Articles: Storage

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Testing Participants

Let’s take a look at the HDDs that are about to be tested. I won’t publish a table with their specifications since they are identical for all the drives: a spindle rotation speed of 5400rpm, a fluid dynamic bearing, 2 platters, 4 heads, an 8MB buffer, and a SATA interface with support for NCQ. Four out of the six HDDs have an identical average seek time of 12 milliseconds. Hitachi and Seagate declare a seek time of 11 milliseconds for their HDDs. I’ll measure the real average seek time of each drive later on. Right now I’ll tell you a few words about each of them.


The Fujitsu MHW2160BH is the most secretive model of this review. You can only learn its brief technical characteristics. Take note that most models from the MHW2xxxBH series use longitudinal recording (even the 120GB model), and only this HDD and some of MHW2080BH drives employ perpendicular recording.


Like most other modern HDDs from this firm, Hitachi’s HTS541616J9SA00 features such exclusive technologies as iridium-manganese-chromium heads, thermal fly-height control to minimize errors, parking on a ramp for protection during reboots, and the power-saving features HiVERT and ABLE.


The Samsung HM160JI belongs to the M80S series. It features Silent Seek technology to minimize noise by using a performance-optimized seek trajectory. Samsung claims that its version of such technology has a smaller impact on performance than the traditional Advanced Acoustic Management.


The Momentus 5400.3 series the Seagate ST9160821AS model belongs to was the first series of serially produced HDDs with perpendicular recording. We’ll see shortly if this series was much of a success.


Like the drive from Fujitsu, the Toshiba MK1637GSX doesn’t tell much about itself. I could only learn its basic specs. So, let’s better judge it by its performance in tests.


The Western Digital WD1600BEVS belongs to the ML80 branch of the Scorpio family. As opposed to most other HDDs in this review, it is not the largest-capacity model in its series. There exists the WD2500BEVS that has a 50% higher capacity (and a 50% higher recording density), but the 160GB models are still produced with two platters and four surfaces, and the WD1600BEVS has the same recording density as the other HDDs in this review. As usual, the HDD features a number of exclusive technologies: WhisperDrive technology uses SoftSeek algorithms to minimize noise when seeking; ShockGuard protects the drive’s mechanics and platters from damage; DuraStep Ramp parks the heads off the data zone for additional protection.

To wind up this introductory section, I want to show you a table with the power consumption parameters of the HDDs. We don’t yet have a means to measure it by ourselves, so these are the specified values:

You can see that the HDDs are not so similar after all. The Western Digital turns to be the most voracious device (unfortunately, its manufacturer doesn’t specify the spin-up consumption). The Seagate and Toshiba are the most economical at reading and writing while the Fujitsu and Toshiba require less power than the others in sleep mode.

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