Seagate has had a traditionally broad presence in our tests. It is not that we are biased towards this brand (we are equidistant from all the manufacturers), but Seagate’s product range has been always wider than that of any of its competitors in the last few years. Particularly, there are so many 160GB drives in the Barracuda 7200.9 series that we just couldn’t count up all the varieties.
It’s like the term “HDD series” doesn’t mean something constant anymore. HDDs are being updated and modernized on the go and continue to be produced under the old name instead of getting a new one. We’ve got used to such updates with CPUs (steppings, revisions), but it’s somewhat confusing yet to have the same thing with hard disk drives.
So, let’s sort this all out. It is easy with the first drive. It is a Barracuda 7200.7 with native SATA-150 electronics (i.e. without additional PHY-interface chips and with support for NCQ).
The drive is old, but it is going to show you some yet. Seagate wasn’t silly in choosing it to showcase the advantages of NCQ.
The next HDD, the ST3160812AS model, belongs to the Barracuda 7200.9 series (by the way, don’t think we’ve forgot the 7200.8 generation – it just doesn’t include models with capacities smaller than 200GB).
So, the case of this drive is somewhat different from the case of the big brother from the Barracuda 7200.9 series. It is thinner and, obviously, lighter. There is a dent in the top panel opposite the actuator (to fix it in place? to dissipate heat?)
In our previous review we found out that Seagate had abandoned its “one design for all the models of a series” principle with Barracuda 7200.9. And now it seems Seagate had gone even further than we suspected.
Here is yet another 160GB drive from the Barracuda 7200.9 series!
Note that the case has become even thinner and the PCB has been turned around so its chips now face inwards. Moreover, it has become smaller, which seems to be a tendency. Why such a dramatic update of junior models in the series? Just to save some aluminum and textolite?
There is a supposition (not confirmed officially yet) that Seagate’s desire to transfer HDDs from the junior branch of the Barracuda 7200.9 series to perpendicular recording was the reason for this update. Seagate’s production volumes are huge, and it is very desirable to unify the main subunits of hard disk drives the company is turning out.
The next drive is a copy of the previous one, except for the amount of cache memory. The ST3160211AS has only 2 megabytes of memory, which is very little by today’s measures.