New Desktop Hard Drives: Speed Or Capacity?

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 (500 GB, 750 GB, and 1,000 GB)

The new Barracuda does not yet offer capacity of more than 1.0 TB, which pales in comparison to the 1.5 TB Barracuda 7200.11. Instead, Seagate focuses on the “ideal combination of capacity, performance, and reliability” at mainstream capacities. In addition to the 1.0 TB, 750 GB, and 500 GB test samples we received, you can get 320 GB, 250 GB, and 160 GB versions. The 1 TB and 750 GB models feature 32 MB cache memory and the 500 GB and 320 GB drives have 16 MB cache, while the 250 GB and 160 GB entry-level drives have only 8 MB cache. All drives spin at 7,200 RPM and offer  SATA/300 with NCQ.

Power and Performance

It’s nice to see that more and more drive manufacturers are adding power consumption to their spec sheets. Seagate says that the new 7200.12 requires 5.0 W at idle and 9.4 W when in operation. We measured exactly the same idle power for the 1.0 TB and 750 GB drives, but got lower results for the 500 GB single-platter model. The new 'cuda definitely offers 126-131 MB/s maximum throughput, which is a new record for 7,200 RPM 3.5” desktop hard drives. Note that the 500 GB model had the highest maximum result. Access time varies between 14.7 and 16.6 ms, but for some reason, the WD Caviar Green happens to offer noticeably better I/O performance than the Seagate drives. Clearly, the new Barracuda 7200.12 was not optimized for server workloads, but is geared exclusively for desktop applications, as its PCMark Vantage performance benchmark results are excellent.