Final Words

What else can we say? Both drives performed very well and followed certain patterns throughout testing based upon their design and target audience. While the overall performance of the drives placed them consistently in the middle of our test group, this should not be surprising considering the competition. These two drives are designed for single user desktops where storage capacity, thermals, cost, and acoustics are just as important as performance.

The Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200KS offered the best acoustics of any drive we have tested to date along with excellent thermals considering the performance of the drive. 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 where heavy read requests were prevalent. In our platform applications tests the Western Digital drive performed admirably with excellent results in the game load tests and was close enough to the Seagate 320GB drive in the other tests that you could call a tie unless you consider the warranty terms. We are generally very impressed with the Western Digital SE16 series of drives and look forward to testing their 500GB version shortly.


The Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB drive offered competitive acoustics and thermals while bettering its big brother 750GB drive. In fact, during both the acoustic and thermal testing we thought Seagate had provided us a different drive family as the difference between them was very noticeable. We also purchased a Seagate 7200.10 320GB drive for follow up testing and had the same results even though our retail drive was manufactured in China. It appears to us a change has occurred within Seagate's process as our newly received 750GB drive does not exhibit the same thumping sound as our earlier drives while it operates about 3 degrees cooler overall. Initial testing also shows minor improvements in our benchmarks. The one issue we have with the Seagate 7200.10 family is a continuing performance pattern where read or write requests that are not sequential in nature end up adversely affecting performance. While this performance issue is magnified in our IPEAK tests that measure pure hard drive performance, it is tempered somewhat in the platform application tests.

What is our recommendation? If you are looking for a very quiet and thermally advantaged high capacity drive then the Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200KS should be on your short list. The drive also offered very good game play performance and was able to make a strong showing in the general business application benchmarks. If you are looking for a drive that offers slightly better overall performance and excels in most desktop and multimedia applications while offering competitive acoustics then the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB drive should be at the top of your list.

In the end we have to declare a winner so we took the fact both drives are selling for around $99 in their OEM version (incredible value for 320GB) and bounced that against their performance and still ended up in a situation where you win with either drive. However, after tallying up the points we noticed the deciding factor would be the warranties offered by each company. Seagate offers a full five year warranty while Western Digital offers three years on their OEM drives and one year on their Retail drives with a $14.95 charge for two additional years. Based upon this information, we are going to declare the Seagate our winner on a technical knockout.

Acoustics and Thermals
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  • patentman - Monday, July 31, 2006 - link

    To avoid superparamagnetism, engineers have been increasing the coercivity, the field size required to write a bit, of the disc media. These fields are limited by the magnetic materials making up the write head that will soon effectively limit drive sizes utilizing longitudinal recording. Although additional capacities are still achievable, the drive industry will be moving to perpendicular recording technology shortly as longitudinal recording has basically hit the proverbial brick wall after being utilized for nearly 50 years."

    I wrote a pretty detailed post on the anandtech forums about this a while back. You can check it out http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...">here" (I used to post under the nickname "klaviernista"). Considering I examined and issued a lot fo the patents that are the basis of seagate's perpendicular technology, I think I am more than qualified to speak on the matter.

    Oh, and for the record, the "soft" magent under layer is never truly "written to" during the reocrind gprocess. The soft magnetic underlayer is made of a material that has magnetic domains which rotate easily in response to an external magentic field. When the write field goes across any given point in the medium, it induces the field in the corresponding point on the soft magentic underlayer to rotate perpendicular to the medium. The article is correct in saying that the result is a substantial increase in write field intensity, but neglects to mention that the fields of the soft magnetic underlayer to not remain oriented perpendicular to the media surface after the write field from the magentic head is removed, whereas the fields in the magentic recording layer do remain oriented perpendicular to the media surface.

    The whole point of usuing a soft magnetic underlayer is to allow magnetic materials with very high coercivity to be used as the recoprding layer. Why do you need a very high coercivity recording layer in high density recordng media? See the post I linked to above and read the discussed about "intergranular exchange coupling."
    Reply
  • jackylman - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    In the pulldown menu, accoustics -> acoustics Reply
  • SonicIce - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Even with an extra platter to lug around, the Western Digital was quieter and cooler! Reply
  • madfly - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    if you want to have the seagate hard drive cross shipped where they send you a replacement and you return the defective one back to them they charge $25, considering the hard drive cost $99, that there is a ripoff. I had this happen to me with a 250GB HD that I bought last year, so I'll be spending my money with one of the others unless the deal is ridiculous. Reply
  • Mana211 - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    SPCR uses 1 meter (aka 1000mm or 200 times your stated distance) to measure SPL.

    "Each drive is measured for SPL one meter away from the top of the hard drive. Hard drive noise tends to be directional, the loudest position being directly over the top. SPL readings typically drop by 2~3 dBA/1m when measured from the side of the drive. The drive is placed on a soft foam to ensure that no vibration noise is produced during testing."

    The there is an entire category of sounds you hear at 5mm that wouldn't be noticable from outside a case.

    Take this quote from SPCR: "Consider the distance of Hardware.fr's recording microphone: 5cm from the HDD. This is a serious problem. There's no way the decibel reading can be accurate due to boundary effects. It's the same problem at storagereview.com -- not even relative differences are necessarily correct due to compression effects; the close proximity impacts every measurement similarly, reducing differences."

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article631-page1.htm...">http://www.silentpcreview.com/article631-page1.htm... shows that the new audio recordings (not to be confused with the SPL Dba numbers) will use two recording distances:

    * One meter so that "nominal" volume, audibility, and sound character can be judged.
    * One foot (or 30 cm if you will) to capture all the details from even the quietest noise sources.
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Western digital for me since i want a quiet and cool drive. Reply
  • crydee - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    The WD400YR and WD500YS seem very close to performance with the Raptor, but I can't find the WD400YR on pricewatch on newegg also I read about the WD drivers having a high rate of doa? Reply
  • AdamK47 3DS - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    The Seagate drive has a performance advantage with the two 160GB platters. Anandtech is still ignoring the advantages of higher platter densities. Why is that? Platter density is one of the features I look at when purchasing a new drive. It's a good indication of performance when compared to another drive of the same total capacity. You have two 320GB drives reviewed with different number of platters and yet there is no mention of this other than the table. It's very odd. Reply
  • evilharp - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    Check your "price bot" settings. Currently you list the following deals for a "Western Digital Caviar® SE16"

    quote:


    AnandTech Deals

    Western Digital Caviar® SE16

    Prices
    >Buy.com $2,235.99
    >Business Computing Network $2,157.78
    >TECHONWEB $2,189.44
    >Super Warehouse $2,620.99
    >PCNation $2,478.80
    >PhotoAlley.com $2,840.05
    >cameraworld.com $2,840.05
    >iUnitek $2,479.87


    I followed the Business Computing Network link (simply due to the crazy price) and it is for a 20 unit bulk purchase.

    Reply
  • Booty - Thursday, July 27, 2006 - link

    On the last page it should be listed that the WD has a 3 year warranty for retail and 1 year for OEM - you have them switched. Reply

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