Now, let’s do some summarizing. We will go through the tested products in alphabetic order.
The Hitachi 7K1000.C had very odd basic firmware with low performance, but now it looks decent enough. It breaks no records and is not completely free from shortcomings, but the 3EA firmware makes this HDD a normal option for the home computer of an undemanding user.
Samsung is making first steps in producing HDDs with four platters. The EcoGreen F3 is the first such product and we cannot expect something extraordinary from it. Yet we must acknowledge that it is inferior to its opponents, especially under server loads. On the other hand, it has low power consumption and features fast processing of files, which makes it a good choice as a passive data storage device.
The Seagate Constellation is a nice surprise to us. It is a really good server-oriented HDD with firmware optimized for server loads and with rather fast heads (which is something very rare for Seagate’s recent products). The Barracuda XT is still a good choice as an HDD for home computers whereas the Barracuda LP can do well enough in low-load servers or as a power-efficient disk with rather high performance.
Western Digital’s Caviar Black series is somewhat ambiguous. It looks like the transition to new platters has not been easy and the developer’s main goal was to keep performance at the same level rather than increase it. This goal has largely been achieved although the HDDs have become slower in server applications (or the company just wants to separate its top-performance server and desktop series more). Yes, the model with 64MB buffer and SATA 600 is the new acme of the series (among the 1-terabyte models), but we guess the WD Caviar Black E3 (with two 500GB platters inside as well) looks even more interesting. The latter delivers roughly the same performance, especially when it comes to typical home applications, but consumes less power.
The WD Caviar Green with 64MB buffer is one more drive from Western Digital to sport 4-kilobyte sectors. We guess we will see more and more such products in the future. You should not be wary of them as their performance is absolutely normal. The software emulation of 512-byte formatting in the HDD’s firmware has only one serious downside: the drive’s performance lowers when processing very small (smaller than 4 KB) data blocks. Of course, you should not forget to align the HDD’s partitions if you are going to use it in older OSes that do not natively support 4KB sectors.