Samsung's Spinpoint P120 Hard Drive: Ready for the Big Leagues?

Samsung SpinPoint SP2504C - SATA

The Serial ATA model already meets Serial ATA-II specs and thus offers a theoretical bandwidth of 3 Gb/s. Including ECC checking (ten bits per Byte) 300 MB/s remains. In everyday life that makes virtually no difference, as with 72 MB/s, the drive is still a ways off from that figure. Even the 150 MB/s that SATA-I offers are not completely taken advantage of: with a 113.5 MB/s interface transfer rate the SP2504C is still 11 MB/s slower than the MaXLine III and the DiamondMax 10 from Maxtor.

The drive spins at 7,200 rpm, as is only befitting, has an 8 MB cache and, according to its maker, a seek time of 8.9 ms. Its measured access time of 14.2 ms places the SP2504C centerfield.

Interestingly, in our I/O benchmarks, the UltraATA model of the Spinpoint P120 series performs slightly better than the SATA version. Samsung has obviously minimally optimized the command queuing function to handle numerous random accesses. However, this negative point certainly does not represent a major flaw since it's a desktop drive in any case.

The maximum surface temperature of 113° F (45°C) we measured is an outstanding value, which characterizes this hard drive as one of the cooler models on the market. Another huge plus are the extremely low noise levels, which mean that you can only hear the drive in operation if you install temperature-regulated fans or you are in a virtually noise-free environment.