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Old September 3, 2008, 11:23 AM
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Default WD SE16 640GB vs. Seagate 7200.11 640GB -- A somewhat complete analysis.

Ahoy hoy. So, I've set out in search of an answer that has plagued the human race for a long, long time. By a long time, I mean a few months, and by plagued, I mean perked our interest.

In one corner, we have the reigning champ. Hailing from Lake Forest, California, United States, weighing in at, I dunno, half a pound? Western Digital SE16 640GB, also known as the WD Blue, with 16MB of cache fightin' power, spinning at a whopping 7200 RPM.

In this corner, the young up-and-comer, from the small town of Scotts Valley, California, United States. The virile, the smack-talkin', Seagate 7200.11 640GB. With its 32MB cache and 7200 RPM speed, it is the favorite to win this contest and take home the belt.


The System:
DFI LT X48-T2R
ICH9R southbridge, running in AHCI mode
Nothing else really matters...

7200.11 No AAM
SE16 Default AAM (128, slowest)


The Results
I was not able to change my AAM settings, as I did not want burn the feature tool, mount an IDE DVD drive, reboot and change my settings from AHCI, use the feature tool to change AAM, then boot back into Windows for further testing. It didn't matter though, as you will see from the results:


Everest Disk Benchmark




Shockingly, the SE16 destroys the 7200.11 at buffered reads. Guess the size of the cache is not all that matters

The older 3-platter 7200.11 750GB model has the best access times, so there seems to be a hardware or firmware issue with the 2-platter 640GB model from Seagate. Of the two 640 drives, the 7200.11 leads with access times, but that was to be expected. Turning off automatic acoustic management (AAM) on the SE16 will drop its access dramatically, to approximately 12-13ms, enough to take the lead over the 750GB drive.

While CPU usage is marginal across the board, the SE16 does indeed consume a little more than expected. This may, however, be partially caused by AAM.


HD Tach 3.0.4.0





What we're seeing here is probably a little more accurate. The burst speed advantage of the 7200.11 might be because of AAM on the SE16, or simply because of its 32MB cache. Can't say, but regardless, burst speed is fairly unimportant with such a small margin of difference, particularly because of the repeatedly-mentioned AAM stuff.

Read speeds seem to be roughly even across both drives at first, but as we start getting further into the test the SE16 starts to take the lead. As you can see from the final test results:
SE16 Min. Speed: ~40MB/s (dipped 3x)
7200.11 Min. Speed: ~30MB/s (dipped 5.5x)
SE16 Avg. Speed: 99.1MB/s
7200.11 Avg. Speed: 96.8MB/s
SE16 Access Time: 16.6ms (with AAM)
7200.11 Access Time: 15.3ms
SE16 Burst: 237.4MB/s
7200.11 Burst: 250.1MB/s

Write Speeds


Okay, there is definitely some weirdness going on here. Purple represents the 7200.11, grey (the very stable line at the bottom) is the SE16. When it comes to writing, there is something REALLY wrong with the 7200.11. It averages with ~35ms write access time, approximately three times slower than the SE16!

Linear writes show the 7200.11 being faster overall, quite a bit faster when it comes to the minimum write speed it attained. This should be because of the additional 16MB cache it has.


Acoustics / Temperature

I do not have anything to with which I can definitively test acoustics here, but I do have my ears. My system fans drown out both hard drives. Putting my ears to each drive at idle and under load, the SE16 is clearly quieter (yeah, I know, what a shocker). It sounds like a whisper, just air flowing through the drive, whereas the 7200.11 sounds more "powered", if you will. Seek sounds were fairly quiet on the 7200.11, but I wonder what the SE16's seeks would be like once I turn it off.

Unfortunately, I can't test with AAM off (explained above), so this may be slightly skewed. I can't say whether or not the SE16 will be quieter or louder than the 7200.11 with AAM off.

In regards to temperatures, the 7200.11 is considerably cooler. Running them outside of my case, the 7200.11 ran a full 2-3 degrees cooler than the SE16 (39-42 vs. 41-43; ambient is approx. 30 degrees).


Conclusion

I'll keep this brief. The 7200.11 writes faster than the SE16, this should be due to its additional cache. However, there was that odd write access time test, not sure why it was so weird. Didn't seem to have an effect on the write speed itself, so I wonder if it was just a fluke.

The SE16 reads faster than the 7200.11 if you turn off AAM (or even reduce it). Access times are pretty abysmal on both sides, but at least the SE16 can be improved with just AAM settings.

It's pretty obvious that the drive to get is the SE16. Compared to the 7200.11, it has AAM (so, inherently it is quieter), vastly superior access times with AAM off, read times are just as good if not better, and write speeds are only marginally slower.

I wish I had gotten two of each of these drives for RAID testing. Sorry, fellas.

Last edited by S_G; September 11, 2008 at 08:01 AM.
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:32 AM
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Nice work S_G. Thanks!
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:39 AM
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Thanks S_G. Guess WD pulled on this one, seagate usually makes solid drives, I wonder what happened.

No RAID, no worries S_G, at least in individual drives the WD is faster, makes sense why WD would also be faster in RAID, if not better at least just a tad bit slower, and truly except for benchmarks those little bit faster drives aren't really noticed regularly!!.
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S_G View Post
Ahoy hoy. So, I've set out in search of an answer that has plagued the human race for a long, long time. By a long time, I mean a few months, and by plagued, I mean perked our interest.

In one corner, we have the reigning champ. Hailing from Lake Forest, California, United States, weighing in at, I dunno, half a pound? Western Digital SE16 640GB, also known as the WD Blue, with 16MB of cache fightin' power, spinning at a whopping 7200 RPM.

In this corner, the young up-and-comer, from the small town of Scotts Valley, California, United States. The virile, the smack-talkin', Seagate 7200.11 640GB. With its 32MB cache and 7200 RPM speed, it is the favorite to win this contest and take home the belt.


The System:
DFI LT X48-T2R
ICH9R southbridge, running in AHCI mode
Nothing else really matters...

7200.11 No AAM
SE16 Default AAM (128, slowest)


The Results
I was not able to change my AAM settings, as I did not want burn the feature tool, mount an IDE DVD drive, reboot and change my settings from AHCI, use the feature tool to change AAM, then boot back into Windows for further testing. It didn't matter though, as you will see from the results:


Everest Disk Benchmark




Shockingly, the SE16 destroys the 7200.11 at buffered reads. Guess the size of the cache is not all that matters

The older 3-platter 7200.11 750GB model has the best access times, so there seems to be a hardware or firmware issue with the 2-platter 640GB model from Seagate. Of the two 640 drives, the 7200.11 leads with access times, but that was to be expected. Turning off automatic acoustic management (AAM) on the SE16 will drop its access dramatically, to approximately 12-13ms, enough to take the lead over the 750GB drive.

While CPU usage is marginal across the board, the SE16 does indeed consume a little more than expected. This may, however, be partially caused by AAM.


HD Tach 3.0.4.0





What we're seeing here is probably a little more accurate. The burst speed advantage of the 7200.11 might be because of AAM on the SE16, or simply because of its 32MB cache. Can't say, but regardless, burst speed is fairly unimportant with such a small margin of difference, particularly because of the repeatedly-mentioned AAM stuff.

Read speeds seem to be roughly even across both drives at first, but as we start getting further into the test the SE16 starts to take the lead. As you can see from the final test results:
SE16 Min. Speed: ~40MB/s (dipped 3x)
7200.11 Min. Speed: ~30MB/s (dipped 5.5x)
SE16 Avg. Speed: 99.1MB/s
7200.11 Avg. Speed: 96.8MB/s
SE16 Access Time: 16.6ms (with AAM)
7200.11 Access Time: 15.3ms
SE16 Burst: 237.4MB/s
7200.11 Burst: 250.1MB/s


Write Speeds


Okay, there is definitely some weirdness going on here. Purple represents the 7200.11, grey (the very stable line at the bottom) is the SE16. When it comes to writing, there is something REALLY wrong with the 7200.11. It averages with ~35ms write access time, approximately three times slower than the SE16!

Linear writes show the 7200.11 being faster overall, quite a bit faster when it comes to the minimum write speed it attained. This should be because of the additional 16MB cache it has.


Acoustics / Temperature

I do not have anything to with which I can definitively test acoustics here, but I do have my ears. My system fans drown out both hard drives. Putting my ears to each drive at idle and under load, the SE16 is clearly quieter (yeah, I know, what a shocker). It sounds like a whisper, just air flowing through the drive, whereas the 7200.11 sounds more "powered", if you will. Seek sounds were fairly quiet on the 7200.11, but I wonder what the SE16's seeks would be like once I turn it off.

Unfortunately, I can't test with AAM off (explained above), so this may be slightly skewed. I can't say whether or not the SE16 will be quieter or louder than the 7200.11 with AAM off.

In regards to temperatures, the 7200.11 is considerably cooler. Running them outside of my case, the 7200.11 ran a full 2-3 degrees cooler than the SE16 (39-42 vs. 41-43; ambient is approx. 30 degrees).


Conclusion

I'll keep this brief. The 7200.11 writes faster than the SE16, this should be due to its additional cache. However, there was that odd write access time test, not sure why it was so weird. Didn't seem to have an effect on the write speed itself, so I wonder if it was just a fluke.

The SE16 reads faster than the 7200.11 if you turn off AAM (or even reduce it). Access times are pretty abysmal on both sides, but at least the SE16 can be improved with just AAM settings.

It's pretty obvious that the drive to get is the SE16. Compared to the 7200.11, it has AAM (so, inherently it is quieter), vastly superior access times with AAM off, read times are just as good if not better, and write speeds are only marginally slower.

I wish I had gotten two of each of these drives for RAID testing. Sorry, fellas.
Nice review. I know my WD640 is a rocket, and came with AAM disabled(i'm assuming ) due to the 12.0-12.3ms RAT's.
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:44 AM
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The one thing that turns me off of the SE16 is the AAM but from your tests it seems to cause next to no performance loss.
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:45 AM
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good review but like some things.. only seagate goes into my machine.
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Old September 3, 2008, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enaberif View Post
good review but like some things.. only seagate goes into my machine.
At least you're up front about your biases.
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Old September 3, 2008, 12:26 PM
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But I'm also looking to Seagate myself.. 2 of them.
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Old September 3, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Good work and nice comparison S_G. Very informative. Price will probably be my only real determining factor though, if I need another drive in the future. Thanks.

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Old September 3, 2008, 02:45 PM
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Just out of curiousity how are we supposed to disable AAM on the SE16?

I have one and HD Tune says it's on but I can't change it

Also S_G great review!
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