Final Thoughts

If it is not obvious by now, RAID 0 will provide outstanding results in synthetic benchmarks but really does nothing in actual applications. We should probably clarify that statement in detail. Utilizing the best performing drives in RAID 0 is the setup to have if you are looking to publish top benchmark scores with results in PCMark05 improving by 25% as an example. That same setup will provide you with at best minimal performance improvements in most applications, or sometimes no difference at all.

Our only meaningful application performance improvement with RAID 0 came in the Nero Recode tests where the improved write performance reduced our encoding process by about 5%. What will that 5% cost you? In this case, $399 for the second 7K1000, a halving of the mean time between failure rates on each drive, a data backup nightmare, and increases in noise, thermals, and power consumption. RAID 0 sounds impressive in a system configuration and provides a performance placebo effect when viewing synthetic benchmarks. However, RAID 0 is just not worth the trouble or cost for the average desktop user or gamer, especially with the software RAID capabilities included on most motherboards. We will delve into the RAID world with additional tests and hardware combinations in the coming weeks but for now we again recommend that most desktop users should just stay away from it.

Now that we have answered what happens if two of these impressive drives are operated in RAID 0, we can get back to our conclusions about the performance of this drive. Our experiences over the past few weeks with the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 have been terrific. The overall performance of this drive is excellent and close enough to the WD1500ADFD Raptor drive that we consider it a worthy adversary in most situations. The Raptors are still the drives to own for most benchmarking purposes or those simply wanting the best overall performance in a SATA drive regardless of price or capacity, but the reduced capacity and higher noise levels are certainly a drawback.

We consider the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 the best 7200rpm drive we have tested to date. This is quite the accomplishment considering this is Hitachi's first 3.5" form factor drive that utilizes perpendicular recording technology. We found the write performance and sustained transfer rates to be excellent and class leading in several of our test results. The drive also offers a very balanced blend of performance across a wide variety of business and home applications. The 7K1000 even has the best overall thermal and acoustic characteristics of the high performance 7200rpm drives in our tests. For these reasons, we award the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 our Gold Editors' Choice award and highly recommend the purchase of this drive if you are currently looking for a high-capacity drive with performance to match.

The Deskstar 7K1000 is not without faults as we stated in our first article. We did find in our Nero Recode tests and to some degree in our Winstone tests that the drive does not perform as expected in handling large block sizes of data in sequential order. Conversely, the Achilles heel of the Seagate 750GB drive was its inability to handle large files in non-sequential order. Hitachi has overcome this for this most part with a large 32MB cache and from all apparent indications firmware that is tuned with operational balance in mind or even favoring non-sequential read/writes. This is a luxury it can afford due to its cache size and areal density advantages over the other drives in our test group.

Hitachi's implementation of their Automatic Acoustic Management technology on the 7K1000 does not hinder performance in a noticeable manner and offers a significant advantage for those needing a spacious drive in a quiet system. While our original acoustic testing shows the drive to be very quiet, it is not totally silent. However, based on conversations with Hitachi we fully expect the CinemaStar version of this drive (designed for DVR operations) to improve upon the Deskstar results. As stated in both articles, we believe leaving AAM and NCQ turned on provides the best user experience with this drive. While there may be a very slight performance advantage in certain benchmarks with AAM off, we feel like the benefit of having a quiet 1TB drive in our system is well worth the price of losing a few benchmark points.

Actual Application Performance
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  • Gaelstorm - Wednesday, October 08, 2008 - link

    This article was a long time ago, but the second to last comment before mine was talking about fair. If a program is not hard drive intensive and is just slow all around like the Sim 2, you are not being fair by mentioning that Raid 0 doesn't help it. Honestly nothing will help with that games load time except a faster computer overall. Even so that game loads horrible for the type of game it is. I can tell you right now, there are very few situations I have encountered where Raid 0 didn't way outperform a single drive for gaming or just feel on a desktop type system. All the arguing I read, actually made me rethink trusting information from certain sources at all. Reply
  • Per Hansson - Tuesday, April 24, 2007 - link

    Some ideas, as could be seen on page 4 of the review the system was limited by something (flat graph in STR instead of what you would expect)

    This is probably because you are using the normal SCSI Miniport driver, which happens to be the only choice for Win2K and WinXP 32 bit

    WinXP 64bit, 2003 Server 32bit and 64 bit and Vista 32 bit and 64 bit has the new StorPort miniport driver, which improves performance tremendeously in RAID arrays

    Of course the controller cards driver must also actually support and use the StorPort driver instead of the normal SCSI miniport driver

    What this means in laymens terms is that it was not because the "software based" RAID controllers where crap that we got shitty performance in Win2K and XP, it was because those controllers had shitty drivers. Which really was MS fault.

    The really expensive RAID controllers however did not use the NT4/2000 Server etc native SCSI miniport driver but had their very own implementation (just as good as MS "all new" storport driver) which meant that they where not capped at about 100-150MB/sec, but rather unlimited... Try your review with 4 150GB Raptors in RAID-0, your performance will be the same because it is the drivers that is holding the system back...

    Please keep this in mind for your upcoming review ;)

    http://download.microsoft.com/download/5/6/6/5664b...">http://download.microsoft.com/download/...06-45ec-...
    Reply
  • ShadowdogKGB - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    You have 5 synthetics that tell us that two are faster in stripe but then you have 5 real world tests that aren't real world at all. Tell me who plays HL2 Lost Coast and Sims2 Neighborhood. I think you should just stop testing raid setups all together since you can't be honest about it. Reply
  • Gary Key - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    You have 5 synthetics that tell us that two are faster in stripe but then you have 5 real world tests that aren't real world at all. Tell me who plays HL2 Lost Coast and Sims2 Neighborhood. I think you should just stop testing raid setups all together since you can't be honest about it.


    The Sims2 continues to be one of the top selling/played games in the world and HL2 along with its various versions is also a top played title. We are revising our benchmark suite to include WoW and a couple of other titles that were recently released. As far as the other benchmarks, compression/decompression and encoding are fairly common activities on a PC the last time I checked. ;-) What are we not being honest about?
    Reply
  • jleboeuf - Saturday, April 21, 2007 - link

    I'd be interested to see what your results fair out w/ a raid 10 config w/ 6 drives. that's 3 terabytes, and completely mirrored Reply
  • aethyrmaster - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    They said they only used a 64 kB (KiB if you prefer) stripe size. Using stripes of 128 kB size would most likely have changed the results significantly. If possible, I'd like to see results with a 256 kB stripe as well.

    Separately, I personally have used RAID 0, as well as used exactly the same drives in a non-RAID setup. I often times do a lot of transferring of video from my PC to other devices on a Gigabit ethernet network, and the extra 10 to 30 MB/sec transfer rate provided by RAID 0 is well appreciated when you are copying 400 to 800 MB (MiB) of video.
    Reply
  • GOSHARKS - Friday, April 20, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Our preliminary acoustic testing revealed minor differences between the drives with the retail unit having an increase in noise levels at idle from 26dBA to 27dBA and load results going from 35dBA to 36dBA with AAM enabled at the silent setting of 128. At an AAM setting of 254 we noticed an increase from 27dBA to 28dBA along with load results increasing from 36dBA to 38dBA.


    Is that even statiscally significant? As it is, it can be slightly misleading.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    quote:

    Is that even statiscally significant? As it is, it can be slightly misleading.


    Not in the grand scheme of things but the tests were run five different times with the same results. We were providing information based upon having a retail drive to test instead of the OEM drive we had in the first article. There were a few comments that suggested differences could have existed between the two so we tried to answer it.
    Reply
  • tshen83 - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    reviewing a 1TB drive by raid 0? the writer obviously have NO FREAKING IDEA of what the target audience is. A RAID5 review would be much more appropriate. Hate to lose 100GB of data nowadays...let alone 2TB, at that point, you might as well kill yourself Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    We have a full RAID article in the works that will test RAID 1, RAID 1+0, and RAID 5 with several drives, Intel and NV chipsets, along with hardware controllers. As I mentioned in the article, this story will be up in the coming weeks. As far as offering RAID 0 results with a motherboard controller chipset, this was done as the vast majority of boutique systems offer this option along with several hundred emails asking when we could provide RAID 0 results with the latest drive releases. Reply

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