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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.

Real-World: Transfers, Game Level Loading & Windows Boot

One of the most common tasks that someone will tackle with a storage device is transferring data, so to see what our collection of drives are capable of, we take a collection of solid files and folders and transfer them from our super-fast SATA 6Gbit/s SSD to each hard drive. Then for good measure, we copy a file and folder on the same drive. Both our files and folders come in 4GB and 16GB sizes, with the folders holding between ~5,000 (4GB) and ~20,000 (16GB) files.

Our stopwatch starts as soon as we click the “Copy here” button in the context menu, and stops as soon as the transfer dialog disappears.

For most of the results leading up to this point, Seagate’s ES.3 has excelled vs. WD’s RE. However, it manages to fall behind in a couple of our real-world tests seen here. Solid file transfers are fine, but folder transfers and file/folder copies deliver some less-than-impressive results.

Game Level Loading

One of the biggest benefits of faster storage is quicker load times for games, both with regards to their startup and level-loading. For testing here, we use two of the heaviest games we have on hand; Sid Meier’s Civilization V and Total War: SHOGUN 2. Our test here is simple: we see how long it takes each game to load. Our stopwatch starts as soon as we click the option to load either game..

The ES.3 drive strikes back here, slotting in just behind the VelociRaptor in our Civilization V test and actually surpassing it in our SHOGUN 2 test. This seems like a test that could have benefited from the additional cache, but it’s difficult to know for sure. What we do know, though, is that quicker load times are welcomed regardless of how they happen.

Windows 7 Boot Time

Like game level loading, faster storage can mean faster OS boot times. To put this to the test, we rely on an Acronis image that has a clean install of Windows 7 Ultimate x64 and required drivers, with Ethernet disabled. For a more accurate result, we do our testing with a cold boot, after the system has been left to sit idle for a couple of minutes. We record both the time it takes to boot to the desktop from a completely cold boot, and also the time it takes from the very second we see the Windows loading screen appear.

It’s tests like this one that can lead to mass confusion when trying to reach a conclusion on a drive performance. Our HD Tune results put the read IOPS performance of the ES.3 drive on par with the RE, yet the RE beats it out in this test. This is despite the ES.3′s synthetic results putting it ahead of most of the competition.

Page List:
Top

1. Introduction
2. Test System & Methodology
3. Synthetic: PCMark 7
4. Synthetic: HD Tune Pro 5.0
5. Synthetic: AIDA64 2.70
6. Real-World: Transfers, Game Level Loading & Windows Boot
7. Final Thoughts


  • 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.