Seagate Barracuda 3 TB Hard Drive Review
By Henry Butt on February 2, 2012
Most enthusiasts will favor SSDs for their main boot drive rather than a mechanical hard drive thanks to the vast performance benefits available. However, there is still a large market for high performance mechanical drives which offer a much larger capacity for storage of large files. Today we are going to look at the latest Barracuda hard drive from Seagate, which offers no less than 3 TB of storage space.
It uses the same Advanced Format technology as the Seagate Barracuda Green 2 TB hard drive that we reviewed in detail here. This technology enables the manufacturer to cram more sectors onto each drive platter, thereby increasing the capacity of each platter. This, in turn, allows them to make higher capacity drives.
The Seagate Barracuda 3 TB uses a SATA-600 interface so the performance of the hard drive won’t be limited providing you connect it to the SATA-600 port on your motherboard. The drive has a real capacity of 2,794 GB (read our “Hard Disk Drive Capacity Limits” tutorial to understand why), which should provide more than enough space for all your files. The large capacity of this drive makes it perfect for those with a big media library or those looking to build a home server.
Despite the high capacity, the Barracuda 3 TB looks identical aesthetically to any other hard drive occupying a 3.5” form factor. In fact, the Advanced Format technology means that there are fewer platters employed within the hard drive than a lot of lower capacity drives.
In our tests, we will be comparing the Seagate Barracuda 3 TB to some alternative drives to give us an idea of how the performance compares. We will be using the Seagate Barracuda LP Green 2 TB and Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB for comparison. In the table below, we will compare the basic specifications of these products.
* All prices were researched at Newegg.com on the day we published this review.
During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the hard disk drive being tested.
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can’t be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
We used CrystalDiskMark’s default configuration for our tests, which benchmarked each hard drive using a file size of 1,000 MB with five test runs. Please continue reading to see the results.
In the sequential read test, the Barracuda 3 TB drive exhibited the best performance, beating the Barracuda XT 2 TB by 19% and the Barracuda Green 2 TB by 26 percent. These results were also reflected in the sequential write test where the Barracuda 3 TB also came out on top, outperforming the Barracuda XT 2 TB by 21% and the Barracuda Green 2 TB by 24 percent.
Moving on to the random read test using 512 KB blocks, the Barracuda 3 TB and Barracuda XT 2 TB exhibited a similar level of performance, which was 18% better than the Barracuda Green 2 TB. However, in the random write test using 512 KB blocks, the Barracuda 3 TB came out on top, beating the Barracuda XT 2 TB by 18% and the Barracuda Green 2 TB by 26 percent.
In the random read test using 4 KB blocks, the Barracuda XT 2 TB exhibited the best level of performance, which was 9% better than the Barracuda 3 TB and 28% better than the Barracuda Green 2 TB. However, in the random write test using 4 KB blocks, the Barracuda XT 2 TB and Barracuda Green 2 TB drives achieved a similar level of performance, which was 6% better than the Barracuda 3 TB.
Now we will look at the results recorded using HD Tune.
In the burst transfer rate test, the Barracuda 3 TB and Barracuda Green 2 TB exhibited a similar level of performance, which was 57% better than the Barracuda XT 2 TB.
Moving on to the average transfer rate test, the Barracuda 3 TB performed best, beating the Barracuda XT by 52% and the Barracuda Green 2 TB by 59 percent. In fact, the minimum transfer rate recorded by the Barracuda 3 TB was higher than the average transfer rates of both the comparison drives, showing the vast performance difference in this test.
Access time is another important measurement. It measures the time the storage device delays to start delivering data after the computer has asked for given data. It is measured in the order of milliseconds (ms, which are equal to 0.001 s); the lower this value, the better.
In this test, the Barracuda 3 TB recorded the shortest access time, which was 20% quicker than the Barracuda XT 2 TB and 31% quicker than the Barracuda Green 2 TB.
Throughout our tests, the Seagate Barracuda 3 TB exhibited a very good level of performance, beating both the comparison drives in almost all of the tests.
In CrystalDiskMark, the Barracuda 3 TB showed the best level of performance in the Sequential test and Random test using 512 KB blocks, although it was beaten by both drives in the random read and write tests using 4 KB blocks.
Regarding HD Tune, the Barracuda 3 TB beat the other drives in every test by a significant margin, except the burst transfer rate where it achieved the same result as the Barracuda Green 2 TB. These results were also reflected in the access time test, where the Barracuda 3 TB achieved the best level of performance.
For many consumers, the cost of a hard drive is even more significant than the performance. When we consider the relative cost and performance of the Seagate Barracuda XT 2 TB, we can’t see why anyone would even consider purchasing it. Despite costing more than the Barracuda 3 TB, it offers a smaller capacity and an inferior level of performance.
As 3 TB hard drives are relatively new to the market, it’s not surprising that the Barracuda 3 TB costs slightly more per gigabyte than the smaller Barracuda Green 2 TB. More advanced users may consider purchasing two of the Barracuda Green 2 TB drives and setting them up in a RAID0 array, as this would create a 4 TB virtual drive with greater performance than the individual drives.
However, for less advanced users, the Barracuda 3 TB still offers reasonably good value for the money and is perfect for those building a home server or multimedia PC.