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Two 2TB Hard Drives For Storage Applications, Reviewed

Two 2TB Hard Drives For Storage Applications, Reviewed
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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?

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  • -1 Hide
    seboj , June 25, 2010 6:52 AM
    aaruni123Since arrival of SSDs, I have lost interest in HDD benchmarks and reviews.


    I would like to thank you for wasting your obviously important time to write this comment, which in turn wasted my less-important time by reading it. Now I shall waste my less-important time by typing this comment to you, which I hope you read and therefore waste more of your important time.

    The cycle is complete.
  • 5 Hide
    shloader , June 25, 2010 7:03 AM
    You really gotta be willing to trust Seagate after their recent firmware fiasco to be willing to hand over $320 for a single 2TB drive (or just not know about it). I'd really like to believe it's all behind them but I think a lot of people in the know are on the wait-and-see side. Plus Samsung's 5900RPM 2TB has been doing great in reviews and puts faith in their newest offering.
  • 2 Hide
    agnickolov , June 25, 2010 7:08 AM
    This article seems to be an excuse to add two more drives to the storage chart - it's so pointless to compare apples to oranges... Might have simply done a news post about that.

    As for the drives themselves, none interest me. It's WD Caviar Green for storage and Velociraptor for OS drive (I wish the 450GB would go to a more reasonable price soon - $200 would be good). A Barracuda is good for an economy all purpose drive (in fact I just bought a 1TB Barracuda for $40 after rebate a month ago...).
  • 2 Hide
    aaruni123 , June 25, 2010 7:09 AM
    sebojI would like to thank you for wasting your obviously important time to write this comment, which in turn wasted my less-important time by reading it. Now I shall waste my less-important time by typing this comment to you, which I hope you read and therefore waste more of your important time. The cycle is complete.

    Nobody's time is getting wasted. I meant it's not the same enthusiasm since SSDs.
  • 3 Hide
    p1n3apqlexpr3ss , June 25, 2010 7:45 AM
    aaruni123Nobody's time is getting wasted. I meant it's not the same enthusiasm since SSDs.


    When SSD prices come down, i will fully agree with you, when it gets to the point of reviewing DVD or floppy drives or even IDE hdds these days ill agree
  • 1 Hide
    Reynod , June 25, 2010 9:56 AM
    When I see a 2TB SSD going for $300 then I will complain about the HDD.

    In the meantime the Seagate is a welcome addition to any machine.

    2 in Raid0 .... aah ... that should hit the spot for those wanting a bit more speed.

    You could always short-stroke 2 of them in RAID and get Raptor throughput too?

    The days of the HDD are still with us ... who wants a small SSD?
  • 5 Hide
    nevertell , June 25, 2010 10:02 AM
    Why do you people think the 1 w delta between the HDD's power consumption is even relevant ? If you are not using 20 of these in a single machine, then there really is no difference, unless you are planning on putting them in a laptop, but I guess this is where the form factor comes in.

    I think it is idiotic to buy an "eco-green" drive just because it uses 1 w less, if you want to conserve power, use a more energy efficient cpu/don't use fermi.
  • 4 Hide
    dimitrik , June 25, 2010 11:20 AM
    Buying low power drives is indeed silly for use in a desktop, less so for use in a 5 or 10 drive NAS.

    What's much more important (especially for desktop users) is reliability, even more so for large drives clearly designed for storage. As anyone familiar with the current hard drive market will tell you, right now the major manufacturers (WD & seagate) have horrible problems with yields and quality control in the large drive segment (>1TB). Failure rates are appalling (above 20% for all manufacturers) and in some batches they can reach 30% or 40%. The Barracuda LP's and Caviar greens are complete trash in reliability. Check out newegg for satisfaction rates where you will find these are the only products ever to have more than 50% 1 and 2 star reviews out of hundreds.

    If you buy that 2TB monster to store your cherished photos and videos get ready for the high probability you will lose all of them, unless you have redundancy. The only safe bet is either daily backup or better yet combined with redundant RAID e.g. RAID 1.

    Samsung do not have anything like the same level of problems with large drives that Seagate and WD do. I have had one drive out of 10 fail which I can live with given warranty and RAID protection in a NAS. At this moment in time the Ecogreen is the ONLY large capacity drive to consider and I would still go for the 1.5TB model over the 2TB (also for reasons of cost/GB).


    If choosing from the above drives I would pick 2 Samsungs in a RAID 0+1 configuration to double their speed and have 100% redundancy for the same cost as one Constallation.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 25, 2010 11:47 AM
    WD wins by far at both performance level (with the black and RE series) and at low-power level (with the green series).
    As for the in-between, the 2TB EARS model has way better speed then the old green models and it still is a green model. This is the best 2TB choice at the time if you don't want extreme performance.
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , June 25, 2010 11:48 AM
    WD wins by far at both performance level (with the black and RE series) and at low-power level (with the green series).
    As for the in-between, the 2TB EARS model has way better speed then the old green models and it still is a green model. This is the best 2TB choice at the time if you don't want extreme performance.
  • 0 Hide
    Supertrek32 , June 25, 2010 11:55 AM
    I'd only be looking at these for storage, not performance, as I prefer a smaller, faster system drive. With this in mind the Samsung drive wins hands down. They're much cheaper, and the difference in performance will rarely be noticed.

    Not to mention the spinpoint series are solid as a rock, while seagate drives have been having repeated firmware issues. I've had my Spinpoint P drive for 6 years. It was a system drive for my main computer for 5 of those years, and is now on torrent duty. Still running strong.
  • 2 Hide
    Wheat_Thins , June 25, 2010 12:39 PM
    Ummm, How about noise levels? How much quieter is the 5400 over the 7200? Many people look at these drives for HTPC builds even though I think people should look into NAS if they are building HTPC and stream as you can usually only cram one HD into a HTPC case.

    Patrick or Achim can you comment on dB levels? This is more important (to me) for quite builds that just need to house huge videos, music, and picture files.
  • 4 Hide
    killerclick , June 25, 2010 1:20 PM
    For me, reliability is the single most important factor in choosing a hard drive. Always look at user reviews at Newegg and other sites to see how manz people had their drives fail.
  • 1 Hide
    killerclick , June 25, 2010 1:25 PM
    nevertellI think it is idiotic to buy an "eco-green" drive just because it uses 1 w less


    I bought an EcoGreen drive for additional storage because it' quiet and cheap. My computer is almost completely silent and I don't want a noisy 4 platter 7200RPM drive.
  • 0 Hide
    asiaprime , June 25, 2010 3:38 PM
    I'm still anti-seagate. 3 hard drives 133% fail rate in the first year!! each one of them died and one of the refurb drives died... thank god for raid 5 :D 
  • 1 Hide
    tainted_peak , June 25, 2010 3:51 PM
    dimitrikBuying low power drives is indeed silly for use in a desktop, less so for use in a 5 or 10 drive NAS.What's much more important (especially for desktop users) is reliability, even more so for large drives clearly designed for storage. As anyone familiar with the current hard drive market will tell you, right now the major manufacturers (WD & seagate) have horrible problems with yields and quality control in the large drive segment (>1TB). Failure rates are appalling (above 20% for all manufacturers) and in some batches they can reach 30% or 40%. The Barracuda LP's and Caviar greens are complete trash in reliability. Check out newegg for satisfaction rates where you will find these are the only products ever to have more than 50% 1 and 2 star reviews out of hundreds.If you buy that 2TB monster to store your cherished photos and videos get ready for the high probability you will lose all of them, unless you have redundancy. The only safe bet is either daily backup or better yet combined with redundant RAID e.g. RAID 1.Samsung do not have anything like the same level of problems with large drives that Seagate and WD do. I have had one drive out of 10 fail which I can live with given warranty and RAID protection in a NAS. At this moment in time the Ecogreen is the ONLY large capacity drive to consider and I would still go for the 1.5TB model over the 2TB (also for reasons of cost/GB).If choosing from the above drives I would pick 2 Samsungs in a RAID 0+1 configuration to double their speed and have 100% redundancy for the same cost as one Constallation.


    You are incorrect about your assumption of WD HDDs. All HDDs below the 1TB spectrum have over 70-82% for 5 star reviews and 8-14% for 4 stars on newegg. The same goes with the 1TB+, except many people are having problems because Newegg isnt listing HDDs as "Advance Format" causing issues with storage.

    HDDs have more moving parts then any other piece of hardware in your PC (besides a water pump for cooling) so obviously this component will likely fail before the others.

    Read the reviews a little more and you'll see.
  • 2 Hide
    batkerson , June 25, 2010 4:10 PM
    Question: Is Seagate's drive really more reliable OR is the extra cost of the Seagate drive just paying Seagate for an "insurance policy" for replacement within 5 years? And how do you actually test the fail rate of a new drive?
  • 2 Hide
    Anomalyx , June 25, 2010 4:39 PM
    asiaprimeI'm still anti-seagate. 3 hard drives 133% fail rate in the first year!! each one of them died and one of the refurb drives died... thank god for raid 5

    That's some interesting math there... lol
    Pretty sure that would be a 4 out of 4 (100%) fail, as I don't think 4 out of 3 can mathematically happen... O_o
    100%, 133%, Still doesn't help Seagate's case... tis why I'm a WD fan. Only seen 2 of their drives fail ever, over many people's PCs and many many years
  • 4 Hide
    blarger , June 25, 2010 5:23 PM
    I have several problems with this article:

    First the timeline, its June 25 2010, seriously wtf. The samsung drive is by no means new, I've had one for the better part of two months now.

    Secondly the fact that it compares a 7200 rpm drive to a 5400 rpm on in a performance oriented shootout - I just dont get it. It's not like there are that many 2TB drives to compare.

    Third the method - it is June 25 2010 and Tomshardware is still using Vista SERVICE PACK 1 for storage subsystem tests?!

    Not to mention the fact that the article harps on power consumption like its the biggest problem facing the world today in devices that average 3-7 watts of continuous draw. Like the difference of .7 watts should influence your decision of what hard drive(s) to buy. There are other factors far more important.

    I feel like I got sucked into a time warp that exits in a parallel universe of stupidity.
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