We’d like to start summing everything up by answering the question if the transition to new platters has added more speed? Perhaps unexpectedly, our answer is No. The speeds have got higher somewhat, but not much so. Right now, the performance benefits from the transition to new platters (1.5 times the recording density of the older platters) are too small and lower than expected. The race of linear speeds seems to have taken a break. The 500GB platter nut has proved to be too hard to crack. But are things so bad, anyway? We answer with yet another No. 120MBps is the bandwidth limit for the first version of SATA as well as for PCI and PCIe x1 buses which are often used for disk controllers. As of today, it is the peculiarities of firmware that come to the fore. You may have noticed that we are talking about today. It is quite possible that upcoming 500GB-platter models will get rid of the speed-related problems and deliver much higher performance.
As for the new products, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 is the only series of HDDs with 500GB platters that have a spindle rotation speed of 7200rpm. The 1TB model is not the fastest on the market, but looks good to us anyway. Seagate has revised its firmware considerably and solved a number of problems. As a result, the new series disk is a perfect choice as a universal HDD. It is fast enough to be not much inferior to the best 1TB drives in sheer speed but is also quiet and cold. We guess it offers an optimal compromise of features, especially as the 7200.11 series had been rather nasty. We do recommend the newcomer for a home computer.
The 1.5-terabyte Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 left an ambiguous impression overall. It is not fast enough to oppose fast 1TB drives, has high power consumption, suffers performance hits under certain loads and – is not the largest-capacity model anymore! There is only one fact to its favor – it costs very modest money for an HDD of its capacity.
The 2TB Western Digital Caviar Green is a bit of a disappointment, too. Frankly speaking, we had expected it to be faster than its 1TB predecessor due to the increased recording density but it is actually slower in most of our tests, being only ahead at sequential operations with files. Anyway, this HDD will have one important advantage over its opponents for the next half a year. There are no other HDDs of that capacity and none is expected soon. Combined with rather low power consumption, this indicates one possible application for this model – storing large amounts of data, on external storage devices in the first place. It will come in handy for NASes that often do not allow increasing the storage capacity easily. This HDD costs quite a lot, however, obviously due to the lack of any competition.