It was a big month for storage. Not only did Western Digital bring to the market the first 2TB consumer hard drive, but Seagate came to the game with another milestone: a two-platter 1TB drive. Both offerings contain 500GB platters, the highest platter density yet achieved.
The Barracuda 7200.12 1TB is the first drive we’ve tested from the 12th generation of Seagate’s 7,200rpm Barracuda line, and it’s Seagate’s best chance for a fresh start following the firmware issues that plagued its 7200.11 line.
The 1TB 7200.12 has much in common with drives from the previous generation of Barracudas: It features 32MB of L2 cache, 7,200rpm rotational speeds, and SATA 3Gb/s data transfer with Native Command Queuing. The 7200.12, though, needs just two platters to achieve 1TB, whereas the 7200.11 used four.
The next-generation Seagate Barracuda is wicked-fast.
Generally, fewer platters mean higher areal density, which translates into better performance. For example, our previous favorite terabyte drive, the Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ, used three platters and outperformed the older Barracuda’s four platters. So surely a two-platter drive will be faster, right?
Yup. The new 1TB Barracuda’s read and write speeds approach those of the Western Digital Velociraptor. The Barracuda’s average sustained reads in our h2benchw benchmark exceeded 100MB/s, 7 percent faster than the Samsung’s, while sustained write speeds were an impressive 99.3MB/s, nearly 14 percent faster than the Samsung drive. Random access reads were more than 25 percent quicker on the Barracuda, burst speeds were 24MB/s faster, and the Barracuda’s PCMark Vantage score was more than 25 percent higher than the Samsung’s. In fact, only the Barracuda’s random-access write speeds failed to beat the Samsung’s—at 15.2ms, they’re still zippy, but no match for the Samsung’s 9.8ms response time.
The 1TB 7200.12 drive has a list price of $150 and a street price of about $120, which puts it in direct competition with its older, bigger cousin, the 1.5TB Barracuda 7200.11—which has retailed for around $140 consistently for months. The 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green fetches $300.
As appealing as the Caviar’s eco-friendly message may be, you can actually save money by buying two of the 7200.12 drives—and get better performance to boot.
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
First two-platter 1TB drive; wicked-fast. Beats previous contender easily.
Somewhat high MSRP; higher random-access writes than expected.
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB
h2benchw Average Sustained transfer Rate Read (MB/s)
h2benchw Average Sustained transfer Rate Write (MB/s)
h2benchw Random Access Read (ms)
h2benchw Random Access Write (ms)
HD Tach Burst Read (MB/s)
PCMark Vantage Overall Score
Best scores are bolded. Our test bed uses a 2.66GHz Intel Core 2 Quad Q6700, 2GB of Corsair DDR2/800 RAM on an EVGA 680 SLI motherboard, one EVGA GeForce 8800 GTX card, a Western Digital 500GB Caviar hard drive, and a PC Power and Cooling Turbo Cool PSU. Scores for h2benchw and HDTach were generated in Windows XP Professional with SP2. PCMark Vantage scores were run in Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit.