The Hitachi Ultrastar 7K4000 4TB made its first appearance on Maximum PC back in September 2012, when a gaggle of them debuted in the Dream Machine. At the time, they were the only 7,200rpm 4TB drives available, so they fit right in among all the other expensive and hard-to-find components. Now that the dust has settled and the 7K4000 has some company, we decided to put it on the test bench to see how it fares against its only rival in the 4TB category.
Hitachi’s Ultrastar 7K4000 was the first 4TB drive to roll with 7,200rpm spindle speeds, but these days it has company.
Examining the spec sheet, we see the Hitachi is a spitting image of its WD nemesis, the Western Digital RE4 TB, and since WD owns the Hitachi storage division now, you would be forgiven for thinking the Hitachi drive is a rebadged WD model. As far as we can tell, however, the drives are physically different. Despite this, both share the same overall design, with five 800GB platters spinning at 7,200rpm, and both have a 64MB buffer as well as a SATA 6Gb/s interface. One area in which the Hitachi has a major advantage is MTBF—it’s rated at 2 million hours, which is almost double the 1.2 million hours offered by the WD drive and among the highest MTBF drives available today.
Moving along to benchmark results, we found very few surprises here, at least in comparison to the equally equipped WD 4TB drive. Both drives performed almost exactly the same in our sequential-read and -write tests, coming within 1MB/s of each other. We did see a small difference between the two drives in random-access time, which is strange since they are both 7,200rpm hard drives, but the WD RE drive was more than 3ms faster in our tests at 12.5ms, while the Hitachi drive averaged a very predictable 15.9ms. The Hitachi 4TB also placed at the bottom of the heap in our PCMark Vantage test, with a surprisingly low score that was equaled by the 5,400rpm version of this drive; a truly puzzling performance indeed.
So the drive is a bit slower than the WD RE 4TB, and street pricing puts it at $530, which makes the WD almost seem affordable. Slightly less performance for more money is never a good equation, so if you simply must get a 4TB drive, go with the WD RE 4TB. Otherwise, as we stated earlier, stick with less expensive 2- and 3TB drives for now.
Note: This review first appeared in the Holiday 2012 issue of the magazine.
Hitachi 4TB 7K4000
Huge capacity; fast, super-long MTBF.
Totally overpriced; not the best performance in its class.
WD RE 4TB
WD Caviar Green 3TB
Avg Read (MB/s)
Random-Access Read (ms)
Burst Read (MB/s)
Avg Write (MB/s)
Random-Access Write (ms)
Burst Write (MB/s)
Premiere Pro CS3 (sec)
Best scores are bolded.All drives tested on our hard drive test bench: a stock-clocked Intel Core i3-2100 CPU on an Asus P8P67 Pro (Rev 3.1) motherboard with 4GB DDR3, running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.All tests performed using native Intel 6Gb/s SATA chipset with IRST version 10.1 drivers.