Two 2TB Hard Drives For Storage Applications, Reviewed

Samsung Spinpoint F3EG (HD203WI, 2TB)

The EG suffix on Samsung hard drives stands for EcoGreen, and it clarifies pretty quickly what the drive was designed to do. The question always remains, though: does power-friendly also mean great performance per watt efficiency? We’re about to find out.

This latest product excels at blending high capacity with low power consumption. We reviewed the 2TB top model, but you could also get the 1.5TB version. The limited variety in capacity points underlines that this product was designed only for highest capacity storage applications. We should add that this is Samsung’s first 2TB hard drive, and it's also the company's first four-platter hard drive. The manufacturer likes to boast that it implements high capacity at a low platter count (Samsung was first to realize 1TB on three platters), but apparently times have changed.

The drive still utilizes a SATA 3Gb/s interface. Running a 6Gb/s transfer speed won't make any difference, since the drive is limited by its physical performance in moving data from and onto the medium. We measured an encouraging maximum read transfer speed of 115 MB/s. The average and minimum throughput, however, is a bit disappointing. So are access time and I/O performance. Obviously, the drive was designed to be low on power, but unfortunately, this also thwarts all performance ambitions with the exception of throughput. Knowing the performance results in PCMark Vantage, we can only recommend against utilizing this model as a system drive.

On the power consumption side, we measured idle power at 4.1W, which isn’t an all-time low record by any stretch, but it is a bit less than the idle power of the Barracuda LP, another low-power drive with four platters. However, WD’s RE4 drive turned in superior power results. Power consumption at defined workloads, such as 1080p video playback or workstation I/O activity, is low, but not amazingly so.

The F3EG offers decent throughput performance and low power consumption, and it showed extremely low surface temperatures during operation. Unfortunately, it has disappointing application performance and only average power efficiency. It's suitable for storage applications like backup and archiving, but the drive is not a good choice for applications that require concurrent activity.