Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Review

ccokeman - 2013-01-17 16:47:24 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: May 5, 2013
Price: $389

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Introduction:

Seagate recently updated its enterprise class lineup to increase the capacity available up to 4TB with the introduction of the Constellation ES.3 4TB drive. Delivering drives with larger capacities results in needing fewer drives to reach targeted storage capacities for a data center. When you have fewer, more efficient drives the end result is a lower total cost of ownership. With this latest introduction Seagate offers the Constellation with either a SAS or SATA 6Gbps interface. The Constellation ES.3 4TB drives are equipped with the ability to use Seagate's proprietary Power Choice technology that can deliver significant cost savings through the use of configurable host timer settings that can reduce costs by up to 90%. Hardware based encryption (FIPS 140-2 level 2 compliant), the introduction of an industry leading 128MB of drive cache, 1.4 million hour MTBF, and a five-year warranty should make the Constellation ES.3 attractive to the data center manager.

The drive I will be looking at today is the Constellation ES.3 4TB SATA 6Gbps model number ST4000NM0033. This model is non-SED compliant and is priced from $389. Pricey for sure when you compare it to the consumer ready drive at a more attractive $189. Consumer drives cannot deliver the end to end reliability of an enterprise class product where data integrity is the expectation.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Closer Look:

The drives I received from Seagate were bare drives without any accessories, so let's take a look at the drive. Externally the drive looks comparable to any 3.5 inch form factor drive sharing the same dimensions and mounting points that meet the standard. The front of the Constellation ES.3 4TB has the model number (ST4000NM0033), serial number, product number, and build date listed with bar codes above each for easy scanning. The bottom of the drive hides the PCB, which houses the drive controller, 128MB of cache, and a humidity sensor. A specially tweaked firmware is used to maximize performance. I cannot find any information that definitively states whether this is a four or five platter drive, but with Seagate's ability to produce 1TB platters it seems likely that is what is installed. Common with Seagate's consumer drives, the ES.3 4TB drive uses a 7200RPM spindle speed with an average latency of 4.16ms. Designed for use between 5 to 60 °C the Constellation ES.3 can handle shock loads while operating of 70/40 2ms (Read/Write) (Gs). The Constellation ES.3 is offered in both SATA and SAS interfaces that support transfer rates up to 600MB/s with sustained rates of up to 175MB/s. The SAS interface drives add features such as SED and FIPS 140-2.












With plenty of features above those employed for consumer drives, I look for the Constellation to distinguish itself from the comparison field.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Specifications:

4TB, 3TB, 2TB and 1TB
6Gb/s SAS and SATA 6Gb/s
Sustained Data Rate
up to 175MB/s
Spindle Speed
7200 RPM
Reliability (MTBF)
1.4M hours
Operating Power
less than 11.86W
Limited Warranty
5 years


Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Features:

Key Advantages:

Best-Fit Applications:



Information courtesy of Seagate @

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways. One method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, these results would only represent a best-case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA 6 Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Testing Setup:


Comparison Drives:



  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. IO Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but also run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.



















File Benchmark:


Random Access Benchmark:



Testing the Constellation 4TB drive shows that it does offer advantages over the hybrid drive and 1TB mechanical drive in the comparison field. Running a pair of the Constellation drives in RAID 0 illustrates that you can get close to solid state drive level performance in several of the tests.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

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

















SiSoft Sandra 2012: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.



In the HD Tach testing, the 4TB Constellation ES.3 4TB drive is significantly faster than the comparison mechanical and hybrid drive. In the Sandra testing, the RAID 0 configuration delivers twice the throughput as a single drive.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.


















The sequential read/write performance of the Constellation drive in single and RAID 0 configuration are impressive when compared to the level of performance delivered by the solid state drives.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

















In this test, the Constellation drives are delivering excellent results over and above the results from our 1TB mechanical drive. The RAID results are significant as it puts the performance right into SSD territory from a pair of mechanical drives.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.












The sequential read and write tests show off just how well this drive works when sending a data stream to the drive. The RAID results show the sequential read/write performance is in the realm of an SSD.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.










The Constellation is not designed to compete with an SSD in this test but does offer improvements over our mechanical test drive the 1TB Barracuda XT.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB 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.






In just about every test the RAID 0 configuration delivered similar results. The one exception was in the Windows Media Center Test where the dual drives delivered higher results.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much more quickly. Not to mention the older you get, the greater the chance is that you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This time should be easier to attain with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I began timing from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off completely.











During the startup and shutdown tests the Constellation drive was the slowest to start and took the longest to shut down.

Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Conclusion:

Comparing the Constellation ES.3 to a pair of consumer mechanical drives shows the performance advantage of this drive in just about every test. RAID 0 performance scaled nicely, driving throughput of the Constellation drives to a level on par with some earlier solid state drives. Speed and capacity are what the Constellation drives bring to the table. Surely the 128MB of onboard cache helps the performance along with the 7200RPM spindle speed. As an enterprise class drive it is meant to spend its lifespan of 1.4 million hours dutifully answering data calls.

In data centers capacity is king, but operating expenses do drive the bottom line. To that end Seagate's Constellation ES.3 line have improved power management capabilities that allow it to consume only 11.27 watts under load using its proprietary PowerChoice™ technology to reduce power consumption by up to 54%. The lower power consumption and associated thermals allow a density of up to 152TB per square foot. The Constellation ES.3 drives are available either in a SAS or SATA 6Gbps interface to meet the storage requirements. There are a few key differences in the feature set when comparing the SAS and SATA interface drives. The SAS equipped drives support Self-Encryption with FIPS 140-2 and Seagate Instant Secure Erase whereas the SATA version does not.

As you might expect an enterprise class drive such as Seagate's Constellation ES.3 series is going to come with a higher price tag. That price tag reflects the enterprise class reliability of the drive that comes with a five-year warranty period. The SATA version of the Constellation ES.3 4TG drive is currently priced at $389 while the SAS drive is priced slightly higher at $426.

If you do not need the enterprise class feature set or long term reliability that comes with it, Seagate does offer a consumer 4TB drive for about half the price at $189. It does, however, also have half the cache and lower MTBF coupled with a three year reduction in the warranty period to two years. As a consumer drive the Constellation ES.3 4TB would be a pricey option, but it backs that price up with enterprise class reliability and excellent disk drive performance. If you need massive amounts of storage the Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB drive is up to the task.