Seagate Barracuda XT review
A decent début for the new SATA standard, but for now the price is prohibitive
Review Date: 6 Nov 2009
Reviewed By: Darien Graham-Smith
Price when reviewed: £218 (£251 inc VAT)
Features & Design
Value for Money
Seagate's new 2TB hard disk ushers in the new SATA standard — but don't call it SATA III. Piqued by misuse of the name SATA II (in reality a committee rather than a specification), the SATA standards organisation has urged manufacturers to refer to the new interface only by its official name: SATA 6Gbit/s. That's pretty unwieldy, though, so we're going with SATA/600.
As you'll have guessed, the new interface doubles the bandwidth of its predecessor to give a maximum usable transfer rate of 600MB/sec (after taking into account encoding overheads).
That should provide ample headroom for the foreseeable future: in past tests we've found that mechanical hard disks typically read and write at a little over 100MB/sec, and even Intel's super-fast SSDs manage to read at only 250MB/sec.
This being the case, you might wonder why Seagate would bother equipping a conventional drive with a high-speed interface. But although the drive's average performance is held back by its physical capabilities, the Barracuda XT features a whopping 64MB RAM cache, allowing burst operations to take full advantage of SATA/600's bandwidth.
Does this have a noticeable effect on performance? Not in the way you might expect. Across our standard file copy tests the drive performed identically regardless of whether it was connected to a SATA/300 or SATA/600 interface.
That's not to say performance was disappointing: the Barracuda XT achieved some very creditable speeds, averaging 80MB/sec to write our 650MB file and an impressive 144MB/sec when reading it back again.
But we did see a benefit from SATA/600 when we ran the PC Pro real world benchmarks on our standard Core i7 test system using the Barracuda XT as the system drive.
Here, moving from SATA/300 to SATA/600 shaved ten seconds off our Office benchmark, cutting execution time to four and a half minutes. Even better, it cut 27 seconds from the Photoshop test, for a total run time of 3mins 22sec.
The appeal is obvious, but there's always a price premium for new technology, and in this case it's compounded by the fact that 2TB drives are themselves still a specialist market. At £218 exc VAT the Barracuda XT costs nearly £90 more than a bog-standard SATA/300 drive of the same size, and more than four times as much as a typical 1TB drive.
For that reason we can't currently recommend the Barracuda XT for anything but a money-no-object workstation. All the same, it's good to see SATA/600 on the market, and in the years to come we look forward to seeing some more affordable drives that can take proper advantage of it.
Author: Darien Graham-Smith
- Will the next Windows 8.1 update arrive next month?
- BBC Sport comes to Chromecast
- Those parental-control filters? As few as 4% are signing up
- iPhone 6's Apple logo may light up for notifications
- Apple releases round 4 of iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite betas
- Cortana preview headed to Britain in two weeks
- Google unveils Chrome OS update "Athena"
- Piracy warning letters: four strikes and you're not out
- iPhone 6 sapphire display: is Apple cutting costs with composite materials?
- Google admits games with in-app purchases aren't free
- How Google Glass ruined my lunch hour
- Smartphone battery packs: can a USB power pack beat the festival battery blues?
- Windows Easy Transfer – not so "easy" in Windows 8.1
- Formula 1: what a difference virtualisation makes
- Office of the future: comfy chairs and tablets everywhere
- I went to Glastonbury and the only thing that got high was my smartphone
- Meet the robots helping teach children
- PaperLater: would you pay to print the internet?
- Amazon vs Kobo: how much to make the ebook switch?
- Phishing emails: how I nearly got caught out
- BlackBerry Passport release date, specs, features, and rumours: when is the new BlackBerry coming out?
- What's changing in the computing curriculum
- Teaching kids to code
- Best free translation apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone
- Five worst SMB security threats... and how to solve them
- Apple iOS vs Android vs Windows 8 – what's the best compact tablet OS?
- The 11 best tablets of 2014: what’s the best tablet on the market?
- How to free up hard disk space
- Driverless cars: could your next car be driven by a robot?
- Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs Surface Pro 2 comparison: is the new Surface Pro 3 worth buying?
- How to add in-app purchasing to an iPhone, Android or Windows app
- Remote-control ransomware: TeamViewer and software hardball
- Why laptops with serial ports matter to the Internet of Things
- Make your mobile battery last longer
- Small steps into handling Big Data
- Nexus 5: does it really run stock Android?
- How to get broadband to a garden office
- How to write your company's IT security policy
- Raspberry Pi and Wolfram: a must-have for every child
- Could you get by with Office Web Apps?