None of the drives is a real loser; each has strengths and weaknesses. Looking at the test results from drives such as the Samsung Spinpoint F HD502IJ or the WD Caviar Blue WD5000AAKS, you can tell that these drives have been around for a while. Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.11, and the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B in particular, offer much better throughput and have lower power requirements.
WD, Samsung: New Drives, Please!
The WD Caviar Blue is very strong at providing quick access time and high I/O performance, making it a nice application drive. However, its power consumption and efficiency are unbalanced, and the throughput could be faster. If you ask us, it’s time for WD to update the mainstream drive family—renaming the existing drives from “Caviar” to “Caviar Blue” doesn’t help in the long run.
The situation is similar with Samsung’s Spinpoint F: it still holds up in some of the benchmarks, but it doesn’t dominate anywhere. Unfortunately, the 500 GB drive isn’t as quick as its terabyte brother, but it requires a similarly high amount of power, which results in under-average efficiency and a surface temperature that is higher than the results we measured on the other drives. Once again here, it’s time for a new Spinpoint.
Seagate, Hitachi: Fast, with Glitches
None of the drives is perfect, which we could see when looking at the final two. Seagate provides nice access times and the best application benchmark results, but power consumption, surface temperature and efficiency are just a bit above average. As a system drive, the Barracuda 7200.11 is probably the best choice, but I can imagine that many people might hesitate to get one due to the firmware issues that have circulated the Web, even if serious trouble is very unlikely at this point.
The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B was not designed to be a fast application drive, but it offers the fastest throughput, paired with the lowest surface temperature, lowest power requirements and nice efficiency. To us it is obvious that this must be the newest drive out of these four, as it offers the most balanced results, and it is thus the one we currently recommend.