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Four 3 TB Hard Drives, Tested And Reviewed

Four 3 TB Hard Drives, Tested And Reviewed
By , Achim Roos

Hard drives able to hold 3 TB of data need to be considered carefully because they might not always work as expected. This round-up of four high-capacity disks compares products from Hitachi, Seagate, and Western Digital, then covers their caveats.

The latest 3.5” hard drives offer up to 3 TB of storage capacity. Western Digital was first with its Caviar Green WD30EZRS, and now Hitachi and Seagate have added competing products to their portfolios.

In this comparison, we put the Western Digital drive up against its 3 TB competitors: two drive from Hitachi (the Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3030ALA630 and Deskstar 7K3000 HDS723030ALA640), as well as Seagate's Barracuda XT ST33000651AS.

Sure, the 3 TB labels on the hard drives look impressive, but you have to exercise caution on many computers, which are incapable of recognizing and utilizing the drives properly. Making them run as intended often requires particular platform choices and a suitable operating system. And you can forget about using them as boot drives if you're not using a UEFI-equipped motherboard.

Despite those configuration-related hurdles (which we're going to have to collectively overcome at some point anyway if we want to see even larger disks), 3 TB drives still represent a very important pillar in storage environments, either at home or in enterprises. SSDs are superior in many ways, but they're definitely not in the position to displace conventional hard drives when it comes down to basic data storage. As a result of high capacity, low cost per gigabyte, and low power consumption per gigabyte, magnetic storage remains the only reasonable choice for backup, archiving, and user data.

Performance and Energy Saving

Our test candidates can be divided into two different camps. One is made up of the Western Digital Caviar Green WD30EZRS and the Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3030ALA630. Their moderate spindle speeds translate to low power consumption, moderate temperatures, and minimal noise.

The second group is made up of the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 and Seagate Barracuda ST33000651AS XT. Their 7200 RPM speeds promise more performance. Power saving is not the main focus for these products, which is immediately reflected in their somewhat-higher power consumption.

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  • -1 Hide
    agnickolov , September 8, 2011 5:55 AM
    Quote:
    Three terabyte hard drives remain premium products, not only because they're best handled by enthusiasts who know what they're doing, but also because they're the largest disks available and you always seem to pay more for the largest, fastest, coolest...well, you know the drill.

    Well, that's no longer the case:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/GoFlex-Desk-4TB-3.5-inch-industrial-design-USB-3.0,13371.html
  • 0 Hide
    The_King , September 8, 2011 7:48 AM
    Seagate 5 year warranty FTW
  • 3 Hide
    vdr369 , September 8, 2011 8:07 AM
    Seagate barracuda is pulling my heart with it's performance, but punching my pocket with it's price,
  • 2 Hide
    salb99 , September 8, 2011 11:25 AM
    the hitachi 5k3000 at max throughput uses less power than at idle, is it correct? also, video power consumptions here are the same as idle for all drives.
  • 0 Hide
    dww , September 8, 2011 12:56 PM
    I don't see the point of 3 TB drives. Too big to use in most current systems, but too small to be a useful gain over 2 TB for those that CAN handle larger sizes. At present they're also too expensive, and once 4 TB drives come out in volume they'll be superseded. So I guess they're just a short term stopgap.
  • 3 Hide
    excidium , September 8, 2011 1:33 PM
    Graph labels for the 7K3000 are incorrect ( 5400RPM ) on page:
    Benchmark Results: Throughput And Interface Bandwidth

    Haven't finished reading the rest of the article.
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , September 8, 2011 1:43 PM
    WD30EZRS recommended for NAS?
    how about TLER ? and the issue with frequent head parking ? Though the later is correctable with wdidle3.exe..
    Considering each green drive might have different rotation speed are you sure about your NAS recommendation?
  • 0 Hide
    monkeysweat , September 8, 2011 2:42 PM
    i know 2TB is cheaper per GB,, however i only got 4 HDD slots in my case,, and 3 are in use already,, 1.5, 2.0 & 2.5 TB model drives + 1 SSD tucked under my card reader,, either i gotta spend more on a new case + drive or just spend a little more on a nice drive...
  • 0 Hide
    chesteracorgi , September 8, 2011 3:33 PM
    With 2 Samsung 2.0 TB F4 Ecogreen (SATA 3.0 & 32 MB cache) and 2 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda Green (SATA 6.0 & 64 MB cache) drives installed in my home server, it is my experience that HDDs are no better off on SATA 6.0 than on SATA 3.0. If you are looking for performance then look for a faster rpm rate: the 640 GB WD Caviar Black (SATA 6.0 & 64 MB cache) kills all of the above in speed. However, none of these HDDs can touch an older generation SSD like the Crucial C300 (128 GB).

    The most important characteristic of the HDDs is reliability. So far, since 3/11, all of the HDDs have proven reliable, while the SSD had to be RMA'd after a couple of weeks.

    But the story is not complete on any of this hardware as it is still premature to talk about long term results. I believe that reliability is the biggest issue with 3 TB drives and would like to see more on failure rates and reliability.

    BTW the average feedback at Newegg on large HDDs is about 60% positive (4 or 5 eggs) on large drives. I made a decision to buy only drives with a rating of at least 80% aggregate positive.
  • 1 Hide
    nforce4max , September 8, 2011 3:41 PM
    I went with three 2TB Hitachi drives instead.
  • 0 Hide
    nordlead , September 8, 2011 4:09 PM
    imnooneWD30EZRS recommended for NAS? how about TLER ? and the issue with frequent head parking ? Though the later is correctable with wdidle3.exe..Considering each green drive might have different rotation speed are you sure about your NAS recommendation?

    I'm using a WD Green drive in my NAS and while it should be a consideration the simple solution to the head parking was to put the drives to sleep after an appropriate time interval. One of the drives is used as a backup drive and is put to sleep after 5 minutes, and the other is used for media and sleeps after 20. This eliminates the head parking problem without having to use wdidle and uses less power due to the disks being spun down. The 5-sec delay with starting a movie isn't a big deal and the backups are automatic so I don't notice it anyways.
  • -1 Hide
    hixbot , September 8, 2011 6:44 PM
    Are these 512 byte sectors or 4k?
  • 0 Hide
    bobjones003 , September 8, 2011 6:47 PM
    My main file server has large amount storage space. I still buy 2 tb hard drives when it needs more stoarge space. That will only work once more it only has single 1 tb hard drive left. The board supports 6 sata and 2 ide. Everything is filled boot drive is old 250 ide from 3 years ago and uses a ide dvd drive.
  • 0 Hide
    mikeangs2004 , September 8, 2011 6:59 PM
    @nforce4max; CoolSpin came later than IntelliPower, so did the corresponding HDD's
  • -3 Hide
    geekapproved , September 8, 2011 7:11 PM
    Warranty isn't important? Seagate now only offers 2yrs on oem drivers
  • -1 Hide
    CaedenV , September 8, 2011 7:37 PM
    GeekApprovedWarranty isn't important? Seagate now only offers 2yrs on oem drivers

    That's great news, they use to only warranty 1 year on OEM drives (not drivers), but they have always had 3-5 years on retail boxes, which really don't cost that much more
  • 0 Hide
    animeman59 , September 9, 2011 1:13 AM
    Got 2 of the 3TB Hitachi 7K3000 drives. One for my Steam and game installs, and the other as my backup drive, along with two 1TB drives for additional backup redundancy for the more important stuff.

    Great drives overall. Runs really well, and I have more than enough space for all of my media, documents, and games. These drives will last me for several years as far as space is concerned. Whether they'll be reliable enough for that time period is another issue. But that's what backups are for. ;) 

    If you have the cash, then the Hitachis are a really good investment. Last storage drives you'll ever buy for a couple of years.
  • 0 Hide
    thepregnantgod , September 9, 2011 11:01 AM
    I have 4 3TB WD Greenies and I doubted everyone else's comments about the TLER problem when using in RAID. If you're trying to RAID something at those amounts of storage you're going to be very sorry when the array keeps dropping your Green drives due to TLER timeout/conflicts and you have to rebuild or lose the data. I lost about 6 TBs of media trying a 4x3TB RAID 5 array on a RocketRaid 2300. And yes, it's fake raid which was supposed to be kinder than true hardware RAID on these drives.

    Bottom line, they are great storage drives - individually.
  • 0 Hide
    Antman56 , September 9, 2011 11:44 AM
    I have been running 4 3TB Hitachi 7200's in Raid 5 on a AMD 790GX motherboard for half a year now! The transfer rates are straight nasty! I am getting over 600MB/s on reads! I have never experienced a fault... so that is what I'm sticking with
  • 0 Hide
    lp231 , September 9, 2011 3:30 PM
    The_KingSeagate 5 year warranty FTW

    Didn't they reduce the 5 year HDDs down to 3 years and
    3 year HDDs down to 2 years?
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