Definitive 2TB HD Roundup: WD, Seagate, Samsung

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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