Two 2TB Hard Drives For Storage Applications, Reviewed

Samsung and Seagate are each offering new high-capacity drives that strive to cram tons of data into a 3.5" form factor. Today's battle is the eco-friendly Spinpoint against the nearline Constellation, low power against business-class. Which one is best?

Samsung may be the challenger and Seagate the 800-pound incumbent, but both companies are very serious about capturing share in the high-capacity storage market. Both have new products and both adjusted their branding to do justice to this particular segment. Samsung’s drive is the first 2TB offering, and Seagate has just revamped and renamed its 2TB product. Which product is better?

Disregarding Market Segments Today

The 3.5“ hard drive market is split into various segments, but these are straightforward. Basically, there are drives designed to deliver maximum performance at 7,200 RPM, and there are products that target high capacity with low power. Both appear in consumer and business segments, as do our two candidates. Samsung’s Spinpoint F3EG is a low-power, high-capacity consumer drive. The Constellation ES is a high-speed business drive. We deliberately decided to disregard market segments for this review, because both drives are well-suited for network storage in home or small business environments.

Quo Vadis, Hard Drive?

The first 2TB hard drive to market was Western Digital’s Caviar Green WD20EADS, a low-power unit with four platters. It took several months until WD and its competitors delivered 2TB performance drives. Samsung's Spinpoint F3EG is the latecomer, as Samsung previously lacked a 2TB model.

All other hard drive makers have reworked their 2TB offerings, increasing storage density, performance, and efficiency. Two terabytes remain the maximum you can get on a single hard drive, and we assume this will stay true until the second half of this year. Therefore, enthusiasts had better make sure they're choosing the right type of 2TB drive for their needs.

7,200 RPM or 5,400 RPM?

This question can be answered rather quickly for primary boot drives. If you're going to run only a single hard drive, it makes sense to pick the fastest model your budget can afford, and that usually means a drive that spins at 7,200 RPM. If you can afford a fast hard drive or an even faster SSD to use as a boot drive, you can instead get away with an efficient (slower-spinning) high-capacity drive for data storage. The same applies to external hard drives. Go with 5,400 RPM if you mainly need to store, back up, and archive files.

In this review, we look at Samsung’s new Spinpoint F3EG, which is supposed to be biased toward power efficiency, rather than performance. The second drive is Seagate's Constellation ES, a performance drive available in SATA 3Gb/s or SAS 6Gb/s that aims at business scenarios. Which hard drive concept is best for your storage needs?