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Now that we’ve come to the end of today’s test session, we should name the fastest 500GB hard disk drive available today. There are actually two winners: the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 and the Western Digital Caviar Black. The former has somewhat higher sequential read and write speeds as it has only one platter inside. The latter benefits from quicker heads and showed faster processing of files in FC-Test. It is a shame Western Digital does not produce a single-platter Caviar Black (or, perhaps, we have not just seen it yet) as it might show remarkable performance. Although both these drives behaved very well, we would like to award Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 our Recommended Buy title, as it is considerably less expensive, and therefore offers better performance per buck.

If you are not looking for record-breaking products but need just a regular and good HDD, your choice is much broader. There is the splendid Samsung SpinPoint F3 which has got rid of most of the shortcomings of Samsung’s earlier series. There is Western Digital’s Blue series in all its varieties that have different indexes, different number of platters and different behaviors, but all are consistently good-performing products.

It is only the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 and the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C that are downright poor among the 7200RPM models. The former is obviously optimized for server applications whereas the latter is hamstringed by its firmware. As far as we know, Hitachi is aware of that unpleasant feature of its latest generation of HDDs and is trying to improve it. You can evaluate the company’s progress by comparing the 1-terabyte Deskstar 7K1000.C with different firmware versions that we tested in our previous roundup.

Finally, we want to add a few words about the power-efficient products. Yes, they are inferior to their 7200RPM counterparts in performance but the difference is not too large. It is especially small when we compare HDDs of rather low storage capacities. Funnily enough, the difference in power consumption is small at low capacities as well.

So, if you do want a cold and quiet HDD, choose any of the models with reduced spindle rotation speed. You won’t even notice any difference in performance if you have not upgraded your older HDD for long.

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