Introduction

With the announcement and release of Seagate's new 160GB 5400.3 2.5" notebook drive, which utilizes the new perpendicular magnetic recording method, we have many questions regarding the performance of these new high density platters being manufactured for an extremely critical part of our systems. Because of this introduction to the new technology, we are also wondering what the threshold is as far as the maximum density and the performance of current longitudinal recording technology.

Seagate Technology is currently the single largest manufacturer of hard disk drives with over 40% of the market share after the acquisition of Maxtor Corporation in late December 2005. Seagate has a wide range of products from desktop external storage, all the way up to serial-attached enterprise hard disk drives, with the bulk of their sales to the mainstream market being desktop hard disk drives. Their sales have boomed with the help of a handful of third party PC manufacturers and also some technology partners who use Seagate products in their own.

After our review of the 500GB 7200.9 unit, many of you kindly requested a look at the 160GB 7200.9 Barracuda drive, which featured the new high density 160GB platter. The only other drive in the 7200.9 line that features this platter is the 80GB unit, but we decided to look at the 160GB version because we had a handful of 160GB drives to which to compare performance. The 160GB 7200.9 features an 8MB buffer, a SATA 3.0GB/sec interface and, obviously, a 7,200RPM spindle speed. Take a look at how the highest capacity platter performs compared to the others.

The Test
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  • yacoub - Thursday, February 02, 2006 - link

    If you're going to do an acoustics test, you should make a useful graph instead of that tiny one that makes them all look relatively equivalent in noise output. You should also note any particular sound properties the drive emits. Whine, pitch, vibration, etc. It would be subjective but it's also very important.

    If anything, harddrive speed and performance are relatively similar among most drives. The noise output however, is often greatly different, and is especially important if the drive emits noise at a certain frequency that annoys the user. I'd rather wait an extra millisecond for a seek than have to put up with a constant ringing noise or whine from the drive.

    You could also at least include a modern Samsung SpinPoint like the P120 SP2004C 200GB drive in your test list instead of the dated Samsungs you use currently. Aside from it having better performance than most of the older Samsungs you list, it also is one of the quietest 7200rpm 3.5" HDs out there - enough that it would certainly stand out in your acoustics test instead of the current lot you test with that leaves a graph that gives a false impression of "oh, looks like all HDs are about the same in noise so I won't bother using that as a purchase consideration."

    http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200511/SP250...">http://www.storagereview.com/articles/200511/SP250... shows a more useful acoustics test graph and the strongest point of the Samsung SpinPoint SP2004C - its SPL. Anyone building a quiet PC should certainly consider it. I love mine.

    SilentPCReview also has a SpinPoint P120 SP2004C review but their site seems to be down at the moment.
    Reply
  • RallyMaster - Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - link

    Is this the ST3160812AS? If so...I have one! Never thought my 95 dollar hard drive was capable of doing so well. Wow. Reply
  • wharris1 - Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - link

    yes, this article was initially posted last week. Reply
  • Olaf van der Spek - Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - link

    > We also benchmarked a couple of these drives in a RAID-0 array as a brief look at RAID performance with results that were pleasing to our eyes.

    Really?
    No improvements in either application or game level load times.
    Little improvements in the zip/unzip tests.

    What exactly is so pleasing?
    Results in vague iPeak tests?
    Reply
  • JWalk - Tuesday, February 07, 2006 - link

    Ding! We have a winner.

    Nothing appears to have changed when it comes to real-world applications and RAID-0 performance. Anand himself and Eugene at storagereview.com have settled this numerous times.

    If you want to see big synthetic benchmark numbers, run RAID-0. If you want actual real-world results, use a fast single drive. RAID has its place, but not in a RAID-0 array for normal desktop/gaming use.
    Reply
  • Ecmaster76 - Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - link

    Did this one get pulled and put back up or something? Reply
  • neogodless - Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - link

    I think the focus on RAID makes the omission of temperature and noise data a strange thing. How does that second drive affect the temperature inside the case, especially if the drives are side by side? How does it affect noise? Reply
  • patentman - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    "With the announcement and release of Seagate's new 160GB 5400.3 2.5" notebook drive, which utilizes the new perpendicular magnetic recording method"

    I think I've said this before, but perpendicular magnetic recording is not new by any stetch of the imagination. There are patents on this technology that were filed in the late 80's. Mainstream products using this technology might be new, but the actual method of recording is, in the computer world, very very old.
    Reply
  • PuravSanghani - Wednesday, February 01, 2006 - link

    Patentman,

    Though the patent may have been around since the late 80's, only recently has a hard drive manufacturer been able to implement the technology in their products.

    Toshiba was the first to do this with their smaller drives and Seagate is the first do implement this technology in notebook drives. The race is on to see who will introduce desktop drives based on this technology!

    Purav
    Reply
  • Mr Perfect - Friday, January 27, 2006 - link

    The 160GB 7200.9 is not in either of the two temperature charts or the noise chart. The 500GB 7200.9 is there, but no it's little brother. Reply

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