Should You Be Looking For A Hard Drive Upgrade?

Hard Drives: Samsung P120 And F2 EcoGreen

Spinpoint P120, SP2004C (200 GB, 7,200 RPM)

We reviewed the Spinpoint P120 series in 2005, but at its maximum capacity (at the time) of 250 GB. As with many product lines, the model number indicates the approximate per-platter capacity of 120 GB.

We didn’t have the 250 GB model available for this review, so we used the 200 GB SP2004C, which has almost identical specifications. The suffix “C” stands for a Serial ATA drive, while models ending on “N” used UltraATA/100.

This drive was one of the first native SATA drives, meaning that it did not require a bridge chip to turn its UltraATA logic into SATA signaling. You will find the SP2004C in our old 3.5” Hard Drive Charts. Since the drive is no longer available, we did not bother to repeat all benchmark runs for our current 2009 Desktop HDD Charts.

The drive delivers throughput ranging between 29 and 56 MB/s, which any 5,400 RPM notebook drive beats today. The 8 MB cache is rather typical (even now), while the 13 ms access time is still a pretty good result, and the only reason why the SP2004C doesn’t lose in all of our benchmarks. Still, the new drive is considerably faster and much more efficient.

Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen (1,000 GB, 5,400 RPM)

We recently looked at 1.5 TB low power hard drives, including a Samsung Spinpoint F2 EcoGreen (also known as “EG,” model HD154UI). Samsung doesn’t claim the performance crown in the low power hard drive arena, but it definitely is one of the most power efficient drives. The company's most modern performance model, the Spinpoint F3 running at 7,200 RPM, should become available after the summer. Obviously, this new generation will further increase performance, but it won’t deliver better efficiency.

The F2 EcoGreen drives comes with 32 MB cache memory, which is four times more than the SP2004C. But it spins at only 5,400 RPM. This isn’t a reason to be scared in the performance area, though, as this drive still delivers 107 MB/s and hence provides almost twice the throughput of the 3-4 year old P120 drive.