With everyone trying to increase system performance as high as possible, it's often easy to neglect an important part of your computer, the hard drive. IDE drives have evolved in the last couple of years, and the current crop of drives sport 7200 RPM and the ATA/100 interface. The improvement in performance is definitely apparent when you compare the current drives to their 5400 RPM counterparts. Although IDE isn't the fastest interface out there, it's cheap and IDE RAID is widely enough available to make it a good choice for anyone's system. With the increase of the rotational speed from 5400 to 7200 RPM also came an increase in noise. You'll notice that some hard drives are louder than others. I'm sure you all know that characteristic sound drives make when they're transferring information (also known as thrashing). Seagate, a long time leader in high performance storage, has taken hard drive improvements a step further with their new Barracuda ATA-IV. This drive not only incorporates increased speed with 7200 RPM operation and ATA/100 but also silent operation and increased reliability. That's where this review comes in.
Features And Specifications
Seagate released the Barracuda ATA-IV line of drives earlier this year in June. What makes this drive different is the new "SoftSonic" Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) motor which makes this drive virtually silent. According to Seagate, these drives only emit 2.0 Dba. Personally, my system is loud enough as it is, so the quieter the drive the better. The Barracuda ATA-IV series has a maximum capacity of 80 GB, which is the first 7200 RPM drive to sport 80 GBs using only 2 discs. It also comes in 20GB, 40GB, and 60GB flavors. The 2 MB buffer also ensures faster transfer rates.
Here are the specs of the drive I tested:
- Capacity - 60 GB
- Maximum Internal Transfer Rate - 555 MBits/s
- Maximum External Transfer Rate - 100 MBits/s
- Sustained Transfer Rate - 24 to 41 MB/s
- Cache - 2 MB
- Average Seek Time - 9.5 ms
- Average Latency - 4.16 ms
- Spindle Speed - 7200 RPM
- Interface - ATA/100
- SoftSonic(TM) FDB motor
- 350 Gs nonoperating shock
- 3D Defense System
- As you can see, this drive definitely has a lot to offer the performance hungry user. It's 9.5 ms seek time is pretty much the average for IDE drives nowadays. The seek time involves how long the drive takes to locate a particular track on the disc. So the faster the seek time, the faster the drive gets to the information, and the faster it can be accessed. The 7200 RPM spindle speed makes for fast access times and transfer rates. The Barracuda ATA-IV is one of the only drives that have a high 80 GB capacity and also sport 7200 RPM. Another unique feature that Seagate has included is the 3D defense system that increases the drive's reliability. The 3D Defense System is broken up into the following...
- SeaShell packaging protects against 1,000 Gs of nonoperating shock.
- Soft SeaSheild protects board against accidental handling damage and displays installation instructions.
- G-force Protection provides electromechanical enhancements that protect the drive from operating and nonoperating shock.
- ECC performs on the-fly hardware correction for excellent performance
- Safe Sparing ensures the drive will return to the same sector after a power outage.
- CBDS (continuous background defect scanning) proactively identifies and eliminates defects.
- SeaTools Suite diagnostics software is designed to reduce drive returns, decrease drive repair costs and protect data.
- Web-based tools enables users to identify and solve common system related problems.
- Enhanced S.M.A.R.T. predicts and prevents problems transparently before it affects the end user.
- Enhanced Drive Self-Test reduces diagnostic time.
Seagate knows they're stuff, and it's apparent that they put a lot of effort in making the Barracuda ATA-IV not only a leader in performance but also reliability. It's one of the most advanced IDE drives on the market today. My hat goes off to the engineers at Seagate for their creation.
>> First Impressions & Installation/Test Setup