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

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We mentioned that some users have been asking whether the 750GB and 1000GB models of the F1 have the same areal density. Based on our HD Tach test results, the answer is no. It would appear that the 750GB model does use 250GB platters instead of the 333GB/platter of the terabyte model.

The sequential read of the terabyte drive is 120 MB/s to 60 MB/s. The 750GB drive's sequential read is 97 MB/s to 50 MB/s. Average read rates, 750 GB = 77.4 MB/s - 1,000 GB = 93 MB/s. Thats a 20% difference at the start, the end, and the average, which makes it nearer to the theoretical performance difference of 33% that can be attributed to the platter density/drive capacity 250 + 33% = 333 ...... 750 + 33% = 1000. The drive controller may actually be bottlenecking the 333GB platter drive, as it should theoretically be 33% faster than the 250GB platter drive, when it is only 20% faster.

If they are short stroked platters, they would have the same performance at the start, but a higher average as the 750GB mark on the 1TB drive shows a read rate of 80 MB/s. Likewise if Samsung used a short stroke design that cut the front off of the platters and not the back, then the back end of the drive would have the same read rate as the 1TB model, 60 MB/s and not 50 MB/s.

Note: Thanks to AndyB for help with this analysis.

HD Tach results for the 750 GB model. Click on image to enlarge.

HD Tach results for the 1000 GB model. Click on image to enlarge.


Audio recordings were made of the drives and are presented here in MP3 format. The recordings below contains 5 seconds of ambient noise, and 10 seconds of idle noise followed by 10 seconds of seek noise with AAM enabled and 10 seconds without.

Keep in mind that the recordings paint only part of the acoustic picture; vibration noise is not recorded, and drives often sound different depending on the angle from which they are heard.

These recordings were made with a high resolution, studio quality, digital recording system, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Most recordings are made from a distance of one meter. The recording is intended to give you an idea of how the subject of this review sound in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. For best results, set your volume control so that the ambient noise is just barely audible. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

Occasionally, we may include an extra recording from a distance of one foot. This recording is designed to bring out the fine details of the noise — typically when the source is so quiet that it is very close to ambient when heard from one meter. Use this recording with caution! Although more detailed, it does not represent how the subject sounds in actual use. It is best to listen to this recording after you have listened to the one meter recording.

More details about how we make these recordings can be found in our short article: Audio Recording Methods Revised.

Only one of the F1 drive samples were recorded since they sounded identical acoustically.



The Samsung F1 750GB and 1000GB drives are the quietest 7200 RPM drives currently available, by a small margin. Their overall noise signature is quite benign, with very low tonality; the mostly broadband sound easily blends in with other noise in a PC. The other high capacity 7200 RPM drives we've tested don't come anywhere close to this level of quiet. That the Samsung 1TB F1 drive should also set new highs in performance is icing on the cake. Only the 5400 RPM WD Green Power drives offer better acoustics, but with nowhere near the performance.

The vibration level on both samples is quite modest, lower than in previous Samsung samples, which have often been a bit on the high side. These drives are quiet enough and vibrate little enough that elastic string suspension is not a mandatory recommendation, except perhaps for silent PC diehards. A soft grommet mounting will probably provide good enough isolation to keep vibrations from adding much of their typical 120 Hz low pitched hum.

The pricing of these Samsung drives is remarkable: They're amazingly good value, considering that they have huge capacity, the best 7200 RPM performance (for the 1TB model), and the lowest noise. The only 3.5" drive that's clearly quieter is the 5400RPM 1TB Green Power by WD, and while it has good throughput, its random access speed is far worse, and it is still selling typically for $230~$300. You might find one on sale, for about $200, rock bottom. In contrast, the 1TB Samsung F1 can be found quite easily for under $200, as low as $172. (So our sample provider Anitec's current CA$176 price is a very good deal.) The 750GB is much cheaper, typically $100~$120.

Western Digital's 320GB/platter SE16 Caviar series is currently limited to 320GB and 640GB models. The latter has already been reviewed by The Tech Report as a viable competitor for the Samsung F1 series for both performance and noise. We've examined the 320GB single-platter model (and found some disturbing variations in samples) and we currently have a sample of the 2-platter 640GB model on the test bench. Presumably, the WD 640GB model should outperform the Samsung F1 750GB. This WD can be found for under $100; hopefully, WD will soon produce a 1TB 3-platter model version to compete with the Samsung 1TB F1.

In the meanwhile, the Samsung 1TB F1 looks like the winning combination of high performance, low noise and affordable high capacity on the market today.

Many thanks to Anitec Computers of Vancouver Canada for the Samsung F1 hard drive samples.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
WD Green Power: A New Benchmark in HDD Acoustics & Power
The Terabyte Landmark: Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 Terabyte drive
WD Caviar SE16 single platter 320GB drive

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