particular the Seagate SV drives should be avoided (they are designed for video surveillance rather than for AV devices) - the 2TB drives draw 8W and the 1TB 5.9W.

2.5" AV SATA Drives

These drives will not tax the Toppy and they are no noisier than the 3.5" AV drives. The main drawback is that a mounting bracket/caddy is needed to install them (this does not apply to the Toppro TPR2000 or the Topfield TPF-2100 as they both have 2.5" 320gig HDDs). The smaller form-factor results in a price premium over 3.5" HDDs of the same capacity. At present the maximum capacity of WD AV-25 drives is 1TB. You may also have trouble finding a supply for these drives.

For larger capacity, you could consider WD Green Mobile HDDs, which are available in 1.5TB and 2TB capacity. Again, you may have difficulty finding a supplier.

You could always try using a standard notebook HDD as they will not tax the Toppy. During the initial beta testing of the TPF-2100 I had issues with the supplied 320gig drive and swapped it for a 1TB WD Scorpio Blue HDD that I had lying around; this drive has coped without any problems.

Installing the HDD

Warning: Before attempting to replace the internal HDD you should unplug the Toppy from the mains power supply. Usually the Toppy power pcb is located next to the HDD, and there is a risk of potentially fatal electrical shock even when the Toppy is not connected to the mains power. This could also result in a dead power supply pcb, a nuked HDD and a fatally injured main pcb. For this reason you should be very careful when removing the HDD bracket from the Toppy and when reinstalling it.

  1. Remove the outer case. The case is usually secured with 5 screws (3 on the rear and one on each side towards the front of the case). Once the screws are removed, slide the case of by pulling it from the rear.
  2. Disconnect the power and SATA cables from the HDD (on most models there is a combined power and SATA connector).
  3. The HDD is attached to a bracket; the bracket is secured by either 4 screws or 2 screws (2100). Make a note of the orientation of the bracket before removing the bracket and HDD. Once the screws have been loosened, carefully remove the bracket and the attached HDD. Often you will need to manoeuvre the bracket very carefully to avoid contact with the power pcb (see warning above).
  4. Remove the HDD form the HDD bracket. Make a note of the orientation of the HDD on the bracket. The HDD is secured to the bracket by 4 screws that must be removed before attempting to separate the bracket and the HDD. Once the screws are loosened, the HDD and the bracket can be separated.
  5. Attach the replacement HDD to the bracket (make sure it has the correct orientation). Make sure you tighten the screws to avoid vibration (noise and potential damage to the HDD).
  6. Carefully place the HDD and bracket back into the case; make sure that it has the correct orientation. Keep clear of the power PCB. Tighten the securing screws (again make sure that the screws are sufficiently tight to avoid vibration).
  7. Reconnect the power and SATA cables to the HDD
  8. Replace the cover by sliding towards the front of the body.
  9. Replace the 5 retaining screws.

You can now reconnect the Toppy. When the Toppy boots up you will probably be told that the internal HDD needs to be formatted, when the Toppy offers to do so answer yes. If you are not asked to format the HDD (for example if the drive was previously used in a Toppy) you will need to do a manual reformatting.

If you want to copy your data from your old drive to the new one you can use the MigrateTMShdd TAP.

What is the largest capacity HDD supported by Toppys?

The maximum capacity of Toppy internal HDDs is not stated in manuals. A major determinate is the firmware.

At one time Topfield Australia technical support claimed that TMS Toppys only had official support of up to 1TB, however in 2015 the TRF-2460 started shipping with a 2TB rather than a 1TB internal HDD, which is consistent with users installing 2TB HDD with various TMS Toppys. To date SATA drives of up to 2TB have been installed in High Definition Toppys. Except in the case of 7100HDPVRt the formatting of the HDD is straight forward; with the 7100HDPVRt, when the drive is greater than 500gig a workaround is necessary in order to get the benefit of the full capacity of the HDD (see instructions here).

The TMS Toppy firmware does not support 3TB or 4TB drives, as it uses a rather ancient Linux kernal. They do not support drives formatted as a GPT-formatted (which is used for drives larger than 2TB), only those with the older MBR-format, which has max size of about 2TB.

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