So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11
- 1TB capacity, quiet operation, 5-year warranty, solid read and write performance
- It was slow in our file transfer test
While it was slower than expected in our file transfer tests, there's a lot to like about this drive. It's good for a gaming PC due to its solid read and write performance scores, and its quiet and relatively cool operation also makes it suitable for a home theatre PC.
Price$ 530.00 (AUD)
Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 is the company's second generation perpendicular recording-based drive and it's the first to reach a capacity of 1TB. The 7200.11 uses a four-platter, eight-head design for its 1TB capacity, with each platter holding 250GB. Seagate has previously shipped single-platter 250GB drives, so the technology in the 1TB Barracuda is definitely reliable and is backed up with a five-year warranty.
What we like about this Barracuda, apart from its 1TB capacity and five-year warranty, is the almost silent way in which it goes about its business. Previous Barracuda drives have been relatively loud during our tests, but this one is barely audible when reading and writing data; you really have to get up close to it in order to hear it working.
Mounted in the stiff chassis of a CoolerMaster Praetorian case, the Barracuda didn't exhibit excessive vibration during seek operations, nor did it get overly hot. After hours of continuous file transfers, the drive was still cool enough to touch. It wasn't as cool as Western Digital's Caviar GP, but that's because the Barracuda has a faster spin speed (7200rpm) and consumes slightly more power. As with all hard drives, it should be mounted in a drive cage that has direct access to a cool air flow.
While it was operating in a PC with a 650W Seasonic SS-650HT power supply, we measured the Barracuda's thirst for electricity. In an idle state, the drive consumed 7.48W of electricity, which is twice as much as the Caviar GP. However, it used only 2.38W more than the Caviar GP when writing data (10.62W compared to 8.24W), and 1.86W more when reading data (9.56W compared to 7.7W). Considering that the Barracuda is a 7200rpm drive with a 32MB cache, these are competitive figures.
Surprisingly, the drive returned mixed results in our performance tests. Amongst other 1TB behemoths, its write performance of 72.02MBps was only second to Hitachi's Deskstar, which recorded a rate of 72.5MBps. But in the file transfer test, where data is copied from one location on the drive to another, the Barracuda recorded a rate of 20.85MBps. Repeated tests garnered the same rate, which is 8.4MBps slower than the Hitachi (29.34MBps) and even 6.04MBps slower than the Caviar GP (26.89MBps). This sluggishness will be noticeable during tasks when data needs to be duplicated or uncompressed. When reading data, the drive averaged a rate of 69.12MBps. This result is almost identical to the Hitachi drive (69.59MBps), but 1.3MB faster than what the Western Digital drive was able to muster.
The Barracuda has a cache size of 32MB, which is as large as it gets, and it also features a 3Gbps SATA interface with NCQ. As far as desktop drives go, it has all the bells and whistles. If it wasn't for its slow performance in the file transfer test, it would be perfect. It has a formatted capacity of 931GB and a retail price of $530, which gives it a competitive cost per gigabyte of 56 cents.
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