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Seagate Barracuda XT (ST32000641AS)

Three New Desktop Hard Drives For 2010
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Seagate’s Barracuda XT is the first 6 Gb/s SATA hard drive we've received at our storage test lab. SAS drives with 6 Gb/s bandwidth reached the market first, but Seagate now claims the crown in the desktop space. Chris Angelini spent some time on this drive and Marvell’s new 6 Gb/s SSD controller in October 2009, when the drive delivered great results. Angelini ran it on a 3 Gb/s controller (part of Intel’s P55) versus the Marvell 88SE9128 and observed that it actually delivered slightly higher performance using the new, faster connect. We didn’t connect the drive to another controller for this article, preferring to keep our test platform consistent. In addition, most users will be running the Barracuda XT on 3 Gb/s controllers for a while. There are few disadvantage with the XT drive, as you can see in Angelini’s review.

The Barracuda XT was designed to be the best of the best in desktop storage, offering maximum capacity and maximum performance. The SATA 6 Gb/s interface is backed by 64MB of buffer memory. Only a few drives, such as WD’s Black Edition and RAID Edition, also come with 64MB, even though the cost for memory has come down. Apparently, cost pressure in the hard drive segment is stiff enough to inhibit larger caches. The Barracuda XT's rotation speed still is 7,200 RPM and, just like with Hitachi, there is only one Barracuda XT model (the 2TB) available in the family. However, Seagate stores these 2,000MB on only four (rather than five) platters. This helps keep the Barracuda XT's temperature lower. The measured 41°C is roughly 5°C less than on all the other 7,200 RPM 2TB hard drives.

Seagate's 139 MB/s maximum throughput isn’t fast enough to beat Samsung’s 1TB Spinpoint F3, and it can’t beat Western Digital’s Caviar Black 2TB or RE4 2TB drive. We measured average I/O performance numbers, knowing that the Barracuda XT was designed as a high-end desktop drive. Indeed, the XT delivers great performance in PCMark Vantage, proving that this is an excellent application drive. Only WD’s RE4 drive and, of course, the VelociRaptor are occasionally quicker.

The XT's 6.6W idle power isn’t revolutionary, but it's still good. The other 2TB drives are very close to this power consumption number. Seagate is much more power efficient at maximum streaming reads, where it doesn'tt exceed 8.5W. Other 2TB drives, including the previously-mentioned WD models, require more than 10W at peak performance. Similarly low-power consumption readings can be found during HD video playback and during high I/O activity using our workstation benchmark pattern. As a result, Seagate delivers impressive performance per watt, but it's still beaten by the 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 because that drive is much lower on power without lagging in performance.

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  • 1 Hide
    HansVonOhain , February 19, 2010 5:13 AM
    Thanks for the article. Very informative. I will upgrade my HDD as a stopgap until SSDs will become cheaper.
  • 0 Hide
    anamaniac , February 19, 2010 5:54 AM
    I have several 500GB 7200.10 drives and a 1TB F1.
    I want to drop all of those and go for a 2TB F3 for storage and a 256GB G3 x25-m as a boot drive (when released).

    I find that typically, my 7200.10 drives are very loud, while I've never heard a sound from my Samsung. Samsung is really making great drives these days, and at their price point, I view them as the most attractive.

    Though something I want to know is the failure on all of these drives, which unfortunately, may be information that may be hard to get for a while (accurately).

    =)
  • 3 Hide
    saran008 , February 19, 2010 7:33 AM
    I love Samsung Drive! Good VFM!
    Going to buy a Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB soon!
    One more milestone for Samsung!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 19, 2010 8:35 AM
    I have got 1TB samsung f3 on board since October 2009 and this thing is a blast. But this is probably ma last mechanical drive. In 2 years time SSD will be my choice
  • 2 Hide
    killerclick , February 19, 2010 9:08 AM
    I only buy single platter drives. Until recently I didn't know how loud hard drives are, I always assumed that noise was the GPU or PSU fan but it turns out it's my hard drive. Apparently disks being spun at 7200 RPM make some noise.
  • -1 Hide
    Reynod , February 19, 2010 9:27 AM
    Great review.

    From my interpretation the Western Digital drives are still great performance for the price, and I have certainly had few (if any) problems with the 15 or so I have on my machines over the past few years.

    At a pinch I will buy the large volume Seagates if I can't get a WD.

  • -2 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , February 19, 2010 10:44 AM
    Another great article. The benchmarks were interesting. Looks like hard disk drives will be with us a while longer.
  • -3 Hide
    warezme , February 19, 2010 12:46 PM
    Don't trust Seagate drives unless you don't mind losing your data.
  • -2 Hide
    bustapr , February 19, 2010 1:29 PM
    I like WD Caviar Black. Its a monster HD, great performance and price isnt that bad either. Looking forward to buying one soon, my Hitachi drive already let me down by destroying vital OS info during a memory check.

    Samsung is also great, I had one for three years and replaced it just because it was old(80gb). Spinpoint F3 is certainly a drive to watch close.
  • 4 Hide
    eyemaster , February 19, 2010 1:45 PM
    warezmeDon't trust Seagate drives unless you don't mind losing your data.

    Seagate wouldn't still be in business if that was the case.

    All drive companies have had failing drives. At one point, Seagate WAS the comany and WD was crap.
  • 1 Hide
    thackstonns , February 19, 2010 1:48 PM
    I have the f3 and was a little leary buying it. I have had nothing but problems with wd. Have had 3 out of 4 drives die on me. Seagate was going through the whole terrible drive issue, and so I bought the Samsung. More than happy with it. It is quiet, cool, and fast. I got it for 79bucks on the egg. I will be buying more as soon as they are back in stock. Need to raid them.
  • 0 Hide
    warezme , February 19, 2010 2:51 PM
    thackstonnsI have the f3 and was a little leary buying it. I have had nothing but problems with wd. Have had 3 out of 4 drives die on me. Seagate was going through the whole terrible drive issue, and so I bought the Samsung. More than happy with it. It is quiet, cool, and fast. I got it for 79bucks on the egg. I will be buying more as soon as they are back in stock. Need to raid them.


    thats little comfort to the thousands of folks with 250GB, 500GB, 750GB and 1TB Seagate drives that suddenly had their firmware lock up, essentially bricking the drive, even though the data was still there the firmware was locked in a loop and no longer seen by the bios. Now who's fault could that be? hmmmm Did Seagate offer to recover the data? Sure if you forked over $2,000.
  • -1 Hide
    lothdk , February 19, 2010 3:14 PM
    You have the WD Caviar Green WD20EADS listed at 48.8 dBA idle, is this really true? From my own experience, this is a low-noise HDD.
  • 0 Hide
    cjl , February 19, 2010 4:06 PM
    anamaniacI have several 500GB 7200.10 drives and a 1TB F1.I want to drop all of those and go for a 2TB F3 for storage and a 256GB G3 x25-m as a boot drive (when released).I find that typically, my 7200.10 drives are very loud, while I've never heard a sound from my Samsung. Samsung is really making great drives these days, and at their price point, I view them as the most attractive. Though something I want to know is the failure on all of these drives, which unfortunately, may be information that may be hard to get for a while (accurately).=)

    I own both a Barracuda XT and several 7200.10s, and believe me, the XT is MUCH quieter than the .10s were. Newer drives have come a long way in reducing noise.
  • -2 Hide
    falchard , February 19, 2010 4:51 PM
    Where is the perfectly reasonable low budget consumer hard-drive known as the OCZ Z-Drive?
  • -2 Hide
    Anonymous , February 19, 2010 6:39 PM
    personally we should see the 3tb to 6tb by years end.
  • -3 Hide
    Dirtman73 , February 19, 2010 7:41 PM
    slmpersonally we should see the 3tb to 6tb by years end.


    I'm betting they'll hit at least 8Tb by then, and then 10Tb right after the new year starts. At least I'm hoping.
  • 1 Hide
    chechak , February 19, 2010 7:46 PM
    i think velociraptor is awesome
  • 0 Hide
    False_Dmitry_II , February 19, 2010 7:52 PM
    I used to only use WD. Since the F3 series from samsung came out now I use only samsung and WD.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , February 19, 2010 10:24 PM
    Since when does Seagate offer a 5 year warranty on its desktop drives again? Last time I checked they reduced their desktop drives' warranty to 3 years...
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