We'll be comparing the 160GB and 500GB flavors of the Barracuda 7200.9 against an array of competitors. Most of the drives we're testing are desktop parts, but the Western Digital Caviar RE2 and Raptor WD740GD are technically enterprise-class products. We won't tell anyone if you don't.
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:
|Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ||Barracuda 7200.8||Barracuda 7200.9 (160GB)||Barracuda 7200.9 (500GB)||Caviar SE16||Caviar RE2||Deskstar 7K500||DiamondMax 10||Raptor WD740GD|
|Max external transfer rate||150MB/s||150MB/s||300MB/s||300MB/s||300MB/s||150MB/s||300MB/s||150MB/s||150MB/s|
|Native Command Queuing?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No*|
Note that the Western Digital Caviar SE16 and Raptor WD740GD lack support for Native Command Queuing. The Raptor 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 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 Deskstar T7K250, DiamondMax 10, 7200.8, and 7200.9 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 bus||800MHz (200MHz quad-pumped)|
|Motherboard||Asus P5WD2 Premium|
|North bridge||Intel 955X MCH|
|South bridge||Intel ICH7R|
|Chipset drivers||Chipset 18.104.22.1683|
|Memory size||1GB (2 DIMMs)|
|Memory type||Micron DDR2 SDRAM at 533MHz|
|CAS latency (CL)||3|
|RAS to CAS delay (tRCD)||3|
|RAS precharge (tRP)||3|
|Cycle time (tRAS)||8|
|Graphics||Radeon X700 Pro 256MB with CATALYST 5.7 drivers|
|Hard drives|| Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 400GB SATA|
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 NCQ 160GB SATA
Maxtor DiamondMax 10 300GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar SE16 250GB SATA
Western Digital Raptor WD740GD 74GB SATA
Hitachi 7K500 500GB SATA
Western Digital Caviar RE2 400GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 160GB SATA
Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB SATA
|OS||Windows XP Professional|
|OS updates||Service Pack 2|
We used the following versions of our test applications:
- WorldBench 5.0
- Intel IOMeter v2004.07.30
- Xbit Labs File Copy Test v1.0 beta 13
- TCD Labs HD Tach v3.01
- Far Cry v1.3
- DOOM 3
- Intel iPEAK Storage Performance Toolkit 3.0
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.