A Quartet Of 500 GB HDDs Under $60

The Roughneck: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11--500 GB

Seagate’s Barracuda 7200.11 has been in the news because of firmware issues that can render data inaccessible after a power down/power up cycle. Compatibility issues (not further specified) can cause the blackout, but data isn’t actually lost. Affected drives are not actually broken, but they have to be sent to Seagate for repair—whatever that means.

A Firmware Update May Be Necessary

Although some readers reported the issue, we haven’t been able to reproduce the issue in our labs with multiple Barracuda 7200.11 drives. Seagate provides information on the issue on its Web site, and it is recommended that you update the firmware if you have one of the affected drives. Follow the steps to determine if a firmware update is necessary here, and download the updated firmware for your 7200.11 drive here. The process is easy, and if you feel confident in doing it, there is no reason not to go for one of these drives any more.

A Wide Portfolio

Seagate has one of the largest desktop drive portfolios, being the hard drive market leader. The Barracuda 7200.11 was the first terabyte performance hard drive that used four platters, as Hitachi started with five. It also was the first hard drive product that exceeded the terabyte capacity level, reaching 1.5 TB last fall. The latest 1.5 TB upgrade also increased the storage density for select models (not for this 500 GB drive, though).

Specs and Performance

The reviewed ST3500320AS spins at 7,200 RPM, hooks up to your PC via Serial ATA/300 with NCQ, and it comes with a whopping 32 MB cache memory. It achieves a quick 12.3 ms access time and nice I/O performance that is only beaten by WD’s Caviar Blue drive. Seagate also manages to dominate both sections of the PCMark05 application benchmark. While we measured the second best idle power results, the drive turned out to be rather power hungry when we had it tackle workstation-type I/O operations or streaming read operations.