Hitachi's 4 TB Hard Drives Take On The 3 TB Competition

3 TB: Seagate Barracuda (ST3000DM001)

Seagate’s Barracuda brand has been around for 15 years. The first Barracuda drive was also the first disk with a spindle speed of 7200 RPM (though it was only offered in 1.2 and 2.5 GB capacity points sporting a SCSI-2 interface).

Today’s Barracuda sheds all of the product name suffixes that Seagate has used over there years. There was a Barracuda ATA family (from I to V), Barracuda 7200.7 to .12, Barracuda LP at a power-optimized spindle speed (5900 RPM), the Barracuda Green, and finally a Barracuda XT, which was one of the first SATA 6Gb/s-capable models available. Various versions of the Barracuda XT and LP still exist, but the latest family covering all capacity points is simply referred to as Barracuda after all of these years. Our 3 TB sample sells for around $170 (140 Euros in Europe).

There are 250, 320, 500, 750 GB, 1, 1.5, 2, and 3 TB capacities available. Everything from 750 GB and up comes with 64 MB cache memory; the smaller capacities have to live with 16 MB and target low-cost applications with single-platter designs. Perhaps the Barracuda's most interesting attribute is its 1 TB per platter density. This means that the 3 TB drive only uses three platters, while Hitachi's drive requires five to hit the same capacity point. As a result, Seagate's Barracuda 3 TB is the coolest 3 TB hard drive on the market.

One item in the Barracuda's data sheet related to reliability caught our eye. Although the document lists NAS and desktop RAID applications as best-fit applications for Seagate's offering, the specified 2400-hour power-on rating indicates that this drive was not designed for environments requiring 24/7 availability. If that were the case, its specification should say 8760 hours. The 2400-hour specification, which represents only 100 days of continuous operation, assumes that drives are used eight hours per day, five days per week. This means that the drives should take full advantage of any available power-saving technologies that shut down the spindle motor during idle times. This applies equally to desktops and storage servers. Should you decide to use Barracuda drives in a NAS device, for instance, don’t forget to configure its power management appropriately.

  • jsowoc
    Good review.

    Did you encounter any issues with testing drives this large (they need a GPT vs MBR, and booting from them also requires a specific setup)?
    I'm curious, can you install Windows 7 x64 to these 4 TB drives and will the full drive be recognized? With the latest motherboards, of course.

    At that capacity, why bother with 5400 RPM?
  • Darkerson
    Nice review. I could use a few of those, but until they have more competition and the prices come down, I can wait.
  • blackbirden
    Ony thing i miss from the review is noice level, atleast a subjective one for all who uses them in a htpc or mediastation, do you have any comments on the noice?
  • kinggremlin
    Not sure if there is some sort of pricing glitch going on at Newegg right now, but the Hitachi 7K3000 is currently about $400 plus $7 shipping. That's doesn't sound like the value sweet spot this article mentions multiple times for the 3TB capacities. As also mentioned here, for drives this size, speed is not the be-all-end-all. The $300 Hitachi 5400RPM 4TB drive looks like a much better buy than $407 for a 7K3000.
  • Achoo22
    I'm pretty disappointed that there aren't multiple points of note regarding expected drive lifetimes, warranties, and return policies in this roundup.

    I have had an incredible failure rate with hard drives beginning around the time that the move to perpendicular recording became the norm. I am not alone in this regard. I'm pretty sure that the drive manufacturer's are aware of serious reliability issues, but their RMA policies are ridiculous. I would be willing to pay current market prices for a new drive if vendors stepped up their game with quality control and some appropriate policies addressing data security in the event that a drive is returned - the risk of granting someone else access to my banking, tax information, and whatever else was on the failed drive is generally not worth returning the drive. Vendors know this, and take advantage of it. Until the situation changes, or drives return to their previous rock-bottom sale prices, I will do everything in my power to avoid purchasing more hard drives.
  • I have one 3TB Hitachi and several (>20) 2 TBs mixed from Seagate and WD. I'm impressed with 3TB Hitachi drive, and also I'm very disappointed by Seagate which cut their warranties to 1 year. No more Seagate in my home NAS until they improve the offering. Sorry Seagate, I was a Seagate-only user until you screw up with 7200.11, take advantage of the flooding, rised the prices and cut the warranties.
  • Achoo22
    blackbirdenOny thing i miss from the review is noice level, atleast a subjective one for all who uses them in a htpc or mediastation, do you have any comments on the noice?There hasn't been a truly loud hard drive on the market for many years. It shouldn't be an issue.
  • outlw6669
    Achoo22There hasn't been a truly loud hard drive on the market for many years. It shouldn't be an issue.My Hitachi 2TB drives beg to differ.
    When they start chugging along, it sounds like a snow plow clearing a parking lot in my room :(
  • jacknoll
    If someone could clear up this thing for me:

    I see two parameters for each drive: The media transfer speed and the I/O performance. The first one sounds like the speed to read/write to the disk. AFAIK, it's the speed at which the drive actually reads/writes bits to/from the surface of the platter. In that case, what does the I/O performance mean? It sounds really similar to read/write, but reading these reviews, I get the feeling there's more to I/O.