Desktop hard drives are pushed by two main factors, performance and capacity. End users want to cram as much data as possible onto a single drive, but also need data transfers and drive access to be lightning fast. This is a difficult dual-requirement for any hardware vendor, but when you add a low price into the equation, it gets that much tougher.
So far, Seagate has delivered with each new revision of its popular Barracuda hard drive line, and the 7200.11 represents the latest flagship design, with capacities up to a full terabyte. That's where we're heading today, for the top-of-the-line Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB, to see if it continues the Barracuda tradition into the eleventh generation.
The Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB hard drive offers all the standard features that hardware enthusiasts demand. These include a 7200-RPM spindle speed, an average latency of 4.16 ms, SATA 3.0 Gb/s support, a MTBF of 750,000 hours, and an SATA NCQ interface. The onboard cache has been upgraded from the 16MB of the top 7200.10 drives, to a full 32MB for the 500GB, 750GB and 1TB 7200.11 models, while the 320GB drive falls back to 16MB.
Data capacity is naturally a full 1TB, matching the top desktop hard drives on the market. To achieve this, the platter size of the Barracuda 7200.11 has increased to 250GB, up from the 188GB used in the 7200.10 series. Obviously, this equates into a 4-platter design, with a very easy transition to the 500GB and 750GB densities. Seagate lists the random read seek time at <8.5 msec and the random write seek time a bit higher at <9.5 msec, with the latter being a bit faster than the 7200.10 generation.
Power usage specifications are also good, with an 11.6W seek, 12.0W operating and 8.0W idle averages, all of which are improvements over the Barracuda 7200.10 generation. The maximum start current of 3.0 amps of the 7200.11 drives is slightly higher than the 2.8 amps of the previous generation. Surprisingly, the Barracuda 7200.11 1TB weighs only 677 grams, which is lighter than the 720 grams of the 7200.10 750GB drive.
The overall design of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB hard drive is standard, and virtually identical to the various Barracuda 7200.9 and 7200.10 models. The drive back plate includes Serial ATA power and data connectors, along with the jumper arrangement, and the top of the drive housing is silver with the Seagate model number and specifications.
The only issue we had is with Seagate's decision to set the jumpers to SATA 1.5 Gb/s mode by default. While backward compatibility is important, end users who do not notice the jumper setting will receive much lower burst mode performance on SATA 3.0 Gb/s platforms. Other drive manufacturers like Western Digital set the jumpers to SATA 3.0 Gb/s mode by default, and it's time that Seagate joins the crowd.
The drive also offers features such as Second-Generation Perpendicular Recording (increased areal density). Adaptive Fly Height (more consistent read/write performance, Clean Sweep (automatic drive calibration), and the Seagate SoftSonic motor (for ultra-quiet Operation), while meeting RoHS requirements.