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Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB Hard Drive Review
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Date: Feb 07, 2011
Section:Storage
Author: Mathew Miranda
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Introduction

With the massive amounts of digital content now at our disposals, spend enough time in front of a system, and eventually it'll require a storage upgrade. We live in a digital world where games take up more storage space, cameras generate larger images, and camcorders produce higher definition videos than ever before. It's only a matter of time before even the average user saturates the drive in their PC. Throwing a SSD into the system as an OS drive will undoubtedly improve its performance, but it doesn't address the need for more storage. That's why the need for traditional hard drives remains strong, and consumers welcome advances in technology that provide additional capacity, reduced power consumption, and lower costs.


Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB Hard Drive

Today we take a look at the Barracuda Green 2TB hard drive from Seagate. Previously, the company's low power drives were designated with the LP nomenclature. But Seagate has made the change to a more recognizable industry standard naming convention. The 2TB Green drive sports a 5900 RPM spindle speed, SATA 6 GB/s interface, 64 MB cache, Advanced Format technology, and Seagate SmartAlign for easy integration. Do all of these features entice you enough to put the Barracuda Green on your upgrade list? Need more information? Read on to find out how well this drive performs as we run it through a series of benchmarks and give you our take on its strengths and weaknesses.

Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB
Specifications and Features

Model
ST2000DL003
Interface
SATA 6 Gb/s
Capacity
2TB
Cache
64MB
Average Seek Time
12ms
Average Latency
4.16ms
Form Factor
3.5" (3 Platter Design, 667 GB/Platter)
Warranty
3 Years Limited
Price
$119


There are a few things worth noting about the Barracuda Green. It features the same 5900 RPM speed as previous generation Barracuda LP models, which is what makes it a low power product. But naturally, it should also provide faster performance than comparable green drives operating at 5400 RPM. Combine the speed advantage with higher aerial density from utilizing only three platters (667GB each) and the Barracuda Green targets the needs of users with a variety of system types. It’s also Seagate’s first 3.5-inch drive with Advanced Format (4K sectors) and Seagate’s unique SmartAlign technology.  We'll dig into those features on the following page so let's get to work. 

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Seagate Barracuda Green Up Close

Advanced Format (AF) Technology
Advanced Format is the name for a new data structure format that defines an increase in the basic sector size used on hard drives. The new technology allows the hard drive industry to deliver higher capacity drives with additional error correction capability. This is done by increasing the size of a sector from 512 to 4096 bytes, and thus reducing the amount of space used for sector separation and addressing, while increasing the space used for error detection and correction codes.

Why should you care? The benefit for consumers will arrive in the form of higher capacity drives, lower costs per gigabyte, and increased reliability. All hard drive companies are migrating away from the legacy sector size of 512 bytes to 4096 bytes, and have agreed to fully adopt the Advanced Format standard by January 2011 for new models shipping into the notebook and desktop markets. This transition will provide HDD engineers with another tool to improve areal densities and error correction.

A negative side effect of Advanced Format is potential performance degradation in some configurations. This happens when partitions are not aligned properly during installation. But to avoid this problem, Seagate has created SmartAlign technology to resolve partition misalignment issues.


 


 

SmartAlign Technology
Seagate SmartAlign is hard drive firmware tool that manages read-modify-write conditions resulting from partition misalignment conditions, which are associated with the use of 4K sector drives (Advanced Format). Note that SmartAlign does not realign partitions, rather it manages read-modify-write conditions dynamically inside the drive without utilizing host PC resources.

The advantage of this technology is its ability to resolve issues in real time, without having to manually run partition alignment software at any point. Without SmartAlign, read-modify-write conditions might negatively impact HDD performance. 

 



Here are the detailed specs of the drive from Seagate. As previously mentioned, the 5900 RPM spindle speed should give it an edge over competitive low power drives on the market. The advertised seek times and latency are better than the competition's but we'll put these claims to the test.


After a quick format, the drive shows up w/ 1.81 TB of free space. The following pages consist of the performance results of the Barracuda Green drive, so let's find out how well it fared.

 

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Test System and ATTO

Our Test MethodologiesUnder each test condition, the drives tested here were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a different hard disk used for the OS and benchmark installations.  The drives were left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO and Vantage benchmark tests. Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

 

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 Powered

Processor -

Motherboard -


Video Card -

Memory -

Hard Drives -

 

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7 870


Gigabyte P55A-UD7


GeForce GTX 280

4GB Kingston DDR3-1333


WD Caviar Green 3TB
WD RE4
Seagate Barracuda XT
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB
WD Raptor 160GB (OS drive)

OS

Chipset Drivers -

Video Drivers
-


Relevant Software:
Windows 7 64-bit

Intel 9.1.0.1012

NVIDIA ForceWare v260.89


Benchmarks Used:
HD Tach 3.0.1.0
ATTO ver 2.02
CrystalDiskMark
PCMark Vantage 64-bit
SiSoftware Sandra 2010


ATTO Disk Benchmark - Read/Write Performance
Version 2.41

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 .5kb through 8192kb transfer sizes over a total max volume length of 256MB.  This test was performed on blank, formatted drives with NTFS partitions.


Seagate Barracuda Green


Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB


Western Digital RE4

Seagate Barracuda XT 3Gb/s


ATTO reveals the performance edge the Barracuda Green has over the Caviar Green drive in write speeds (126 MB/s vs 106 MB/s). Read speeds are very close though, as the WD product held a slight edge. Overall, we'll give Seagate's drive the edge in this benchmark though, all things considered.

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SiSoft SANDRA 2010

Testing continues with SiSoftware's SANDRA XII, the System ANalyzer, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant. Here, we used the Physical Disk test suite and provided the results from our comparison drives. The benchmarks were run without formatting and read performance metrics are detailed below. We also included SANDRA's graph so you are able to see how the drive performs over time along with the average rated result.

 SiSoft SANDRA 2010
 Synthetic Benchmark


Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB


Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda XT 3Gb/s

The Barracuda Green posted a read speed of 106 MB/s, while the Caviar Green only hit 100 MB/s. It's worth noting that while the 7200 RPM models we tested were clearly faster, the performance gap isn't as wide as one would think. The RE4 scored 110 MB/s while the XT got up to 112 MB/s, only 4 to 6% quicker than the Barracuda Green.



Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB

 


Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB

 


Western Digital RE4


Seagate Barracuda XT 3Gb/s

SANDRA's write test reveals a substantial edge for Seagate's Green drive. It reached a speed of 101 MB/s, while WD's Caviar Green could only muster 72 MB/s, a 40% deviation. So far, a trend is appearing between the performance results of the Green models. Read speeds are similar but the Barracuda Green writes data more efficiently. Let's see if this holds true in the following tests.

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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 4K transfers. 

 

CrystalDiskMark Benchmarks
Synthetic File Transfer Tests



Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB
 

Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB

 

Western Digital RE4

Seagate Barracuda XT 3Gb/s

With a sequential read speed of 140 MB/s and write speed at 135 MB/s, the Barracuda Green kept pace with every other hard drive we tested. It was a bit slower than the Caviar Green in read performance, but once again delivered a considerably faster write score.

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HDTach Benchmark

Simpli Software's HD Tach 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 v3
http://www.simplisoftware.com/



Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB

 

Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB

 

Western Digital RE4

Seagate Barracuda XT 3Gb/s

HDTach tells us that the Barracuda Green is faster than the Caviar Green drive. It edges out WD's product in average read speed (112 MB/s vs 111 MB/s) and posts an average write speed over twice as fast ( 72 MB/s vs 31 MB/s).


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PCMark Vantage

Next we ran the four 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 of the white paper.

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 our hard drives in an end user/consumer PC usage model.

 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
  Real World System Performance PP


PCMark Vantage

Futuremark's PCMark Vantage simulates a range of real-world scenarios and workloads, stressing various system subsets in the process. Everything you'd want to do with your PC -- watching HD movies, music compression, image editing, gaming, and so forth -- is represented here, and most of the tests are multi-threaded, making this a good indicator of all-around performance.

 




To the naked eye, you wouldn't be able to tell the performance difference between the Barracuda Green and Caviar Green drives during these tests. But the benchmark tells us that Seagate's drive is slightly faster in 3 out of 4 tests when compared to WD's Green drive. Of course, the RE4 and Barracuda XT  outperform both. 

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PCMark Vantage (Cont.)

Our next series of Vantage tests will stress the write performance. Applications like video editing, streaming and recording command a high mix of random write transactions. 

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

 

Surprisingly, the Barracuda Green pulled out a win during the Media Center portion of the benchmark. At 129 MB/s, it was 21% faster than the WD RE4 and 42% faster than the Barracuda XT. Overall, the Barracuda Green holds the edge over Western Digital's Caviar Green drive in these four sub-tests. 

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Performance Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: The Barracuda Green performed well, but is not a barn burner in light of higher-end 7200 RPM drives. After several benchmarks, it's clear that the drive performs step slower than the two 7200 RPM models we compared it to, the Barracuda XT and Western Digital's RE4. But we expected that. The real question lies in the comparison to the Barracuda Green's direct competition, WD's Caviar Green drive. Assuming you read test results and didn't skip to this conclusion, then you already know the answer. We averaged the scores across several tests and found the read speeds of both drives were similar, as Seagate's drive reached 124 MB/s and WD's hit 125 MB/s. On the other hand, the Barracuda Green held a significant advantage in write speed (109 MB/s vs 76 MB/s). Overall, it proved to be the superior drive in a head to head comparison to WD's 3TB Caviar Green. 


 

 

The cost of hard drives continues to fall. Currently priced at $119, the 2TB Barracuda Green faces stiff competition. There are several options for those looking to upgrade their storage solution at this particular price range. Within Seagate's own lineup, the previous generation Barracuda LP goes for only $79, while the XT can be purchased for $169. Western Digital offers up their 2TB Green drive for only $99 and the AV-GP drive at $119. The 2TB Caviar Black is sold at $169, just like the Barracuda XT. Hitachi actually offers a very competitive 2TB model with 64 MB cache and 7200 RPM spindle speed for only $119.


 

As the performance summary explained, the Barracuda Green performs about on par with WD's Caviar Green model with regard to reads, but Seagate's offering had much better write performance on average. However, the performance edge comes at a cost as the drive currently carries a $20 premium over its direct competitor. It will be interesting to see if Seagate eventually adjusts its asking price to become more competitive with the Caviar Green, but considering the Seagate drive's performance advantage a slight price premium can be justified. As of right now, consumers will have to decide if the performance advantage outweighs the cost. Nevertheless, if you're looking to upgrade your storage capacity with an affordable, low power, good performing hard drive, check out the Barracuda Green 2TB hard drive from Seagate. 

 

 

  • Lots of capacity
  • Good write performance
  • 64MB Cache
  • More expensive than competition


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