Many people will want to know if the Western Digital Caviar Black manages to outperform the other terabyte hard drives, so let’s start with this first. It does, but only in terms of access time and I/O performance. If this is your area of focus, the Caviar Black 1 TB is the fastest 7,200 RPM drive for I/O-intensive use. Its efficiency is above average, and we found the throughput to be at a high level as well, but it does not beat the Samsung Spinpoint F1 in sequential transfer rates, nor the new Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.B when it comes to efficiency.
Hitachi, Samsung, WD Each Addressing a Part of the Market
This has us come to a classification of the terabyte hard drives available today—one that is striking after digesting the test results.
The WD Caviar Black and its RE3 counterpart, designed for 24/7 operation, are clearly the best drives for server or workstation applications, as well as power users who put more value on transaction performance than on moving gigabytes of video files.
Hitachi’s new Deskstar 7K1000.B is the new efficiency champion and the best choice for users looking for a balanced desktop hard drive that combines low power, high throughput, and decent application performance with low surface temperature. The only discipline where it lacks punch is the access time test, but in exchange, it offers the highest minimum transfer rates of all terabyte drives.
Samsung is still the master of maximum transfer rates, and it is head-to-head with WD’s Caviar Black when it comes to application performance. Efficiency is average, as are the application and I/O benchmark results.
What about Seagate? The Barracuda 7200.11 still provides good performance across most benchmarks, but the other vendors offer better drives by now. At no point is the Barracuda 7200.11 too far behind, but it cannot win any of the major disciplines. Fortunately, its 1.5 TB successor, presumably with higher performance, is about to arrive.
Warranty is another factor that once spoke in favor of Seagate, but it appears that all hard drive makers except Samsung have finally upgraded from three to five years, which we find more than appropriate. The customer is going to store up to 1,000 gigabytes on a product, and a five-year warranty certainly helps to create trust in it. Samsung needs to adjust its warranty to match.
Seagate will renew its portfolio soon, and Hitachi, Samsung and WD all have their parts of the market and their respective advantages. This is why we cannot provide a general recommendation for a terabyte hard drive at this point.