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Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth

Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth

December 20, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001

3TB 3.5" HDD
Sample Supplier
Street Price
US$230~$300

The traditional 7200 RPM hard drive has taken a backseat role since the introduction of "green" hard drives with enormous capacities, high energy efficiency, low acoustic noise and somewhat subpar speed. The appetite for byte storage has grown exponentially, with consumers feasting on these uber-cheap drives, performance be damned. 7200 RPM drives are now gourmet cuisine, premium models commanding much higher prices than the 5400~5900 RPM slop gorged on by the masses.

Recently Seagate pulled up the brakes on their 5900 RPM Barracuda Green series, announcing they would consolidate their desktop drives into a single 7200 RPM family simply named Barracuda. The move helps consolidate their manufacturing process, potentially paving a shorter road to recovery from the floods in Thailand that have ravaged the supply of hard drives and hard drive components. The loss of the Green line may result in loss market share to competitors like WD's Caviar Green, but with the current price volatility it will be sometime before the full ramifications will be known.



The Seagate Barracuda 3TB.



The underside.

There is nothing too exciting on paper about the new Barracuda line, save for the move to 1TB platters for the larger models of the family. The 1TB, 1.5TB, 2TB, and 3TB variants sport the massive new disks, along with 64MB of cache. The increase in areal density means our 3TB sample (model number ST3000DM001) weighs just 630 gram, on par with most 3-platter models from days gone by. The casing isn't anything special, looking identical to the one utilized in the now extinct 3-platter Barracuda Green 2TB.


Seagate Barracuda 3TB: Specifications

(from product
overview
)
Model Number ST3000DM001
Interface Options SATA 6Gb/s NCQ
Spindle Speed 7200 RPM
Cache, Multisegmented 64 MB
Seek Average, Read <8.5 ms
Seek Average, Write <9.5 ms
Average Latency 4.16 ms
Average Data Rate, Read/Write 156 MB/s
Max Sustained Data Rate, OD Read 210 MB/s
Annualized Failure Rate (AFR) <1%
Power, Operating, Typical 8.0 W
Power, Idle2, Average 5.40 W
Power, Idle, Average ---
Physical Dimensions (H x W x D) 26.11 x 101.6 x 146.99 mm / 1.028 x 4.0 x 5.787 in
Weight 626g / 1.38lb

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially with noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured
and described. Performance is covered only lightly, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

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

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from 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.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Performance Test System:

Performance Test Tools:

Benchmark Details

  • Boot: Time elapsed from pressing the power button to the desktop with all system tray icons loaded (minus the average time to get the "loading Windows" screen, 16 seconds)
  • COD5: Load time for "Downfall" level.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for initial screen plus one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 8GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark06: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for 1,278 files ranging from 10KB to 4MB
    in size.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples 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 10.5 dBA and 22°C.



Our Seagate Barracuda 3TB sample rolled off the assembly line in November 2011.

Real World Performance

A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive and our entire
test suite was run start to finish 3 times with a reboot and defragmentation
in between runs except for the Momentus
XT
(defragmentation resets optimizations made to the XT's flash memory).
Average times were collected for comparison.

The Barracuda 3TB was in the middle of the pack in our loading tests, slightly behind some older high capacity 7200 RPM models, but ahead of the 5400/5900 econo-drives.

In application performance, the Barracuda 3TB topped the chart with a more or less average ExactFile result, but an exceptionally fast time in TrueCrypt.

When it came to copying files to itself, the Barracuda did exceptionally well with large files while small files gave it some difficulty. This mirrors the results of the application tests.

In timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06, the Barracuda placed third, though the relative difference between most of the drives is quite small.

Overall Performance

To gauge the overall performance of the drives, we assigned a score of 25 to the drive that excelled most in each benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation) and the rest proportionally, giving each benchmark set an equal weighting. Of the drives compared, the WD VelociRaptor 600GB was the fastest, scoring just under 97 out of a possible 100.

Impressively the Barracuda 3TB slipped past the WD Caviar Black 2TB, making it the fastest 7200 RPM hard drive to ever grace our labs. Note that our tests were performed on a 50GB partition at beginning of the drive where it's fastest; it's what you can expect if you store your operating system there but isn't representative of the entire span of the drive.

HD Tune Performance

HD Tune's transfer rate benchmark on the other hand does measure speed across the entire drive.

The read speed of the Barracuda 3TB looks fantastic, staying above 150 MB/s until about the 1600GB mark, slowing down almost linearly to ~94 MB/s at the very end. Raw throughput remains fairly fast in the slower portions of the drive. Access times also seem to be fairly decent for a drive this large.

The high areal density and rotational speed helps the new Barracuda achieve the best HD Tune results we've seen in a mechanical hard drive.

Acoustics & Power Consumption



The Barracuda 3TB idled at 16 [email protected] and produced 16~17 [email protected] when seeking.

The Barracuda 3TB was easily the quietest high capacity 7200 RPM drive we've tested, measuring 16 [email protected] when idle and 16~17 [email protected] when seeking. It emitted a very soft hum without so much as a hint of whine and the seeks were almost unnoticeable. The drive has a hollow sound character that can be masked by pressing against the casing, similar to some single platter models lacking sufficient structural support. Like the Barracuda Green 2TB, the level of vibration was minimal, scoring a low 8 on our subjective scale. It's an impressive accomplishment considering the Barracuda 3TB spins at 7200 RPM rather than 5900 RPM (the platter count is the same and the casing is similar if not identical).

Drive

Mfg date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001

November 2011

firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W

(5.6 W >30 secs)

(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W

The drive's power levels were interesting as we found it had three different idle power states. When seeking it almost hit 10W which is high but not overly so for a high performance hard drive. Immediately after a seek was performed we found the drive idling at 6.4W. After 30 seconds elapsed we heard a sound similar to a head parking on a Caviar Green drive, and the power consumption dipped to 5.6W. After 50 seconds it seemed to do it again, lowering to 3.9W.

It is quite possible that with the extinction of the Barracuda Green line Seagate has added head-parking to their 7200 RPM models to try to find a happy medium but we find it odd that there is nothing in their literature describing any new power saving features. In any event, the responsiveness in the latter deep idle state was no worse than a Caviar Green with its head parked so we have no complaints, only curiosity.

HIGH CAPACITY DESKTOP DRIVE COMPARISON
Drive

Mfg date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

WD Caviar Green

2TB WD20EARS

August 2010

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W (2.4 W heads unloaded)
Seek
6.5 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4

2TB HD204UI


August 2010

firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Hitachi 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632

April 2011

firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Caviar Green

3TB WD30EZRS

September 2010

firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W (3.7 W heads unloaded)
Seek
7.5W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003

November 2010

firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001

November 2011

firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W

(5.6 W >30 secs)

(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W
WD Caviar Black

2TB WD2001FASS


August 2010

firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
Seagate Barracuda XT

2TB ST32000651AS


May 2010

firmware CC13
7~8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W

The Barracuda 3TB was faster than the WD Caviar Black 2TB in our performance tests and had a clear environmental advantage as well. The vibration level, noise, and energy efficiency all favor Seagate.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

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 recordings start with 5 to 10 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.

Desktop 5,400~5,900 RPM Hard Drive Comparatives:

Desktop 7,200 RPM Hard Drive Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

The Seagate Barracuda 3TB hard drive beat out all 7200 RPM models in our overall performance index, topped only by the 10,000 RPM WD VelociRaptor 600GB. It excelled mainly in the file copy and application sections, particularly in tests that dealt with larger files making it ideal for transferring bulk data like high definition video, image files, etc. In tests with smaller files it lagged slightly behind the likes of the Barracuda XT and Caviar Black 2TB, so while it's not the speediest choice for an O/S hard drive, it's a good all-rounder.

It was also relatively quiet, beating out most other 7200 RPM models in the noise department, especially during seeking. Furthermore the vibration level was surprisingly low, better than some green drive samples we've reviewed in the past. Power consumption has been improved as well compared to high performance drives thanks to what seems to be the incorporation of head-parking, which amazingly allows the new Barracuda to come close to matching the frugal WD Caviar Green 3TB.

While not the quietest or most energy efficient high capacity drive, its environmental characteristics are impressive when you consider its strong level of performance. Frankly, any 7200 RPM drive that doesn't accost our ear drums or turn the case it's mounted in into a foot massager is reason to celebrate. As for cost, the lowest price we found with a cursory internet search is US$230 from a vendor on Amazon (limited stock available) while other retailers are charging as much as US$300. We sympathize with those who want to wait for industry pricing to settle down, but if you're currently craving a huge internal drive with speed to match, the Barracuda 3TB will likely satisfy.

Many thanks to Seagate for the Barracuda 3TB
sample.



Seagate Barracuda 3TB receives the SPCR Editor's Choice Award

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:



WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB

Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive

SSD Roundup: Corsair F180 vs. Zalman S Series vs. Kingston SSDNow V+100

OCZ RevoDrive 120GB PCI Express SSD

Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB & Momentus 750GB

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB vs. WD Caviar Blue 1TB

* * *

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