Hard Disk Performance: PCMark05

We are utilizing the HDD test suite within PCMark05 for further comparative hard disk scores as it provides a mixture of actual application results and specific read/write percentages utilized within these programs. It also allows interested readers to generate comparative results. The program utilizes the RankDisk application within the Intel IPEAK SPT suite of tools to record a trace of disk activity during usage of real world applications. These traces are then replayed to generate performance measurements based upon the actual disk operations within each application. The HDD test suite contains 53% read and 47% write operations with each trace section utilizing varied amounts of read or write operations. Additional information about the test suite can be found in PDF format here PCMark05 whitepaper.

Our test results are based upon the following trace runs:

Windows XP Startup: This test consists of 90% reading and 10% writes that tracks XP activities at start-up.

Application Loading: This test consists of 83% reading and 17% writes that tracks the opening and closing of the following programs.
  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Windows Media Player
  • 3Dmark 2001SE
  • Leadtek Winfast DVD
  • Mozilla Internet Browser

General Hard Disk Drive Usage: This test consists of 60% reading and 40% writes that tracks application usage utilizing the following settings.
  • Opening a Microsoft Word document, performing grammar check, saving and closing.
  • Compression and decompression using Winzip.
  • Encrypting and decrypting a file using PowerCrypt.
  • Scanning files for viruses using F-Secure Antivirus.
  • Playing an MP3 file with Winamp.
  • Playing a WAV file with Winamp.
  • Playing a DivX video using DivX codec and Windows Media Player.
  • Playing a WMV video file using Windows Media Player.
  • Viewing pictures using Windows Picture Viewer.
  • Browsing the Internet using Microsoft Internet Explorer.
  • Loading, playing and exiting a game with Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon.

Virus Scanning: This test consists of 99.5% read operations as the test tracks the scanning activities of 600MB of files for viruses.

File Write: This test consists of 100% write activities by writing 680MB of files onto the hard disk.

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Hard Drive Performance - PCMark05

Our PCMark05 numbers follow a familiar test pattern with the WD Raptor having a 20% advantage over the Seagate 320GB drive and 29% over the WD 320GB in the total score number. The performance delta between the two 320GB drives is 11% although this is primarily due to the Virus Scanning and File Write test results.

The general usage and application benchmarks that represent the majority of daily operations on a typical PC configuration favor the Western Digital drive. Both of the 320GB drives are very close throughout the first four tests and it is only when we get to the Virus Scanning and File Write tests that we see the Seagate drive hold a commanding lead. We believe the short file sizes and very sequential nature of the test file in the Virus and Write tests heavily favor the Seagate 320GB drive, though we are continuing our investigation.

HD Tach Performance IPEAK General Application Performance


View All Comments

  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Actually, as strange as it sounds, Gary is correct on the WD warranty. You can check it out for yourself at http://support.wdc.com/warranty/policy.asp">http://support.wdc.com/warranty/policy.asp. OEM (bulk) drives carry a 3-year warranty and retail drives carry one year with an option to add 2 more years (to 3 total) for $14.95. Enterprise drives like Raptor carry a 5-year warranty. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Corrected. Reply
  • archcommus - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link


    Speaking of performance, the drive in our IPEAK tests was at times near the bottom of the group and usually trailed the Seagate 320GB drive except in the game play, general business, and applications were heavy read requests were prevalent.

    I'm guessing it should be "...where heavy read requests were prevalent." Just a heads up.
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Typo fixed. Reply
  • Zaitsev - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Nice article, Gary. I enjoyed the background info on the two companies.

    A quick question: Is it possible the str of the Seagate is higher because of a higher areal density due to having only two platters vs. the WD's three? Or have I overlooked something and need to go to sleep :)

  • AkumaX - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Nice article. We win either way!!! I'd rather go with Seagate though because I've had to RMA too many WD's in the past few years.

    Does anyone know of an app that measures HDD throughput (as in MB/s, read/write or both) in realtime?
  • Calin - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    I found strange how big a difference is in some bencmarks between one drive and the other (losing or winning). Anyway, each drive looks good value for money Reply
  • Googer - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    PerformanceTest 6.0 (PassMark Software)
    PC Pitstop @ PC Pitstop.com (requires internet explorer)
  • Googer - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?req...">http://www.simplisoftware.com/Public/index.php?req... Reply
  • AkumaX - Saturday, July 29, 2006 - link

    Sorry, HDTach is a benchmark. I'm looking for something that actually tells me how my hard drive is doing at the moment Reply

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