Seagate 7200.11 1.5TB: The Perfect Balance?

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The 7200.11 1.5TB posted a very impressive average read speed of 107.4 MB/s, almost 20 MB/s faster than the 1 TB version and, indeed, the best score we've ever recorded. If not for the slow random access speed of 15.3 ms, it would be one of, if not the fastest 7200RPM drive on the market. Random access was almost 3 ms higher than the 1TB model.

7200.11 1.5TB HD Tach results.

7200.11 1TB HD Tach results.


These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, 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.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds 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. 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!

The recording starts with 5 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if applicable), and seek with AAM disabled (if applicable).



We view the 1.5TB 7200.11 from Seagate favorably — it is a fairly good compromise between noise and performance. Acoustically, it is a minor improvement over their 1TB drive — slightly quieter when idle with a bit less vibration, though this may simply be a result of sample variance. Increasing the areal density instead of the platter count played a big part in keeping noise and vibration in check. However, without soft-mounting, the amount of vibration is still bad enough to dramatically affect the noise level of a quiet system. We can't really fault the drive for this however — most high capacity drives exhibit a similarly high level of vibration.

Thanks to its high areal density, it is also one of the faster 7200 RPM drives out there, at least according to HD Tach. It posted a very high average read speed, high enough to rival the Velociraptor. It had relatively high random access times, but considering how quiet the seeks were, this seems like a fair trade. In fact, it more than holds its own against drives that have AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) enabled to reduce seek noise. For example, our WD Caviar Black sample had very loud seeks. We wouldn't consider using it on a day-to-day basis unless AAM was engaged, but doing so increased its random access time to 18 ms. This put it at a disadvantage compared to the 1.5 TB 7200.11, which sounds as though it was AAM equipped and performs 3 ms faster.

While it is no longer the biggest desktop hard drive on the market (Western Digital now has a 2TB Green Power), at $130, it currently hits the capacity/price sweet spot. It is very fast for the amount of noise it generates and, while it isn't the most energy efficient, it does give you the best bang for your buck if you're looking for high capacity storage.

There is only one factor that prevents us from giving the drive a clear-cut recommendation and that is the recent firmware issue with Seagate's 7200.11 drives. This issue affects most Barracuda 7200.11 models and results in affected drives coming to a sudden, complete, and irreversible halt in operation, sometimes after months without any problems or symptoms. Seagate has fixed the faulty firmware, but it will take some time for these drives to make into the retail channel. It may be wise to hold off on purchasing a 7200.11, but if you do acquire one, we highly recommend checking with Seagate to ensure that the updated firmware is installed.

Many thanks Seagate for the review sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
WD and Seagate take steps to fix terabyte drives
Caviar Black: WD's Performance 1TB HDD
WD SE16 Caviar 640GB is now Blue
WD VelociRaptor: A Triple Crown
Samsung F1 750GB & 1TB Drives: Fast... and Silent?
Terabyte Round II: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11

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