For over a year now, we’ve been asking for just three things in a desktop hard drive: 7,200rpm speed, 4TB capacity, and 1TB per platter. That’s all we’ve asked for, and we don’t think we’re being unreasonable, since all we want is the maximum amount of space and performance in a disk drive.
Seagate’s drive is surprisingly affordable, but only includes a 2-year warranty.
Regardless, first we got 4TB, but at 5,400rpm in a five-platter design from Hitachi. Then we got 4TB, also in five platters, but at 7,200rpm from both Hitachi and WD. “Nice,” we thought, “progress!” So when we heard Seagate was finally wading into the 4TB waters, we figured this would be the drive we have all been waiting for—4TB, 1TB per platter, and 7,200rpm.
Unfortunately, our prophecy remains unfulfilled, as the Seagate drive, dubbed plainly “Desktop HDD.15” is certainly 4TB, and it uses 1TB per platter for improved transfer speeds, thanks to higher platter density, but its spindle only rotates at a lowly 5,900rpm. The upside of this slower rotational speed is the extra-dense platters help it actually perform like a 7,200rpm hard drive, all while remaining quiet, running cool, and actually being affordable, too. All these qualities combine to make this new Seagate drive the best 4TB disk drive we’ve tested yet.
As stated previously, this is the first hard drive available that uses four 1TB platters, which gives it a speed advantage over its five-platter rivals from WD and Hitachi. Since there is more data on each platter, the read/write heads don’t have to move as much to collect data, and when they are in motion over the platters, they can hover over more data, as well, which increases transfer rates. As to why it’s just 5,900rpm, Seagate recently announced it was abandoning 7,200rpm 2.5-inch hard drives in order to focus on both SSD and hybrid SSD drives. We assume Seagate is thinking along similar lines when it comes to desktop hard drives, focusing on SSD for speed and HDD for capacity and price-sensitive needs.
In testing, we saw Seagate’s 4TB drive post average sequential read speeds that were equivalent to 7,200rpm drives like the WD Black and Hitachi 7K4000, which is a significant accomplishment, but the 4TB drive was also slower than the Barracuda 3TB. As expected, its access times hovered in the 17ms region, which is totally normal and makes this drive a pokey one for OS usage, but we doubt anyone would do such a thing. Its average write speeds were slower than the WD Black, but it’s in the neighborhood of the other 7,200rpm drives, so it gets some kudos for punching above its weight class. In our simulated “real-world” test of PCMark Vantage, the Seagate scored below even other 5,400rpm drives, which is a bit curious but reinforces this drive’s role as a storage volume instead of an OS device.
The good news here is if you’re just looking for 4TB of storage for the least amount of money, this is the drive you want. Its asking price of $190 is righteous when compared to $300 for the 7,200rpm WD Black 4TB and $380 for the 7,200rpm Hitachi 7K4000.
The bad news is this drive includes a meager 2-year warranty, which is the lowest we’ve seen on a desktop drive but on par with other “budget” drives. In the end, this is a fast drive at a great price, making it easy to recommend.
Best scores are bolded. All tests conducted on our hard-drive test bench, which consists of a Gigabyte Z77X-UP4 motherboard, Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz CPU, 8GB of RAM, Intel 520 Series SSD, and a Cooler Master 450W power supply.