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

The Samsung SpinPoint P120: Is There Room At The Top?

In the past, drives from Korean maker Samsung were often a tad slower compared to those from heavy hitters like Hitachi, Maxtor, Seagate and Western Digital. Nevertheless, the good ergonomic qualities of the Spinpoint drives have attracted a large following. And with around 120 GB per platter, Samsung has high hopes that the latest Spinpoint generation will outpace the competition.

We received two drives for the test. The Spinpoint SP2504C is the Serial ATA model while the SP 2514N features a classic UltraATA/100 interface. Samsung has not used the same electronics architecture in both these models, though - the SATA version works natively, speaks "pure" serial as it were, while the UltraATA version has a controller executing on the parallel protocol.

Previously, the maximum storage capacity of Samsung drives was just 160 GB, which the SpinPoint P120 has bumped up to 250 GB. Even if it is unable to satisfy the needs of some customers who have insatiable space demands, Samsung is nevertheless up to speed vis-à-vis the competition with over 125 GB fit on one platter. This capacity bests that offered by Maxtor and Western Digital; only Seagate has slightly more, with upwards of 130 GB.

In contrast to its rivals, Samsung uses two platters at most, which explains the limited overall capacities. Maxtor, Seagate and WD use up to three, while Hitachi offers even five in some models. On the other hand of course, doing without the extra platters also means there are fewer moving parts. The fewer components used, the fewer that tend to go up the shoot. With less friction, waste heat and noise levels are also gratifyingly low.