Samsung SP2504C 250 GB SATA-300 Hard Disk Drive Review
By Gabriel Torres on March 30, 2006


Introduction

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Samsung SP2504C is a 250 GB hard disk drive using the new SATA-300 interface, which allows a maximum theoretical transfer rate of 300 MB/s. Its main specs also include an 8 MB buffer, 7,200 rpm rotation speed and support to NCQ (Native Command Queuing). In this review we checked the performance of Samsung SP2504C installed on a motherboard using a regular SATA-150 port and also on a motherboard using the new SATA-300 port.

This very same hard disk drive is also available with a 200 GB capacity, being called SP2004C. Both belong to SpinPoint P120 series from Samsung.

Samsung SP2504C
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Figure 1: Samsung SP2504C, 250 GB, SATA-300, 7,200 rpm and 8 MB buffer.

Samsung SP2504C
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Figure 2: The other side of Samsung SP2504C.

As you can see in Figure 2, it requires a SATA power connector.

Samsung SP2504C is based on the Marvell 88i6525 controller (also called SOC, System On a Chip). This chip is not only one of the smallest Serial ATA HDD controllers available on the market, but also is natively SATA-300, supporting NCQ.

Its 8 MB buffer is made by Samsung K4S641632H-UC60 SDRAM memory chip (it holds 64 Mbits, which equals to 8 MB).

As motor driver Samsung SP2504C uses HA13645 chip from Hitachi.

Samsung SP2504C
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Figure 3: Controller chip (Marvell 88i6525) and buffer chip (Samsung K4S641632H-UC60).

The real capacity of this hard disk drive is of 232.88 GB, since all manufacturers assume that 1 GB is 1 billion bytes, while 1 GB is in fact 1,073,741,824 bytes (2^30).

This hard disk drive also has a SATA-150/SATA-300 jumper, which should be installed in case you find some incompatibility between your SATA-150 motherboard and your hard disk drive. We installed this hard disk drive on a SATA-150 motherboard and we found no compatibility problems at all and we hadnít to install this jumper.

Main Specs

* Researched on Pricewatch.com on the day we published this review.

How We Tested

On our benchmarking we used two different configurations. The first one we used (labeled set 1 below) was the same used to collect performance data from other hard disk drives we tested. Since we didnít have the hard disk drives we reviewed in the past with us anymore, we had to keep this configuration for comparing the results obtained by the hard disk drive being reviewed with the ones obtained by other models, even though the motherboard used had SATA-150 ports. We decide to install the reviewed hard disk drive on a SATA-300 motherboard, and we did so, using the configuration listed as ďset 2Ē. Because of these two configurations we could also see if there was any noticeable performance loss by installing a SATA-300 hard disk drive on a SATA-150 port.

Hardware Configuration (set 1)

Software Configuration (set 1)

Hardware Configuration (set 2)

Software Configuration (set 2)

Benchmarking software used

We adopted a 3% error margin. So, performance differences below 3% cannot be considered meaningful. In other words, products where the performance difference is below 3% must be considered as having similar performance.

Our Tests

The software we use for measuring hard disk drive performance, DiskSpeed32, performs really long tests, since it reads all sectors on the hard disk measuring the achieved transfer rate and plotting a graph.

Normally the hard disk transfer rate varies according to the part of the disk that is being read. The disk transfer rate is higher at the disk's edge, lowering as it approaches its center. This occurs because of the zone bit recording (ZBR): in longer tracks (the ones away from the disk center) there are more sectors and more data is read at each disk spin. Because of that, the software used shows three results: maximum transfer rate (obtained on the first disk cylinders, i.e., on the tracks located near the disk edge), minimum transfer rate (obtained on the last disk cylinders, i.e., on the most inner tracks), and average transfer rate, which is the result that we are usually interested in knowing.

Because of this effect we can also explain the need of hard disk defragging and why professional disk defrag utilities such as Norton Speed Disk allow you to move the operating system files to the beginning of the hard disk. As we explained, data stored on the beginning of the disk are read at a higher transfer rate than data stored in other sectors.

Since this software performs sequential read tests, we werenít able to test the NCQ (Native Command Queuing) capability of Samsung SP2504C hard drive, since this feature only improves random accesses.

On the graph below you see our benchmarking results (in KB/s) and our analysis. The numbers (1) and (2) represent the hardware configuration we used, as disclaimed in the previous page.

Samsung SP2504C

The performance of Samsung SP2504C is the fastest hard drive we tested to date. Comparing the results obtained when it was installed on the same motherboard as the other drives, it achieved a maximum performance 27.90% greater than Western Digital WD2500 250 GB, which is a SATA-150 hard drive but with only 2 MB cache, and 75.67% greater than Maxtor DiamondMax 16 250 GB, which is a ATA-133 hard drive but rotating at 5,400 rpm and with 2 MB buffer.

As for its average transfer rate, it was 22.06% faster than Western Digital WD2500 250 GB and 75.89% faster than Maxtor DiamondMax 16 250 GB.

When we installed Samsung SP2504C on a SATA-300 motherboard, its maximum and average performances remained the same, however its minimum performance increased 82.77%, which is really amazing.

You should always keep in mind that the maximum theoretical transfer rate of the interface used to connect the hard disk drive to the PC isnít the maximum transfer rate the hard disk drive will achieve. In our tests Samsung SP2504C achieved a maximum transfer rate around 70 MB/s even though its interface can transfer up to 300 MB/s.

Conclusions

This new hard disk drive from Samsung achieved an outstanding performance on our tests. It is a very good hard disk drive for those looking for a 250 GB hard drive using the new SATA-300 interface. In our tests it worked just fine on a SATA-150 motherboard, meaning that you can buy it even if your motherboard doesnít support the new SATA-300 standard.

When installed on a SATA-300 motherboard its minimum transfer rate increased over 80%, even though its maximum and average transfer rates remained the same whether the motherboard was a SATA-150 or a SATA-300 one.

It costs a little bit more than SATA-150 250 GB hard drives from other manufacturers, so it is up to you paying a little bit more to have a high performance hard drive. If you can afford it, it is a great buy.

Originally at http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Samsung-SP2504C-250-GB-SATA-300-Hard-Disk-Drive-Review/307


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