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Conclusions
If you haven't skipped ahead to the conclusion, you know where this is going already. Let's humor everyone who glossed over our painstakingly prepared test results in the hopes of getting a quick summary of each drive's performance.

Among two-platter terabytes, Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000.C is easily the least appealing. Despite a few bright spots, the drive's performance is only average overall. Worse, the Deskstar is one of the loudest drives of the bunch, both at idle and under load. You can dial back those noise levels a little, but doing so will slow seek times. At least the 7K1000.C's $70 asking price is reasonable. For the same money, though, you can do much better.

The Barracuda 7200.12 costs $5 more than the Deskstar, and although it's a little bit faster overall, I wouldn't pay the premium. Seagate's two-platter terabyte offering is getting long in the tooth, and beyond having a very fast DRAM cache, the 'cuda really doesn't really distance itself from the competition. Being a few decibels louder than our quietest alternative certainly doesn't help the Seagate's case, either.

Of course, the 'cuda's seek staccato is nowhere near as loud as that of the Caviar Black. In return for tolerating its higher noise levels, the Caviar returns quicker seek times and much higher IOMeter transaction rates than its competition. The Caviar isn't our top performer in sequential transfers and multitasking workloads, however, making it less appealing than our pick of the litter for desktop deployments.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment with the Caviar is the fact that all its next-gen goodness—the larger cache, faster SATA interface, and high areal density—fails to deliver superior performance that would justify the $25 premium associated with the drive. The extra warranty coverage is a nice bonus, but it's not worth that much.

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
July 2010

We're left with Samsung's Spinpoint F3, which is our clear favorite of the four. Not only does the F3 offer the best performance in all manner of sequential transfers, it's easily the quietest of the drives overall. I'm not thrilled by the fact that the F3's transaction rates drop off after 32 concurrent I/O requests, but that's not a condition many desktop users are likely to face. Besides, the Spinpoint certainly held its own in our disk-intensive multitasking tests, which are far more indicative of the sort of workloads produced by enthusiast desktops. Samsung doesn't give up much ground to the Caviar when it comes to random access times, either.

The kicker, though, is the fact that the Spinpoint is the cheapest of the lot at only $70. Anyone looking at two-platter, 7,200-RPM terabyte drives probably has value on his mind, and it doesn't get better than the Spinpoint F3 in this segment of the market.TR

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