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First Looks: Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB – High Capacity, High Performance
By Lionell Go Macahilig - 5 Agu 2011

First Looks: Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB – High Capacity, High Performance

Joining The 3TB Race

Sometime in March this year, Seagate jumped onto the 3TB bandwagon when it started shipping its Barracuda XT 3TB hard drive. While it is Seagate’s first, it was not the first-ever 3TB hard drive that we personally saw in our labs. Months ago, the folks at WD (Western Digital) sent us their own rendition of a 3TB hard drive. However, as what the Caviar Green label implies, the hard drive is primarily positioned as an energy-efficient storage solution that stresses on its low noise and low power consumption attributes. On the other hand, the Barracuda XT 3TB gives more emphasis on speed and high performance.

Logically, the Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB maintains the same mechanical attribute of a traditional hard disk drive. Nevertheless, some new specs to look forward to in this hard drive are its 3TB capacity and SATA 6Gbps interface.

Features In Detail

An internal desktop hard drive, the Barracuda XT 3TB’s form factor is compliant with the 3.5-inch standard. Lying within its chrome-silver and black, airtight, metal casing is a quintuplet of 600GB platters, making up the hard drive’s 3TB capacity. To sustain that whopping storage capacity, the hard drive leverages on Advanced Format technology. Being a high-performance hard drive, this Barracuda’s spindle speed is rated at 7200RPM, has a cache buffer of 64MB and makes use of the current SATA 6Gbps interface. That said, Seagate makes the Barracuda XT 3TB a more affordable alternative over ultrafast yet pricier solid state drives (SSDs).

Also known as SATA 3.0, the new version of SATA interface doubles the transfer speed of the previous standard which is nailed at 3Gbps.

Seagate incorporated an LSI controller chip and a 64MB Winbond DDR2-800 RAM chip for the drive’s cache memory.

Internally, the hard drive is composed of five platters, each of which carries a capacity of 600GB, making up this Barracuda's total capacity of 3TB.

Taking into consideration that 32-bit Windows XP does not natively support hard drives with larger than 2TB capacity, users will need to download and install Seagate’s updated DiscWizard to fully utilize 3TB. On the other hand, WD’s Caviar Green 3TB comes bundled with an HBA adapter card and, like the Barracuda, has a downloadable software application that would enable XP users to overcome the 2TB limitation.

A Fast Performer

Moving on to performance, we once again employed the ATTO disk benchmark application to see how fast the Barracuda XT 3TB really is. Comparing the yielded results to those that the Caviar Green 3TB recorded, it is apparent that the Barracuda hard drive is roughly 25% faster in average read speed and around 11% faster in average write speed.

ATTO Disk Benchmark (in MBps)
Storage Drive Read Speed Write Speed
ADATA S596 Turbo 64GB 249 100
Intel SSD 320 Series 300GB 275 138
Intel X25-M G2 160GB 253 73
Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB 158 137
WD Caviar Green 3TB 141 121

Out of curiosity, we also put Seagate’s scores side by side with those of the SSDs that we tested in the past. While the Barracuda XT 3TB is no match for SSDs in terms of read speed, it is noteworthy that it was able to surpass Intel’s SSD 320 Series, the fastest SSD that we encountered recently, with regard to write speed.

The Barracuda XT 3TB was tested on a system composed of an Intel Core i5 750 2.67GHz processor, ASUS P7P55D-E Pro motherboard, 2x 1GB Kingston DDR3-1066 memory modules, AMD Radeon HD 6850 graphics card and AcBel 1000 Watts PSU. The entire system was running on Windows 7 Ultimate.

Final Thoughts

As more 3TB hard drives make a way into the mainstream market, the Seagate Barracuda XT 3TB is among those at the forefront of fast-performing, large-capacity hard drive race. With its whopping 3TB storage capacity and speedy performance that is as good as that of an SSD in terms of write speed, the Barracuda XT 3TB is an ideal solution for power users who are into hardcore gaming and multimedia creation.

On the outside, the Barracuda XT 3TB appears like your typical internal desktop hard drive, not until you try it on your high-performance system. We anticipate its price mark not too far from that of the WD Caviar Green 3TB.

If you happen to be one of them but hesitant to get an SSD due to the large gap between its prohibitive pricing yet relatively less capacity, the Barracuda XT 3TB is an auspicious alternative that we expect to be priced around PhP 10,000 or lower (we saw a Caviar Green 3TB selling for PhP 9,850).

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