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Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive

Hitachi’s Deskstar 5K3000 series employs a 5940 RPM motor to give it a speed boost over 5400 RPM “green” models. If it can keep noise and power consumption at a reasonable level, it could be the green drive we’ve all been waiting for.

Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive

August 22, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 HDS5C3020ALA632
2TB 3.5" HDD
Sample Supplier
Street Price
US$75

Since their inception, "green" hard drives have been maligned for reduced performance due to their low rotational speeds. While obviously not as fast as standard 7200 RPM models, lowering the spindle speed was/is the most effective way to cut cost, power consumption, and noise. The loss in performance is simply a necessary evil, without which we would not be able to affordably store the high definition video, lossless audio, and other abundant digital luxuries. Balancing the aforementioned qualities with speed is the difficult part.

We’ve reviewed Western Digital, Samsung, and Seagate candidates, and now it is Hitachi’s turn to show us what a low power, low noise, hard drive should be. The Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 series comes in three sizes, 1.5TB, 2TB, and 3TB, each with a 512 byte sector size (not Advanced Format so there no XP compatibility issues), 32MB of cache, and "CoolSpin" technology, which is their code for a lower than 7200 RPM rotational speed. The spindle speed is not specified on Hitachi’s website, but it is listed as an odd 5940 RPM in the support documents. Labeling a drive as anything less than 7200 RPM continues to carry a stigma. The 5K3000 2TB is a three-platter drive like most of the current competition.


The Deskstar 5K3000 2TB.


The underside.

The drive itself is unremarkable in appearance. It’s difficult to differentiate the 5K3000 from previous Hitachi drives without the affixed label. As usual, the underside casing is minimal with less structural support for the area around the motor than Samsung and Western Digital models. Our sample weighed 630 grams, the same as the Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB which is also a three-platter model with a similar spindle speed of 5900 RPM.


Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000: Specifications
(from product
overview
)
Model(s)HDS5C3030ALA630
HDS5C3020ALA632
HDS5C3015ALA632
Capacity (GB)3TB/2TB/1.5TB
Sector size (variable, Bytes/sector)512
Performance
Data buffer (MB)32
Rotational SpeedCoolSpin
Media transfer rate (Mbits/sec, max)1366
Interface transfer rate (MB/sec, max)600
Acoustics
Idle (Bels)3TB: 2.5
<3TB: 2.4
Power
Requirement: Start-up (W, peak, max)1.2 (+5V) & 2.0 (+12V)
Performance Idle3TB: 4.8
<3TB: 4.4
Physical size
Z-height (mm)26.1
Dimensions (width x depth, mm)101.6 (+/-0.25) x 147
Weight (g, max)3TB: 690
<3TB: 680

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially with <20 dBA@1m SPL. Our methodology focuses specifically on noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured and described. Performance is covered only lightly, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Performance Test System:

Performance Test Tools:

Benchmark Details

  • Boot: Time elapsed from pressing the power button to the desktop with all system tray icons loaded (minus the average time to get the "loading Windows" screen, 16 seconds)
  • COD5: Load time for "Downfall" level.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for initial screen plus one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 8GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark06: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for 1,278 files ranging from 10KB to 4MB
    in size.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 22°C.


Our Deskstar 5K3000 2TB sample rolled off the assembly line in April 2011.

HD Tune Performance

While not entirely indicative of real world performance, HD Tune does give us a glimpse into a hard drive’s inner workings. Its transfer rate benchmark measures speed across the entire disk, giving us an idea of how fast it is over its entire span.

HD Tune measured an average and maximum read speed of ~104 and ~138 MB/s respectively for the 5K3000. The Samsung EcoGreen F4 and Caviar Green WD20EARS sport three 667GB platters as well but the higher spindle speed of the Deskstar 5K3000 and Barracuda Green likely give them the advantage in this test.

"Green" drives usually have poor access times and the 5K3000 is no exception at 19.5 ms. This will undoubtedly slow down the drive’s loading times and hamper other tests which require rapid access of large numbers of files.

Real World Performance

A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive and our entire
test suite was run start to finish 3 times with a reboot and defragmentation
in between runs except for the Momentus
XT
(defragmentation resets optimizations made to the XT’s flash memory).
Average times were collected for comparison.

Loading times are one area where sub 7200 RPM drives consistently struggle so it’s encouraging to see the 5K3000 buck this trend by more or less tying with the Deskstar 7K1000.C. Boot time in particular was much faster than the popular WD20EARS and EcoGreen F4.

In application performance the 5K3000 acquitted itself nicely, keeping company with the Barracuda XT and Deskstar 7K1000.C.

Real World Performance (Continued)

When it came to copying files to itself, the 5K3000 beat out every drive in our comparison except the high-end Caviar Black and Barracuda XT.

In timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06, the 5K3000 wasn’t as impressive but it still beat out every other sub 7200 RPM model tested.

Overall Performance

To gauge the overall performance of the drives, we assigned a score of 25 to the drive that excelled most in each benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation) and the rest proportionally, giving each benchmark set an equal weighting. Of the drives compared, the WD Caviar Black 2TB was the fastest, scoring close to a perfect 100.

Despite its lower rotational speed, the 5K3000 squeaked out a slim win over the 7K1000.C and Caviar Blue, making it the fastest eco-friendly drive we’ve come across. Note that our tests were performed on a 50GB partition at beginning of the drive where it’s fastest; it’s what you can expect if you store your operating system there but isn’t representative of the entire span of the drive.

Power Consumption

The 5K3000 consumes almost the same amount of energy in operation as the EcoGreen F4 which is admirable given its higher rotational speed. The Barracuda Green uses 0.5W more when idle and 1.7W more seeking. Lor low power server operations, the WD Green WD20EARS is still king, with just 2.8W at idle.

Noise



The Deskstar 5K3000, idle and seeking.

Like many other sub 7200 RPM drives, the 5K3000 is very quiet measuring 14~15 dBA when idle and 15 dBA when seeking at one meter distance. Its acoustic profile is very soft with a benign hissing character. When seeking, the drive lacked the sharp clicks and hard thumps of noisier drives so it’s no surprise that we measured almost no SPL difference between seek and idle. Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) is not supported but there is no point, as it only affects seek noise.

As for the rotational speed, we measured a fundamental tone at ~98 Hz, which works out to 5880 RPM, 60 RPM off its 5940 RPM specification.

Noise & Vibration Comparison

2TB DESKTOP HARD DRIVE COMPARISON
HDD
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD Caviar Green
2TB WD20EARS
August 2010
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W (2.4 W heads unloaded)
Seek
6.5 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4
2TB HD204UI

August 2010
firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Seagate Barracuda LP
2TB ST32000542AS
June 2009
firmware CC32
6
Idle
14
4.7W
Seek
17
7.9W
Hitachi 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
April 2011
firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003
November 2010
firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Samsung EcoGreen F3
2TB HD203WI
May 2010
firmware 1AN10003
7
Idle
15~16
4.7 W
Seek (AAM)
17~18
6.1W
Seek
18~19
6.9 W

Our sample had a moderate level of vibration similar to the EcoGreen F3/F4. It is a little high for a "green" drive but not surprising given the design of its casing. Acoustically it was slightly louder than the F4, but only when idle. The WD20EARS remains unchallenged when it comes to noise.

DRIVE COMPARISON TABLE

5,400 ~ 5,900 RPM DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

Samsung EcoGreen F2
500GB HD502HI

February 2009
firmware 1AG01114
8
Idle
12
3.2 W
Seek (AAM)
15
5.3 W
Seek
16
6.1 W
Seagate Pipeline HD .2
1TB ST31000424CS
April 2009
firmware SC13
7
Idle
12
4.3 W
Seek
16
7.3 W
WD Caviar Green
2TB WD20EARS
August 2010
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W (2.4 W heads unloaded)
Seek
6.5 W
WD Caviar Green
1.5TB WD15EARS
March 2010
firmware 80.00A80
7
Idle
13
4.4 W (2.7 W heads unloaded)
Seek
5.8 W
WD Caviar Green
1.5TB WD15EADS
November 2009
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W (2.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
14
5.8 W
Seek
Seagate Pipeline HD .2
500GB ST3500414CS
March 2009
firmware SC13
8
Idle
13
2.7 W
Seek
14
6.7 W
WD Caviar Green
2TB WD20EADS

February 2009
firmware 01.00A01
7
Idle
13
6.4 W (4.0W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
6.5 W
Seek
13~14
6.5 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4
2TB HD204UI

August 2010
firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Caviar Green
2TB WD20EVDS

November 2009
firmware 0.100A01
8~9
Idle
13~14
3.9 W
Seek
6.5 W
Seagate Pipeline HD
500GB ST3500321CS

July 2008
firmware SC14
6
Idle
14
4.1 W
Seek
15
6.9 W
Seagate Barracuda LP
2TB ST32000542AS
June 2009
firmware CC32
6
Idle
14
4.7W
Seek
17
7.9W
WD Caviar Green
3TB WD30EZRS
September 2010
firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W (3.7W heads unloaded)
Seek
7.5W
Hitachi 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
April 2011
firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003
November 2010
firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Samsung EcoGreen F3
2TB HD203WI
May 2010
firmware 1AN10003
7
Idle
15~16
4.7 W
Seek (AAM)
17~18
6.1W
Seek
18~19
6.9 W
7,200 RPM DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
Hitachi Deskstar
7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332

February 2010
firmware JP4OA39C
5
Idle
13
4.6 W
Seek (AAM)
15~16
6.4 W
Seek
17
9.6 W
WD Caviar Blue
1TB WD10EALS
August 2010

firmware 05.01D05
7
Idle
14
5.2 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
6.6 W
Seek
20
8.2 W
Seagate Pipeline HD
Pro 1TB ST31000533CS

September 2008
firmware SC15
4
Idle
15
7.1 W
Seek
16
10.1 W
Seagate Barracuda
7200.12 500GB
ST3500418AS
September 2009
firmware CC37
8
Idle
18
4.7 W
Seek
19~20
7.9W
WD Caviar Black
2TB WD2001FASS

August 2010
firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
Seagate Barracuda XT
2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010
firmware CC13
7~8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W
Seagate Barracuda
7200.11 1.5TB
ST31500341AS

October 2008
firmware SD17
4
Idle
17
8.8 W
Seek
19
10.7 W
WD Caviar Black
1TB WD1001FALS

July 2008
firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
10.9 W
Seek
25
11.0 W

While the 5K3000’s noise levels aren’t remarkable compared to the WD20EARS, against 7200 RPM drives (which it keeps pace with performance-wise), it is clearly quieter than the entire field except the 7K1000.C which only beats it at idle but is encumbered by a significant vibration problem.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11
dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s.
We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from
the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what
we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second
segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if
applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Desktop 5,400~5,900 RPM Hard Drive Comparatives:

Desktop 7,200 RPM Hard Drive Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

When we consider the qualities we like to see in a "green" hard drive, the Deskstar 5K3000 2TB is middle of the road. Its energy efficiency is unable to touch WD’s Caviar Green series, though it is a big improvement over Seagate’s Barracuda Green/LP. The 5K3000 is a very quiet drive, but again, can’t match the Caviar Greens, which are practically inaudible. Its vibration level isn’t great, but as a single drive it shouldn’t cause much anxiety if hard-mounted; for multiple drives, suspension is recommended.

The Hitachi 5K3000 differentiates itself by delivering the type of performance we had hoped Seagate’s 5900 RPM drives would produce. In our real-world tests, the 5K3000 destroyed the Samsung EcoGreen F4 and whipped both the WD Caviar Green and Seagate Barracuda Green. It even managed a slim victory over a pair of 7200 RPM drives, the 1TB Deskstar 7K1000.C and WD Caviar Blue. The entire drive isn’t this fast, but the first 50~100 GB is capable of housing a snappy O/S partition.

With performance close to a 7200 RPM drive and the acoustics, power efficiency, and low cost of a classic eco-friendly model, the Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB is a compelling jack-of-all-trades drive. It works well as a primary standalone hard drive with O/S and all, and provides a nice speed bump over the competition when used solely for serving up files. You can save a couple of watts and a decibel or two by going with the venerable WD20EARS, but the 5K3000 is a great value as a quiet, performance drive. The 5K3000 2TB retails for approximately US$75 which is currently a touch more expensive than WD and Samsung models.



Hitachi 5K3000 2TB receives the SPCR Editor’s Choice Award

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB & Momentus 750GB
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB vs. WD Caviar Blue 1TB
New high areal density 2-and-3 TB Greens from WD
WD Caviar Black 2TB & VelociRaptor 600GB
Samsung EcoGreen F4 &
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB Hard Drives

Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?

* * *

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