by Rob Williams on May 8, 2013 in Storage
With our ever-increasing need for storage, 4TB models couldn’t be more tempting. On the scale of temptation, though, one drive is placed higher than all the others: Seagate’s Desktop HDD.15. There’s one good reason for that: it costs less than $200. We hear you – it sounds crazy. Let’s dig in and find out if it really is.
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
||Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.20GHz – 1.375v
||GIGABYTE G1. Assassin 2 – F4E BIOS (12/12/2011)
||Corsair Dominator GT 16GB DDR3-2133 9-11-12-27, 1.60v
||GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Reference) – GeForce 301.42
||Onboard Creative X-Fi
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Tested Drives (Model, Cache, Speed)
Seagate Constellation ES.3 4TB (ST4000NM0033, 128MB, 7.2K)
Seagate Desktop HDD.15 4TB (ST4000DM000, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD RE 4TB (WD4000FYYZ, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ, 64MB, 10K)
WD Black 4TB (WD4001FAEX, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD Black 2TB (WD2002FAEX, 64MB, 7.2K)
WD Green 2TB (WD20EARS, 64MB, ~5.3K)
WD Red 2TB (WD20EFRX, 64MB, ~5.3K)
||Corsair AX1200 1200W
||Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
||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:
- 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.
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.
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, and then game level-loading .
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.