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.
- 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.