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Written by Olin Coles   
Monday, 15 April 2013
Table of Contents: Page Index
4TB Seagate Desktop HDD ST4000DM000
Drive Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
Desktop Storage Final Thoughts
Seagate Desktop HDD Conclusion

Drive Testing Methodology

Comparing a Solid State Disk to a standard Hard Disk Drives is always relative; even when you're comparing the fastest rotational spindle speeds. One is going to be much faster in response time (SSD's), while the other is usually going to have higher throughput bandwidth (HDD's). Additionally, there are certain factors which can affect the results of a test which we do our best to avoid.

There are various methods of overcoming the 2.2 TB storage barrier, however this article focuses on Microsoft Windows installations. Any hard drive initialized with a MBR (master boot record) will not see more than 2.19 TB. However, if initialized using a GPD (GUID Partition Table), which is available in Windows 7, it will see more than 2.2 TB.

Solid State Drives have traveled a long winding course to finally get where they are today. Up to this point in technology, there have been several key differences separating Solid State Drives from magnetic rotational Hard Disk Drives. While the DRAM-based buffer size on desktop HDD's has now reached 64 MB and is ever-increasing, there is still a hefty delay in the initial response time. This is one key area in which flash-based Solid State Drives continually dominates because they lack moving parts to "get up to speed".

However the benefits inherent to SSD's have traditionally fallen off once the throughput begins, even though data reads or writes are executed at a high constant rate whereas the HDD tapers off in performance. This makes the average transaction speed of a SSD comparable to the data burst rate mentioned in HDD tests, albeit usually lower than the HDD's speed.

SSD Testing Disclaimer

Early on in our SSD coverage, Benchmark Reviews published an article which detailed Solid State Drive Benchmark Performance Testing. The research and discussion that went into producing that article changed the way we now test SSD products. Our previous perceptions of this technology were lost on one particular difference: the wear leveling algorithm that makes data a moving target. Without conclusive linear bandwidth testing or some other method of total-capacity testing, our previous performance results were rough estimates at best.

Our test results were obtained after each SSD had been prepared using DISKPART or Sanitary Erase tools. As a word of caution, applications such as these offer immediate but temporary restoration of original 'pristine' performance levels. In our tests, we discovered that the maximum performance results (charted) would decay as subsequent tests were performed. SSDs attached to TRIM enabled Operating Systems will benefit from continuously refreshed performance, whereas older O/S's will require a garbage collection (GC) tool to avoid 'dirty NAND' performance degradation.

It's critically important to understand that no software for the Microsoft Windows platform can accurately measure SSD performance in a comparable fashion. Synthetic benchmark tools such as ATTO Disk Benchmark and Iometer are helpful indicators, but should not be considered the ultimate determining factor. That factor should be measured in actual user experience of real-world applications. Benchmark Reviews includes both bandwidth benchmarks and application speed tests to present a conclusive measurement of product performance.

Test System

  • Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 EVO (Intel P67 Sandy Bridge Platform, B3 Stepping)
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K 3.4 GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • System Memory: 4GB Dual-Channel DDR3 1600MHz CL6-6-6-18
  • SATA 6Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 11.7.0.1013
  • SATA 3Gb/s Storage HBA: Integrated Intel P67 Controller
    • AHCI mode - Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver 11.7.0.1013
  • Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate Edition 64-Bit with Service Pack 1

Storage Hardware Tested

The following storage hardware has been used in our benchmark performance testing, and may be included in portions of this article:

Test Tools

  • AS SSD Benchmark 1.6.4067.34354: Multi-purpose speed and operational performance test
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46: Spot-tests static file size chunks for basic I/O bandwidth
  • CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1a by Crystal Dew World: Sequential speed benchmark spot-tests various file size chunks
  • Iometer 1.1.0 (built 08-Nov-2010) by Intel Corporation: Tests IOPS performance and I/O response time
  • Futuremark PCMark Vantage: HDD Benchmark Suite tests real-world drive performance

Test Results Disclaimer

This article utilizes benchmark software tools to produce operational IOPS performance and bandwidth speed results. Each test was conducted in a specific fashion, and repeated for all products. These test results are not comparable to any other benchmark application, neither on this website or another, regardless of similar IOPS or MB/s terminology in the scores. The test results in this project are only intended to be compared to the other test results conducted in identical fashion for this article.



 

Comments 

 
# To update or not?HTWingNut 2013-05-22 15:51
I have a WHS 2011 with three 3TB Seagate Barracuda drives and two 2TB drives. I'm tempted to go with four 4TB drives, but that hit in performance is troubling. Although in reality I don't think I'll notice. Just wish it were 7200RPM and I wouldn't think twice. Can't believe there's no more comments, but thanks for the thorough review and comparison with 3TB drives!
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# RE: To update or not?Athlonite 2013-05-24 19:24
Honestly there is no real difference between this HDD and the 7200rpm WD 4TB HDD there's maybe 1~3% and it was a toss up between the two for most tests
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# Is 5900 RPM a show stopper?David Lean 2013-05-24 02:32
"Does it bother you that the 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD is a 5900 RPM hard drive?"
For what I want Yes, I'd have preferred 7,200. So am likely to look at other drives.

However if I was building an Online backup or Media store, then this drives might even be preferable. But 5,900 RPM typically means less heat & less power. The Perf drop is not that much, ~10%. So these would be fine as a target for backups or media (movies & music).
OR
they could also be balanced by SSD Drives. So you'd put your IO Intensive apps on the SSD & have them write their log files, diagnostic & audit output to these 4TB drives.
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# clickalfie 2013-05-24 05:49
"power saving rotational shut-down"

I hope this and the low spindle speed solves the problem with seagate drives clicking due to APM.

nice article as ever Olin Coles.
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# You Have No Idea How High-end This HDD Is!Luay 2013-05-27 00:14
If you don't have or plan on having a 256++GB SSD, go get your performance oriented, loud and power-consuming HDD! And upload your Windows XP and "Ace Of Base" albums while you're at it!

This HDD caters to the modern user. 4x 1TB platters seals the deal even more. Pair this with a 960GB Crucial M5 if you can and sleep on it.

2 year warranty is also a logical and acceptable compromise, as long as you are using this HDD for what it is supposed to be used for, non-intensive, non-exe files. The stress and speed of executing files, writing, reading becomes irrelevant.

If I have to find a negative, it would be when I install this HDD and shift my file library to it. That's probably going to take a longer time but it's a one-time thing.
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# What?David Lean 2013-05-27 01:50
@Luay
Not sure where your head is at &/or who you are trying to abuse.
But I expect many are professional IT folks who read these reviews. They want more than a 2 disk home gaming system.
eg: Developers running very large virtual machines, perhaps with huge databases. Maybe emulating a an entire datacentre on a single dev workstation. Perhaps Graphic Designers who work on big animations. They use an entire SSD just to cache their active project.
These sorts of folks often have 4-8 disks in their "Home Server / Dev workstation." And rarely do they want to afford the cost of 10TB's of SSD's. Hence the need to balance &/or run NAS storage.
For them moving TB's of files is not a "one time thing"
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# RE: What?Luay 2013-05-27 15:01
These professionals would know that there is an enterprise model offered by every single HDD manufacturer. Seagate Constellation and WD Enterprise come to mind.

These folks won't bother reading this review. That means I'm probably abusing you.
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# RE: RE: What?David Lean 2013-05-28 04:58
Thanks for the clarification (& the abuse).
Over the years I've recommended the purchase of many 100's of enterprise class drives. Typically we only put them in servers. They cost more, if they aren't kept cool in an air-conditioned room can have a similar failure rate to the cheaper drives. So for developer workstations & technical home / demo systems, they get these style consumer drives.
Actually, These data centre folks, read all reviews.
Thanks for your thoughts.
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# RE: 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD ST4000DM000Ed 2013-05-27 02:15
> Does it bother you that the 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD is a 5900 RPM hard drive?

Quite the opposite - it's a selling point. I have two Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 4TB and I am disappointed with how hot and noisy they run. The lower RPM Seagate looks perfect.

Speed is a non-issue when we're talking about HDD's - they are all slow, and it is a moot point whether one is "less slow" than the other. The price of 4TB is such that your typical buyers will be higher end, non-budget, users who can afford SSD's. I will not compromise by using HDD's - you get the right tools for your requirements, and for speed, one goes with SSD.

What I need in my HDD's is quiet, low power "large capacity" active storage, in a relatively compact package, to accompay my fast SSD's.
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# RE: 4TB Seagate Desktop HDD ST4000DM000Jeff 2013-05-28 06:55
I am someone who bought a box of these drives and then returned them once I tested a couple of them - due mostly to slow access times and low throughput, also I felt like it had been implied that they were 7,200 rpm drives like the ST3000DM000. I can't put drives in my customers machines that are slower than the drives they already have. Most of my people are working with large volumes of small files - lots of almost random I/O. If they had been marketed as 5,900 rpm drives I would not have bought them in the first place.

I am now putting Hitachi 7k4000's in most of my customer machines, with Constellation ES.3 or WD RE 4tb drives as an upgrade - these are for desktop machines with 4+ rotating drives and typically a 256gb SSD - which seems like a waste of money, but it appears to be the only way to get high capacity combined with reasonable access time.

Maybe the new WD SE series will be the way to go.

I am really disappointed that the 4TB Barracuda XT never seemed to appear other than in external drives destined for failure (with the access times crippled and no ventilation).
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