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Drives: Samsung 470 Series (SSD) And Seagate Barracuda XT (Hard Drive)

Should You Upgrade? From A Hard Drive To An SSD
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Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda XT, 3 TB

We chose a high-end hard disk that combines solid performance with plenty of capacity to represent the whole spectrum of hard disks on the market. Seagate's Barracuda XT is a good representative in that regard. With 3 TB of space and a 7200 RPM spindle, this drive gives us high data transfer rates, decent (as far as disks go) access times, and reasonable I/O performance. While the SATA interface supports 6 Gb/s, we found that even in 3 Gb/s mode the drive hits its performance ceiling, clocking in at 160 MB/s.

With respect to price, this model is at the upper end of what you'll pay for a hard drive, and it'd probably be a likely option for the power user who hasn't yet made the decision to try out an SSD.

Seagate protects the Barracuda XT with a five-year warranty. Hitachi's Deskstar 7K2000 and 7K3000 (3 TB) or Western Digital's Black Edition 2 TB drives would be suitable alternatives offering comparable performance.

You can refer back to our Desktop Hard Drive Charts for benchmark results of the most current disks.

SSD: Samsung 470 Series, 128 GB

We've used these drives as reference several times in the past, though they're no longer the latest and greatest (for that, check out Samsung Goes 6 Gb/s: Is The 830-Series SSD King Of The Hill?). The 470 series is available in 64, 128, or 256 GB capacities, leveraging 3 Gb/s SATA interface. Compared to the most recent high-end models from Crucial, Intel, and any number of second-gen SandForce-based SSDs, this model isn't particularly modern-sounding. After all, it's last-generation interface limits data transfer rates to 260 MB/s. Some of the latest 6 Gb/s-capable drives can push sequential transfers beyond 500 MB/s. Our thinking here, though, is that even an older SSD is going to yield a significant gain over the hard drive.

Samsung, Intel, and Toshiba all design and manufacture the components that go into their respective SSDs (the notable exception being Intel with its Marvell-powered SSD 510). All three vendors have reasonable track records with regard to firmware issues, though none of them are perfect. The take-away here is that, even if the 470 isn't something a lot of enthusiasts would look to, the mainstream crowd is served well by this and any other number of modern SSDs.

Our SSD Charts 2011 show benchmark results of many recent SSDs.

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Top Comments
  • 33 Hide
    Inferno1217 , October 7, 2011 4:36 AM
    looks like dial-up vs. broadband
  • 20 Hide
    Wamphryi , October 7, 2011 5:13 AM
    I was of the opinion that 10000 RPM Drives are enough. However since I went SSD there is no comparison. I have two Velicoraptors in RAID 0 and they just cant keep up. However they are ideal to store a couple of hundred GB of HD Video for Video Editing. Upgrading a Laptop from its HDD to a SSD is a real treat. It results in a massive improvement in performance.

    SSD for the OS and main applications is well worth it.

    10000 RPM HDD's make awesome scratch drives especially for HD.

    7200 RPM HDD's are excellent for reasonable performance combined with large capacity.

    5400 RPM HDD's are excellent for external / hot swappable solutions especially in the absence of active cooling.

    There is a solution for every situation now.
  • 20 Hide
    bratbretbrot , October 7, 2011 4:30 AM
    limited capacities and still-high prices, period
Other Comments
  • 20 Hide
    bratbretbrot , October 7, 2011 4:30 AM
    limited capacities and still-high prices, period
  • 33 Hide
    Inferno1217 , October 7, 2011 4:36 AM
    looks like dial-up vs. broadband
  • -7 Hide
    kurahk7 , October 7, 2011 4:37 AM
    The motherboard pictured is the MSI H57M-ED65 not the listed Gigabyte.
  • -1 Hide
    agnickolov , October 7, 2011 4:37 AM
    The answer is still: it depends on your needs.

    I just upgraded my boot drive - to a 450GB 10K RPM Velociraptor. Any lower capacity is simply insufficient to hold my Steam and other games.
  • 5 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , October 7, 2011 4:38 AM
    Great article. Enjoyed reading it. I was a little apprehensive when I purchased my first ssd. It was a low budget entry model that was on sale. Quite frankly the performance surprised me.

    Two days ago I purchased my second ssd - a Samsung 470 256GB ssd because of Samsung's reliability. In addition my motherboard is not SATA 3 6Gb/s capable and I did not want to upgrade the motherboard, cpu, and memory. The next upgrade will be when the new PCI-e 3.0 based components establish a reasonably good track record.
  • 2 Hide
    kurahk7 , October 7, 2011 4:38 AM
    kurahk7The motherboard pictured is the MSI H57M-ED65 not the listed Gigabyte.

    Never Mind. Just refreshed the page and saw the "System Hardware for Real-Life Tests."
  • -1 Hide
    CorusMaximus , October 7, 2011 4:52 AM
    Is there still issues with raid 0 and trim on SSD?
  • 2 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 7, 2011 5:03 AM
    i lolled on seeing the video. the hdd video is very familiar to me, specially the scrolling messages on the ms powerpoint oening splash scree.
  • -1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , October 7, 2011 5:08 AM
    Q: has anyone here used both a sf1200 SSD and a sf2281 based SSD? whats the "subjective speed difference" between these two? and please dont quote benchies. did you actually feel that the system is faster?
  • 3 Hide
    JohnnyLucky , October 7, 2011 5:13 AM
    mayankleoboy1Q: has anyone here used both a sf1200 SSD and a sf2281 based SSD? whats the "subjective speed difference" between these two? and please dont quote benchies. did you actually feel that the system is faster?


    If there is any subjective difference it would barely be noticeable. We've had veterans post here and at other forums that they could not tell the difference. It would be different for a complicated enterprise or scientific application.
  • 20 Hide
    Wamphryi , October 7, 2011 5:13 AM
    I was of the opinion that 10000 RPM Drives are enough. However since I went SSD there is no comparison. I have two Velicoraptors in RAID 0 and they just cant keep up. However they are ideal to store a couple of hundred GB of HD Video for Video Editing. Upgrading a Laptop from its HDD to a SSD is a real treat. It results in a massive improvement in performance.

    SSD for the OS and main applications is well worth it.

    10000 RPM HDD's make awesome scratch drives especially for HD.

    7200 RPM HDD's are excellent for reasonable performance combined with large capacity.

    5400 RPM HDD's are excellent for external / hot swappable solutions especially in the absence of active cooling.

    There is a solution for every situation now.
  • 6 Hide
    jwcalla , October 7, 2011 5:52 AM
    "Should You Upgrade?"

    This should have been a one-word article.

    srsly... once you go SSD, you can't go back.
  • 6 Hide
    DjEaZy , October 7, 2011 6:16 AM
    Should You Upgrade from A Hard Drive To An SSD? It's expensive, but worth it... speed increase is wow...
  • 6 Hide
    Wamphryi , October 7, 2011 6:41 AM
    Yeah my i3 Laptop feels like it has more snap than my i5 Lynnfield Desktop which runs a Velicoraptor.
  • 3 Hide
    Kamab , October 7, 2011 7:23 AM
    Definitely Agree.

    Purchased an Intel X25-M 80GB on my most recent desktop build and have since upgraded to SSD's on my personal/work laptops. Definitely improves the experience.
  • 9 Hide
    compton , October 7, 2011 7:28 AM
    To all the people who think that it's not worth it until they can get a 1TB SSD for $80, consider that Baby Jesus hates it when you're running your OS off a hard drive that hasn't changed since the pterodactyls roamed the skies. I'd take an $80 SSD over any mechanical HDD any day of the week. The great part is YOU DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER! Not even in many laptops, with the advent of more mini PCIe SSDs. In the past year I've forgone more rapid upgrades to stockpile SSDs when I can get them cheap. You can get a gently used X25-M 80GB for not much feddy on the eBay the kids talk about. Agility 30GBs are going for $40 when there're in stock on Newegg. Every part of the price spectrum is covered. Just install Windows (Or OSX if you go both ways...) on the SSD, use the HDD for Steam or what have you. It's easy, it works great. Don't deny yourself the most effective upgrade you can get right now because you think you need at least 512GB. Many laptops with SATA II and III barely surpass SATA I in many instances, and you're still better off in a laptop with a SSD -- with some decent solid state storage in a Core2Duo lappy it will certainly feel snappier even if you're hamstrung with a bunk controller. And to top it off, a desktop system with no loud-ass HDDs whirring like a helicopter in a tornado? Worth every penny. I can't think of any system made after 2003 that wouldn't benefit from faster storage, but even if max transfer rates are lower, its the small size performance that really pays the bills.

    So don't act like you have to sacrifice mechanical storage to get a smaller capacity SSD. Don't act like it's too expensive... there are a ton of great choices between $80 and $129. Don't be a SSD hating asshat. That's all I ask.
  • 9 Hide
    Homeboy2 , October 7, 2011 7:46 AM
    "limited capacities and still-high prices, period"

    You don't get it. For less than a hundred you can buy a 64 gb SSD and use it for a boot disk and a few apps. PERIOD.
  • 7 Hide
    compton , October 7, 2011 8:10 AM
    haplo602I am still going for 5x250GB drives in raid 5 ... ssds are nice but have limited lifespan built in. that's one thing that keeps me away from them.


    HDD have a limited lifespan as well. At least with SSDs once all the PE cycles are erased the drive is at least read only...

    What if I told you could write 164GB a day for the next 10 years? With a 64GB Crucial M4? Or many other drives...
    Check of the XtremeSystems.org forum endurance testing at



    _Pez_No, I should not upgrade. I prefer more storage capacity than super speed and limited storage capacity. If I want speed I can put 2 or 3 WD 600Gb VelociRaptors in raid 0 and also have super High capacity speed for less money. I Think that would be and is for me the choice of smart ppl.


    Yes, but the 4K random writes don't scale. You could have 4 velociraptor 600s and only get 4MBs 4K random reads and writes. You'd be able to copy blu-ray rips from a ram drive at a hellified speed... but that's worthless. Small file random performance makes all the difference. Plus, the raptors are way overpriced for the performance.
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