by February 3, 2011 0 comments

As three of the drives from the lot of eight were having SATA 3.0 interface, while the rest had SATA 2.0, we used a test-bed that supported both interfaces. The SATA 3.0 drives were plugged into SATA 3.0 6Gb/s port of the test system for running the tests. The test-bed comprised of BioStar motherboard having AMD Phenom II X4 975 3.6 GHz processor with 4GB RAM and Windows 7 Enterprise as OS. We ran HD Tune to evaluate the performance of the drives by measuring the transfer speeds. Also, as you’ll see from results, performance of SATA 3.0 interface based drives was better to those of SATA 2.0 drives even when the spindle speed of SATA 3.0 drive was lesser than 7200 RPM. Here are the reviews.

Enterprise Drives

Western Digital VelociRaptor 600 GB

Boasting a SATA 3.0 6Gb/s interface with a whopping 10,000 RPM spindle speed and 32MB cache, this drive doesn’t disappoint on the performance front. Delivering an average transfer speed of 141 MB/s with access time of just 7.2 ms, this drive is ideal for high performance and mission critical environments. In actuality WD VelociRaptor is a 2.5” drive enclosed in a heat sink (referred as IcePack) that keeps the drive cool from getting excessively heating up due to constant operations in data center environments, and it also makes the drive backplane ready for 3.5” mounting frames of servers.

For high availability in enterprise scenarios, this drive is rated at 1.4 million hours for mean time between failures (MTBF). This higher reliability can be attributed to the use of NoTouch ramp load technology, wherein the recording head does not touch the disk media, thus ensuring lesser wear to the recording head. While the Rotary Acceleration Feed Forward (RAFF) technology ensures that the drive delivers optimal performance when used in vibration-prone multi-chassis environments. The 600k load/unload cycles also shows the long life span of the drive.

Western Digital VelociRaptor 300 GB

This drive is from the previous version of the VelociRaptor series, though it also features 10000 RPM spindle speed, it has a SATA 2.0 3 Gb/s interface and a lower 16MB buffer memory. Compared to the performance delivered by VelociRaptor 600GB, this 300GB drive fared well. It was able to give an average transfer speed of 129 MB/s with access time of 8.1 ms. Though this drive is cheaper to the 600GB VelociRaptor, but if you look at price/GB you’ll find the VelociRaptor 600GB to be a better deal wherein you’ll be paying Rs 26 for every GB of capacity while in case of VelociRaptor it is Rs 33 per GB of capacity.

Again, this drive is meant of enterprise usage as it features the same IcePack, NoTouch and RAFF technologies. Power consumption too, like the VelociRaptor 600 GB drive is low with 6.1 watts being consumed during read/write operations and 4.53 watts being consumed while the drive is in idle state.

If you do not have high capacity requirement, but need faster performance than you should opt for this drive.

Desktop Drives

Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB

This drive with a whopping 2TB capacity, 7200 RPM and 64 MB of cache memory is the best performer of the lot in the desktop drive category. This could also be owed to the fact that this drive supports SATA 3.0 6Gb/s interface which increases the data transfer speeds. During performance tests Barracuda XT was able to give an average transfer speed of 112 MB/s with access time of 13.8 ms. This drive with its performance and humongous capacity is ideal for high performance systems like video editing or graphic rendering systems.

Barracuda XT is designed for lower power consumptions, and comparing power consumption ratings during read/write operations with those of WD Caviar Black and Hitachi Desktar, Barracuda XT is meaner on power consumption. Also The SATA 3.0 interface means that it is readily compatible with new motherboards having that interface so there is no compromise on performance. The 300k load/unload cycles count suggests the longetivity of the drive, so these drives can also be used in scenarios like surveillance systems where the disk I/O is very frequent.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB

This is the 12th generation of the 7200 series drives from Seagate. As the drive’s name suggest, it’s a 7200-RPM drive that features 32 MB of buffer memory and has a SATA 2.0 3Gb/s interface. This does make the drive slower in performance when compared to Barracuda XT that boasted of a SATA 3.0 interface. The tests result showed that the drive garnered an average speed of 92 MB/s with an access time of 13.2 ms.

This drive has been the mainstream desktop drive from Seagate over the years. And with this drive Seagate also showed their concern towards the environment by having more than 70% of the materials used to build the drive is recycled.

Those who want best of both worlds; performance and cost effectiveness, can have that from this drive, along with small eco-footprint. The drive is cheapest amongst the lot and is a good buy considering the performance.

Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB

This drive replaces the age-old 512 byte sector with new Advanced Format (AF) where each sector size is of 4096 bytes. To counter the issues of misalingment caused by moving to 4k standard from 512-byte sectors, this drive boasts of SmartAlign technology. It’s a real-time alignment management firmware built on the drive. Thus simplifying the transition to Advanced Format 4K standard and also eliminating the use of time consuming integration utilities required by other AF drives. Making it ideal for enterprises to have hassle free transition to AF drives.

This drive also has SATA 3.0 6Gb/s interface along with 5900 RPM spindle speed and 64 MB cache. Unlike other Green drives that hover between 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM to conserve power, this drive has fixed spindle speed that delivers a good performance. Being a Green drive its power consumption during read/write operation is the lowest in the lot.

The combination of new and improved technologies, better performance along with lower power consumption makes this drive worthy of the Editor’s Choice tag.

Desktop Drives

Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB

Like Seagate’s Barracuda Green drive this drive is also based on the 4k sector standard. This drive also has 64MB of cache memory, but still operates through a SATA 2.0 3Gb/s interface. During performance testing the drive was able to give an average speed of 86MB/s with an access time of 13.2 ms. The transfer rates are lower as compared to Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB drive, and this could also be factored to the fact that Barracuda Green 2TB boasts of SATA 3.0 6Gb/s interface.

Since the drive consumes lesser power for its operation, it is suitable for personal attached storage in offices and homes and may be ideal for use in low power PCs as well. From the price perspective, this drive gives the best price per GB capacity at Rs 2.85.

The drive features IntelliSeek technology that helps in consuming lesser power by calculating optimum seek speed and like VelociRaptor drives, this drive also has NoTouch technology incorporated to minimize the wear of the drive heads during read/write operations.

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

Apart from the 2TB huge storage capacity, this 7200 RPM drive comes with 64 MB cache and SATA 3Gbps interface. Like Caviar Green, this drive is also Advanced Format-based. Western Digital has their Caviar Green drives focused for lower power consumption, and the Caviar Black series drives are meant for delivering high performance.

However, the performance is disappointing, especially when you compare the transfer speed of Caviar Black to Barracuda 7200.12 drives.

The drive gave an average transfer speed of 90 MB/s with an access time of 13.8ms. The price of the drive is high when compared to Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.12 drive, thus resulting in a very high price per GB ratio where you pay almost Rs 6 for 1 GB storage.

The drive is suitable for high-performance home and business computing, as it can handle data-intensive applications.

Both Caviar Green and Caviar Black have load/unload cycles of 300,000. The lifetime of the drives is determined by these load/unload counts. A higher cycle count meaning longer life.

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000

Deskstar 7K1000 is a 1TB drive from Hitachi that features 7200 RPM spindle speed, 32MB memory cache and SATA 3Gbps interface. The performance results of this drive were astounding considering that this is a SATA 3Gbps drive; as this drive garnered 107 MB/s average transfer speed with access time of 14.2 ms.

Also from the price perspective, this drive offers a competitive price per GB ratio when compared to other drives in the same class.

Deskstar 7K1000 is desgined to withstand shocks and offer power savings by use of compact, low mass femto air-bearing sliders. The shock resistance features offers the drive a shield from vibrations that come from multi-chassis environments. This makes the drive a candidate to be used in network storage arrays or video editing arrays.

The power consumption of this drive is highest amongst the lot, 12.3 watts being consumed during read/write operation, while at idle state the drive still consumes 8.4, which is much higher than the read/write power consumption of the green drives.

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