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Our test methods
Today, we'll be looking at the Caviar Black 1TB's performance against its most natural rival: the two-platter, 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12. Samsung and Hitachi also make two-platter drives with terabyte capacities, and while we'll be covering both soon, they've yet to arrive in our labs.

In addition to letting the Black square off against a terabyte 'cuda, we've thrown a couple of flagship 2TB drives from WD and Seagate into the mix. The Caviar Black 2TB uses the same platters as the 1TB model and has that fancy dual-stage actuator, but it only supports 3Gbps SATA. Seagate's Barracuda XT 2TB has a 6Gbps SATA port and uses the same 500GB platters as the 7200.12.

All four drives were tested on the 3Gbps SATA controller inside Intel's P55 Express PCH. Since they both support third-gen Serial ATA, the Caviar Black 1TB and Barracuda XT 2TB were also tested on Marvell's 9123 SATA 6Gbps controller with the company's 1.0.0.1027 drivers. The Marvell controller puts two 600MB/s SATA ports behind a single PCIe 2.0 link that offers 500MB/s of bidirectional bandwidth, so it's not an ideal implementation. However, the 9123 is the only SATA 6Gbps controller currently on the market, and it should be plenty fast for our purposes today. Neither the Barracuda XT nor the Caviar Black is capable of fully exploiting a 600MB/s SATA link.

We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz
CPU/chipset link DMI (2GB/s)
Motherboard Asus P7P55D Premium
Bios revision 0711
Chipset Intel P55 Express
Chipset drivers Chipset 9.1.1.1015
AHCI/RAID 8.9.0.1023
Memory size 4GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory type Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 at 1333MHz
CAS latency (CL) 9
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 9
RAS precharge (tRP) 9
Cycle time (tRAS) 24
Command rate 1T
Audio Via VT2020 with 6.1.7600.16385 drivers
Graphics Gigabyte GeForce 8600 GT 256MB with ForceWare 190.62 drivers
Hard drives Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB with CC12 firmware
OS Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Our test system was powered by an OCZ GameXStream power supply unit.

With the exception of our power consumption and noise levels, all tests were run at least twice, with the results averaged. We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems' Windows desktop was set at 1280x1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.