Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 500GB and
  Western Digital Caviar SE16 400GB Hard Drives review



Performance Tests

Test System:

  • Pentium D 3GHz, 2MB L2 Cache

  • Intel D945GNTKLR Motherboard

  • 1 GB DDR2-667 Crucial Ballistix RAM

  • Windows XP Pro SP2

Benchmarking Software Used:

IOMeter 2003.12.16

HD Tach RW

Random Access Time

Access time is the relative time it takes for the drive to move from one spot of the disk to another. Obviously, the lower this is the better. Both drives are relatively equal and on-par with other disks of their size. Minute differences in access times aren't going to dramatically affect performance, but are often indicative of how well the drive can perform overall.

Burst Speeds

Both of these drives were able to make good use of the SATA interface, giving pretty standard burst speeds for drives this large. They tend to score higher than other desktop drives of smaller size, which is to be expected. In real-life situations this does not help much as this speed can only be sustained for short durations of time for small segments of data.

Average Read  
Seagate 55.2
WD 56.9
Burst Read  
Seagate 133MB/sec
WD 140MB/sec
Buffered Read  
Seagate 61.33
WD 60.82
Average Write Sequential Random
Seagate 58 49
WD 61 45
Buffered Write    
Seagate 101  
WD 100  


CPU Utilization

All operations to the disk consume CPU time. The less time the CPU needs to deal with the disk, the better. Especially in resource intensive processes such as video encoding or high end gaming, the more CPU a disk uses for file operations, the more it can degrade system performance.

CPU Utilization Average Minimum Peak
Seagate 2.00% 1.17% 2.89%
WD 2.00% 1.45% 3.11%


Sequential (Sustained) Read

This is perhaps the most significant and important aspect of a drive. On a disk that has the files organized properly, sequential read has a big impact on how long the OS will take to boot, how long applications will take to open, how fast you can read large files such as during an encoding process and how quickly a game takes to load new content while running. Typically, you see more degradation as you move towards the end of the disk. Both of these drives saw lower speeds than I expected, dipping into the upper 30s. This may have to do with the fact that they are 4-platter designs, when most desktop hard drives are 3. With a lower data density, the spread between data at the end of the disk is even more pronounced. However, even at the low end, they are still on par with a typical 80GB 7200 RPM SATA drive.

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