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Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung
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Date: Apr 16, 2010
Section:Storage
Author: Daniel A. Begun
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Introduction


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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The Drives Tested


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:
  • WD AV-GP 2TB (WD20EVDS)

  WD AV-GP 2TB


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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Specifications



Hard Disk Drives Roundup
Specifications and Features

General Purpose HDDs: Budget, low-power, cool, quiet:



Performance HDDs: Performance, enthusiast, multimedia professionals:



Enterprise HDDs:



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


* Note: Except where noted, all Street Prices were taken from Newegg.com. Three of the HDDs were not available from Newegg: The Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB Street Price was taken from excaliberpc.com; the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB and WD RE4-GP 2TB Street Prices were taken from provantage.com. All Street Prices are as of April 6, 2010.






There are a few tidbits of information that warrant some additional exploration. First up, is that all but one of these drives uses Ramp Loading technology to park its drive heads. When a drive that uses Ramp Loading powers down, the sliders that hold the read/write heads are moved off of the platters and safely stowed onto a ramp. The one exception to this is the 2TB Seagate Barracuda LP drive, which instead uses the older Contact Start-Stop (CSS) technology, which physically rests the read/write heads on the platters when the drive powers down. Allowing the heads to physically touch the platters can cause additional wear to the platters and presents a number of potential problems, such as stiction, where the head actually gets stuck to the platter. Not to say that the Barracuda LP will necessarily wear faster than any of the other drives or suffer from stiction, but it does bear noting that the Barracuda LP has the lowest rated load/unload cycles of the group at 50,000. All the other drives are rated at least at 300,000 load/unload cycles.

Speaking of load/unload cycles, both the 2TB WD RE4 and the 2TB WD RE4-GP enterprise drives have the highest-rated load/unload cycles at 600,000. As previously mentioned, these two drives--along with the 2TB Seagate Constellation ES enterprise drive--also have the highest-rated MTBF of 1,200,000 hours. It is in part these high-reliability ratings that make these particular drives good choices for use in servers and other enterprise applications. The Constellation ES drive that we looked at is a SATA 3Gb/Sec drive; but it is also available in a SAS 6Gb/Sec version (model number ST32000444SS, street price: $332) that also includes a 128-bit government-grade Self-Encrypting Drive (SED) option.

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Test System and SiSoft SANDRA Read and Write


Our Test Methodologies: All of the drives were tested as a secondary volume attached to our HP Pavilion m9550f testbed system (2.5GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300; 8GB PC2-6400 DDR2 SDRAM; 1TB NTFS 7,200RPM SATA 3Gb/Sec hard drive; Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit). The testbed’s Intel G33 Express chipset supports only up to a SATA 3Gb/Sec interface; so in order to support the SATA 6Gb/Sec interface that two of the drives tested here support, we installed an Asus U3S6 PCIe 4x card into our testbed's PCIe 16x slot. All of the drives tested were connected to a SATA 6Gb/Sec port on the U3S6. The testbed's primary hard drive, which was connected to a 3Gb/Sec SATA connector on the motherboard, was used for the OS and for all benchmark installations. For our Data Transfer test, however, the source drive used was the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD, which was connected to the U3S6 card.

The tested drives were left blank--without partitions--for the SANDRA and HD Tach RW tests. For the ATTO, CrystalDiskMark, PCMark Vantage, and File Transfer tests, all of the drives were formatted as single NTFS partitions. Networking, Windows firewall, automatic updates, and screen savers were all disabled before testing. With all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test. All tests were run multiple times (no less than three times, and often more) and we used the best (non-anomalous) score available.

 SiSoft SANDRA 2010.SP1a
 Synthetic Benchmarks

Testing began with SiSoftware's SANDRA 2010.SP1a, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. We ran the Physical Disks test suite's Read Performance and Write Performance tests on unformatted disks.



The HDD with the fastest write speed on our SANDRA test was the WD RE4 2TB, with a speed of 108.0MB/Sec. Behind that are two more WD drives: the 2TB and 1TB versions of the WD Caviar Black--both around 104MB/Sec. The Seagate Constellation ES 2TB enterprise drive (101.2MB/Sec) and Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (99.4MB/Sec) also put in strong performances on the write test. Of the general-purpose drives, the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB had the best showing, with a write speed of 87.3MB/Sec.

With SANDRA's read test, the Seagate Constellation 2TB takes the lead with a speed of 112.5MB/Sec, which is closely followed by the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB at 111.2MB/Sec and the WD RE4 2TB at 110.5MB/Sec. The WD Caviar Black 2TB (104.5MB/Sec) and WD Caviar Black 1TB (104.0MB/Sec) also put in very good write performances. The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB was the speediest general-purpose drive, reading at 94.4MB/Sec.

While the two 6Gb/Sec drives--the WD Caviar Black 1TB and Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB--are some of the speediest drives here, their faster SATA interface doesn't give them any performance advantages on the SANDRA tests. As a point of reference, the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD had a write speed of 190.0MB/Sec and a read speed of 245.9MB/Sec.
 
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ATTO Disk Benchmark



ATTO is a more straight-forward type of disk benchmark that measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and graphs them out in an easily interpreted chart. We chose 0.5KB through 8,192KB transfer sizes over a total max volume length of 256MB.

ATTO Disk Benchmark - Read/Write Performance
Version 2.46

 

 

 Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB

 Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB

 

 

 

 Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB

 Seagate Constellation ES 2TB

 

 

 

 WD AV-GP 2TB

 WD Caviar Black 1TB

 

 

 

 WD Caviar Black 2TB

 WD Caviar Green 2TB

 

 

 

 WD RE4 2TB

 WD RE4-GP 2TB


Three HDDs exceeded write speeds of 140MB/Sec on our ATTO test: the WD RE4 2TB (144.3MB/Sec), Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (143.8MB/Sec), and the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (141.0MB/Sec). Both WD Caviar Black drives also showed strong write performance--the 2TB drive had a write speed of 138.1MB/Sec and the 1TB version saw 133.7MB/Sec. Two of the general-purpose HDDs also had decent write performance: The Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB had a write speed of 126MB/Sec and the Seagate Barracuda LP wrote at 122.3MB/Sec.

For read speeds, a total of five drives managed speeds that exceeded 140MB/Sec: The WD RE4 2TB lead the pack at 155.8MB/Sec, followed by the WD Caviar Black 2TB (148.9MB/Sec), Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (147.5MB/Sec), Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (145.1MB/Sec), and the WD Caviar Black 1TB (142.8MB/Sec). The top-performing general-purpose HDD was the Seagate Barracuda LP, with a write speed of 122.6MB/Sec.

Once again, the two 6Gb/Sec drives didn't see any significant performance benefit from their faster SATA interfaces. On the other hand, the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD had a lighting-fast write speed of 201.5MB/Sec and a zippy read speed of 271.7MB/Sec.

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CrystalDiskMark Testing


CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic test that evaluates both sequential as well as random small and large file transfers. It does a nice job of providing a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to hard drive performance--best case being large sequential transfers and worse case being small, random 4KB transfers. 

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests



 

 

 Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB

 Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB


 

 

 

 Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB

 Seagate Constellation ES 2TB


 

 

 

 WD AV-GP 2TB

 WD Caviar Black 1TB


 

 

 

 WD Caviar Black 2TB

 WD Caviar Green 2TB


 

 

 

 WD RE4 2TB

 WD RE4-GP 2TB


As far as CrystalDiskMark's sequential write speeds are concerned, the trend we've seen with the previous tests continues--with the fastest drives being the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (142.7MB/Sec), Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (138.4MB/Sec), WD RE4 2TB (138.8MB/Sec), WD Caviar Black 1TB (131.3MB/Sec), and WD Caviar Black 2TB (128MB/Sec). As to the general-purpose drives, the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB is once again the leader at 116.8MB/Sec.

The same five performance and enterprise drives are also once again the leaders on CrystalDiskMark's sequential read test, but they are also joined here by the WD RE4-GP (157.3MB/Sec). As a matter of fact, the top four drives here are all WD drives, with three in particular having standout performance: the WD Caviar Black 1 TB (193.6MB/Sec), WD Caviar Black 2TB (179.8MB/Sec), and the WD RE4 (177.3MB/Sec). No surprises here either with the best-performing general-purpose drive: the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB had a read speed of 119.9MB/Sec.

We see similar patterns on the CrystalDiskMark's 512KB and 4KB write and read tests as well--but with a few exceptions creeping in. While the WD RE4 2TB is the undisputed leader on all of these worst-case scenarios, the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB falters a bit on the 512KB and 4KB tests, with middle-of-the-pack performance. The WD RE4-GP 2TB also manages to elbow its way in into the list of better-performing drives. The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB also takes top honors on the 512KB and 4KB write and read tests for general-purpose drives.

We're starting to sound like a broken record here, but once again the 6Gb/Sec drives didn't see any noticeable performance gains as a result of their faster SATA interfaces. As to our 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD, we had one surprise: Its 512KB write speed of 148.5MB/Sec was only a hair faster than the WD RE4 2TB's 145.3MB/Sec write speed. The rest of the OCZ SSD's write and read speeds were significantly faster than its HDD cousins, with a monumentally huge margin on the random 4KB transfer tests: the OCZ SSD's 4KB write speed was 17.83MB/Sec and 4KB read speed was 29.38MB/Sec. The best performing HDD on this test--the WD RE4 2TB--could only manage a 4KB write speed of 3.35MB/Sec and 4KB read speed of 1.32MB/Sec. This exemplifies just one of the many performance areas where HDDs just can't hold a candle to SSDs.

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HD Tach RW Testing

Simpli Software's HD Tach RW is described on the company's web site as such: "HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives, flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device being tested."

HD Tach RW v3.0.1.0
http://www.simplisoftware.com



 

 

 Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB

  Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB

 

 

 

  Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB

  Seagate Constellation ES 2TB

 

 

 

  WD AV-GP 2TB

  WD Caviar Black 1TB

 

 

 

  WD Caviar Black 2TB

  WD Caviar Green 2TB

 

 

 

  WD RE4 2TB

  WD RE4-GP 2TB


As far as HD Tach RW's write and read tests are concerned, if you were expecting a different pecking order from the previous tests, you'll be disappointed. The WD RE4 2TB once again takes top honors with a write speed of 101.2MB/Sec. Behind that is a relatively tight grouping, with the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (99.9MB/Sec), Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (99.5MB/Sec), WD Caviar Black 2TB (97.5MB/Sec), and WD Caviar Black 1TB (96.9MB/Sec). The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB is yet again the speediest general-purpose drive.

On HD Tach RW's read test, the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB elbows its way to the top with a read speed of 116.4MB/Sec. It is closely followed by the WD RE4 2TB (115.8MB/Sec), Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (114.8), WD Caviar Black 1TB (113.1MB/Sec), and the WD Caviar Black 1TB (111.7MB/Sec). The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB leads the general-purpose HDDs with a read speed of 98.4MB/Sec.

HD Tach RW's burst speed test is the first test we ran where we actually saw the two 6Gb/Sec drives take a performance lead. The WD Caviar Black 1TB had an impressive burst speed of 314.3MB/Sec, while the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB had a burst speed of 287MB/Sec. All of the HDDs had burst speeds that were over 200MB/Sec--the Seagate Constellation ES 2TB brought up the rear at a still impressive 212.5MB/Sec. The best the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD could do on the burst test, however, was 198.8MB/Sec. The OCZ SSD's write and read speeds were still leaps and bounds ahead of the HDDs, though, with a write speed of 154.8MB/Sec and a read speed of 223MB/Sec.

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PCMark Vantage HDD


Next we ran the drives through a battery of tests in PCMark Vantage from Futuremark Corp. We specifically used only the HDD Test module of this benchmark suite to evaluate all of the drives we tested. Feel free to consult Futuremark's white paper on PCMark Vantage for an understanding of what each test component entails and how it calculates its measurements. For specific information on how the HDD Test module arrives at its performance measurements, we'd encourage you to read pages 35 and 36 (PDF) of the white paper.

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com

We really like PCMark Vantage's HDD Performance for its real-world application measurement approach to testing. From simple Windows Vista start-up performance to data streaming from a disk drive in a game engine and video editing with Windows Movie Maker, we feel confident that these tests best illustrate the real performance profile of a HDD in an end user/consumer PC usage model.



Of all the formal benchmarks that we use, the PCMark Vantage HDD tests come closest to representing real-world, application data-transfers by modeling real-world usage scenarios. But even with this type of real-world modeling, the level of performance we've seen so far from our more synthetic tests still doesn't budge. On PCMark Vantage's first four HDD tests, the WD RE4 2TB still maintains its performance-leading crown. The WD Caviar Black 2TB and 1TB drives, as well as the Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB and Seagate Constellation ES 2TB drives, also put in a strong showing. Yet again, the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB has the best overall performance of the general-purpose drives.

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PCMark Vantage HDD (cont.)


The next series of Vantage tests stress the write performance of the drives. Applications like video editing, streaming and recording use a high mix of random write transactions.

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage
http://www.futuremark.com



This subset of the PCMark Vantage HDD tests focuses more on the writing performance potential of the drives. That said, there is no change in the leader board, with the same drives continuing to take top honors. The ranking of these top-performing drives changes a bit, though--going from faster to slower, we've got the WD RE4 2TB, WD Caviar Black 2TB, Seagate Constellation ES 2TB, and Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB. The Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB once again is the winner among the general-purpose drives.

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File Transfer Tests


Our final series of tests are what you might call more "crude measurements" in that we simply fired up our trusty stopwatch and measured the time it took to complete a drag-and-drop of a single large file or a bunch of smaller files from one storage volume in our test system to another. With our Large File test, we copied a single 3.4GB ISO file between the 120GB OCZ Vertex Turbo 2.5-inch SSD and the HDD being tested. With our Small Files test, we copied a 533MB folder (made up of 90 JPGs ranging in size from 2.27MB to 4.38MB, and 78 MP3s ranging in size from 1.98MB to 4.35MB) between the OCZ SSD and the HDD being tested.

While these are our only true "real-world" tests--copying real files from and to the test drives--the results here need to be taken with more than a few grains of salt. The results really only apply for the specific file-transfer scenarios we explore. You might very well see different performance results depending on what kind of file transfers you are performing. It's also important to note that these tests don't give a reliable indication of the sort of performance you might see with data transfers related to running specific data-heavy applications.

File Transfer Tests - Read/Write Performance
Custom "Real World" File Transfers Measured



Keeping in mind the caveats mentioned above, the results of the Large File Transfer Speed write test presents us with a few surprises, not the least of which is that the general-purpose Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB drive's write performance of 129.8MB/Sec is not far off from the performance leaders: the WD Caviar Black 2TB (134.5MB/Sec), WD RE4 2TB (131.0MB/Sec), and Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (129.8MB/Sec). Another surprise is that the performance-class Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB drive's write performance of 124.0MB/Sec sits squarely in the middle of the pack, and is even a shy slower than that of the general-purpose Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB's 126.1MB/Sec write speed.

Switching over to read performance, those surprises fade away and the status quo returns. The speediest drive on this test is the WD Caviar Black 1TB at 111.6MB/Sec, with the WD RE4 2TB (111.1MB/Sec), Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB (110.5MB/Sec), Seagate Constellation ES 2TB (109.4MB/Sec), and WD Caviar Black 2TB (108.2) all nipping at its heels.



The Small Files Transfer Speed write test gives us even a few more surprises with the two speediest drives being the budget-enterprise WD RE4-GP 2TB drive (113.6MB/Sec) and the general-purpose WD Caviar Green 2TB (111.2MB/Sec). Curiously, the enterprise Seagate Constellation ES 2TB drive (105.1MB/Sec) and performance-class WD Caviar Black 1TB (102.MB/Sec) bring up the rear.

As we saw with the Large Files Transfer Speed read test, things return back to normal with the Small Files Transfer Speed read test. The usual suspects are at the top of the list--with the WD RE4 2TB taking the number one spot with a read speed of 96.1MB/Sec, and the Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB once again being the top-performing general-purpose drive, with a read speed of 85.4MB/Sec. The Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB leads the performance-class drives, with a read speed of 95.7MB/Sec.

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Performance Summary and Conclusion


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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