Final Words

Performance-wise, the 160GB 7200.9 is not a top performer when it comes to game level loading and File Zip and Unzip operations, but it's still far from the bottom of the barrel. Seagate's newest platter design, at 160GB, proves to be a worthy competitor in the long list of hard disk drives that we have benchmarked over the last few years.

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. The 160GB unit churned out 561 operations per second in our Business Winstone 2004 IPEAK capture benchmark and 378 operations per second in the Content Creation portion of that benchmark. The RAID-0 array, which we set up with two of these 160GB units, produced the highest numbers that we have seen at 869 and 599 operations per second in both the Business Winstone and Content Creation Winstone 2005 IPEAK benchmarks, respectively. The RAID-0 array topped even the best performing drive that we have seen yet, Western Digital's 74GB 10,000RPM Raptor. We are itching to see the performance of a RAID-0 array with the new 150GB Raptors! The RAID-0 array also cuts the write service time in half from 8.67ms to 4.67ms.

The raw performance of the drive was shown in the WinBench99 and HDTach RW results. They reported an average read speed of about 60.3MB/sec while the RAID-0 array read at a rate of 84.4MB/sec. The burst read speeds were 247.6MB/sec and 306.5MB/sec respectively. These tests are not always the best indicators of the real performance of a drive, so we went on to put the 160GB 7200.9 through our set of real world tests.

The File System Tasks include File Zip/Unzip/Copy operations. We didn't see much consistency here as the unit was all over the charts in the time that it took to complete the various operations. We did, however, see an improvement in the RAID-0 array over the single drive setup in all of these benchmarks. The RAID-0 array completed the required operations up to 3 seconds quicker in the File Copy tests and almost 10 seconds quicker in the File Zip Tests, and also topped the 74GB Raptor in some cases.

The other real world tests included game level loads from 3 popular games. The game level load tests proved to be insignificant here as the results were inconsistent. However, we saw a great improvement in the Application Load Time benchmarks. With the 160GB drive as the boot drive, applications started up close to 1 second quicker compared to the others in the list. Though this may seem like a small improvement, the numbers were very consistent across all of the drives.

The end result is a platter density with great potential. Imagine running this drive at 10,000RPM and pitting it against Western Digital's powerhouse Raptor. During our benchmarking process with the 160GB 7200.9, we proved that the performance of SATA drives will increase significantly when thrown in a RAID-0 setup. As for the 160GB 7200.9 as a single product, it has shown us that it can keep up with the latest 3.0GB/sec drives such as Hitachi's T7K250 and Western Digital's WD1600JS as far as performance goes.

Pricing at the time that this review is published is fairly competitive with all three of these drives between $80 and $90. The other difference many may want to consider is the extent of warranty given by each manufacturer. Seagate offers a 5-year warranty on all of its internal hard drive products including both desktop and notebook drives, while Western Digital and Hitachi offer 3 years on their desktop products and 5 years only on enterprise class products such as Hitachi's Ultrastar and Western Digital's enterprise class storage drives.

Seagate has mentioned that they will be implementing the perpendicular magnetic recording method into their desktop drives as soon as Q2/Q3 of this year, which means that we may see high density platters in the drives in 2006. However, they can still get away with implementing 160GB platters with current drives using the longitudinal recording method. It should definitely be an interesting year in hard disk drive products for Seagate.

Thermal and Acoustics
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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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