Seagate New Barracuda XT 3TB Review

ccokeman - 2011-08-14 19:47:17 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: ccokeman   
Reviewed on: November 6, 2011
Price: $179.99


Storage space is something we all need to store the digital content of our lives. Whether it is family portraits, videos from the family vacation, forms, music, the latest movies downloaded straight from sources unknown(Not that we would do that mind you), or spreadsheets that track our monthly expenditures, the need for more storage space continues to rise as we keep more and more of our lives stored digitally. Higher definition digital video recorders and cameras plus high definition video content keep driving the need for storage space up with larger and larger file sizes. Not to mention the fact that most of us are digital hoarders, we keep everything it seems. Hard drive manufacturers seem more than willing to oblige our lust for more and more space. Seagate delivered their largest single drive to date the Barracuda XT ST33000651AS 3 Terabyte drive back in June. That drive had six 500GB platters in it and was a 50% increase in capacity over the previously released Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB drive that debuted back in December of 2009. Technology has a way of marching relentlessly on and just four months into the life cycle of the 3 Terabyte drive, Seagate has improved the breed with a change in platter size from 500GB platters to the industries first drive equipped with 1 Terabyte platters. By moving to 1 Terabyte platters the density of the tracks has increased to 340,000 per linear inch across the radius of the disk. This means the average track size has decreased to the point where the average track is narrower than the Flu virus at 75 nanometers. Reading those smaller tracks is made easier with the use of Seagate's Acutrac Nano actuation technology on the read/write arms. Opti-cache technology has been further refined with a 40nm dual core ARM processor and 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM to drive performance even higher. Pricing on the 3TB drive comes in at a competitive $179, The 2TB $105.99, 1.5TB at $83.99, and the 1TB coming in just over 70 dollars. Lets dig into the latest hard disk drive from Seagate to see if the increase in platter size and improved processes equates to a higher level of performance given the same SATA 6 Gb/s interface.

Closer Look:

Externally the Seagate ST3000DM001 Barracuda 3TB drive looks the same as many of its predecessors, no surprise there. The aluminum housing and steel cover are pretty much standard for the the 3.5 inch form factor for internal hard disk drives. The top of the Seagate drive has a label that shows the model number, serial number, capacity, voltage & current requirements, and an Installation summary. The side view shows the mounting points that again are standard for the form factor. The bottom of the drive has a PCB that is home to a 40nm dual core processor and DDR2 memory. Connectivity is standard for the form factor with a SATA 6Gb/s connector and SATA power connection.









Seagate has decided to discontinue their "Green" line of 5900 RPM spindle speed drives with the introduction of this new Barracuda series, after their research has indicated that the lower spindle speed and performance does not pay off in a significant reduction in energy consumption. The 20 to 40 cents(yes cents) per year saved comes with a corresponding 20 to 40% reduction in performance. Rather than fight that battle, Seagate has improved the drive through increased platter size, Seagate Acutrac Nano server actuation technology for the read/write arm assemblies, smaller yet increased track sizes, and new Opti-cache technology, caching algorithms to drive performance by 45% over previous gen products, all while keeping the 7200RPM spindle speed. Lets see if the new "Barracuda" has enough bite to back up the claims of increased performance.


Model Number
Interface Options
Spindle Speed (RPM)
Cache, Multisegmented (MB)
SATA Transfer Rates Supported (Gb/s)
Seek Average, Read (ms)
Seek Average, Write (ms)
Average Data Rate, Read/Write (MB/s)
Max Sustained Data Rate, OD Read (MB/s)
Bytes per Sector
Voltage Tolerance, Including Noise (5V)
Voltage Tolerance, Including Noise (12V)
Contact Start/Stop Cycles
Load/Unload Cycles
Nonrecoverable Read Errors per Bits Read, Max
1 per 10E14
Annualized Failure Rate (AFR)
Power-On Hours
Startup Power (A)
Operating Mode, Typical (W)
Idle2 Average (W)
Idle Average (W)
Standby Mode (W)
Sleep Mode (W)
Operating (ambient min °C)
Operating (drive case max °C)
Non operating (ambient °C)
−40 to 70
Height (mm/in)
Width (mm/in)
Depth (mm/in)
Weight (g/lb)
Carton Unit Quantity
Cartons per Layer
Cartons per Pallet
Seagate OptiCache™ Technology
Seagate AcuTrac™ Technology
Seagate SmartAlign™ Technology




All information courtesy of Seagate @


Testing of hard drives can be done in a couple different ways. One is to leave the drive bare and hook it up as a secondary drive in an already existing system, so that you can see the theoretical peaks in performance followed by a cleaning of the drive after each benchmark run is complete. The second method, and the one OverclockersClub employs, is to load the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the drive being tested. This more closely emulates how the drive will be used so that the performance results are real world, not simply best case scenario results that you may never see unless operating the drive as a bare drive. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below with a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of the testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have been installed for this testing, with all tests run on the native SATA 6Gb/s ports on the P67-based motherboard. The connection to the drive from the motherboard is with a 6Gb/s SATA cable. This drive was tested on the platform listed below and was formatted using a GUID Partition Table to take advantage of the entire drive capacity for testing.


Testing Setup:


Comparison Drives:



  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2011
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. I/O Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown


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 run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

















File Benchmark:







Random Access Benchmark:



What we have here is an interesting start to the benchmarking suite. In all cases the updated technologies and increased platter size are helping the New Barracuda XT 3TB drive outperform the previous generation.


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 2011: 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.



Again we see improvements across the board in burst rate, average read speeds, and reductions in access time with Seagate's latest drive.


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.
















In the sequential read and write testing, the new 3TB drive is easily ahead of the old drive. In the rest of the testing, the drives are more evenly balanced in performance.


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.

















In the ATTO testing, the new drive easily bested the sustained transfer read/write rates of 156 MB/s. Again the increased platter size, Acutrac technology, and new caching algorithms pay dividends.


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.
















Once again the new Barracuda XT 3TB drive shows increased performance in just about every test.


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.



















An SSD is definitely going to offer superior performance when compared to a spindle based drive. That is painfully obvious here, however the new 3TB drive shows again that Seagate has made the right moves to drive spindle based drive performance up another notch.


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 this test the new and old 3TB drives offer similar performance across the the entire test suite.


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 quicker. Not to mention that the older you get, the greater the chance 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 should be easier with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it out. To run the startup test, 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 shutdown test, I began timing from the click of the shutdown button in the start menu and stopped when the system power was off.
















Seagates "New" Barracuda XTR 3TB drive continues to impress with a reduction in start up time over the drive released in June. Shutdown time still falls into the six second range mirroring many of the comparison spindle based drives.


Going into the testing I was not sure that going to 1TB platters would offer up any additional gains in performance on a spindle based mechanical hard drive. Seagate has worked some magic inside the confines of that metal box that really drive performance on this new drive. First off the 7200RPM spindle speed is obviously going to help, but that is not the whole picture. The track size has shrunk to the point that each of the 340,000 tracks per linear inch is narrower than the Flu virus. This necessitated improvements to the read/write mechanics of the drive. Seagate used its AcuTrac Nano server technology to manage the read/write process and access these smaller tracks. A dual core ARM processor with 64MB of DDR2 SDRAM on board, along with Seagate's OptiCache technology are said to improve performance by up to 45% over prior generation drives. Needless to say expectations were high going into the testing. In just about every test the "New" Barracuda XT outperformed the previous generation product. Higher average transfer rates and reduced access times mean an improved feel once you are in the operating system. The drive specification sheet shows a sustained read speed specification of 156MB/s, which the drive exceeded in my testing. This makes the New Barracuda XT the fastest spindle based drive I have tested to date, giving you capacity and speed all in one package.

Having the extra capacity is great, but if you cannot use it then it was not money well spent. With older hardware and operating systems there is a 2.2 TB limit on MBR partition sizes. The Seagates Disk Wizard software package allows you to get all of the capacity you purchased, bypassing these limitations, although you will need multiple partitions. Newer hardware with an Unified Extensible Firmware Interface BIOS are capable of using the entire drive size under one partition using a GUID Partition Table. You will need either Windows 7 or Vista 64 bit operating system to get the full capacity.

The introduction of this "New" Barracuda series of drives heralds the end of the large capacity 5900 RPM drive at Seagate. Internal testing shows that the energy saved does not offset the performance penalty of the slower drive speed. Going forward, 7200RPM will be the spindle speed used by Seagate. The end result is higher productivity and increased value for your hard earned dollar. The new series will be offered in sizes from 250GB to 3TB. Pricing for the 3TB version starts at a competitive $179. An SSD is going to offer more performance at the expense of capacity, there's no way around that as seen in the testing. However Seagate's New Barracuda line up is making positive steps towards reducing that performance differential. You get capacity and performance in a single drive!