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Western Digital Green 1.5TB vs. Seagate 7200.12 500GB

1.5TB Caviar Green vs. 500GB Barracuda 7200.12

December 9, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Western Digital Caviar Green WD15EADS

1.5TB Desktop Hard Drive
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500418AS

500GB Desktop Hard Drive
Sample Supplier
Market Price
~US$110 ~US$55

The last Caviar Green we reviewed was the 2TB
WD20EADS
, and like the rest of the line, it proved to be extremely energy
efficient and quiet thanks mainly to its low rotational speed of ~5400rpm. Even
though the drive had 4 platters, it measured just 2~3 dBA above our anechoic
chamber's noise floor. However, the level of vibration was a touch higher than
we would have liked, so hopefully the 3-platter WD15EADS can improve upon that.
It also happens to be the best bang-for-your-buck drive at the moment, retailing
for only $110. The 2TB and 1TB versions are priced at $200 and $85 respectively.

The Barracuda 7200.12 is a whole different animal, a performance drive spinning
at 7200rpm, which as a rule, isn't as good for noise. The 500GB variant is of
interest as it is a single-platter drive, and the old adage that fewer platters
equates to better performance and lower noise is alive and well. All things
equal, having only one spinning disc inside a drive will generate less noise,
but how the drive is encased can ruin the advantage — our examination of
the WD Caviar SE16 320GB is a perfect
example of this. Fortunately, the last two single-platter drives to come through
our labs, the 5400rpm Samsung
EcoGreen 500GB
and 5900rpm Seagate
Pipeline HD .2 500GB
had impressive acoustics, though their low rotational
speeds certainly didn't hurt. The 7200.12 can't hope to compete with these drives,
but it still has the potential to win a best-in-class award.

Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB



The WD Caviar Green 1.5TB.


WD Caviar Green WD15EADS: Key Features & Benefits

(from Western Digital's product
web page
)
FEATURE & BRIEF Our Comment
Reduced power consumption - WD has
reduced power consumption by up to 40 percent compared to standard desktop
drives with the combination of WD's IntelliSeek, NoTouch, and IntelliPower
technologies.
Whatever the main contributor, the power
efficiency of their Green drives is undisputed.
Helps enable eco-friendly PCs - WD
Caviar Green drives yield an average drive power savings of 4-5 watts over
standard desktop drives making it possible for our energy-conscious customers
to build systems with higher capacities and the right balance of system
performance, ensured reliability, and energy conservation.
While 4-5 watts may sound low, in a server
farm this can certainly add up.
Cool and quiet - GreenPower™
technology yields lower operating temperatures for increased reliability
and low acoustics for ultra-quiet PCs and external drives.
Lowering the spindle speed is a big reason
for these improvements.
Massive capacity - Capacities up
to 2 TB offer the most available capacity for storage-intensive programs
and space-hungry operating systems, like Window Vista®, with plenty
of room left over for photos, music, and video.
2TB is nice, but the 1.5TB model offers
a much better capacity to cost ratio.
Perfect for external drives - External
drive manufacturers can eliminate the need for a fan in a high-capacity
product with a WD Caviar Green drive, the coolest and quietest in its class.
Hard-mounted in a stuffy enclosure, such
a drive would be the perfect fit.
IntelliPower - A fine-tuned balance
of spin speed, transfer rate and caching algorithms designed to deliver
both significant power savings and solid performance
WD's literature lists the possible speed
range as 5400~7200 RPM, but all our samples have spun at or close to 5400
RPM.
IntelliSeek - Calculates optimum
seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration.
Just-in-time seeking that lets the seek
head move more slowly when it would otherwise have to wait for the latency
of the spindle. Should be good for reliability as well.
NoTouch ramp load technology - The
recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less
wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection
in transit.
Not only does this reduce wear and tear,
but it also lowers the risk of accidental damage.
Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR)
- Employs PMR technology to achieve even greater areal density.
Sstandard.
StableTrac™ - The motor shaft
is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize
platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations. (2 TB
models only)
Vibrations are less of a problem for
sub 7200 RPM drives.
Low power spin-up - WD Caviar Green
drives consume less current during startup allowing lower peak loads.
Measuring spin-up power consumption is
very difficult to confirm.
Advanced power technology - Electronic
components deliver best-in-class low power consumption for reduced power
requirements and increased reliability.
Sounds good.



WD Caviar Green WD15EADS: Specifications
Capacity 1.5 TB
Cache 32 MB
Disks / Heads 3 / 6
Interface SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Rotation Speed IntelliPower

(5400 RPM)
Sustained Data Rate OD 110 MB/s
Weight 730 grams
Power Requirements:

Standby & Sleep / Idle / Read & Write
0.80W / 3.70W / 6.00W
Acoustics:

Idle / Quiet Seek / Performance Seek
25 / 26 / 29 dBA

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB

The 500GB 7200.12 has obviously gone through a reduction in size compared to
its bigger brothers. It measures only 19.3 mm high, about 25% less than the
WD Green. This is a form factor that has been used in the past, probably to
save on materials costs with low disk count drives, most recently in the Samsung
EcoGreen 500GB
, which we found to be extremely quiet. The risk with
mass reductions of the casing is that sometimes, the drive becomes more prone
to vibration (as in some variants of the WD
Caviar SE16 320GB
).



The Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB.


Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500410AS: Key Features
& Benefits

(from Seagate's product
web page
)
FEATURE & BRIEF Our Comment
Sustainable technology for a green world:


o Typically 70 percent or more of the materials used to build the drive
is recycled.

o Complies with the RoHS directive
Good.
12th generation of the world’s most
popular desktop hard drive
The Barracuda line has a long and storied
history.
Ships with the most reliable and proven
perpendicular magnetic recording technology
Nothing new.
Delivers high performance:


o 160-MB/s maximum sustained data rate

o Up to 3 Gb/s instantaneous burst


o 32-MB cache on 1-TB and 750-GB drives, 16-MB cache on 500-GB drives, 8-MB
cache on 320, 250- and 160-GB drive
Hopefully the 500GB model's 16MB cache
won't hurt its performance too much.



Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3500410AS: Specifications
Capacity 500 GB
Cache 16 MB
Disks / Heads 1 / 2
Interface SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Rotation Speed 7,200 rpm
Sustained Data Rate OD 125 MB/s
Average Latency 4.16 msec
Weight 540 grams
Power Requirements:

Idle / Operating
<5.0W / <8.0W
Acoustics:

Idle / Seek (Typical)
2.6 bels / 2.8 bels

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. A significant change in our testing procedure is that as of mid-2008, we're conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially as the SPL approaches 20 dBA and below, which is the territory of laptop drives. Our methodology focuses specifically on
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:

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.



Our 2TB Barracuda LP sample was made in November 2009.






Our 7200.12 500GB sample was made in September 2009.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 23°C.

ACOUSTICS

WD Caviar Green 1.5TB

Acoustically, the 3-platter Caviar Green was excellent, indiscernible from
the 2TB model. At idle, it measured 13 [email protected], only 2 dBA above our anechoic
chamber's noise floor and 14 [email protected] when seeking. Sitting on foam to take vibration
out of the equation, its noise profile was broadband and completely benign.
Seeks were very soft and only audible within a couple of feet of the drive.
With AAM enabled, there was no measurable or subjective difference, whether
idle or during seek activity.



WD Caviar Green 1.5TB idle.


WD Caviar Green 1.5TB seeking. Peak caused by rotation circled in purple.

When seeking, our analysis showed a low frequency peak between 90 and 100Hz,
suggesting the drive is under 6000rpm, though it's hard to pinpoint exactly
what the spindle speed is with a peak so low. Influence from ambient noise could
have affected the peak as our anechoic chamber is not very sound proof below
~150Hz.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB



A camera battery was used to muffle the drive's "hollowness."

The potential problem of reduced mass around the casing causing resonance or
vibration noise issues did crop up here. The 500GB 7200.12 produced a clearly
audible hollow sound effect akin to someone blowing gently into an empty can
of soda. Frequency analysis showed it manifesting in the form of a large, sharp
peak at around 350Hz. To get rid of this annoyance, all we had to do was place
an object on top of the top surface anywhere from the bottom of the label to
the center. We chose to simply lay a digital camera battery over the drive to
muffle it, but anything with a bit of appreciable weight would do. A flat eraser
would be an excellent choice if the drive were suspended as the elastic could
press the two surfaces together.



500GB 7200.12 idle.


500GB 7200.12 idle, muffled.

In its unmodified state, the drive measured 18 [email protected] when idle and 19~20 [email protected]
during seek which is fairly high by modern standards. Muffled, it dropped down
to 16 and 18 [email protected] idle and seek, respectively, a typical level for a 7200rpm
drive. The noise character was very similar to the 7200.11 series, audible but
unobtrusive when idle, but with very sharp seeks.

POWER CONSUMPTION & VIBRATION

DRIVE NOISE TEST SUMMARY
Drive

Manufacture date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

WD Caviar Green 1.5TB WD15EADS

November 2009

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W

(2.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
14
5.8 W
Seek
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB ST3500418AS

September 2009

firmware CC37
8
Idle
18

(16 muffled)
4.7 W
Seek
19~20

(18 muffled)
7.9W

The Caviar Green impressed us even more with its incredibly low level of vibration,
the best we've seen in a desktop drive. Only slight tremors could be detected
when the drive was held. The 7200.12 was also very good in this regard, which
is rare for a 7200rpm drive; however, it's not quite up to the WD's level. Neither
drive would generate much extra noise if hard-mounted.

The 7200.12 used about 5W idle and 8W during seek which is at least 2W better
than most 640GB~1TB sized 3.5" drives. The Caviar Green was tremendously
efficient, using about 6W during seek, and 4.5W when idle. The Green has a head
parking feature which locks the drive head in place when it been idle 7~8 seconds.
In this state, the power consumption dropped to less than 3W, which is simply
phenomenal.

COMPETITIVE COMPARISON

The 1.5TB Caviar Green's airborne acoustics are among the lowest we've measured
and its level of vibration is superior to any 3.5" drive we've tested previously.
Power consumption was also amazingly low. If you count the 2.8W figure we recorded
with its drive heads parked as its idle power, then it tops the charts, besting
even single platter 5400/5900rpm drives from other manufacturers.

In contrast, the 500GB 7200.12 sounded terrible out of the box. Despite a
notable lack of vibration, pressing a bit on the top casing improved its acoustics
dramatically. After applying this tweak, it sounded much quieter, but still
only average by today's standards — about on par with the 2-platter WD
Caviar Blue 640GB, and slightly better than the 1TB and 1.5TB Barracuda 7200.11's.
The amount of energy it used wasn't noteworthy; 5W in idle and 8W in seek is
typical for a single-platter 7200rpm hard disk.

DRIVE NOISE TEST SUMMARY
Drive

Manufacture date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

WD Caviar Green
1.5TB WD15EADS

November 2009

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W

(2.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
14
5.8 W
Seek
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB ST3500418AS

September 2009

firmware CC37
8
Idle
18

(16 muffled)
4.7 W
Seek
19~20

(18 muffled)
7.9W
PREVIOUSLY TESTED DESKTOP DRIVES
Samsung F2 EcoGreen 500GB HD502HL

February 2009

firmware 1AG01114
8
Idle
12
3.2 W
Seek (AAM)
15
5.3 W
Seek (Normal)
16
6.1 W
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 1TB ST31000424CS

April 2009

firmware SC13
7
Idle
12
3.4W
Seek
16
8.0W
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 500GB ST3500414CS

March 2009

firmware SC13
8
Idle
13
3.0 W
Seek
13~14
7.0 W
WD Caviar Green

2TB WD20EADS


February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
7
Idle
13
6.4 W

(4.0 W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
6.5 W
Seek (Normal)
13~14
Seagate Pipeline HD

500GB ST3500321CS


July 2008

firmware SC14
6
Idle
14
4.8 W
Seek
15
6.9 W
Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB ST32000542AS

June 2009

firmware CC32
6
Idle
14
4.4W
Seek
17
8.6W
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro

1TB ST31000533CS


September 2008

firmware SC15
4
Idle
15
7.1 W
Seek
16
10.1 W
WD VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS

300GB, 10K RPM

15 May 2008

firmware 03.03V01
8

[w/o frame]
Idle
15
8.2 W
Seek (AAM)
20
12.2 W
Seek (Normal)
22
12.2 W
WD Caviar SE16

640GB WD6400AAKS

February 2008

firmware 01.03B01
7
Idle
16
6.8 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
8.1 W
Seek (Normal)
18~19
9.3 W
Samsung F1

750GB HD753LJ


February 2008

firmware 1AA01109
6
Idle
16
6.9 W
Seek (AAM)
18~19
8.9 W
Seek (Normal)
20~21
10.2 W
Seagate 7200.11

1.5TB ST31500341AS


October 2008

firmware SD17
4
Idle
17
8.8 W
Seek
19
10.7 W
WD Caviar Black

1TB WD1001FALS


July 2008

firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
10.9 W
Seek (Normal)
25
11.0 W

HD TACH



HD Tach results for our 1.5TB Caviar Green.


HD Tach results for our 500GB 7200.12.

Where the 500GB 7200.12 excels is in performance benchmarks, as can be seen
by its HD Tach results. Its average read speed of almost 110MB/s was about 30%
faster than the Caviar Green and the highest of any 7200rpm drive we've tested.
Both drives had good random access times.

HD TACH RESULTS COMPARISON
Drive
Random Access
Avg. Read
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB
14.2ms
109MB/s
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB
15.3ms
107MB/s
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro 1TB
17.0ms
102MB/s
Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB
14.9ms
97MB/s
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 500GB
18.6ms
96MB/s
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 1TB
15.0ms
95MB/s
WD Caviar Black 1TB
13.6ms
91MB/s
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB
12.4ms
88MB/s
Samsung EcoGreen F2 500GB
16.7ms
87MB/s
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB
14.6ms
84MB/s
WD Caviar Green 2TB
17.9ms
82MB/s
Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB
17.7ms
75MB/s
5400~5900rpm drives in green, 7200rpm drives in blue.

HD TUNE



HD Tune results for our 1.5TB Caviar Green.


HD Tune results for our 500GB 7200.12.

HD Tune also favors the 7200.12 by about 24MB/s average read speed, but the
Green scored a 0.8ms lower access time.

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 recording starts 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 (if applicable).

Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

The 1.5TB Western Digital Caviar Green is one of the most impressive
drives to pass through our labs in a long time. Not only is one of the quietest
hard drives we've tested, amongst 3.5" drives, its power consumption and
vibration levels are unmatched. The entire Green series is excellent in all
three of these areas, but with its current market price of only $110, the 1.5TB
variant has the best capacity to dollar ratio. If you need a quiet, efficient,
big, but not terribly fast drive, for say an enclosure, NAS device, or server,
the WD15EADS fits the bill perfectly and will stretch your hard earned dollar
the farthest.

The 500GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 was slightly louder than our
1TB and 1.5TB 7200.11
samples due to its hollow-sound acoustics of its casing. This problem counterbalances
any noise advantage of a single spinning disc. We were able to suppress most
of this annoyance by pressing a small weight against the top cover, and the
end result was a fairly decent sounding if not exceptionally quiet drive. However,
it had surprisingly low level of vibration, which has real world value. Hard
drives are most commonly hard-mounted and unlike other 7200rpm models, the 500GB
7200.12 will transfer very little vibration to the surrounding structure and
as a result, the overall system will sound much better. In addition, its performance
was quite strong — not as high as a Velociraptor
or a quality solid state drive, but pretty good for $55. It would be a decent
choice if you wanted to eke out as much performance as possible from a budget
system.

Many thanks to Western
Digital
and Seagate
for the review samples.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

SPCR's Hard Drive Testing
Methodology


SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives

More
500GB notebook drives: Seagate 7200.4 & Hitachi 5K500.B


Scythe
Quiet Drive 2.5


5900rpm
Seagate Hard Drives: Barracuda LP, Pipeline HD .2


Samsung
F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Silent 500GB 3.5" HDD


WD
Caviar Green 2TB & Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB


Momentus
5400.6 & Scorpio Blue: Seagate & WD 2.5" HDDs at 500GB



* * *

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