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

Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung

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Frequent HotHardware readers are used to our in-depth technical exploration of products and their respective technologies. For this roundup, we take a different approach and focus primarily on the performance of the HDDs, factor in the street price of the drives (as of April 2010), and ultimately determine which of the nine 2TB HDDs we looked at offer the best bang-for-the-buck. Most of the HDDs listed below fall into essentially one of three categories: general purpose, performance, or enterprise.

General Purpose HDDs: Budget, low-power, cool, quiet:
  • Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB (HD203WI)
  • Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB (ST32000542AS)
  • WD Caviar Green 2TB (WD20EADS)

 Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB (left), Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB (center), WD Caviar Green 2TB (right)

The three general-purpose drives each have 32MB caches, spindle speeds that are slower than the 7,200 RPM found in most of the other drives, three-year warranties, and the lowest price tags of the bunch. Both the 2TB Seagate Barracuda LP and 2TB WD Caviar Green sell for $150, and are the least expensive 2TB drives currently available.

Performance HDDs: Performance, enthusiast, multimedia professionals:
  • Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (ST32000641AS)
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB (WD1002FAEX)
  • WD Caviar Black 2TB (WD2001FASS)

Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (left), WD Caviar Black 1TB (center), WD Caviar Black 2TB (right)

The three performance drives all have 64MB caches, 7,200 RPM spindle speeds, and come with five-year warranties. Of the performance drives, the 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT is the only 2TB drive that has a SATA 6Gb/Sec interface. The 1TB WD Caviar Black also has a SATA 6Gb/Sec interface, but the 2TB version of the WD Caviar Black uses the more-traditional 3Gb/Sec interface. The 2TB WD Caviar Black is the most expensive performance drive, with a $280 price tag that is $30 higher than that of the 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT.

Enterprise HDDs:
  • Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (ST32000644NS)
  • WD RE4 2TB (WD2003FYYS)
  • WD RE4-GP 2TB (WD2002FYPS)

Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (left),  WD RE4 2TB (center), WD RE4-GP 2TB (right)

The enterprise drives all come with 64MB caches, five-year warranties, and have the highest-rated MTBF (mean time before failure) ratings of all the drives--rated at 1,200,000 hours. All three enterprise drives are the most-expensive ones in the roundup, ranging in price from $290 up to $318. The WD RE4-GP brings up the low-end of this price range due to its slower spindle speed--as opposed to the 7,200 RPM speed of the other two enterprise drives (WD doesn't disclose the exact spindle speed). The RE4 also consumes less power (3.7 Watts at Idle and 6.8 Watts at Average Operating Power) than the other two enterprise drives (which are both around 8 Watts at Idle, and between 10.7 and 12.2 Watts at Average Operating Power).

A/V HDD: A/V applications (i.e., PVRs, DVRs), low-power, cool, quiet:


There is one HDD that doesn't easily fit into any of these three categories, and that the WD AV-GP 2TB. This drive is designed for use in "audio video applications such as PVRs, DVRs, set-top boxes (STBs) as well as surveillance video recording." Similar to the 2TB WD Caviar Green drive, the AV-GP also uses a lower speed spindle, has 32MB cache, comes with a three-year warranty, and has a relatively low Average Operating Power rating (5.91 Watts in the case of the AV-GP--the Caviar Green consumes 6.0 Watts of power). The 2TB AV-GP sells for $170, which is $20 more than the 2TB WD Caviar Green sells for.

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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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