Skip to navigation

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)

Overall Rating
4 stars out of 6

Features & Design
6 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

5 stars out of 6

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.

The Seagate Barracuda XT is a 2TB drive with a huge 64MB cache and a 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

Subscribe to PC Pro magazine. We'll give you 3 issues for £1 plus a free gift - click here
Be the first to comment this article

You need to Login or Register to comment.


Latest Hard disks Reviews
WD Black² Dual Drive review

WD Black² Dual Drive

Category: Hard disks
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £230
Samsung 840 Pro review

Samsung 840 Pro

Category: Hard disks
Rating: 6 out of 6
Price: £180
SanDisk Ultra Plus review

SanDisk Ultra Plus

Category: Hard disks
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £130
OCZ Vector review

OCZ Vector

Category: Hard disks
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £190
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D review

Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.D

Category: Hard disks
Rating: 5 out of 6
Price: £78
Compare reviews: Hard disks


Most Commented Reviews
Latest News Stories Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Blog Posts Subscribe to our RSS Feeds
Latest Features
Latest Real World Computing


Sponsored Links


Your email:

Your password:

remember me


Hitwise Top 10 Website 2010

PCPro-Computing in the Real World Printed from

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.