Samsung F1 750GB & 1TB Drives: Fast... and Silent?

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TEST RESULTS

Our sample was tested according to our standard hard drive testing methodology. The test drive sample was compared against many other drives. Our methodology focuses specifically on HDD noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured and described. Performance is not tested, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article.

For comprehensive HDD performance testing results, we recommend Storage Review, who have established a long reputation as the specialist in this field. At the time of writing, they had not yet reviewed any of the Samsung F1 series. As mentioned earlier, The Tech Report ran a thorough performance analysis on the terabyte flagship in February.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These types of noise impact the subjective perception of hard drive noise di fferently depending on how and where the drive is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and subjectively. Both the subjective and objective analyses are essential to understanding the acoustics of the drives. Airborne acoustics are measured using a professional caliber SLM. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter above the top of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments are relevant to the sample we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 18 dBA and 20°C.



DRIVE NOISE EVALUATION
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
Measured Power
Samsung F1 3D
HD753LJ
750GB
February 2008
firmware 1AA01109
6
Idle
21 dBA@1m
6.9 W
Seek (AAM)
22 dBA@1m
8.9 W
Seek (Normal)
22 dBA@1m
10.2 W
Samsung F1 3D
HD103UJ
1TB
February 2008
firmware 1AA01109
5
Idle
21 dBA@1m
7.0 W
Seek (AAM)
22 dBA@1m
8.8 W
Seek (Normal)
22 dBA@1m
9.9 W
REFERENCE DRIVES*
Seagate Barracuda
7200.11 1TB ST31000340AS
December 2007
firmware SD15
3
Idle
23~24 dBA@1m
7.8 W
Seek (Normal)
24~25 dBA@1m
11.6 W
WDl Caviar SE16 500GB WD5000KS
March 2006
firmware 07.02E07
4
Idle
21 dBA@1m
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
21-22 dBA@1m
8.6 W
Seek (Normal)
23 dBA@1m
10.7 W
Western Digital Caviar Green Power 750GB WD7500AACS
October 2007
firmware 01.01B01
7
Idle
19~20 dBA@1m
3.3~5.9 W
Seek (AAM)
19~20 dBA@1m
5.4 W
Seek (Normal)
21 dBA@1m
6.7 W
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 1TB HDS721010KLA330
June 2007
firmware GKAOA70M
5
Low RPM Idle
20-21 dBA@1m
3.6 W
Idle
24 dBA@1m
8.5 W
6.2 W (unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
24 dBA@1m
11.7 W
Seek (Normal)
26-27 dBA@1m
15.4 W
Seagate Barracuda IV
40GB - ST340016A - firmware 3.10
6
Idle
20 dBA@1m
6.7 W
Seek (AAM)
23 dBA@1m
11.3 W
Seek (Normal)
25-26 dBA@1m
11.6 W
Samsung Spinpoint P80 (Nidec motor) 80GB
June 04
firmware TK100-24
4
Idle
21 dBA@1m
6.3 W
Seek (AAM)
23-24 dBA@1m
8.3 W
Seek (Normal)
25-26 dBA@1m
9.1 W
* These drives are references in the sense of previously tested and known entitities to which newly tested products can be compared and contrasted against.

The F1 750GB drive is the quietest Samsung we've encountered so far, surpassing all previous samples by at least a small margin. It reaffirms Samsung's quiet leadership among 7200 RPM drives, very slightly edging the WD SE16 500GB sample we tested two years ago for acoustics, and going a notch better for vibration.

At idle, the sample measured at about the 20~21 dBA@1m level of the very quietest 7,200 RPM drives. The increased noise in seek is very slight, but audible. Turning Automatic Acoustic Management on had a very minor effect on seek noise, changing it slightly in quality but not in measured SPL. It was difficult to judge which was the quieter; the potential reduction in performance is not worth the possible improved noise here.

The 1000GB model was just about identical, judging qualitativiely as well as by measurements. Only the vibration was slightly higher, and this is probably well within sample variance. Both of these samples will benefit from soft mounting in a quiet system, like most hard drives.

The F1s don't quite reach the quiet levels of the WD Green Power drives, which have the natural advantage of a lower 90Hz fundamental frequency because of their lower 5400 RPM spindle speed. Human hearing acuity drops as frequency drops, so even if the GP drives emit the same amount of acoustic energy, we simply don't hear it as well as the higher 120Hz fundamental tone of 7200 RPM drives. You do pay a performance price because of that slower spindle speed.

Our measured maximum power was a bit higher than the 8.6W claimed. We were recording the highest peaks; the average power during seek was probably as claimed. Idle power was a bit lower than other 7,200 RPM drives of similar capacity. These Samsungs have only three platters, compared to the 4 and 5 platters of similar capacity drives we've reviewed in the past, which helps keep the power consumption down. The Hitachi Feature Tool, used to change acoustic settings and obtain other information about the drives, had no trouble correctly reading the 32 MB cache of the drives, an issue we saw with the 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.11.



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