We like our 1TB hard disks here at bit-tech, and when we say that, we mean we really like them – between us we now own close to a dozen of the Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB drives. Call us easily impressed but there’s just something amazing about being able to cram such an enormous amount of data into a shiny 3.5” wide casing; perhaps it’s just because we remember when a 6GB was massive?
While we love the Samsung Spinpoint F1 line of drives, which has long been our hard disks of preference, we’ve always been happy to welcome competition from the other drive manufacturers, but while capacities have gone up with the subsequent release of first Seagate’s 1.5TB and then Western Digital’s 2TB Caviar Green, performance hasn’t really gone up along with the increased capacities and platter densities.
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This looks set to change though with the release of Seagate’s new line of 7200.12 hard disk drives, which combine a high speed 7200rpm spindle with much improved platter densities. Platter density is one of the key factors in hard disk speed as by squeezing more data onto the same surface area and using appropriately improved read/write heads the distance between data is lessened, reducing the already minute amount of movement required by the read /write heads and thus improving overall drive performance.
Seagate’s new line of 7200.12 drives is spearheaded by the 1TB drive we’re looking at today, which benefits from the use of just two huge 500GB platters. In comparison, the Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB runs three 334GB platters and Seagate’s heavyweight 1.5TB 7200.11 drives use four 375GB platters, so make no mistake this is a big step up in areal platter density and has the possibility to greatly improve mechanical drive speed. Seagate also offers the 7200.12 line of drives in 750GB, 500GB, 320GB, 250GB and 160GB flavours, with drives of 500GB and below using just a single platter.
The lower amount of platters in comparison to the previous generation of high capacity disks means that, as well the prospect of improved performance from greater areal density, heat and noise levels produced by the drive have also been reduced – it’s a win/win situation. The reduction in materials should also mean that these drives are eventually available at a lower cost; after all, there are half as many platters and read/write heads as there were in the Seagate 1TB 7200.11 drive, which used four 250GB platters.
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However, the new 500GB platters come at a premium (at least for now), which means the Seagate 7200.12 1TB drive currently sells for £84, which is fairly pricey as far as 1TB hard drives come. In comparison the tried and tested Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB can be had for £72, over £10 less
Seagate has also combined the twin platter 7200RPM 1TB and 750GB models with a healthy 32MB of onboard cache, with the cache sizes dropping through the 7200.12 range as drive capacity decreases. In the past we’ve been impressed with Seagate’s cache speeds, and 32MB of cache should only add to the drive’s improved performance.