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Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB hard drive

Steppin' up the capacity ladder

Manufacturer Seagate
Model Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB
Price (MSRP)
Availability Now

It's been more than 18 months since Hitachi reached the terabyte mark with the Deskstar 7K1000. In that time, all the major players in the hard drive industry have spun up terabytes of their own, and in some cases, offered multiple models targeting different markets. With so many options available and more than enough time for the milestone capacity's initial buzz to fade, it's no wonder that the current crop of 1TB drives is more affordable than we've ever seen from a flagship capacity. The terabyte, it seems, is old news.

One-point-five terabytes is the new hotness these days—the next step up the capacity scale. This time it was Seagate who struck first with a version of its Barracuda 7200.11 rippling with four 375GB platters. In addition to raising the bar on the capacity front, the higher areal density of these platters promises to improve performance dramatically. In fact, Seagate says its latest 'cuda can sustain transfer rates up to 120MB/s, which would put the drive squarely in VelociRaptor territory.

So the Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB has the potential to be a leader in both performance and capacity. And it costs much less than you might expect from a new flagship. That sounds like the perfect hard drive recipe, but does the one-point-five measure up? We've squared it off against some of the fastest, highest capacity drives on the market to find out.

New platters for an existing platform
Although the Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB breaks new ground on the capacity front and may very well be the fastest 7,200-RPM hard drive we've tested, it's not an entirely new product. Indeed, the Barracuda 7200.11 family has been around for about a year now, and this latest step up the capacity ladder simply adds denser platters to the equation.

Seagate launched the 7200.11 with a terabyte model that packed four 250GB platters. You'll find the same number of platters in the one-point-five, but this time they weigh in at 375GB each—an increase in areal density of 50%. Obviously, this jump in areal density was essential in allowing Seagate to reach the 1.5TB mark without having to resort to a fifth platter. Bumping up the Barracuda's per-platter capacity should also pave the way for faster sequential transfer rates.

Maximum external transfer rate 300MB/s
Sustained data rate 120MB/s
Random read seek time
Random write seek time
Average rotational latency 4.16ms
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Available capacities 1.5TB
Cache size 32MB
Platter size 375GB
Idle power consumption 8W
Idle acoustics 2.7 bels
Seek acoustics 2.9 bels
Warranty length Five years

Although the 1.5TB's 375GB platters have a much higher areal density than those of the rest of the 7200.11 line, their advantage over other drives in the market is less substantial. Samsung and Western Digital both offer drives with 334GB platters, and we'll see in a moment how their performance compares in both sequential throughput drag races and real-world file copy tests. The one-point-five's claimed sustained throughput of 120MB/s certainly sets expectations high, though.

As one might expect from a high-end desktop drive, the new head of the 7200.11 family comes equipped with a 300MB/s Serial ATA interface and 32MB of cache memory. The 'cuda's spindle speed remains at 7,200RPM, just like every other desktop drive short of Western Digital's Raptors.

Home theater PCs tasked with recording HD video seem like a good match for the one-point-five's expansive capacity, and Seagate has done what it can to keep the drive quiet. Like the rest of the 7200.11 family, the 1.5TB model uses a SoftSonic motor that Seagate says keeps noise levels down in the 2.7-2.9 bels range. The drive consumes just 8W of power at idle, too, so it's not going to be throwing much heat into an enclosure.

Seagate currently offers the best warranties in the business, covering all of its internal hard drive products for five years. 1.5TB might be a drop in the bucket five years from now, but the additional coverage is certainly appreciated, especially with desktop drives from other manufacturers typically only covered for three years. However, we should note that Seagate's five-year warranty only applies if you've bought the drive through an authorized vendor. Fortunately, there are plenty of those to choose from, including Newegg, ZipZoomfly, Fry's, Tiger Direct, and even Wal-Mart, among others. Seagate doesn't make users jump through ridiculous registration hoops just to quality for coverage, either.