Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung

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Lately, it feels like the good, old, reliable hard disk drive (HDD) doesn't get any respect. When it comes to storage, Solid State Drives (SSDs) are getting all the attention these days--and it's no wonder, considering the speed, durability, low-power, and silent-running attributes of current solid state drives. But SSDs are also very expensive and offer relatively low-capacities when compared to traditional HDDs. The vast majority of systems that use some sort of fixed drive for storage--be they desktops, workstations, or servers--still use HDDs. And when it comes to maximum storage capacity in a 3.5-inch form factor, you simply can't get any higher these days than a 2TB HDD.



While most users would be hard-pressed to ever fill up a 2TB drive, there are still many who will manage to max them out--or at least come close--such as: Gamers who like to install and run numerous games; film fans who rip their favorite DVDs to disk (perhaps for watching movies on a TV via a home-theater PC or media server); video editors, professional photographers, and graphic artists who work with large image files; digital media hoarders who amass huge libraries of music, videos, and images; and especially those who manage file servers. Those who truly need as much storage as they can get their hands on, will use multiple HDDs--often configured in a RAID array. With costs as low as $0.07/GB (seven cents per GB), there's hardly any reason why your next 3.5-inch HDD shouldn't be a 2TB drive.



In this roundup we take a look at a total of nine 3.5-inch, SATA, 2TB hard drives, from Samsung, Seagate, and Western Digital. We had originally hoped to also include the 2TB HDD offerings from Hitachi as well, but Hitachi declined to participate in the roundup. During testing we also received the latest 1TB WD Caviar Black HDD from Western Digital as well, and decided to also include it here for comparative purposes. Lastly, our testbed had a 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo Series SATA II 2.5" SSD installed in it that we used as the source drive for our file-transfer tests--we also ran our benchmark tests on the SSD as a comparison point. We discuss the SSD's performance when relevant, but we're not including it in any of our performance charts, as it's significantly faster performance results in too much disparity in the charts (imagine one long bar, while all of the rest are short). When testing was finally completed for this story, we had run six separate sets of benchmarks on 11 different drives. With multiple runs of each test, that's a lot of testing! By our estimates, we ran over a total of 250 tests...
 

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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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