Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Silent 500GB 3.5" HDD

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Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Silent 3.5" HDD

June 13, 2009 by Mike Chin

Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI
500GB 3.5" Hard Drive
Sample Source
SPCR forum member 'frEEk'
Market Price

Western Digital's introduction of the Caviar Green Power drives a couple years ago renewed interest in 5400rpm desktop drives after a decade of 7200rpm domination. Seagate introduced the somewhat in-between 5900rpm Pipeline HD drives late last year to compete in that noise- and eco-sensitive segment. Samsung also joined the new slower spin HDD race with the EcoGreen 5400rpm line in mid-2008.

Samsung lists 11 EcoGreen 5400rpm models on their US web site. Six of these are earlier F1 series at 250GB, 320GB, 500GB, 640GB, 750GB and 1TB capacities. The first four have 16mb cache, the last two have 32mb. There are five F2 5400rpm EcoGreen models, with capacities of 500GB, 1TB, and 1.5TB, two each at the latter capacities with 16mb and 32mb cache.

While all of these various models are interesting, the F2 HD502HI is the most compelling because it is a single platter 500GB drive. The conventional wisdom is that the fewer the number of platters in a hard drive, the lower the noise, heat and power. It doesn't always hold true because manufacturers sometimes change not only the number of platters, but also the casing and other aspects of the drive that impact noise. For example, a single platter takes up less room and weighs less, so sometimes a less substantial casting is used, with the result that the drive ends up vibrating more and making more noise.

In accordance with conventional wisdom, the F2 HD502HI does, in fact, have the lowest specified noise of all the EcoGreen models. It is rated for 2.2 bels (sound power) in idle and 2.7 bels in performance seek; the same parameters for the lower capacity F1 models are 2.45 bels and 2.8 bels.

The 500gb/disk areal density is the current peak, reached not only by Samsung but also Western Digital and Seagate. It is the first single-platter 500GB model to be tested here.

Although the buzz in the SPCR forums is that the EcoGreens are very quiet and offer good performance (see forum thread Samsung EcoGreen F2 500GB platter is out!), Samsung has been unusually mum about the entire EcoGreen series thus far, at least in the retail space. Not only is there no PR and marketing effort, there is simply no distribution in Canada. Luckily, both the US and the EU have access to the EcoGreen line. A SPCR forum member who lives nearby decided he'd order a pair of the HD502HI from (which actually ships the drives from the US) and have it delivered directly to SPCR for review and analysis for a few weeks before he took possession of them. It was "frEEk"s thoughtful initiative which allowed us to get to this review.


Single platter 500GB Samsung EcoGreen HDD

Casing is as substantial as most drives with multiple platters. A less sturdy casing was the cause of higher vibration and noise in some variants of the single-platter WD Caviar 320GB 7200rpm drive.

Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Key Features & Benefits
(from Samsung product web page)
MAX.500GB Formatted Capacity Per Disk Highest aerial density today, should make for fast throughput.
Improved recording stability over temperature with PMR Perpendicular Magnetic Recording is not exactly new any more.
Advanced dynamic FOD control for best data integrity Flying-On-Demand is said to ensure enhanced read/write sensitivity by dynamically lowering the fly-height in read or write mode while maintaining a consistent and higher fly-height across the disk in standard mode.
SATA Native Command Queuing Feature Fairly common and not that useful for desktop PCs.
Intelligent compensation of external disturbance Like letting the answer machine get the phone when you're having dinner??
Device Initiated SATA Power Management OK
Improved performance with dual-ARM based firmware Sounds like it uses 2 ARM chips.
Automatic Acoustic Management Feature, Rotational vibration sensor, NoiseGuard™, SilentSeek™ The proof of noise reduction features is in the listening and acoustic measurements in our review.

Specifications: Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI
Capacity 500 GB
Cache 16MB
Disks / Heads 1 / 2
Interface SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed 5400 RPM
Sustained Data Rate OD 100 MB/s
Average Seek 8.9 ms
Average Latency 5.56 ms
Data Transfer Rate 300 MB/sec
Weight 470 grams
Power: Idle / Seek / R-W / Spin-up 3.9W / 4.8W / 5.1W / ~24W
Acoustics (sound power) 2.2 / 2.7 Bel (idle / quiet seek / performance seek)

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