Seagate 7200.9 160 Gb Hard Drive Review

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Product Review – Kyle Lunau

As some of you may have read from my ULTRA STACKER review, this is the drive that ULTRA sent me to replace my cooked Western Digital Caviar RAID Edition 160 Gb drive. Having half the cache of the Western Digital (16 MB vs. 8 MB) and being a desktop drive and not an enterprise drive, I figured it was worth a review and performance comparison. So let’s get right into it!

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The drive came in full retail packaging, meaning that it includes cables, screws, instructions, etc, and it actually comes in a box. On the front we have a few bits of basic information.

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Inside the box there is a resealable bag with instructions, software, screws and cables.

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So with the drive’s retail package (and probably every other retail drive package for that matter), you get the drive itself plus a manual, software, warranty information, screws, a SATA cable and a molex to SATA power adapter (which you will need as this drive has no molex jack).

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The manual is easy to understand and is worded in plain English for those of you who haven’t installed a hard drive before (anyone?).

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On the drive itself we have the information label. At the bottom we have info about tech support, installation, and the drive’s one and only documented jumper setting. That’s what I love about Seagate drives – simplicity. One jumper option, no molex connector, and a really thin profile – but I’ll get to profile later.

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Located at the top of the drive label we get information such as product number, operating conditions and the name and model of the drive.

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Here you can see the thin profile I mentioned earlier – the drive on the right is the cooked Western Digital.

PERFORMANCE

This is what it all comes down to. Who cares if it looks cool or comes with a bunch of extras if it’s fast enough to light the floor on fire? While a 7200 rpm drive won’t light the floor on fire (that territory is reserved for 10k/15k drives and, from what I hear, the 7200.11 series), it should attain some good speeds with SATA II and NCQ. For testing I ran an HDtach 8 MB test on both drives

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First up one of my remaining Western Digitals.

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And then the new Seagate.

ANALYSIS

So the Seagate had a higher burst speed (by almost 20 mb/s) plus a higher and more consistent average read (4.5mb/s faster). But the WD slaughtered it on response time with 12.8 ms compared to the Seagate’s 17.1 ms. The improved response time is probably due to it being designed for RAID and may also be attributed to the increased cache memory.

OVERALL

The Seagate 7200.9 160 Gb drive is a great piece of gear. It’s pretty fast, simply designed, and works well with Nforce motherboards (which my Western Digitals did not). For first timers, a retail packaged hard drive is great – it builds the skills and confidence you need to install OEM hard drives in the future. I’ll sum everything up with some Pros and Cons.

Pros

  • Fast
  • Simply designed
  • Low profile for improved airflow and cooling
  • Cheap (or they might be if I could find them for sale anywhere!)
  • SATA II and NCQ capable
  • Works perfectly in RAID on Nforce motherboards
  • 5 year warranty!
  • Package includes great instructions and all hardware needed for installation

Cons

  • Out of date as the 7200.10 series is out now and the 7200.11 series wil be out soon
  • More expensive than buying OEM

Conclusion

If your local computer store is clearing these drives out they are worth a look, otherwise go with the 7200.10 series which is slimmer, faster, and includes perpendicular recording technology. Seagate for the win!

Kyle Lunau

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