Seagate announced the Barracuda 7200.10 series over a year ago as the successor to their Barracuda 7200.9 series with much surprise as that particular product line had only been marketed for a very short period. The Barracuda 7200.10 series quickly became their flagship product for personal desktop solutions with the 7200.9 series quickly being regulated as a value performance offering. The Barracuda 7200.10 product was the first desktop centric hard drive to feature perpendicular magnetic recording technology.

While Seagate has not introduced capacities larger than 750GB or revised their product lineup since a year ago that does not mean they have not been busy. Their new 7200.11 series will be introduced shortly that features their next generation PMR technology. Along with several new product enhancements, Seagate will increase their per-platter capacities to 250GB and early testing shows sustained transfer rates right over 100 MB/s not to mention improved seek times. The new 7200.11 series will feature capacities from 250GB to 1TB.



While that is an interesting bit of history as well as a brief look at what's coming down the pipeline, we are here today to discuss the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 500GB drive. Historically, our Buyer's Guides have allowed 500GB hard drive recommendations in only the highest end systems where price is less of an issue. As hard drive capacities have now soared to 1TB range, we now see that 500GB drives have finally reached a point where they are a solid if not spectacular value for the majority of end-users who use their systems for everything from video/audio encoding to gaming. We are now seeing the 500GB drive category quickly becoming the new sweet spot for the desktop from both a cost and performance viewpoint.

Indeed, a quick look at today's prices shows that several 500GB hard drives have fallen below the $0.25-per-gigabyte level. The Seagate 500GB 7200.10 drive in particular has reached a threshold of $0.24 per gigabyte, making it one of the better values on the market today. However, we have to be honest here as the most recent 500GB desktop centric drives from Samsung and Western Digital offer a cost per gigabyte of $0.22. Our next storage article will take a look at these two drives.

Drive capacity is only one variables in the equation, however. Now that pricing has become very competitive, the consumer is able to look more aggressively at the feature set of the drives. Cache size, platter capacity (and number of platters), noise, thermals, power consumption, and warranty/support are only a few of the categories manufacturers need to address in order to earn a recommendation in our labs.

In this review, we will see how much attention Seagate has paid to these categories when developing their 7200.10 500GB hard drive, and if it shines above the direct competition from Hitachi's T7K500 in this increasingly crowded field. Let's find out how the Seagate 7200.10 500GB performs against other SATA based drives in its class.

Drive Specifications: Seagate 7200.10 ST3500630AS
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  • TA152H - Sunday, July 8, 2007 - link

    That's absurd, for a hard drive company to make consistently lousy drives would kill it. There is reputation, and reputation matters a hell of lot. Are you too young to remember the nickname "Crashtor" for Maxtor drives? They shrunk big time when their drives sucked. So, no, they can't afford to make sucky drives that break all the time, but even within the context of a warranty, why do you suppose Western Digital and Hitachi don't do it if it's so inexpensive? Hmmmmm, maybe because they can't?

    Seagate has never had the notoriety for failures that IBM or Western Digital has. IBM's were of course more publicized, but even Western Digital's were fairly well known. Since people who are buying drives for servers and such are generally much smarter than the average person, and have good memories (scars?) when hardware fails, there is still some residual antipathy for IBM/Hitachi hard disks, and Western Digital. I haven't heard anything bad about Samsung, but I bought three of them and they all sucked. One was DOA, the other stopped working after a year, and the other had such an annoying whine to it, I eventually pulled it and used it as a projectile against encroaching squirrels. If other people have these experiences with Samsung, and people do tell other people they know, they may also have a less than stellar reputation, despite not being as publicized as IBM or Western Digital. Seagate, despite being the best known hard disk maker since the creation of the IBM PC XT, has managed to gain an excellent reputation for their drives. My only fear is that since they bought "Crashtor", it might take a few years to get back on track after absorbing that miserable company, so I've been avoiding them for a while. To this date, I have never had a Seagate hard drive fail, despite using them almost exclusively.

    Anyone know what happened to Quantum? Boy did they suck. They whined worse than a kid at a carnival that didn't have enough money to buy cotton candy. What awful drives. Probably another company ate them.
    Reply
  • ielmox - Tuesday, July 24, 2007 - link

    Late 2001 - commissioned a system with the blisteringly fast IBM Deskstar. These drives smoked the competition and I was impressed with IBM engineering. Six months later, my system exploded and I became acquainted with the nickname "Deathstar".

    2002 - the contractor replaced the Deathstars with Crashtors. Failure less than 2 months later.

    2002 - exasperated contractor installed Seagates, telling me that if these failed as well then my body must be emitting some sort of destructive magnetic field. The Seagates are still going strong today, and my PC is on for weeks at a time and under constant BitTorrent activity.

    I like the performance indicated by recent AT and other articles for Samsung and Hitachi drives, but I respect the Seagate brand for its reliability and warranty. I'm really looking forward to seeing reviews of the Barracuda 7200.11, assuming of course that it ever makes the leap from press release concept to actual market product.
    Reply
  • JakeBlade - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    Conveniently didn't include the latest 750GB Western Digital SE which blows away even the 1TB Hitachi.

    Also, I disagree with the weak brown nose attempt at the end by saying this turd 7200.10 drive "would still be a very solid choice for a gaming machine." Ummm, any gaming machine I build would have the 160GB WD or the Raptor. Then if you want mass storage for multimedia or binaries you get a Samsung T166 which is dead silent, has huge transfer rates, and is low priced.
    Reply
  • DerekWilson - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    You really have to keep in mind that in a well designed game running on a system with a good amount of RAM, HD speed really won't impact gameplay. Yeah, install patching and load times will be affected, but generally gameplay is not a factor.

    We've seen it in real world benchmarks time and time again. If a game developer wants to make a playable game, there's just no way they can allow disk speed to become a performance factor.

    The recent exception to this is S.T.A.L.K.E.R., which can hit the disk pretty hard when caching large areas of the map. Honestly, this was a poor design decision on the part of the developer. But you can actually adjust the behavior of the game here and get better performance with less caching. Tweakguides.com has a good description of how to do this.

    Either way, a gamer is almost always better off putting more money into cpu, ram, or gpu.
    Reply
  • TA152H - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    Good, thorough, review, but I have a couple of questions.

    Maybe the purpose of this question might make more sense if I first say I only buy Seagate hard disks, having had reliability problems with both Western Digital and IBM (Hitachi) and have been extremely happy with Seagate reliability (maybe it's no coincidence they offer longer warranties). Consequently, I don't care how these drives compare with them (although, certainly others will, so I'm not at all saying they shouldn't have been compared with them), but more curious about how it compared with the 7200.9.

    The results were extremely impressive vis-a-vis the 7200.9, which concerns me because they seem too good. The problem is, it isn't too clear what exactly you picked for the 7200.9 . Did this also have a 16 mb cache? I suspect it was probably a little smaller and that might explain the huge (relatively) performance improvement of the 7200.9. It also might have been interesting to list the cache sizes of the competing drives, although it is probably possible for someone to look them up (again, since I wouldn't even consider them, I haven't bothered, but someone that would might be interested). 16 mb is kind of large, and might explain some of the "personality" of the hard disk, and why sometimes the lower raw performance is masked in certain benchmarks. I'm guessing, of course.

    One other question that you might not know how to test for (I don't). If you have a hard disk that is sleeping and you request data for it that is on cache, does it spin up or is it smart enough to know this is unnecessary?



    Reply
  • nrb - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    That Hitachi 7K1000 comes out of the benchmark rather well. Those accoustic scores are astonishing. Reply
  • Nossy - Saturday, July 7, 2007 - link

    I guess I will wait for the new Seagate 7200.11 drives. This was a good review, but I don't understand why it's done now, right before a new generation of drives comes out? Reply
  • Regs - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    Though it didn't come with any mount screws so I didin't install it yet.

    In the real world the guess the performance outside of a server would'nt be noticed. Fair assumption?
    Reply
  • CrystalBay - Friday, July 6, 2007 - link

    Cmon Regs, no mount screws ? Reply

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