by eugene

Samsung Spinpoint P80 SP1614C


Note: Since the publication of this review, this drive has been retested under Testbed4, a newer hardware/software/benchmark platform. Please see this article for updated results. This review remains for reference purposes only.

Samsung SpinPoint SP1614C Capacities
Model Number Capacity
SP0812C 80 GB
SP1213C 120 GB
SP1614C 160 GB
Lowest Real-Time Price:


Introduction

In the eyes of high-volume system integrators as well as those of hardware enthusiasts, Korean conglomerate Samsung has never been as popularly regarded as competitors such as Seagate, Maxtor, and Western Digital. This may partly be attributed to the continued momentum enjoyed by the latter; it's undeniable that Samsung's channel distribution, however, lags far behind. StorageReview has suffered from the problem as well- Samsung has only sporadically worked with us. As a result, SR's coverage of the firm's products has not been as comprehensive as those from other manufacturers.

Recently, however, the manufacturer's marketing apparatus seems to have undergone an overhaul of sorts. While still not as pervasive in local superstores as the major American manufacturers, the firm now demonstrates more willingness to work with publications such as StorageReview to get its products in the light.

Top of the driveOver the past couple years, Samsung has enjoyed extended goodwill from the enthusiast community by remaining the sole manufacturer to retain an across-the-board three-year warranty on all of its ATA drives even as competitors retreated to one-year protection on many models. Remember, however, that these reductions do not necessarily imply a sudden fall in build quality; indeed, many enthusiasts fail to grasp the immediate accounting benefit through the decrease of paper liability that results independently of actual warranty claims. Last summer, Seagate finally reversed the trend by returning not just to three-year protection but instead extending the five-year warranty enjoyed by its enterprise line across the board to all consumer-oriented products. While there have been some whispers that Samsung is preparing to respond with its own extension, at the time of this writing, the firm backs all its drives with a standard three-year warranty.

The SpinPoint P80 is Samsung's current performance-oriented 7200 RPM drive line. Though firms such as Seagate and Maxtor have moved to 100 GB/platter products, Samsung, like Hitachi and Western Digital, still rests at the long-standing 80 GB/platter mark. Samsung joins Seagate in topping out with a two-platter design rather than setting its sights against the three-or-more-disk flagships offered by Hitachi, Maxtor, and WD. An 8.9 millisecond seek time and an eight-megabyte buffer round out the drive's vitals.

Like other firms, Samsung ships the P80 exclusively with fluid dynamic bearing (FDB) motors. When contrasted with traditional ball bearing offerings, FDB motors deliver quieter idle operation as well as purportedly increasing shock resistance.

Back of the driveThe unit evaluated in this review is the SATA-based SpinPoint SP1614C. A parallel ATA unit, the SP1614N, was reviewed earlier this year. Interestingly, though the SP1614C is a PATA design that features a bridged SATA interface, the drive lacks the standard 4-pin molex-style connect and instead exclusively relies on the newer 15-pin SATA-style interface.

With the P80, Samsung targets mid- to high-end desktop machines as well as light-duty servers that require moderate capacity combined with performance and quiet operation. In the following tests, the Samsung SpinPoint SP1614C is compared against the following drives for the following reasons:

MaXLine III Current-generation competitor
Deskstar 7K400 Current-generation competitor
Caviar WD2500JD Current-generation competitor
Barracuda 7200.7 Current-generation competitor





Low-Level Results

For diagnostic purposes only, StorageReview measures the following low-level parameters:

Average Read Access Time- An average of 25,000 random accesses of a single sector each conducted through IPEAK SPT's AnalyzeDisk suite. The high sample size permits a much more accurate reading than most typical benchmarks deliver and provides an excellent figure with which one may contrast the claimed access time (claimed seek time + the drive spindle speed's average rotational latency) provided by manufacturers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - Begin- The sequential transfer rate attained by the outermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the highest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - End- The sequential transfer rate attained by the innermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the lowest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Service Time Graphs (in milliseconds)
Average Read Service Time
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 12.7|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 12.9|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 13.5|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 13.6|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 14.6|
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SP1614C Average Read Service Time

The SpinPoint SP1614C delivers an average read access time of 13.4 milliseconds. When taking into account the 4.2 ms that represents the average rotational latency of a 7200 RPM drive, the Samsung weighs in with a 9.2 ms measured seek time. While a tad off of the firm's 8.9 ms claim, the raw score nonetheless remains competitive with the competition.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Transfer Rate Graphs (in megabytes per second)
Transfer Rate - Begin
Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 65.7|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 64.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 60.6|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 60.4|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 60.2|
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Transfer Rate - End
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 37.8|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 37.2|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 37.2|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 36.5|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 32.9|
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7B300S0-2 Transfer Rate

According to WinBench 99's low-level test, the SP1614C's outer-zone transfer rate hits 60.2 MB/sec. Note, however, the drive's rather unusual transfer rate graph illustrated above. This "sawtooth" pattern is not unique to this sample- the SP1614C's PATA brother also exhibits the same behavior. Though it does not officially register in WB99's test (which quantifies rates with a single number at the very beginning and very end of the range), eyeballing the graph above suggests transfer rates that peak at about 65 MB/sec. In the same vein, while WB99 reports an inner-zone transfer rate of 36.5 MB/sec, the drive actually bottoms out a bit below.

We asked Samsung about the unusual STR graphs that their drives deliver. Their answer:

The "Samsung P80 is using an Adaptive Zone Layout algorithm to maximize head performance that optimizes both TPI (Track Per Inch) and BPI (Bit Per Inch). Other HDD manufacturers are using only TPI optimization during their HDD manufacturing process."

In other words, the method that Samsung uses to arrange its 80 GB/platter of information across two dimensions in the SP1614C (and PATA 1614N) is very unconventional and does not result in a uniform and consistent drop as one moves towards inner tracks like we see in all other drives.

When it comes down to it, of course, measurement of transfer rates remains a largely diagnostic exercise and has relatively little bearing in application-level performance. It is higher-level results that truly determine how a drive performs. With that, let's turn to the SR Desktop DriveMarks.





Single-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess non-server use:

StorageReview.com Office DriveMark 2002- A capture of 30 minutes of actual computer productivity use that exactingly recreates a typical office-style multitasking environment. The applications include: Outlook XP, Word XP, Excel XP, PowerPoint XP, Calypso (a freeware e-mail client), SecureCRT v3.3 (a telnet/SSH client), CuteFTP Pro v1.0 (an FTP/SSH client), ICQ 2000b), Palm Hotsync 4.0, Gravity 2.3 (a Usenet/newsgroups client), PaintShop Pro v7.0, Media Player v8 for the occasional MP3, and Internet Explorer 6.0.

StorageReview.com High-End DriveMark 2002- A capture of VeriTest's Content Creation Winstone 2001 suite. Applications include Adobe Photoshop v5.5, Adobe Premiere v5.1, Macromedia Director v8.0, Macromedia Dreamweaver v3.0, Netscape Navigator v4.73, and Sonic Foundry Sound Forge v4.5. Unlike typical productivity applications, high-end audio- and video- editing programs are run in a more serial and less multitasked manner. The High-End DriveMark includes significantly more sequential transfers and write (as opposed to read) operations.

StorageReview.com Bootup DriveMark 2002- A capture of the rather unusual Windows XP bootup process. Windows XP's boot procedure involves significantly different access patterns and queue depths than those found in other disk accesses. This test recreates Windows XP's bootup from the initial bootstrap load all the way to initialization and loading of the following memory-resident utilities: Dimension4 (a time synchronizer), Norton Antivirus 2002 AutoProtect, Palm Hotsync v4.0, and ICQ 2000b.

StorageReview.com Gaming DriveMark 2002- A weighted average of the disk accesses featured in five popular PC games: Lionhead's Black & White v1.1, Valve's Half-Life: Counterstrike v1.3, Blizzard's Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction v1.09b, Maxis's The Sims: House Party v1.0, and Epic's Unreal Tournament v4.36. Games, of course, are not multitasked- all five titles were run in a serial fashion featuring approximately half an hour of play time per game.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Desktop Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR Office DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 472|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 472|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 433|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 422|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 410|
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SR High-End DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 472|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 455|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 448|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 412|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 382|
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SR Bootup DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 490|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 435|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 429|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 397|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 365|
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SR Gaming DriveMark 2002
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 609|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 589|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 542|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 534|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 534|
|

The SpinPoint 1614C delivers 410 I/Os per second in the SR Office DriveMark, trailing the formidable showings by the Maxtor MaXLine III and Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 by a significant 15%. The margin between the Samsung and the more modest WD Caviar and Seagate Barracuda, however, is much slimmer.

Differences widen when it comes to the SR High-End DriveMark. Here the SP1614C trails the category-leading Maxtor by about 23%. Seagate's Barracuda also manages to broaden the gap and leaves the Samsung behind.

Margins between the SpinPoint and most of the competition remain similar in the SR Bootup DriveMark with only the MaXLine rocketing ahead of the pack.

Finally, while the Maxtor and Hitachi remain untouchable in the SR Gaming DriveMark, the SP1614C manages to remain neck-and-neck with the Caviar and Barracuda.





Multi-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess server performance:

StorageReview.com File Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads and writes through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated file server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

StorageReview.com Web Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated web server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

For more information click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Server Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR File Server DriveMark 2002
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 126|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 125|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 122|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 117|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 109|
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SR Web Server DriveMark 2002
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 135|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 133|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 124|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 123|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 113|
|

Samsung's drive delivers a decent showing in the SR File Server DriveMark, vying with Seagate's Barracuda for the top slot at 125 I/Os per second. In the more read-heavy SR Web Server DriveMark, however, the SpinPoint stumbles and brings up the rear.





Legacy Performance

eTesting Lab's WinBench 99 Disk WinMark tests are benchmarks that attempt to measure desktop performance through a rather dated recording of high-level applications. Despite their age, the Disk WinMarks are somewhat of an industry standard. The following results serve only as a reference; SR does not factor them into final judgments and recommends that readers do the same.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Legacy Performance Graphs (in megabytes per second)
ZD Business Disk WinMark 99
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 14.3|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 13.7|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 11.7|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 10.7|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 10.5|
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ZD High-End Disk WinMark 99
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 48.4|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 46.2|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 40.7|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 39.4|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 38.8|
|




Note: Scores on top are better.
Heat and Noise
Idle Noise (in dB/A @ 18mm)
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 39.4|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 39.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 41.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 41.2|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 41.2|
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Net Drive Temperature (in degrees celsius)
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 18.8|
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Maxtor MaXLine III 2nd Sample (300 GB SATA) - 19.5|
|
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 19.9|
|
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 20.0|
|
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 22.3|
|

Samsung's SpinPoint series has enjoyed a grassroots following of sorts by those who value low operating temperatures and silent noise floors over sheer performance. At idle, the SP1614C's sound pressure at a distance of 18 millimeters is 39.4 dB/A and rests among the quietest drives we've ever measured. While one may argue that differences below, say, 43 dB/A or so get lost in the noise generated by other parts of the system (or even general ambient noise, for that matter), there's no denying that the Samsung is quite at home in the ultra-quiet PCs that many enthusiasts build. When seeking, the drive continues to remain among the quietest SR has ever tested.

The same two-platter design that likely aids the SP1614C in whisper-quiet operation also helps maintain low temperatures. After running through a heavy load, the drive's top-plate temperature weighs in at 18.8 degrees Celsius and should integrate into virtually any system with ease.





Reliability

The StorageReview.com Reliability Survey aims to amalgamate individual reader experiences with various hard disks into a comprehensive warehouse of information from which meaningful results may be extracted. A multiple-layer filter sifts through collected data, silently omitting questionable results or results from questionable participants. A proprietary analysis engine then processes the qualified dataset. SR presents results to readers through a percentile ranking system.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Samsung SpinPoint P80 is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, a predecessor of the Samsung SpinPoint P80, the Samsung SpinPoint P40 , is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

Note that the percentages in bold above may change as more information continues to be collected and analyzed. For more information, to input your experience with these and/or other drives, and to view comprehensive results, please visit the SR Drive Reliability Survey.





Conclusion

With the exception light-duty file server applications (where it would be a decent choice), it's clear that the SpinPoint SP1614C should not be the first choice for power-users seeking a blazing drive to complement their custom-built hotrods.

The drive's whisper-quiet acoustics and relatively low operating temperature, however, make it an option for those pursuing the ultimate in silent computing. In addition, a quick price-engine check suggests that Samsung's offering may be the least expensive option when contrasted with its competitors. Factoring in the three-year standard warranty that backs the drive makes the SpinPoint SP1614C a compelling cost-conscious option.

  Review Discussion