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Four 3 TB Hard Drives, Tested And Reviewed

Which 3 TB Hard Drive Is Best?

Given the different priorities of all four drives, it would be both unfair and unnecessary to choose a single winner.

If you put the highest importance on low power consumption and quiet operation, the energy-efficient models are your best bet. Hitachi's Deskstar 5K3000 and Western Digital's Caviar Green place at least as much weight on those two characteristics as they do on throughput. To achieve the best possible mix of performance and low power consumption, they employ slower spindle speeds. Thus, when it comes to performance, neither wins any awards.

The benchmarks show that, while the Western Digital Caviar Green WD30EZRS definitely doesn't break any records as a boot disk or a gaming drive, it performs well enough in the role of data storage. As a disk in a NAS device, for example, it'd excel.

The Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 offers a slightly better mix of performance and power consumption, and thanks to a better performance per watt ratio, it's well-suited for large storage arrays.

You get significantly more performance with the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 and Seagate Barracuda XT ST33000651AS, if only for the simple reason that their 7200 RPM spindle speeds are significantly higher than the first group. Power savings aren't the primary consideration here, which is reflected in the less impressive power consumption results.

In larger storage environments, the Hitachi drive has an edge because it is more energy-efficient, while offering almost exactly the same performance as the Seagate device. However, don't expect extremely high speeds from any of these contenders; none of them should be used for server applications.

Understand The Terminology; Consider A New Platform Before You Buy

Aside from the test results, there are some points that should not be ignored when it comes to 3 TB hard drives. The venerable MBR is not suitable for hard drives larger than 2.2 TB. If you want to load Windows on a 2.5 or 3 TB drive, you have to format it as a GPT drive (GUID Partition Table) and boot with a UEFI-compliant motherboard. Because UEFI has not yet replaced the familiar BIOS in the mainstream space, and also because not every operating system supports UEFI, you should double-check hardware and software compatibility before taking the leap into a 3 TB disk. Even the simpler option of using the device as a non-bootable data drive won't work with every operating system, it'll certainly be problematic for certain NAS appliances.

Three terabyte hard drives remain premium products, not only because they're best handled by enthusiasts who know what they're doing, but also because they're the largest disks available and you always seem to pay more for the largest, fastest, coolest...well, you know the drill. If you really need ample space for your data, you have to lay a compatibility-oriented foundation first. Otherwise, it'd be better to stick with 2 TB drives. They facilitate similar performance, but they are clearly cheaper if you look at the cost per gigabyte.

  • agnickolov
    Three terabyte hard drives remain premium products, not only because they're best handled by enthusiasts who know what they're doing, but also because they're the largest disks available and you always seem to pay more for the largest, fastest, coolest...well, you know the drill.
    Well, that's no longer the case:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/GoFlex-Desk-4TB-3.5-inch-industrial-design-USB-3.0,13371.html
    Reply
  • The_King
    Seagate 5 year warranty FTW
    Reply
  • vdr369
    Seagate barracuda is pulling my heart with it's performance, but punching my pocket with it's price,
    Reply
  • salb99
    the hitachi 5k3000 at max throughput uses less power than at idle, is it correct? also, video power consumptions here are the same as idle for all drives.
    Reply
  • dww
    I don't see the point of 3 TB drives. Too big to use in most current systems, but too small to be a useful gain over 2 TB for those that CAN handle larger sizes. At present they're also too expensive, and once 4 TB drives come out in volume they'll be superseded. So I guess they're just a short term stopgap.
    Reply
  • excidium
    Graph labels for the 7K3000 are incorrect ( 5400RPM ) on page:
    Benchmark Results: Throughput And Interface Bandwidth

    Haven't finished reading the rest of the article.
    Reply
  • WD30EZRS recommended for NAS?
    how about TLER ? and the issue with frequent head parking ? Though the later is correctable with wdidle3.exe..
    Considering each green drive might have different rotation speed are you sure about your NAS recommendation?
    Reply
  • monkeysweat
    i know 2TB is cheaper per GB,, however i only got 4 HDD slots in my case,, and 3 are in use already,, 1.5, 2.0 & 2.5 TB model drives + 1 SSD tucked under my card reader,, either i gotta spend more on a new case + drive or just spend a little more on a nice drive...
    Reply
  • chesteracorgi
    With 2 Samsung 2.0 TB F4 Ecogreen (SATA 3.0 & 32 MB cache) and 2 1.5 TB Seagate Barracuda Green (SATA 6.0 & 64 MB cache) drives installed in my home server, it is my experience that HDDs are no better off on SATA 6.0 than on SATA 3.0. If you are looking for performance then look for a faster rpm rate: the 640 GB WD Caviar Black (SATA 6.0 & 64 MB cache) kills all of the above in speed. However, none of these HDDs can touch an older generation SSD like the Crucial C300 (128 GB).

    The most important characteristic of the HDDs is reliability. So far, since 3/11, all of the HDDs have proven reliable, while the SSD had to be RMA'd after a couple of weeks.

    But the story is not complete on any of this hardware as it is still premature to talk about long term results. I believe that reliability is the biggest issue with 3 TB drives and would like to see more on failure rates and reliability.

    BTW the average feedback at Newegg on large HDDs is about 60% positive (4 or 5 eggs) on large drives. I made a decision to buy only drives with a rating of at least 80% aggregate positive.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    I went with three 2TB Hitachi drives instead.
    Reply