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Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB Enterprise Hard Drive Review
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by Rob Williams on February 18, 2013 in Hard Drives

We took a look at both of WD’s 4TB hard drive options in the past month, so it’s a great time to get some Seagate action going. The Constellation ES.3 competes with WD’s RE in the enterprise space, but it brings an interesting feature to the table: a 128MB cache. So let’s give the the drive a good test and see if it can topple the RE drive we raved over.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate and real-world applicable as possible. We list most of the steps and processes involved in setting up and conducting our benchmarking process below, but in the interests of brevity we can’t mention every last detail. If there is any pertinent information that we’ve inadvertently omitted or you have any thoughts, suggestions, or critiques, then please feel free to email us or post directly in our forums. This site exists for readers like you and we value your input.

The table below lists the hardware used in our current hard drive-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing. Each drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here.

  Techgage Hard Drive Drive Test System
Processor Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.20GHz – 1.375v
Motherboard GIGABYTE G1. Assassin 2 – F4E BIOS (12/12/2011)
Memory Corsair Dominator GT 16GB DDR3-2133 9-11-12-27, 1.60v
Graphics GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Reference) – GeForce 301.42
Audio Onboard Creative X-Fi
Storage OS Drive
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Tested Drives (Model, Cache, Speed)
Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB (ST4000NM0033, 128MB, 7.2K)
WD RE 4TB (WD4000FYYZ, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ, 64MB, 10K)
WD Black 2TB (WD2002FAEX, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD Green 2TB (WD20EARS, 64MB, ~5.3K)
WD Red 2TB (WD20EFRX, 64MB, ~5.3K)
Power Supply Corsair AX1200 1200W
Cooling Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit


Our Windows 7 Desktop for HDD Testing (Photo Credit)

When preparing our HDD testbed for benchmarking, we follow these guidelines:

General Guidelines

  • Our CPU is frequency-locked to avoid potential performance variances.
  • No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s EFI.
  • AHCI is enabled in the motherboard’s EFI for best performance.
  • Only the Intel 6Gbit/s port controller is used for test drives.
  • Only cold boots are utilized; for the purposes of our testing a boot is defined as the moment the power button is depressed to the moment the last systray icon and program has fully loaded after reaching the Windows 7 desktop. Auto-login is enabled.

Windows 7 Optimizations

  • User Account Control (UAC) is disabled.
  • The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
  • The Windows Search daemon is disabled.
  • Windows Update and OS power-saving settings are disabled.

Other Considerations

Outside of the Windows 7 boot time test, reviewed hard drives are installed as the target; the OS and all of the applications are stored on the SSD. This is done to remove the overhead off of the tested drive, and also to reflect the fact that most people nowadays are not installing their OSes on mechanical storage.

While HD Tune and AIDA64 are able to be used on a drive without a partition, the remainder of our tests require one. As mentioned above, we feel that the focus of hard drives is moving towards pure storage rather than housing an OS, so we’ve adopted the use of 64KB cluster sizes. It’s the maximum NTFS can support, and it’s much more efficient than 4KB for those needs.

Test Suite

For the sake of thoroughly testing the drives we review, our test suite consists of a blend of both real-world and synthetic benchmarks. Although we value real-world tests higher than synthetic, we appreciate the latter because A) they can give us the “best possible” performance numbers from a drive and B) can be run by our readers, more often than not.

Our synthetic tests include Futuremark’s PCMark 7, HD Tune Pro 5.0 and AIDA64 2.70. Our real-world testing includes file and folder transfers, game level-loading and Windows 7 boot times.

In the past, we used Iometer for the sake of truly stressing a drive in high-load scenarios, but have dropped it in favor of using HD Tune’s built-in Random Access benchmark. Our goal with Iometer was to deliver an IOPS result, but because the program doesn’t support unpartitioned GPT drives, it’s useless for our needs. Fortunately, HD Tune can give us those IOPS results we’re after.


  • JD Kane

    As someone who has a file server array at home, articles on drives like this (and its market competition) are very interesting. Hopefully TechGage will continue to cover this market segment as it hopefully continues to grow. I’ll surely be needing to change my file server’s drives, especially with a view towards expanding its storage capacity.

  • Igor Mendelev

    It would have been great if you also test different capacities (for example, 1TB and 2TB) of the same drive to see how that’ll impact performance. 2TB version also is priced very similar to 1TB Velociraptor – which makes that even more interesting.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      If I can procure a drive like that, I’ll update the graphs. Will touch base with Seagate.

  • Matt Sferrazza

    Where did the Segate Desktop HDD.15 (4TB) go? The beginning of this article said it was going to be tested, but none of the graphs mention it.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      I talked about the drive because it had come out during the process of reviewing this enterprise drive. At the time I didn’t have a unit, but I did review it a couple of months later:

      http://techgage.com/article/seagate-desktop-hdd-15-4tb-review/

      • Matt Sferrazza

        Dude, you rock! Both drives got a very thorough review. I appreciate it because information of this kind appeals only to a very esoteric market. After reading both articles, I decided to grab a pair of the Constellation ES.3 drives because I found a good open box deal that retains the 5yr warranty. It seems like a significantly better drive that I wouldn’t have spent full price on, but the slight price jump from the HDD.15 was worth it given the deal. Putting such a high quality drive in a RAID1 gives me peace of mind, especially with the warranty. It’s for my photo studio’s originals, plus other things like laptop backups. Thanks for all the great informtion!

        • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

          Ahh, it’s sweet to get a good deal on enterprise drives, grats! Since I have multiple 4TBs hanging around, I think I am going to upgrade my NAS and create a RAID 5 array with four different ones, and see which kicks the bucket first. Should be interesting ;-)

          Glad the articles could help!

  • Ranmamez

    Hello.
    What benchmark setting did you set on HD Tune Pro? Full test, partial test (fast or accurate?) or the default out-of-the-installation setting?
    In any case it would’ve be interesting having the HD Tune Pro screenshots.
    Thanks.

    • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

      HD Tune’s defaults are used. Back when this article was written, I didn’t save screenshots of the benchmarks (I just edited the results into a text file), but that’s since changed (mostly because I second-guess myself). If I end up rebenchmarking the entire lot (which I’m hoping to do, but I’m loaded up with other things), I’ll provide them on the site (and respond to this comment again so you can see a notification).

      • Ranmamez

        Thank you very much.
        BTW I have the WD20EARS Green drive but my Maximum read speed on HDTune is 116 MB/s while yours is 128.7 (can’t try write speed since i’m using it and can’t backup): can you tell me what firmware version do you have? Thanks.

        • http://techgage.com/ Rob Williams

          There are a number of things that could cause that, from the SATA controller to data fragmentation (if there’s data on the drive) to other variables. I am not even sure I still have that drive kicking around to be honest, but if I do I’ll include it in the next round of benchmarking.

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