Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung - HotHardware

Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung

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Performance Summary: The undisputed, overall performance winner of all 10 HDDs tested is the WD RE4 2TB, which--not coincidentally--also happens to be the most expensive drive in the roundup. The WD Caviar Black 2TB, Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB, Seagate Constellation ES 2TB, and WD Caviar Black 1TB aren't far behind the WD RE4 2TB in terms of speedy performance. By default, this also makes the WD RE4 2TB the speediest enterprise drive, and the WD Caviar Black 2TB the fastest performance-class drive. The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB is easily the hands-down performance winner for the general-purpose drives.



Above is a chart we put together that represents an (unweighted) geometric mean of the overall performance of each drive, based on all the tests we performed. Use this chart as a rough guide only, as we used an admittedly simplistic methodology to create these comparison numbers: All the test scores were calculated with equal weighting; we factored read and write speeds equally; for the ATTO test numbers we used only the 8,192KB transfer size numbers; for the CrystalDiskMark numbers we used only the sequential transfer numbers; and for the PCMark Vantage results, we used the average of the eight tests in the HDD suite.





Using the street price as of April 2010, we also calculated a cost-per-GB for each of the ten HDDs. The cost-per-GB for the drives ranges from $0.07-per-GB for the WD Caviar Green 2TB and Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB general-purpose drives, up to $0.16-per-GB for the WD RE4 2TB and Seagate Constellation ES 2TB enterprise drives. You'll notice that the more-expensive drives also tend to be the faster drives. As a point of comparison, the cost-per-GB for the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD works out to $2.91-per-GB.



We also put together a bang-for-the-buck chart to help show the value of the drives, relative to each other. Keep in mind that the only two variables we used to create this bang-for-the-buck chart are the overall performance (geometric mean) numbers we generated for the chart at the top of this page and each product's street price as of April 2010. Factors such as load/unload cycles, MTBF, reliability ratings, power consumption, and warranty were not part of the calculations. Depending on how you plan on using these drives, the variables we left out might be important to you. So we'll note the same caveat that we offered with the overall performance chart: Use this is as a guide only and remember to factor in those attributes that are important to you--for instance, if you plan on using a HDD in the enterprise, the overall reliability of a drive is going to be an important factor.



The less-expensive drives tends be better values--in part because the performance difference between the drives is smaller than the price difference between them. Of all nine 2TB drives, the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB offers the best overall value. This, of course, means that the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB is also the best value of the general-purpose drives as well. For the 2TB performance-class drives, the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB has the best value. For the enterprise drives, the WD RE4 2TB offers the best value; but the two other enterprise drives are close behind it.

Note: When we first posted this roundup, we initially included the WD Caviar Black 1TB in the bang-for-the-buck chart, and it occupied the top spot. However, a reader reminded us that by not also factoring in the smaller capacity of the drive, it became an unfair comparison. We agreed with this assessment and subsequently chose to  remove the WD Caviar 1TB from this chart, making it purely a comparison of the value of the 2TB drives. The chart you now see above is a revised version of the bang-for-the-buck chart.



Ultimately, our picks for each class of drive are as follows. For general-purpose drives, you'd think it would be a no-brainer and we'd pick the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB for its relative high performance and great value. The problem is, it has a much lower load/unload rating of 50,000 cycles, versus 300,000 cycles for the other general-purpose drives--the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB uses the older Contact Start-Stop (CSS) technology to park its heads, while the other drives use the more updated and more reliable Ramp Loading technology. Once we took the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB out of the running, it was a very close call between the Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB and WD Caviar Green 2TB, but we ultimately chose the Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB because of its speedier overall performance. For the performance drives it was a much tougher call; but with almost identical overall performance, the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB edged out the WD Caviar Black 2TB, due to the Barracuda XT's lower price tag and lower power consumption (see the specs tables on page three of this roundup). For the enterprise-class drives, it's a runaway, with the WD RE4 2TB as the undisputed performance leader that also has high reliability ratings.

Finally, we didn't discuss the WD AV-GP 2TB much in this roundup--due primarily to it's back-of-the-pack performance. It's overall value pits it squarely in the middle of the group; but don't dismiss it outright--especially if you are building a home-theater PC that will primarily be serving videos. The WD AV-GP is engineered specifically for A/V applications, and does so quietly and in environments that get a bit toasty.




  • WD RE4 2TB
 


  • Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB
  • Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB
  • Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB
  • Seagate Constellation ES 2TB
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB
  • WD Caviar Black 2TB
  • WD Caviar Green 2TB
 
 
  • WD AV-GP 2TB
  • WD RE4-GP 2TB

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Very interesting read.  I wish Hitachi didn't wimp out though!  I would love you guys to tackle putting these 2 TB drives in a RAID5 and how safe that is.  I see so many conflicting comments saying it is or isn't recommended.  I would love to add 4 of the 2TB Seagate drives to my NAS but still a little worried.  I read somewhere that WD states they don't recommend it.  Maybe someone from HH could address concern of mine.  Great read!

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The WD "RE" drives are "RAID Edition" and have some RAID specific features, and would work in any type of array.

While the other drives may not have any RAID specific features, they will all work in a RAID 5 array. As long as the individual drives are compatible with your NAS, they should work in a RAID configuration within it.

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Sup Marco, nice read.

That huge gap in the bang/buck chart between the 1TB and 2TB drives didn't shock me in the least.  One or two steps down from the largest size drive has been the best bet (if you get a current family drive) for as long as I can remember.  If I remember correctly, the 1.5TB drives actually have a slightly better price/TB then the 1TB drives right now.

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So, nobody's noticed that when it came to the bang/buck chart, somebody forgot to factor in the size difference for the 1TB, resulting in a score exactly double what it should be?

Now before anybody thinks I'm crazy and/or not paying attention, take a look at the math.  Comparing both the 1TB and 2TB Cavier blacks, the 2TB scores 1.6% higher on the performance part, and the 1TB scores 16.7% higher on the cost-per-gb part.  So one should expect the bang/buck should show the 1TB drive coming out on top by 14.8%, or at the very least, in the same ballpark, that much should be obvious.  Instead, the difference is off by 129% exactly what you get if you don't take the size difference into account.

The RE4-GP numbers seem a bit off from the other too, but that's not quite as interesting anyway.

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Great, thanks Marco

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Another helpful review, what surprised me the most was how there was not much performance gain on the Caviar Black when going from the 2TB with 4 platters to the 1TB with 2 platters. I though not having those extra 2 platters would really increase performance on the 1TB but they were fairly close to each other. For the money though I would just get the 2TB as the cost per GB was a few cents more and that 5 year warranty is hard to beat. Again take your pick of these drives and pair it with a SSD and you are set!!!!!!!!!! Yes Big Smile

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Thanks for the great 2TB HDD roundup.  I'm interested in getting a few of the 7200 RPM drives for a new QNAP or Synology NAS.

A few questions if you don't mind:

1.  It seems silly, but WD's Sep 2009 press release mentions that the RE4 2TB supports NCQ whereas the Caviar Black 2TB does not (see the section titled "Additional Features for WD RE4 2 TB Enterprise Hard Drives").  Is this correct??

2.  Are your benchmarks geared more towards single-user desktop usage?  In other words, could a multi-user NAS/fileserver scenario possibly exhibit drastically different rankings?

On the other hand, some say that the speed limitation of Gigabit Ethernet in the NAS scenario serves to bottleneck some of the raw performance differences among the 7200 RPM drives anyways...?

 

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Goog article.

However, I think what would make this comparison even more useful though would be to also include comparisons of power draw, noise and heat.

These are also critical decision factors now - in particular if being used for a Home Server (e.g. WHS) or in AV equipment.  This is what has contributed to the WD Green drives popularity for example.

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I felt that that was an excellent article, but would've liked to have seen some additional price/storage/performance comparisons involving some smaller drives, an SSD or two, and a raid setup.

Regardless, very informative, and something I will definitely be referring to as my 500GB drive is almost full.

 

Have you considered placing a commission linked link to Newegg for each of the drives? I know Hardocp has a deal with Newegg that all purchases made through one of their links is a 2.5% commission. If I'm going to spend the money anyone I wouldn't mind it benefiting HH.

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Great article, I love the charts comparing all the hard drives. The caviar black 1TB is pretty nice :D.

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