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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]

When buying a hard disk drive most users are only concerned with the drive’s capacity. Should you also care about performance? We compared the performance of 12 1 TB SATA-300 hard disk drive models from Seagate, Samsung and Western Digital. Is there a big performance difference among them? If so, which is the fastest 1 TB disk on the market? Check it out!

We tried to include on this review all 1 TB hard disk drives we could find on the US market. In the table below you can see a comparison between the main specs for all 12 drives included in our round-up. All rotate at 7,200 rpm, but “green” models may change its speed between 5,400 rpm and 7,200 rpm depending on the usage in order to save energy. All drives included in our round-up use a SATA power connector.

All 1 TB models we tested have a real capacity of 931.51 GB (1,953,525,168 sectors). As you may be aware, the capacity advertised by hard disk drive manufacturers isn’t the real drive capacity. Read our Hard Disk Drives Capacity Limits tutorial for further information on this subject.

Keep in mind that some of the drives included in our review are not primarily targeted to the end-user market and thus are more expensive. On the column “market” we pointed out to which market each drive is targeted to, with “D” standing for “desktop,” “G” standing for “green” (hard drives typically consume between 8-10 W; “green” models consume practically half of this), “E” standing for “enterprise” (have a higher reliability rate and the manufacturer may provide extended warranty terms, like faster replacement in case of failure), “DVR” standing for “Digital Video Recording” (targeted to DVR systems like TiVO and digital cable converters that allow TV recording) and “VS” standing for “Video Surveilance” (where the drive is tested to support several continuous and simultaneous write requests without any glitch). For a fair comparison we should compare drives within the same category, but of course it is always interesting compare the performance of mainstream models targeted to end-users with the performance of these specialties hard drives.

Manufacturer Model Model # Buffer Market Price
Samsung EcoGreen F2 HD103SI 32 MB D, G USD 79.99
Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 32 MB D USD 89.99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000333AS 32 MB D USD 89.99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 32 MB D N/A
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 32 MB D USD 89.99
Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST31000340NS 16 MB E USD 159.99
Seagate Barracuda LP ST31000520AS 32 MB D, G USD 84.99
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro ST31000533CS 32 MB DVR USD 139.99
Seagate SV35.3 ST31000340SV 32 MB VS USD 129.99
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 32 MB D USD 99.99
Western Digital Caviar Green WD10EADS 32 MB D, G USD 84.99
Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS 32 MB E USD 159.99

As for prices, we always try to research them on the same online store on the day we publish the review for a better comparison, as prices can vary wildly (for example, the same Caviar GP that is sold by USD 84.99 at Newegg.com is found at USD 119.99 at Best Buy). All prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS) and Seagate Barracuda ES.2 came with a SATA-150/SATA-300 jumper. This jumper must be removed in order for the drive to work at SATA-300, otherwise it will work as a SATA-150 device. Of course we removed this jumper. For more information on this subject, read our Everything You Need to Know About Serial ATA tutorial.

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”]

During our tests we used the configuration listed below and the only variable component between each benchmarking session was the hard disk drive being tested.

Hardware Configuration

Software Configuration

  • Windows XP Professional using NTFS file system
  • Service Pack 3
  • Intel Inf driver version: 9.0.0.1008
  • NVIDIA video driver version: 175.19

Benchmarking Software

We adopted a 3% error margin. So, performance differences below 3% cannot be considered meaningful. In other words, products where the performance difference is below 3% must be considered as havi
ng similar performance.

[nextpage title=”DiskSpeed32″]

As you could see in the previous page, we measured performance using three different programs, DiskSpeed32, HD Tach and HD Tune.  On this page we will analyze the results provided by DiskSpeed32, while in the next pages we will discuss the results brought by the other two programs.

First, let’s take a look at the burst transfer rate results.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

Seagate Barracuda LP, Seagate Pipeline HD Pro, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, Seagate SV35.3 and Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST3100033AS) achieved the best burst transfer rates as measured by DiskSpeed32. Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 achieved a burst transfer rate 10.62% higher than Western Digital Caviar Black and 3.92% higher than Samsung Spinpoint F1, for example. The green product from Seagate, Barracuda LP, achieved a burst transfer rate 4.47% higher than its competitor from Samsung (Eco Green F2) and 7.14% higher than its competitor from Western Digital (Caviar Green). On the enterprise arena, Seagate Barracuda ES.2 achieved a burst transfer rate 7.07% higher than Western Digital RE3.

Interesting enough, in this test Seagate drives were the ones that achieved the highest results, and Western Digital were the ones that achieved the lowest, with Samsung drives in the middle.

Keep in mind that the burst transfer rate measures the maximum transfer rate between the motherboard SATA port and the hard disk drive controller located on the drive itself, and may not represent real-world performance.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

But the most import result is the average transfer rate. Here the winner was Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, which was 3.32% faster than Samsung Spinpoint F1 and 7.28% faster than Western Digital Caviar Black. “Green” models clearly give up on performance in order to consume less power: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 was 12.39% faster than Seagate Barracuda LP, 16.24% faster than Samsung Eco Green F2 and 22.57% faster than Western Digital Caviar Green. Comparing only “green” models, Seagate Barracuda LP was the fastest, being 3.42% faster than Samsung Eco Green F2 and 9.06% faster than Western Digital Caviar Green.

Western Digital RE3 and Seagate Pipeline HD Pro achieved the same performance level here, being around 15% faster than Seagate SV35.3 and 33% faster than Seagate Barracuda ES.2.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

The maximum transfer rate is achieved when the disk is reading data stored on its outer most tracks. Here Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, Western Digital Caviar Black and Western Digital RE3 (“group one”) achieved the best performance level. In second place come Seagate Pipeline HD Pro, Samsung Spinpoint F1, Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS), Samsung Eco Green F2 and Seagate Barracuda LP (“group two”). Lower performers on this test were Seagate SV35.3, Seagate Barracuda ES.2, Western Digital Caviar Green and Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS) (“group three”).

Disks from the first group were, on average, 6% faster than the disks from the second group and 18% faster than disks from the third group. Disks from the second group were, on average, 11% faster than the disks from the third group.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

The minimum transfer rate is achieved when the disk is reading data stored on its inner most tracks. As you can see, the difference between the maximum and the minimum transfer rate is huge, and that explains why is so important to defragment your hard disk drive from time to time, to ensure that data is mostly stored on the disk’s outer tracks, which provide a higher transfer rate.

Here we could see big differences in performance, with Western Digital Caviar Black and Western Digital RE3 taking the lead. Caviar Black achieved a performance 10.56% higher than Samsung Spinpoint F1, 11.87% higher than Caviar Green,  35.49% higher than Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, 47.88% higher than Seagate Barracuda LP and 368.76% higher than Samsung Eco Green F2.

[nextpage title=”DiskSpeed32: Read Curves”]

If you are interested, you can find below the read curves plotted by DiskSpeed32 for each hard disk drive tested.

Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung Spinpoint F1Samsung Spinpoint F1Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda LPSeagate Barracuda LPSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate SV35.3Seagate SV35.3Western Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital RE3Western Digital RE3

[nextpage title=”HD Tach”]

HD Tach provides only two results, the burst transfer rate and the average transfer rate. We ran the “long bench” test from this program.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

On the burst transfer rate measured by HD Tach Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS), Seagate Pipeline HD Pro, Seagate SV35.3, Seagate Barracuda ES.2 and Seagate Barracuda 7200.11  (ST31000340AS) achieved the best performance level. They were, on average, 3.92% faster than Samsung Spinpoint F1, 5.38% faster than Western Digital Caviar Green, 5.56% faster than Samsung Eco Geen F2, 7.35% faster than Seagate Barracuda LP, 8.24% faster than Western Digital Caviar Black, 8.29% faster than Western Digital RE3 and 11.32% faster than Seagate Barracuda 7200.12.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

Average transfer is certainly the most important parameter for the regular PC user and on HD Tach Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 was the best performer, being 14.60% faster than Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS), 14.72% faster than Samsung Spinpoint F1 and 18.17% faster than Western Digital Caviar Black. Against the “green” models, it was 12.37% faster than Seagate Barracuda LP, 23.76% faster than Samsung Eco Green F2 and 39.29% faster than Western Digital Caviar Green.

On the enterprise arena, Western Digital RE3 was 6.32% faster than Seagate Barracuda ES.2.

[nextpage title=”HD Tach: Read Curves”]

If you are interested, you can find below the read curves plotted by HD Tach for each hard disk drive tested.

Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung Spinpoint F1Samsung Spinpoint F1Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda LPSeagate Barracuda LPSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate SV35.3Seagate SV35.3Western Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital RE3Western Digital RE3

[nextpage title=”HD Tune”]

Now we have the results provided by HD Tune program.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

Here we saw the same thing we had seen with DiskSpeed32: Seagate drives achieved the highest burst transfer rates and Western Digital drives achieved the lowest, with Samsung between them. Keep in mind that the burst transfer rate measures the maximum transfer rate between the motherboard SATA port and the hard disk drive controller located on the drive itself, and may not represent real-world performance.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 achieved a burst t
ransfer rate 7% higher than Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS), 13% higher than Samsung Spinpoint F1 and 33% higher than Western Digital Caviar Black.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

The most important figure for most people is the average transfer rate. Here the big champ was Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, which was 14% faster than Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS) and Samsung Spinpoint F1, 18% faster than Western Digital Caviar Black and 23% faster than Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS). Against “green” models it was 12% faster than Barracuda LP, 23% faster than Eco Green F2 and 38% faster than Caviar Green.

Among the “green” models, Barracuda LP was the fastest, being 10% faster than Samsung Eco Green F2 and 24% faster than Western Digital Caviar Green.

On the enterprise arena, Western Digital RE3 was 6% faster than Seagate Barracuda ES.2.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

As explained before, the maximum transfer rate is achieved when the hard drive is reading data from its outer-most tracks.

Here Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 was the fastest drive, while Western Digital Caviar Green was the slowest. Barracuda 7200.12 achieved a maximum transfer rate 10% higher than Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS), 13% higher than Spinpoint F1 and 18% higher than Caviar Black.

1 TB Hard Disk Drive Round-Up

As explained before, the minimum transfer rate is achieved when the hard drive is reading data from its inner-most tracks.

Barracuda 7200.12 was again the drive with the highest minimum transfer rate, while Caviar Green was the one with the lowest. Barracuda 7200.12 achieved a minimum transfer rate 16% higher than Samsung Spinpoint F1, 20% higher than Western Digital Caviar Black, 21% higher than Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS) and 24% higher than the other version of Barracuda 7200.11 we tested (ST31000340AS).

[nextpage title=”HD Tune: Read Curves”]

If you are interested, you can find below the read curves plotted by HD Tune for each hard disk drive tested.

Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung EcoGreen F2Samsung Spinpoint F1Samsung Spinpoint F1Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000333AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 (ST31000340AS)Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda 7200.12Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda ES.2Seagate Barracuda LPSeagate Barracuda LPSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate Pipeline HD ProSeagate SV35.3Seagate SV35.3Western Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar BlackWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital Caviar GreenWestern Digital RE3Western Digital RE3

[nextpage title=”Access Time”]

Access time is another important measurement. It measures the time the hard disk drive delays to start delivering data after the computer has asked a given data. It is measured in the order of milliseconds (ms, which is equal to 0.001 s) and the lower this value, the better.

The results presented by the three programs we used were very similar, so we made arithmetic averages with the collected results and present them on the chart below.

Access time is another important measurement. It measures the time the hard disk drive delays to start delivering data after the computer has asked a given data. It is measured in the order of milliseconds (ms, which is equal to 0.001 s) and the lower this value, the better.

RE3 and Caviar Black from Western Digital were the drives with the lowest access time, around 12 ms. Caviar Black achieved an access time 13.19% better than Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 and 14.62% better than Samsung Spinpoint F1 (HD103
UJ). On the enterprise battle, Western Digital RE3 achieved an access time 7.42% better than Seagate Barracuda ES.2.

 

[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]

The big winner from our 1 TB hard disk drive round-up was clearly Seagate Barracuda 7200.12, which achieved an average transfer rate higher than all other hard disk drives we tested in all three programs we used. Costing the same as Samsung Spinpoint F1 and Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 and less than Western Digital Caviar Black, for the average user it doesn’t make any sense buying any other 1 TB hard disk drive model but Barracuda 7200.12.

“Green” hard disk drives are a little bit cheaper, but to be honest we don’t think saving USD 5 or USD 10 or 5 W in consumption makes any sense compared to the huge difference in performance you will see (12 to 39%). Hard drives already consume little power (8 W – 10 W), so the impact on your electricity bill will be negligible.

Of course our opinion would be different if we were talking about hard drives targeted to laptops, but this isn’t the case. Saving 4 to 5 W per drive can make sense on datacenters, however administrators will be faced not only with the power consumption vs. performance dilemma, but also reliability, as enterprise-class drives are the correct choice for this application.

On the enterprise-class arena, the winner was Western Digital RE3, but unfortunately we only had Seagate ES.2 to compare it against. Samsung kept promising us to send their latest 1 TB enterprise-class hard disk drive to be included in this round-up since last October, what never happened.