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Samsung SpinPoint V20400
  June 5, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

Samsung SpinPoint V20400 Available Capacities *
Model Number
10.2 GB
20.4 GB
30.6 GB
40.8 GB
* The benchmark scores presented in this review represent expected performance across the entire line.
Estimated Flagship Price: $129 (40.8 GB)
Evaluation unit provided by Samsung of America.


Though it's a huge multi-billion dollar Korean conglomerate spanning many industries, Samsung has been a steady but quiet player in the hard disk arena. Thanks to Australian reseller Red Hill Technology, last August we were able to present our first review of a Samsung disk, a look at the SpinPoint V10200. Since then Samsung has released additional families of drives. Samsung has offered SR a look at the SpinPoint V20400, the successor to the V10200. Though a newer-generation model will soon eclipse it, a look at the V20400 should give us an idea of Samsung's performance relative to the competition.

Like most other current 5400 RPM disks, the V20400 packs 20.4 gigs per platter on up to two disks yielding a flagship capacity of about 41 GB. Samsung specifies seek time at 9 milliseconds. The drive comes equipped with 512 KB of buffer, relatively small in this age of 2 meg ATA caches.

Samsung targets this drive at entry-level OEM and upgrade markets. A three-year warranty backs the drive.

The V20400 ships exclusively with an ATA-100 interface. Remember, since ATA drives have yet to break sequential transfer rates greater than even 45 MB/sec that ATA-66 (and in many cases, even ATA-33) interfaces will run a drive with optimal performance. Our testbed remains equipped with a Promise Ultra66 controller.

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

The V20400 turns in a WinBench 99 access time of 14.4 milliseconds, a figure faster than all current-generation 5400 RPM hard drives. Subtracting 5.6 milliseconds to account for rotational latency yields a measured seek time of 8.8 milliseconds, allowing the Samsung to beat its specs. IBM's Deskstar 40GV, a peppy drive it its own right, scores 0.3 ms higher.

Sequential transfer rate scores, however, aren't quite as dominating. Samsung's score of 29 MB/sec in outer zones is decidedly average, trailing Western Digital's Caviar WD600AB by 5 MB/sec.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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Samsung's drive scores 4.8 MB/sec in the Business Disk WinMark 99. Trailing even the lowly Seagate U5, the V20400 lags Western Digital's Caviar WD600AB by a 35% margin. The gap in the High-End Disk WinMark is even worse... here the Samsung trails the WD by 42%.

Though many debate the WinBench 99 WinMarks' relevance, the V20400's poor showing is cause for concern. Let's examine how the drive performs under our IOMeter suites.

IOMeter Performance

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The SpinPoint's IOMeter workstation index (a normalized average of Light, Moderate, and Heavy loads) of 139.21 is one of the highest scores we've recorded for a 5400 RPM drive. Only Samsung's own V10200, the predecessor to the V20400, scores higher. 139.21 is enough to edge by the IBM Deskstar 40GV's index as well as that of Western Digital's Caviar WD600AB.


The V20400's quiet operation cannot be overemphasized. Even when running the seek-intensive IOMeter suite, Samsung's drive was inaudible over the testbed's PC Power & Cooling Silencer power supply when listening from a distance of just one meter. Low idle and seek noises make the V20400 the quietest drive that we've yet reviewed here at SR. As difficult as it seems, Samsung reduced noise levels down a notch below that emitted by its older drive as well as ultra-quiet units from Quantum and Fujitsu. The drive becomes just slightly warm to the touch even after extensive use in our smallish testbed case.

In conclusion, the Spinpoint V20400 delivers a mixed bag when it comes to performance. Though its low access time delivers admirable IOMeter scores, its WinBench 99 scores are decidedly below par. When it comes to quiet operation, however, the V20400 is second to none. This alone may be reason enough for many to consider it.

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