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Drive Choice: Performance Or Eco? Spinpoint T166 Vs. F2EG

Picking A Hard Drive For Your NAS: New Green Beats Old Speed
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The Performance Option: Samsung Spinpoint T166 (HD321KJ)

We’ve been using Samsung’s Spinpoint T166 (HD321KJ) drives in our NAS tests for a while now. Originally, we picked this model because it offered high data transfer rates (for its time) while remaining affordable. Their capacity of only 320GB (definitely modest by current standards) actually works in our favor today, as it helps keep the time for some of our tests down. Besides, a higher capacity also means longer build times when initializing a RAID array. Believe us, waiting 24 hours for a terabyte of RAID storage to finish a build is about as much fun as watching the proverbial paint dry.

But let’s get back to the drive. Like all SATA/300 drives, Samsung’s HD321KJ supports both native command queuing (NCQ) and hot-swapping. It spins at 7,200 RPM and sports 16MB of cache as a buffer. To reach its nominal capacity, it employs two platters of 167GB each.

Peak data throughput comes in at 83 MB/s, although the hard disk performance benchmark h2benchw measured about 64 MB/s for both reads and writes. For reference, current 3.5” desktop drives can push about 120 MB/s. On the other hand, the RAID configurations found in most modern NAS servers are limited more by their processor than the hard drives, so even slower drives don’t usually become a bottleneck.

In the context of this comparison, the Spinpoint T166 is also a good reference point for users looking to upgrade an older NAS with newer drives. Aside from the obvious benefit of providing much more capacity, newer drives also tend to consume less energy.

The Eco Option: Samsung Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen (HD103SI)

Our other drives were also provided by Samsung. We opted for the Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen (HD103SI). Like the HD321KJ, this terabyte drive is built using two platters, each of which can store 500GB of data. Unlike the T166, the F2 EcoGreen is a current-generation drive, meaning that there are also some other notable differences.

Like its older sibling, Samsung’s HD103SI supports NCQ and uses the SATA/300 interface. However, the newer model sports 32MB of cache, twice as much as the T166.

At the same time, Samsung has dropped the spindle speed from 7,200 RPM to only 5,400 RPM in order to achieve the drive’s ambitions where low power consumption is concerned. Nonetheless, the drive achieves sequential read and write speeds of around 84 MB/s, while its maximum throughput comes in at over 100 MB/s. That’s not bad at all, considering the comparatively low spindle speed.

A Look at the Hard Drives

Manufacturer
Samsung
Samsung
Model
Spinpoint T166Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen
Model Number
HD321KJ HD103SI
Form Factor
3.5" 3.5"
Capacity
320GB
1,000GB
Rotation Speed
7,200 RPM5,400 RPM
Other Capacities
80, 160, 500GB 500, 1500GB
Platters
2
2
Cache
16MB 32MB
Interface
SATA/300 SATA/300
Ambient Temperature
0-60°C 0-60°C
Power Consumption "Idle"
 (according to the manufacturer)
7.6W 4.6W
Shock Test (2 ms, read)
63 G
70 G
Warranty
3 Years
3 Years
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