Seagate 2TB Barracuda SATA 3 6Gbps Review

ccokeman - 2009-10-27 15:35:03 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: December 7, 2009
Price: $299

Introduction:

Seagate has introduced the world's first and only hard drive that supports the SATA 6Gb/s standard with the release of the Barracuda XT 2TB drive. Along with this drive, Seagate has two more 2TB drives in its arsenal that are aimed for the low power and mainstream users, having less cache and a slower spindle speed. The Barracuda XT 2TB drive comes equipped with 4 platters, 64MB of cache and a 7200 RPM spindle speed with a sustained data rate of 138 MB/s. All pretty impressive specs for a drive of this size that should help this drive run straight to the top of the heap of performance mechanical hard drives. But speed is only one part of the equation. As we keep ever increasing amounts of data on our computers, the need for additional capacity continues to rise, along with the quality of the media we store on the PC, from music to movies to games and more. More space is a need that will be filled. The share of computers with 1+TB drives continues to increase each year. The Barracuda XT is a drive that is aimed at the hardcore user, gamer, and video editing professionals. Let's see how this drive performs and find out if it it really is the fastest mechanical hard drive out on the market.

Closer Look:

The Seagate Barracuda came to OCC straight from the factory without the usual retail packaging, so what I have is just the drive to show off. Well really not a whole lot to show off, as it mirrors other 3.5 inch form factor hard drives in size, but the weight comes in at a hefty 1.5 pounds. The top of the drive shows the serial number, model number, part number, and firmware version, as well as an installation summary. Flipping the drive over, you can see the spindle and a PCB where you make your data and power connections. The connections used are identical to those used on SATA 3Gb/s drives and are backwards compatible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the few motherboards to offer SATA 6Gb/s support is the P7P55D Premium, which I will be using to test out the Barracuda XT. The P7P55D Premium uses the Marvell 88SE9123 controller as the means of adding SATA 6Gb/s support. By itself, it does not offer the bandwidth needed through its single PCIe interface with the P55 chipset, offering a maximum bandwidth of 250 MB/s. That's not even close to what is needed for the 600MB/s throughput of the SATA 6Gb/s interface. ASUS has used a PLX Pex8613 bridge chip to add an additional PCIe 2.0 1x lane to the P55 chipset to increase bandwidth to 500MB/s a second, still 100MB/s short of the standard, but better. The 6Gb/s drive connections are grey so they can be easily identified. The graphic at the bottom illustrates this implementation.

 

 

 

Let's see how the Barracuda XT fares in the testing!

Specifications:

 

Capacity
2000GB
Model Number  
ST32000641AS
Interface Options  
SATA 6Gb/s NCQ
Performance
Transfer Rate Max Ext (Mbytes/sec)
600
Maximum Sustained Data Rate OD, (MB/s)
138
Cache (Mbytes)
64MB
Average Latency (msec)
4.16
Spindle Speed (RPM)
7200
Configuration/Organization
Heads/discs  
 8/4
Bytes per Sector  
 512
Reliability/Data Integrity
Load/Unload Cycles
300K
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read
1 per 10*14 bits read, max
 
Annualized Failure Rate
.0034
Mean Time Between Failures
750,000
Limited Warranty (years)
5 Years
Power Management
+12 VDC +/–10% (amps peak)
2.8
Power Management (watts)
Seek Avg 7.3
Operating Avg 9.23
Idle Avg 6.39
Environmental
Temperature, Operating (°C)
5 to 60 Degrees Celsius
Nonoperating
40 to70 degrees Celsius
Maximum operating temperature change
20 degrees C per hour
Maximum nonoperating temperature change
30 degrees C per hour
Shock
Operating Shock (max)
63 Gs null 2 msec
Nonoperating Shock (max)
300 Gs null 2 msec
Acoustics
Acoustics (Idle Volume)
2.8 bels
Acoustics (Seek Volume)
3.2 bels
Physical
Height (max)  
26.1 mm (1.028 inches)  
Width (max)
101.6 mm (4.0 inches)
Length (max)
146.99 mm (5.787 inches)
Weight (typical)
700 grams (1.543 pounds)

 

Features:

Best-Fit Applications

 

 

All information Courtesy of Seagate @ http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/desktops/barracuda_hard_drives/barracuda_xt/#tTabContentOverview

Testing:

To test the drives, I started with an image of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1 with all the latest updates and patches and the testing software. Each drive was filled with data, then imaged to simulate a used drive. Testing is accomplished by using the Seagate Barracuda XT as the main drive containing the OS. This is done so that the testing is not just plugging in a raw drive and showing stellar numbers – that's not real life. You don't purchase a new drive to let it go unused. Write testing was completed before the drive was imaged. Each of the comparison drives were tested on the SATA 6Gb/s connection, while the Barracuda was tested on both the 6 and 3 Gb/s interfaces, to show a difference in the capabilities.

Testing Setup:

Comparison Modules:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HDTune 3.50 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SISoft Sandra 2009
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. PCMark Vantage

 

The benchmarks will give a broad picture as to how each of the drives performs so you can make your conclusions based on the performance of each drive.

Testing:

HD Tune 3.50 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 3.50 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performace as a whole, but there is a more precise file benchmark and random access benchmark as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

File Transfer

For the File Transfer test, I will take a file straight off my hard drive that is 2GB in size containing various file types and transfer it from a source hard drive to each hard drive and time how long the transfer takes. Time will be in seconds, with a lower time being better.

 

In the read benchmark, the Barracuda XT is the highest performing drive in three out of the four categories - the Raptor sees a lower access time due to the 10,000 RPM spindle speed. In the File Transfer test, the Barracuda XT carries a slight advantage over the 1.5 TB drive on the 6Gb/s controller, but when the 2TB drive is used on the SATA 3Gb/s controller it takes 3 seconds longer to move the data.

Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark will measure the average read speed, the random access time, and the amout of the CPU used during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

Physical Disks

 

 

In HD Tach, you can see that the average read and access times are miles ahead of what is delivered by a standard disk drive. The highlights on this page are the access times.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 2.2: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds for the drives in in 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 2TB Barracuda XT delivers better performance than the other disks in all categories, save the 4K write test where the 74GB Raptor is faster. The performance differential between the SATA 6 Gb/s and SATA 3 Gb/s is measurable on the 2TB drive.

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.34: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good, hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Barracuda XT delivers higher results than the comparison drives, regardless of the connection, while the difference in performance between connection types in minimal. The last generation 7200.11 1.5TB drive comes close to the performance of the 2 TB drive.

Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark designed for the speeds of solid state drives, however it will also work for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds and access time for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write and overall performance of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only spots the 2TB drive from Seagate showed any weakness was in the 4K read and write testing and the read Access time testing, where the Raptor's higher spindle speed helps it out. In the rest of the testing, the 2TB drive is the top of the field and the difference between the SATA connections is not something you would notice.

Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seagate 2TB Barracuda gave similar overall scores in the PCMark Vantage testing. This trend continued through all the tests run!

Conclusion:

Testing has confirmed that the latest drive from Seagate does offer a slight performance boost, but not what you would think from the latest technology. It's not a Eureka moment! However, Seagate has even said that the technology is early and performance will increase in the future as the technology matures and operating systems and applications are optimized for the technology. That being said, the 2TB Barracuda finished ahead of the last generation Seagate 7200.11 1.5 TB drive in just about every category when attached to both interfaces. As more and more of the content we enjoy becomes available, such as HD movies, music and those treasured family photos you have to have somewhere to store it all. With a capacity of 2TB this drive should be able to hold more than enough digital content. At this point, I am still trying to fill a 1.5TB drive. Having an asking price of $299, this drive will set you back a few pennies more than the cost of current 1-1.5TB drives by a pretty substantial margin. You can pick up three 1TB Seagate drives for a cool twenty bucks less than the Barracuda XT and get an additional 1TB of space. As one of a few 2TB drives on the market, and the only one with the 6Gb/s interface, the Barracuda XT is poised to take advantage of the interface as the technology matures. Seagate has introduced a total of three 2TB drives that do range in price from $139 for the LP (Low Power) version, aimed squarely at the attached external storage and low power all-in-one PC, to the $199 7200 series drive aimed at the mainstream user, to the Barracuda XT, targeted at the high performance user. As such, it is the only one of the three drives that comes with the 6Gb/s interface. Currently, only a handful of motherboards offer native 6Gb/s support and are manufactured by both ASUS and Gigabyte. Surely more will come, however! The Barracuda XT comes with a five year warranty, so if the unthinkable happens, at least the drive can be replaced. Whether the cost for performance is worth the added cost at this point is up to the end user. The drive is faster, but was not a game changing part - at least, not at this time.

Pros:

Cons: