by eugene

Seagate Barracuda 7200.8


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.

Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 Capacities
Model Number Capacity
ST3200826AS 200 GB
ST3250823AS 250 GB
ST3300831AS 300 GB
ST3400832AS 400 GB
Lowest Real-Time Price:


Introduction

When it came to moving product to a 100 GB/platter paradigm, competitors Maxtor and Seagate both announced and seemed to deliver (at least to the retail channel) the MaXLine III and the revised Barracuda 7200.7 at about the same time. Seagate, however, remains the industry's largest independent drive manufacturer and continues to pour large amounts of funds into research and development. It shows- the firm remains the sole manufacturer to ship 133 GB/platter product.

The Barracuda 7200.8 family actually straddles the divide between the newer 133 GB platters and the industry-standard capacity of 100 GB/disk. The flagship 400 GB unit incorporates just three platters to achieve its monstrous capacity. The 250 GB drive also uses the denser disk with two platters (the remaining 16 GB electronically "ignored" to achieve a more marketable standard capacity).

Top of the driveThe 300 GB and 200 GB products, however, use the 100 GB platters that first debuted in later-model 7200.7 drives. The result, like the complete 7200.7 line, is a slightly schizophrenic break in a drive family that used to be the most dependable in the industry when it came to determining density and "generation."

As its designation implies, the Barracuda 7200.8 incorporates the 7200 RPM spindle speed associated with the brand since its introduction over 13 years ago. With this newest 'Cuda, Seagate claims a relatively ambitious seek time of just 8.0 milliseconds. A standard eight-megabyte buffer rounds out the offering.

The drive is available in all capacities (200 GB, 250, GB, 300 GB, 400 GB) with an SATA interface and available in three of the four (omitting the 200 GB point) with a legacy PATA connection. The former feature SATA-2 style Native Command Queuing (NCQ), a technique that aims to improve performance through the reordering of outstanding requests for efficient retrieval. Seagate currently boasts the best ATA drive warranties around... the Barracuda 7200.8 enjoys a five-year warranty.

Available only in larger capacities, the Barracuda 7200.8 co-exists with the 7200.7. The drive's predecessor remains to fill the still considerable demand for sub 200 GB drives. The 7200.8, on the other hand, targets applications that require high-capacity at low-cost: video editing on the cheap, digital video recorders, light duty file/web servers, etc. In the following tests, the 400 GB Barracuda 7200.8 with an SATA interface is compared against the following drives for the subsequent reasons:

Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB) Previous-generation competing unit
Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB) Current-generation competing unit
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB) Previous-generation competing unit
Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB) Manufacturer's previous-generation unit
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB) Previous-generation competing unit





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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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 13.4|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 13.5|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 14.6|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 15.0|
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ST3400832AS Average Read Service Time

The Caviar WD3200JD's measured access time weighs in at an even 13.0 milliseconds. Accounting for the standard 7200 RPM rotational latency of 4.2 ms leaves us with a measured seek time of 8.8 milliseconds. A pleasant change of pace for WD, whose drives more often than not have missed their specified claims. Only Hitachi's Deskstar 7K400 boasts a swifter seek time.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Transfer Rate Graphs (in megabytes per second)
Transfer Rate - Begin
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 69.8|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (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 ATA-133) - 57.5|
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Transfer Rate - End
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 39.9|
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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 (300 GB SATA) - 37.2|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 33.4|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 32.9|
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ST3400832AS Transfer Rate

The 7200.8's capacious 133 GB platters enable the drive to hit a transfer rate of just under 70 MB/sec- Seagate's drive steals the STR crown from Maxtor's MaXLine III. Rates decay as expected, down to about 40 MB/sec on the innermost tracks- still a record.





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 (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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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 418|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 405|
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SR High-End DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III (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 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 422|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 412|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 383|
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SR Bootup DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III (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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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 392|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 370|
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SR Gaming DriveMark 2002
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 609|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 589|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 542|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 539|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 534|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 512|
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Despite its higher transfer rates, the Barracuda 7200.8 actually regresses slightly when contrasted with its predecessor in the SR Office DriveMark. A score of 418 I/Os per second trails the 7200.7 by an admittedly negligible margin of 1%.

The 7200.8 does manage a slightly better showing in the SR High-End DriveMark, barely sliding by the 7200.7 with its showing of 422 I/Os per second.

The situation reverses itself again in the SR Bootup DriveMark. Here the newer drive once again places slightly behind its predecessor at 392 I/Os per second.

Finally, in the SR Gaming DriveMark, the 7200.8 ekes out a small lead over the 7200.7 with a showing of 539 I/Os per second.

In all four cases, Seagate's drive lags behind category leaders such as Maxtor's MaXLine III and Hitachi's Deskstar 7K400 by significant margins. Given the drive's newness, higher areal density, and sheer capacity, one would at least expect the 7200.8 to post significant gains over the 7200.7. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The 400 GB, 133 GB/platter 7200.8 delivers about the same net performance as the 200 GB, 100 GB/platter 7200.7.





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 ATA-133) - 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 (300 GB SATA) - 109|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 108|
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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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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 125|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 124|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 123|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 117|
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The 7200.8's poor showing in the low-level random access time test comes back to haunt it in the SR Server DriveMarks, tests that simulate the highly-random workload generated by a multi-user server. While the older 7200.7 topped all competing same-generation ATA drives, the newer 7200.8 surprisingly brings up the rear with a showing of just 108 I/Os per second in the SR File Server DriveMark. Similar results arise in the SR Web Server DriveMark- though the 7200.7 vies with the Deskstar 7K400 for top honors, the Barracuda 7200.8 again brings up the rear with a showing of 117 I/Os per second.





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
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 14.7|
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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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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 11.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 10.7|
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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 (300 GB SATA) - 46.2|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 40.7|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB ATA-133) - 39.6|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 39.4|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 36.9|
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Heat and Noise

Idle Noise- The sound pressure emitted from a drive measured at a distance of 18 millimeters. The close-field measurement allows for increased resolution between drive sound pressures and eliminates interactions from outside environmental noise. Note that while the measurement is an A-weighted decibel score that weighs frequencies in proportion to human ear sensitivity, a low score does not necessarily predict whether or not a drive will exhibit a high-pitch whine that some may find intrusive. Conversely, a high score does not necessarily indicate that the drive exhibits an intrusive noise envelope.

Net Drive Temperature- The highest temperature recorded from a 16-point sample of a drive's top plate after it has been under heavy load for 80 minutes. The figures provided are net temperatures representing the difference between the measured drive temperature and ambient temperature.

For more information, please click here.

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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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 40.4|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 41.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (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 (300 GB SATA) - 19.5|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 19.9|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 (200 GB SATA) - 20.0|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 20.1|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 22.3|
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Measuring in with a sound pressure of 40.4 db/A, the Barracuda 7200.8 continues the family's tradition of whisper-quiet operation. Subjectively speaking, idle spin noise remains virtually nonexistent and remains inaudible over all but the quietest of system fans. Seeks are as quiet as one would expect from a drive posting a 15 ms access time. While some readers have reported an intermittent chirping noise of sorts from the drive, our sample exhibits no other sounds.

Despite the Barracuda's recent return to three-platter construction (rather than the two-platter flagships delivered by the previous four generations), the 7200.8 weighs in at 20.1 degrees Celsius over ambient room temperature when subjected to heavy use. It should work well in any adequately-ventilated installation.





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 Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 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 Seagate Barracuda 7200.8, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 , 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

Seagate's Barracuda 7200.8 combines the latest in areal density with the standard SATA form-factor and interface. Unfortunately, while the capacity is there, the performance is not. The 7200.8 lags significantly behind the latest offerings from Maxtor and Hitachi in both single-user and multi-user instances.

Some may point out that the 7200.8 supports SATA NCQ and that the drive's performance is not fully realized without mating it to an appropriate controller. When paired with a Promise FastTrak TX4200, Seagate's latest indeed exhibits some improvement in multi-user scenarios. For non-server use, however, it's a wash. The curious may peek at the differences in the SR Performance Database. We'll explore the issue more thoroughly in our upcoming fourth-generation testbed.

To the 7200.8's credit, however, the drive maintains the line's reputation for silent operation. Further, it's hard to overlook the impressive numbers that the drive's predecessors have amassed in the SR Reliability Survey.

In the end, those seeking quiet operation combined with Seagate's unique five-year warranty may be well served by the Barracuda 7200.8. Those seeking a better balance when it comes to performance, however, should look elsewhere.

  Review Discussion