Samsung introduced the SpinPoint T166 series last fall after the P120 series had success in the market as a low cost alternative to similar offerings from Seagate, Maxtor, Hitachi, and Western Digital. While the P120 series was certainly a bargain in terms of cost, the drive series did not receive much press coverage nor did Samsung actively promote the product in the same manner you see from their competitors. However, those drives developed almost a cult following from people who perceived them as great price to performance alternatives, not to mention drives that were whisper quiet and easy on the electric bill.

We have always liked the P120 series but our experiences with earlier Samsung storage products usually ended in disappointment either through sub-par performance or reliability issues. It also seemed at times that Samsung was almost embarrassed to admit they were in the storage market as their products consistently lagged behind others in both technology and performance. Over the past two years, we have seen some dramatic changes at Samsung and they are now committed to providing class leading performance in the desktop market at the lowest possible cost.

The SpinPoint T166 series brings Samsung close (if not even) to the other manufacturers in offering performance competitive drives at somewhat discounted prices. We have also seen and experienced an improvement in both reliability and customer support to the point that we think Samsung is on the right track, if not the fast track, to meeting their goals.

From a technology viewpoint, they were first to market this year with Hybrid hard drives that feature 256MB of NAND Flash memory and full support for Vista's new ReadyBoost technology. We will take a look at this interesting meld of technology in the near future but for now they are the leaders in this developing market. Also of note will be Samsung's entry into the Perpendicular Magnetic Recording desktop market with their new F1 series.

The F1 features capacities up to 1TB utilizing a three disk design with 334GB per-platter capacities in a SATA 3Gb/s interface. Hitachi is using 200GB per-platter capacities and later this month we will see Seagate introduce their 250GB per-platter design in the new 7200.11 series. The F1 also features 32MB cache and their NoiseGuard/SilentSeek technologies with the promise to provide whisper-quiet operation and the best thermals in the 1TB range of drives. While we are excited about the specifications, we will hold off on making any judgment calls until we have tested this new drive. After all, making the jump from 167GB per-platter designs to an all new PMR drive with a 33% density improvement over the nearest competitor has its risks.

In our review today of the SpinPoint T166 500GB (HD501LJ), we will see how far Samsung has come in its drive technology, and if it stands above the competition or just merely comes close. Let's now find out how Samsung's newest drive performs against our other 500GB offerings.

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  • phusg - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link


    All the best ones are. Ever heard of Intel? It's a big company, they go by the ticker INTC. Check them out. Of course, Supermicro is American too, and are the best with Intel in terms of reliability. Fancy them both being American, huh?

    LOL. You're funny! Intel doesn't even make motherboards.

    Of course build quality/reliability has come down over the years (as it has in almost all manufacturing sectors), but this has been done very consciously to lower cost so please don't pretend the U.S. is special in this regard.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    Intel doesn't make motherboards? Is this an episode of the Twilight Zone? How can two people believe this. Well, I must be drugged or something, because I would have sworn I had several Intel motherboards running and about 15 that are part of my collection that are for show.

    Why do you post nonsense that can be easily disproven? Go to their site, I'll help you since you're obviously not too sharp"> .

    Fancy that they are just as delusional as I am. At least if I'm insane, I'm in good company (no pun intended).
  • amdsupport - Monday, September 17, 2007 - link

    I know this is an old comment, but I just had to comment on this one...Intel mainboards are not actually made by Intel...never have been to my knowledge. All Intel mainboards are designed by Intel, however; Intel contracts all manufacturing out to Foxconn.

    Intel boards are really made overseas. People do not realize Foxconn makes a lot of stuff in the computer industry.
  • snor - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link

    Actually, Foxconn produces Intel's motherboards.
  • TA152H - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    And you are getting this information from where??????

  • lennylim - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link


    and the two most reliable motherboard manufacturers today are, not too surprisingly, American!

    Pardon my ignorance. Who are these two manufacturers?
  • TA152H - Tuesday, July 10, 2007 - link

    You couldn't get that from the first message?

    Supermicro and Intel. They are widely regarded as the most reliable in the industry, and my personal experience with them does nothing to disprove it. Strangely, my personal experience with Epox is very good too, and they are Taiwanese, but this is not something I have seen widely accepted. So, I guess it's just a fluke. I also don't know what's happened to them. If I were going to buy an AMD based motherboard, I would pick them, but they don't seem to be selling much anymore. Again, I'm pretty sure I was just lucky with them, since they aren't known for reliability. But, sometimes it's better to be lucky than to be smart.
  • gigahertz20 - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link

    Just read the Newegg reviews. This Samsung drive is the most highly rated 500GB hard drive on Newegg over Seagate and Western Digital. A company is not going to sell hard drives that are unreliable, maybe your luck is just bad or something. Reply
  • TA152H - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link

    Newegg reviews generally aren't written by people three years after they buy a hard drive. So, it's not too useful. Reply
  • gigahertz20 - Monday, July 9, 2007 - link

    I've had this Samsung hard drive sitting in my Newegg cart for awhile, but frys had an awesome deal for the 4th of July where they were selling Maxtor 500GB SATA3 16MB Cache Retail hard drives for $'s suppose to arrive tomorrow but damn, now I wish I would have waited and bought this Samsung instead.

    BTW, frys still has the deal going on.">

    I've heard the 500GB Maxtor hard drives are rebadged Seagate 7200.10 drives since Seagate bought Maxtor up while ago. I'll find out tomorrow when UPS delivers it.

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