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Test notes
We'll be comparing the Barracuda 7200.10's performance with that of a slew of competitors, including some of the latest and greatest Serial ATA drives from Hitachi, Maxtor, Seagate, and Western Digital. The drives we'll be looking at differ when it comes to external transfer rates, spindle speeds, cache sizes, platter densities, NCQ support, and capacity, all of which can have an impact on performance. Keep in mind the following differences as we move through our benchmarks:

  Max external transfer rate Spindle speed Cache size Platter size Capacity Native Command Queuing?
Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ150 MB/s7,200 RPM8 MB80 GB160 GBYes
Barracuda 7200.8150 MB/s7,200 RPM8 MB133 GB400 GBYes
Barracuda 7200.9 (160GB)300 MB/s7,200 RPM8 MB160 GB160 GBYes
Barracuda 7200.9 (500GB)300 MB/s7,200 RPM16 MB125 GB500 GBYes
Barracuda 7200.10 300 MB/s 7,200 RPM 16 MB 188 GB 750 GB Yes
Caviar SE16300 MB/s7,200 RPM16 MB83 GB250 GBNo
Caviar RE2150 MB/s7,200 RPM16 MB100 GB400 GBYes
Deskstar 7K500150 MB/s7,200 RPM16 MB100 GB500 GBYes
DiamondMax 10150 MB/s7,200 RPM16 MB100 GB300 GBYes
Raptor WD740GD150 MB/s10,000 RPM8 MB37 GB74 GBNo*
Raptor X150 MB/s10,000 RPM16 MB75 GB150 GBYes

Note that the Caviar SE16 and Raptor WD740GD lack support for Native Command Queuing. The WD740GD does support a form of command queuing known as Tagged Command Queuing (TCQ), but host controller and chipset support for TCQ is pretty thin. Our Intel 955X-based test platform doesn't support TCQ.

Since Seagate makes versions of the 7200.7 both with and without NCQ support, the 7200.7 in our tests appears as the "Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ" to clarify that it's the NCQ version of the drive. The Caviar RE2, Deskstar T7K250, DiamondMax 10, 7200.8, 7200.9, 7200.10, and Raptor X aren't explicitly labeled as NCQ drives because they're not available without NCQ support.

Our testing methods
All tests were run three times, and their results were averaged, using the following test systems.

Processor Pentium 4 Extreme Edition 3.4GHz
System bus800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)
Motherboard Asus P5WD2 Premium
Bios revision0422
North bridgeIntel 955X MCH
South bridgeIntel ICH7R
Chipset driversChipset
Memory size1GB (2 DIMMs)
Memory typeMicron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz
CAS latency (CL)3
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)3
RAS precharge (tRP)3
Cycle time (tRAS)8
Audio codecALC882D
Graphics Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers
SCSI card Adaptec 20320R with drivers
Hard drives Hitachi 7K500 500GB SATA
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor WD740GD 74GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor X 150GB SATA
OS Windows XP Professional
OS updatesService Pack 2

Our test system was powered by OCZ PowerStream power supply units. The PowerStream was one of our Editor's Choice winners in our last PSU round-up.

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.