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Test Setup

Do You Need A New Hard Drive With Your Windows 7 Upgrade?
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Setup for Low-Level Hard Drive Benchmarks

System Hardware
Hardware
Details
CPUIntel Core i7-920 (45nm, 2.66 GHz, 8MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard (LGA 1366)Supermicro X8SAX
Revision: 1.1
Chipset: Intel X58 + ICH10R
BIOS: 1.0B
RAM3 x 1GB DDR3-1333 Corsair CM3X1024-1333C9DHX
HDDSeagate NL35 400 GB
ST3400832NS
7,200 RPM, SATA/150, 8MB Cache
Power SupplyOCZ EliteXstream 800W
OCZ800EXS-EU
Benchmarks
Performance Measurementsh2benchw 3.13
PCMark Vantage 1.0
I/O PerformanceIOMeter 2006.07.27
File server Benchmark, Web server benchmark, Workstation Benchmark, Database Benchmark
Streaming Reads
Streaming Writes
System Software & Drivers
Driver
Details
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate SP1
Intel ChipsetChipset Installation Utility 9.1.0.1007
AMD GraphicsRadeon 8.12
Intel Matrix Storage8.7.0.1007


We haven’t changed acoustic management, which means that both drives operated at maximum performance.

Test Setup for Windows XP Versus Windows 7 Testing



Hardware
Details
CPUIntel Core 2 Duo E6300 (65nm, 1.86 GHz, 2MB L2 Cache)
Motherboard (Socket 775)
DFI LANPartyUT P35-T2R, Rev. 1.0
Chipset: Intel P35 + ICH9R
BIOS: LP35D521
RAM
2 x 1GB DDR2-1066 Crucial CT2566AA1067
HDD I
Hitachi E7K500, 500GB (HDS725050KLA360)
7,200 RPM, SATA/300, 16MB cache
HDD II
Hitachi 7K2000, 2TB (HDS722020ALA330)
7,200 RPM, SATA/300, 32MB cache
GraphicsZotac GeForce 8800 GTS
GPU: GeForce 8800 GTS (500 MHz)
RAM: 320MB GDDR3 (1600 MHz)
Power SupplyOCZ EliteXstream 800W
OCZ800EXS-EU
Benchmarks
Performance Measurements
PCMark Vantage 1.0
SYSmark 2007 Preview, V.1.06
System Software And Drivers
Drivers
Details
Operating System IWindows XP Professional, Service Pack 3 (fully updated with Windows Update on 12/09/2009)
Operating System IIWindows 7 Ultimate (fully Updated with Windows Update on 12/09/2009)
Intel Chipset Drivers
Chipset Installation Utility 9.​1.​1.​1019
Nvidia Graphics Drivers
Version 195.62
Display all 19 comments.
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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    jsowoc , December 31, 2009 7:29 AM
    I found it annoying how some things (like temperature and access time in ms) were normalized to 100%. I'd much rather know if it was 10 and 13 ms or 100 and 130 ms.
Other Comments
  • 17 Hide
    jsowoc , December 31, 2009 7:29 AM
    I found it annoying how some things (like temperature and access time in ms) were normalized to 100%. I'd much rather know if it was 10 and 13 ms or 100 and 130 ms.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , December 31, 2009 10:34 AM
    These are not that old hard drives in my opinion. I installed Windows 7 on my old home PC, with its 200GB Seagate PATA 7200.8 drive, and event though it's by no means not blazingly fast, it still performs almost as fast as it does under windows XP and its performance is more than sufficient for web browsing or skype-ing. I feel that the bottleneck in that PC is the processor (AthlonXP OC'd @ 2300mhz) but it rarely goes beyond 80% of usage. But event older hard drive should be sufficient for smooth computing under 7. I tested the same PC with 1.5TB Seagate SATA Drive, and the performance difference wasn't big (again, it should be the processor). Sorry for the long post, I just wanted to share my experience
  • 0 Hide
    candide08 , December 31, 2009 11:26 AM
    Disks are bottlenecks much more than people think.

    All browsers write a lot - cookies, temp files, cache, etc.
    Add in OS paging and other system writes and the disk is a slow link in the processing chain.

    Disk seek access is measured in milli-seconds (thousandths of a second) - a factor of 1,000,000 slower than memory and much slower than any processor running at any number of giga-hertz.

    Maybe you should stop "feeling" what the bottleneck is and measure it.
  • 0 Hide
    drfelip , December 31, 2009 11:49 AM
    Interesting scenario, could be useful for some people. But currently I think the most interesting upgrades in the storage field are SSDs. Value SSDs such as the Kingston V series are very interesting, but things such as performance degradation over time and high price per GB are still an issue... For now my 750 GB HD is enough for me!
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , December 31, 2009 12:35 PM
    Of course you should go with a new hard drive. Don't touch the old one and 2 cable moves you can switch back to your old computer to check a setting or driver or whatever. Throw the old one in an enclosure and the data is available forever.
  • -4 Hide
    jonpaul37 , December 31, 2009 1:43 PM
    Tell you what, i had an E4500 @ 3.3 Ghz and then switched to a Q6600 @ 3.6 Ghz and the boot times alone are INSANE, Hooray Quad Core!!! now i just need to upgrade to an SSD to speed up the boot time on my WD Black 640 GB.
  • 0 Hide
    bounty , December 31, 2009 1:52 PM
    I wouldn't mind seeing a test of how long it takes to load a savegame or level etc. You might have to do it the old fashioned way with a stopwatch though. Maybe pick several games internally, then narrow it down to the games that seem obviously bottlenecked by HDD for load times (maybe SSD vs old HDD to see which titles are most effected), then include them in future HDD reviews.

    Please be sure to include the time it takes to do things, MB/s is also useful, but not in all cases, for instance if something loads in 1 second v.s. .8 seconds it's a wash.
  • -1 Hide
    cadder , December 31, 2009 2:03 PM
    You forgot the best reason for upgrading drives: reliability. This changes from year to year but most drives have a finite lifetime in use. I read way too many times about people that lost their data when their computer crashed. My company bought 5 new computers, each with 2 drives, and within 3 years 9 of the 10 drives had failed. This was with the drives that our supplier had the best luck with. So personally I don't like to rely on a drive over 2 years old. I think things are a little better now but a new OS is still a good reason for a person to buy a new drive and reduce their chances of hard drive failure a little bit, plus their old hard drive still contains all of their older data for safekeeping.

    Data transfer rate is partially a function of drive rotational speed and data density on the platters, so a 4 platter drive has a higher theoretical data transfer rate than a 5 platter drive of the same overall capacity. A 4 platter drive might have performed even better in your tests, although the differences in brands start to be significant here too.

    I recently installed Win7 on my home machine. The machine was built a year ago with XP and a WD 640 black drive. I bought a WD 750 black from newegg on sale and put it in the machine, mainly because this was the easiest way for me to install the new OS and make sure everything was running well before I jeopardized the installation of my old OS.
  • 1 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , December 31, 2009 7:27 PM
    If the price of the Intel G2 SSD wasn't so high I'd probably get one.
  • 0 Hide
    maestintaolius , December 31, 2009 7:39 PM
    I put in an Intel G2R5 80 GB SSD into my machine when I moved to win 7 x64. I really love the lightning fast startup time (I also dual boot to Ubuntu when I'm not gaming).
  • 4 Hide
    rand_79 , December 31, 2009 10:00 PM
    it would be nice if you learned how to make graphs.

    they are normalized to percent numbers but on a graph of MB/SEC

    wtf
  • 0 Hide
    False_Dmitry_II , January 1, 2010 1:18 AM
    cadder and within 3 years 9 of the 10 drives had failed.


    Supposedly things like not defragging can cause stuff. But that's a crazy high number. I've not actually had any that I was, how you say, relying on, die on me. The only one I've had die I knew was dieing months before it finally did. And it was a super ancient 20 gig drive that ran for 10-ish years I think. During that last while it was employed as my linux htpc's (my first incarnation of a htpc so I could see what it would be capable of) OS drive. And it did a great job as just something to boot from.

    In other words a drive should be obsoleted before it dies on you. Unless it dies in a month and was simply defective, but that's what RMA's are for. (I had this happen once too)
  • 3 Hide
    maban , January 1, 2010 2:35 AM
    Put the real numbers in the chart and put the percentages as text.
  • -1 Hide
    apache_lives , January 1, 2010 2:40 AM
    cadderYou forgot the best reason for upgrading drives: reliability. This changes from year to year but most drives have a finite lifetime in use. I read way too many times about people that lost their data when their computer crashed. My company bought 5 new computers, each with 2 drives, and within 3 years 9 of the 10 drives had failed. This was with the drives that our supplier had the best luck with. So personally I don't like to rely on a drive over 2 years old. I think things are a little better now but a new OS is still a good reason for a person to buy a new drive and reduce their chances of hard drive failure a little bit, plus their old hard drive still contains all of their older data for safekeeping.Data transfer rate is partially a function of drive rotational speed and data density on the platters, so a 4 platter drive has a higher theoretical data transfer rate than a 5 platter drive of the same overall capacity. A 4 platter drive might have performed even better in your tests, although the differences in brands start to be significant here too.I recently installed Win7 on my home machine. The machine was built a year ago with XP and a WD 640 black drive. I bought a WD 750 black from newegg on sale and put it in the machine, mainly because this was the easiest way for me to install the new OS and make sure everything was running well before I jeopardized the installation of my old OS.


    Reliability - i got 3 cheap servers using desktop drives in RAID5 and till this day have NOT lost a drive and there tested ever year or so - whatever your doing, your doing it wrong, my oldest server is ~4 years old now.

    candide08Disks are bottlenecks much more than people think.All browsers write a lot - cookies, temp files, cache, etc.Add in OS paging and other system writes and the disk is a slow link in the processing chain.Disk seek access is measured in milli-seconds (thousandths of a second) - a factor of 1,000,000 slower than memory and much slower than any processor running at any number of giga-hertz.Maybe you should stop "feeling" what the bottleneck is and measure it.


    Have to agree here - every bus in the system on the northbridge/cpu area reads at many gb/s, a hdd cant even break 100mb/s currently, and ssd's are alot better but still not gb/s and reading/writing cycles are still in MS not NS - still needs alot of improving there.

    jonpaul37Tell you what, i had an E4500 @ 3.3 Ghz and then switched to a Q6600 @ 3.6 Ghz and the boot times alone are INSANE, Hooray Quad Core!!! now i just need to upgrade to an SSD to speed up the boot time on my WD Black 640 GB.


    I have noticed this to some extent - quads give the system that grunt on startup but nothing too big etc
  • 0 Hide
    narinos , January 3, 2010 8:39 AM
    Getting a new drive is a "sleeper" performance booster. Better even than upgrading the CPU. I did indeed get a new drive (a 2TB Seagate - they are pretty affordable already), and it's just incredibly faster.

    Only "gotcha" is actually moving the system from the new one to the old one. From what I've found, you can either use Zinstall HDD or Acronis TI.
    They are the same price, and I find Zinstall easier to use (since they are specifically dedicated to upgrading hard drives), although Acronis also does backup.
  • 0 Hide
    ossie , January 3, 2010 4:10 PM
    The dynamic duo just hit the next level in beancounter style articles: normalized percentages. What the heck can raw data be good for? Chewed and predigested is sooo much less mentally challenging... Just another botched article, TH style.

    DDWindows 7 delivers lower overall performance than the same machine running Windows XP.

    Unbelievable... xpire still faster than vi$hta sp2+ (aka $even)? Ungrateful, and greedy bastards.... Isn't it enough that m$ paid you through the nose for $even's media hype? Now you're stabbing them in the back...
    DDit would make a lot of sense to provide some more storage horsepower for a new system, especially given affordable hard drive costs and attractive capacities

    Wrong, it would make a lot more sense to stick with xpire... if you really need the gamer o$.
  • 0 Hide
    Dougie Fresh , January 11, 2010 4:04 PM
    Not sure if I missed this in the article, but upgrading to Windows 7 with a new HDD can cause the license key to not validate. I had this problem recently. I had an old Windows XP install on a HDD about 5-6 years old so I decided to replace it. I did a clean install using my upgrade (family 3-pack) and when I got to the license key screen it wouldn't take my valid license key. This same key had worked on the first computer I upgraded but not the second. Googling found a workaround but it was a real pain and something to think about.

    What seems even more strange is you HAVE to do a clean install from XP so how can the license validation fail with an error saying you can't do a clean install with the upgrade!
  • 0 Hide
    b82 , January 11, 2010 7:45 PM
    rand_79it would be nice if you learned how to make graphs.they are normalized to percent numbers but on a graph of MB/SEC wtf

    I just want to agree with this. Tired as I was, the first graphs on the 'throughput and streaming' page had me totally baffled until I read your comment, and then it clicked.

    I don't want to knock Tom's too much, I think they provide a lot of very useful and detailed analysis. However I would say that the presentation and editing of their graphs is one place they really should try to check things over more thoroughly. Maybe get a separate person to do it.

    Not very often, but still too often, they don't have the axes labelled right, haven't got the key/legend right, haven't been titled as well as they could be, or some other problem. Usually you can work out the mistake, but QC needs raising here (IMO).
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 16, 2010 9:50 PM
    yes, it would be nice if you learned how to make graphs