Review: Seagate's 750 Gbyte Disk Drive

Huge doesn't mean slow. The first 3/4-terabyte Perpendicular Magnetic Recording drive from Seagate has both the capacity and the speed to deliver data for high-demand applications like digital media.
It's a good thing we knew that the 7200.10 was an exciting techno-tour-de-force, or its plain old drive casing would have evoked yawns when we unpacked it. Aside from the still slightly SATA interface there's no outward sign that anything interesting is going on here, which is as it should be. Since it's a SATA drive, there's no master or slave setting, but you can move a jumper to select either SATA 1.5Gb/s or 3Gb/s but we used the default (1.5 Gb/s).

Installation was straightforward, and after a bit of partitioning and a quick format we were ready to run some tests. For the job we used the Sandra 2007 suite from SiSoftware and ran the drive in an HP 7260N workstation.

Sandra 2007's drive speed benchmark (green line) for the 7200.10 is suitably impressive.

The results were suitably impressive, especially when compared to the 7290N's standard disk, a perfectly acceptable 300 GB/ 7200 RPM SATA disk, which benchmarked at 37 MB/s on its read test. The 7200.10 came in with a score almost exactly double that: 73 MB/s and yes, you could really tell the difference when retrieving large files. I'm sorry to say my write tests weren't quite as scientific, but since the Sandra package won't write to a disk with content I satisfied myself with saving a large (862 MB) file from Adobe Photoshop 7.0, to each drive and came back with 70 and 55 seconds respectively, giving the 7200.10 a 30% faster write. Sandra 2007 provides a number of other drives for comparison, but none of them came close.

Two things made us cautious about the drive, first being heat and the second noise. We monitored it at about 50C (about 120) which was warm enough to be painful to the touch. Accordingly we wouldn't recommend installing this in a housing without good airflow. Secondly, it makes a fair amount of noise during reads and writes, possibly because the heads are actually making contact with the shield layer. Neither of these points make us less enthusiastic about the drive, but they're considerations that buyers ought to be aware of.

With a modest price tag of $590, you're getting pretty good deal for new tech, though 79 per GB is a bit higher than other 7200 RPM drives. We're seeing street prices down to the low $400s though, which bring it right in line. The speed and capacity are significantly better than other drives to make it worth considering for media storage, but the newness of the technology, as well as some concern about heat and noise make it prudent to keep this data backed up, especially during the first year of these drives use.

Though the first PMR3.5-inch desktop drive to market, it won't be unusual for long, and others are already bringing this technology out in their own drives. For now though, this Barracuda remains the biggest, fastest fish in the drive world, and we're going to enjoy filling it up, bit by bit.

Barracuda 7200.10
Seagate Technology
Price: $590
Summary: The demands on hard disks are rising, but Perpendicular magnetic Recording technology, huge 3/4-terabyte capacity, and great spead mean Seagates 7200.10 is up to the challenges.
Editor's Choice
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
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John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
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Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing