Going Green in Heart and Mind: Seagate Barracuda 2TB
4/10/2011 by: Anshel Sag
Following our review of two of the fastest notebook hard drives on the market, we're going to review a very interesting product for the desktop - a 'green' hard drive. For many people, most hard drives have attained a size that is enough to hold the majority of their data. This has been primarily achieved by the introduction of 1TB and 2TB HDD. The 2TB drive is safe to say the most prevalent data drive to date. Many users find themselves buying 2TB drives as data drives and in some cases, even operating system drives. As the market saturated itself with 2TB drives last year, a second generation of those drives began to roll out with improvements upon the original designs. This leads us to the latest development that Seagate has come out with, the Seagate Barracuda Green also known as the Seagate Barracuda LP (for low power). This drive is intended to not only be considered a "green" drive but also one that is generally considered to be cooler and quieter as well. Today we will see how Seagate’s 2TB Green drive stacks up against the competition as well as other Seagate offerings.
Specs and Background Data
One of the key factors about the Barracuda Green is that the drive is not a 7200rpm "desktop speed" drive, nor is it a 5400rpm "notebook speed" drive. Instead, it is actually a 5900RPM drive which means that it in theory will not quite operate as slowly as the majority of other 5400 rpm "green" low power drives, but at the same time will not likely be as fast as some 7200RPM drives of the same size. This is achieved through doubling the available cache memory. Seagate Barracuda Green features 64MB of cache unlike 32MB in its predecessor. Furthermore, this drive is capable of utilizing SATA 6Gb/s which should further make it a quicker drive. Also, like our previously reviewed WD Scorpio Black, Barracuda Green also comes with the new Advanced Format 4K sector standard, which the company calls Seagate SmartAlign. We will see how much of an effect this really does have on 4K performance, though.
As you can see from above, 2TB capacity is packed in a typical 3.5" housing with nothing to write home about. Turning the hard drive upside down changes the story, though.
Notice that Seagate opted to go for a smaller than usual PCB (Printed Circuit Board) on the drive as well. Recently, we spoke with Seagate on their new strategy towards the enterprise segment and it was disclosed that the company is shifting focus from the mature 3.5" form factor to 2.5" and that the R&D focus will be tuned to building as fast performing 2.5" drives as possible. Thus, seeing a PCB that could almost fit on a 2.5" one is no surprise at all.
For this review, we used our hard drive testing bench system:
- GigaByte GA-X58A-UD5 Rev2 Motherboard [Provided by Gigabyte]
- Intel Core-i7 i975 Extreme Edition [Provided by Intel]
- 6GB Kingston HyperX T1 DDR3 RAM @ 1333MHz [Provided by Kingston]
- Coolermaster UCP 1100W PSU [Provided by Coolermaster]
- Kingston 128GB V Series SSD [Provided by Kingston]
- 600GB Western Digital Velociraptor [Provided by Western Digital]
- 750GB Western Digital Scorpio Black [Provided by Western Digital]
- 750GB Seagate Momentus [Provided by Seagate]
- 2TB Seagate Barracuda XT [Provided by Seagate]
- 2TB Seagate Barracuda Green [Provided by Seagate]
- 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT [Provided by Seagate]
- 3TB Western Digital Green [Provided by Western Digital]
As you can see, we've combined two top-performing notebook drives alongside a battery of conventional 3.5" drives to give you a decent comparison of just how fast or slow can green drives perform.
AIDA 64 (64KB)
When testing AIDA 64, we took all of our recent HDD testing data and compiled all of them into one chart. This resulted in quite a bit of comparison data and may seem a little busy to some. Nevertheless, it should be a fairly good illustration of the strengths and weaknesses of the Barracuda Green drive. In our tests, we found that the Barracuda Green was actually the 3rd fastest drive when it came to linear reads, faster even than Barracuda XT TB and the Western Digital Green 3TB. This is a very welcome and surprising result as both of those drives should be faster than the Barracuda Green. Although, once we go to random reads, all of a sudden the Barracuda Green drops to dead last out of our seven HDDs. This fact is a little concerning considering how good its linear
reads were. As far as buffered reads went, it was one of the fastest drives out there and that is likely due to the fact that it has 64MB of cache that assists the buffered read. Once we take a look at the average read access times (in milliseconds) we notice that the Barracuda Green finds itself towards the middle of the pack at 16.63ms which isn’t too great at all but still better than two of the Barracuda XT drives we tested.
Cinebench R11.5 itself is actually a CPU and GPU scaling benchmark application, but what we do is run Cinebench off of the tested HDD. As a result, the program’s performance will vary depending on how quickly it can draw from the 11,000 little files that it needs in order to render and therefore generate a score. So, for this test, we were able to discern which drives would perform best when running a certain program off of the hard drive. Once again, the Seagate Barracuda Green performed towards the middle of the pack, Not necessarily performing at the bottom nor at the top. With a score of 6.02 it scored better than the 750GB Momentus (6.01), Barracuda XT 2TB (6.0), and the WD Green 3TB (6.0). All other drives still performed marginally better, but considering that Cinebench is only about 30 seconds long, there’s a good chance that the small performance margin over time could manifest itself as much more lost productivity.
With HyperPi we were attempting to achieve the same kinds of results as Cinebench but being more memory intensive rather than directly CPU intensive. This means that the data will have to be pulled from the drive and then go through the CPU to memory and whichever drive is faster should in theory result in a lower (better) time. In this test, the Barracuda Green actually performed quite well and found itself again in the top 3 and
once again outperforming the Western Digital 3TB drive. The only drives that outperform this green drive are the Barracuda XT 3TB and the 10,000RPM (almost 2x as fast spinning) Velociraptor 600GB.
With ATTO Disk Benchmark, this drive did perform quite well, but since the data is already in bar graphs there really isn’t much to analyze beyond the easily visible data. The data at hand shows that the Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB handily wipes the floor with the Western Digital 3TB green drive. This is illustrated by the read write tests which show the Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB drive mostly performing over 140MB/s on both reads and writes while the Western Digital 3TB green drive primarily stays below 120MB/s on writes and barely touches 120MB/s on reads. This shows a fairly large performance difference between the two and was a little unexpected considering the mixed data from the previous tests. In terms of putting notebook and desktop hard drives in the same category, you can easily see for yourself that 5900rpm green drive beats the 7200rpm notebook drive.
Temperature and Noise
When it comes to the noise level or sound output of a hard drive we feel it is important to remain practical. Granted we could use a dB meter and a quiet room to measure the exact noise level of the hard drive in question but that setting would be atypical of the average usage scenario for a desktop computer. Secondly the dB scale is not an easy indicator to relate to as each increase is in order of magnitude and not easily comparable. How much more annoying is sound level of 82dB versus one with 80dB? It's hard to tell. Therefore we feel it makes more sense to break down the sounds levels into four categories akin to real world experience, and these "measurements" are taken in a standard office/room environment with standard ambient noises
such as HVAC present:
Unnoticeable: At this level the sound of the product is not perceptible. Either completely silent or only perceptible when your ear is place directly next to the hard drive itself
Noticeable: At this level the sound of the drive is perceptible, generally as a low hum of the motor. The noise at this level is unobtrusive and generally blends in with other ambient noises, such as case fans, power supply exhaust fans etc. The noise from the drive can be heard but you have to listen for it to really hear it.
Clearly Noticeable:At this level the noise output from the card is clearly evident. When performing Search function, the hard drive is discernable as the source of the noise and tends to be of higher magnitude than the ambient noise around it.
Annoying:This moniker pretty much describes itself. Usually reserved for drives spinning at 10,000 rpm or more, or hard drives with loud actuators, the sound of the hard drive is distracting. The disc drive is clearly discernable as the source of noise and during gameplay/media enjoyment speaker and/or headphone volume must
be increased to overcome the noise by the drive.
When it came to temperature and noise, the Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB performed fantastically and clearly belongs to the Unnoticeable category. When compared to other 3.5" drives, the Barracuda Green 2TB performed the best of all drives and when adding the 750GB laptop drives, it then came in 3rd. Nevertheless, we aren’t really comparing the 2.5" 750GB drives as they will almost always run cooler than 3.5" drives. They are simply there for reference. If anything we’d consider the Barracuda 2TB Green to be the #1 3.5" drive when it comes to being cool and quiet.
The Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB currently sells for $79 on Newegg.com compared to the Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB and 3TB which sell for $99 and $199 respectively. As a result this drive actually provides a very good value. Not only has it shown to be mostly faster and cooler than its 3TB counterpart, but it also proved to be significantly cheaper per gigabyte as well. The Barracuda Green gives you 25GB per $1 versus the 15GB per $1 that the Western Digital 3TB provides. At this given moment, the Seagate Barracuda Green is easily one of the best values out there for not only gigabytes per $ but also for performance, sound and temperature. Also, as an added note, both green drives come with a 3 year warranty which is effectively the industry standard for a "green" drive. Simply put, this is one of the best deals out there today on a hard drive.
Although this drive may not be the fastest of the bunch, it is more certainly the best bang for your buck out of the drives we've tested so far. We were fairly surprised with some of the performance that this drive was capable of
delivering but were a little disappointed with its 4K performance in CrystalMark. If anything, this drive is a mixed bag of results but once you consider the overall value that the drive provides not even considering performance, then you realize that it really is a great value drive and can serve as an inexpensive backup drive for as much data as you want… and at the given moment is likely the best choice if you want to back up a lot of data efficiently in regards to temperature and economically in regards to gigabytes per dollar.
As a result, we have no hesitance in awarding the Seagate Barracuda 2TB Green our mainstream value award.
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