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Here is the summary of our third test session with 1-terabyte hard disk drives.

Western Digital’s Caviar Black are still the best if you are looking for the fastest HDD. These 1TB drives have not yet transitioned to 500GB platters and are slightly inferior to their opponents in terms of top speeds under sequential loads, but they are really very, very good at everything else. The most enjoyable fact is that new revisions of Caviar Black drives prove to be a little bit faster than their predecessors.

Samsung should also get some of our praise. The SpinPoint F3 does not have the advantage of ultra-dense platters like the SpinPoint F1 had in its time, but looks good against strong competition. Although it does not feel confident under server loads, it does offer a perfect balance of performance, high speed of processing files and low power consumption which is so necessary for home applications.

Hitachi has tried to revise its firmware but there is still a lot of work to do. The results of the Hitachi 7K1000.C were often poor due to firmware flaws and this perspective product is only as fast as its predecessor while having higher potential.

Competition is tough in the sector of power-efficient HDDs. The WD10EADS are not unrivalled anymore. Their opponents have come up very close. The Samsung EcoGreen F2 is no worse when it comes to processing files or as a quiet and cold system disk. WD’s products should be given credit for being still beyond competition under server loads: they can even challenge 7200RPM models from other brands there! Even the P8 with its lower spindle speed is just as good as the others and occasionally faster due to high track density. The different versions of WD’s power-efficient drives do not really differ much.

And finally, we want to say a few words about the WD10EARS, the first widely available HDD with 4KB sectors. First of all, this HDD vitally needs that the file system partitions be aligned with the sectors on the platter. Otherwise, it suffers a catastrophic performance hit, any write operation being a huge problem. The aligned disk differs from same-class products in one thing only: it has a small performance hit when processing small data blocks (or small files) because the emulation of 512-byte sectors makes an additional read of data necessary. This emulation ensures excellent compatibility with all existing software, though.

Hopefully, such HDDs will be cheaper than ordinary ones. Otherwise, we cannot recommend them as a replacement for the WD10EADS. On the other hand, the WD10EARS is going to be a good choice as a passive data storage device. The following table shows what alignment is needed for it in different situations.

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