Noise Level and Heat
As far as noise levels go, the 7200.8 is a good deal quieter than the older generation. Idle levels are pretty much identical but when the drive is under heavy access it is much quieter than the older version. The older version made an audible "chugging" type sound while the new version is almost silent when under similar load.
Heat generation on the new 7200.8 drive doesn't cause any concerns for us. Using the basic touch method, the drive felt no hotter than the older version. Having said this though, it's always a good idea for the drive to have some type of cooling, even if it is just a breeze moving over the drive from a front case fan. It doesn't sound like much but it can prolong HDD life a good deal.
We received the new Barracuda 7200.8 drive from Seagate expecting a decent performance boost over the older generation 7200.7. Not only did we see a huge jump in performance over the older version by 40% or more but we saw improvements such as NCQ support and quieter operation.
We initially thought if the Barracuda 7200.8 could come anywhere near the 10,000 rpm Raptor from Western Digital in terms of performance, we'd have something special on our hands. The 7200.8 was not just able to match the performance of the Raptor but even able to come out in front in the majority of our consumer level PC tests. We cannot forget the Raptor was penalized from the beginning without any type of command queuing enabled but that is since the Raptor supports TCQ rather than NCQ and TCQ is less widely supported in today's chipsets. If we were to run a series of server benchmarks, we may well see the Raptor come out in front but this review focused only on the consumer level.
The other advantage that the Barracuda 7200.8 has over the Raptor is price. It's common knowledge that the Raptor has always been over-priced from day one - you pay a premium for getting awesome hard drive performance. Things have changed though. Seagate have been able to produce a hard drive which provides similar performance to the Raptor in a non-RAID environment. As we said earlier, at the time of writing the lowest price of the 160GB version 7200.8 Barracuda is $89 USD from Bitsbuy.com while the cheapest price of the Western Digital Raptor 74GB will set you back $176 USD from Dell Small Business. We shouldn't have to say anymore than that.
Given our benchmark results, it's hard to find anything wrong about the Barracuda 7200.8 series of hard drives. However, it's worth mentioning that by Q3 of this year we should see SATA 2.0 hard drives come on the market which increase speeds to a theoretical 300MB/s maximum transfer rate. Some new nVidia chipsets already support SATA 2.0 and we're even expecting a SATA 2.0 drive soon in our labs which means they won't be too far from hitting retail. You could wait for SATA 2.0 drives to hit the market or just bite the bullet and buy now and getting another drive later in the year.
Besides that, everything else points towards the new Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 series of hard drives to be a superb product in every aspect - speed, price, noise and temperature. I didn't think I'd ever say it or see it but Western Digital have some real competition on their hands now in the consumer performance hard drive market place.
Very good performance for 7,200 rpm drive
Better value for money than WD Raptor
Much quieter than older version, no more chugging sounds
Doesn't generate much heat
400GB version is expensive but what do you expect, otherwise none noted
Rating - 9.5 out of 10 and TweakTown's "MUST HAVE" Best Value Award!
Editor's Note - We found it strange that most of the time with NCQ disabled, the 7200.8 was quicker. We asked Seagate about this and we are still waiting a response. We suspect the answer will be something along the lines that NCQ only provides performance benefits in certain applications.
We'll let you know what Seagate has to say, as soon as they get back to us on the subject.
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