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Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB vs. WD Caviar Blue 1TB

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The Hitachi Desktar 7K1000.C and WD Caviar Blue 1TB represent the latest evolution in mainstream 7,200 RPM hard disk drives. While not as fast as high performance 7,200/10,000 RPM models or SSDs, they are fast enough, reasonably quiet, and very affordable.

February 6, 2011 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C HDS721010CLA332
1TB 3.5″ HDD
WD Caviar Blue WD10EALS
1TB 3.5″ HDD
Sample Supplier
Western
Digital
Street Price
US$55~$60 US$60~$65

For most of the last decade, shopping for desktop PC storage options was a relatively simple affair as there weren’t many choices for consumers aside from the typical 7,200 RPM mechanical hard disk drive. Usually it boiled down to capacity, brand, price and availability. While 7,200 RPM drives are a long way from being obsolete, the storage landscape is much more complex than ever before.

There are slower 5400/5900 RPM “green” drives like the WD Caviar Green, Samsung EcoGreen, and Seagate LP series that offer excellent acoustics, superb energy efficiency, and super low prices but slower overall performance. The most expensive and fastest desktop drives on the market are WD’s new generation of 10,000 RPM VelociRaptors. However, even the VelociRaptors can be considered cheap compared to solid state drives (of similar size) that deliver tremendous speed and no measurable noise. Then, there are hybrid drives like the Seagate Momentus XT that combine mechanical and solid-state technology.

With all the innovation in digital storage, it is easy for drives like the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C and WD Caviar Blue 1TB to get lost in the shuffle. They don’t represent anything particularly new or exciting, just the latest evolution in mainstream 7,200 RPM hard drives. They’re not even the best in their class, not offering as much capacity or speed as high performance 7,200 RPM models like WD Caviar Black or Seagate Barracuda XT. However, they are more affordable and shouldn’t sacrifice as much performance as “green” drives… while hopefully maintaining reasonable noise levels.



The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB.

Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB is one of the cheapest 7,200 RPM drives on the market, retailing for US$55~$60. As the model number implies, this is the third generation of the 7K1000 series, with the main difference between them being areal density/platter size. The 1TB variant features just two 500GB platters and 32MB of cache. Like previous Hitachi drives, the casing is minimal with less structural support for the area around the motor.



The WD Caviar Blue 1TB.

The Caviar Blue series sites between Western Digital’s energy efficient Caviar Greens and high performance Caviar Blacks. We expect the acoustics, power consumption, and performance of the WD10EALS to fall somewhere in-between the two. It has 32MB cache, and though the number of disks/heads are not detailed in WD’s literature, we have reason to believe this sample, like the Hitachi 7K1000.C, is also a two platter variant. The Caviar Blue 1TB is priced slightly higher than the Deskstar 7K1000.C at US$60~$65.


Specifications:
Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C vs. WD Caviar Blue 1TB
Model Number HDS721010CLA332 WD10EALS
Capacity 1 TB 1 TB
Cache 32 MB 32 MB
Interface SATA 3 Gb/s SATA 3 Gb/s
Rotational speed 7,200 RPM 7,200 RPM
Platters 2 ?
Transfer rate (sustained) ? 126 MB/s (max)
Average latency 4.17 ms ?
Average Drive Ready Time 10 seconds ?
Weight 680 grams (620 grams measured) 0.69 kg (640 grams measured)
Power: Idle / Seek 4.4 W / 5.7 W / 8.4 W 6.1 W / 7.3 W
Acoustics: Idle / Seek (AAM) / Seek 2.4 Bels / 2.5 Bels / 2.9 Bels 28 dBA / ? / 33 dBA
Warranty 3 years 3 years

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, low 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 7K1000.C sample was manufactured in February of 2010.


Our Caviar Blue sample rolled off the assembly line in August 2010.

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 SSDs and the Momentus
XT
(defragmentation resets optimizations made to the XT’s flash memory).
Average times were collected for comparison.

The Caviar Blue had better loading times than the Deskstar, booting up eight seconds faster and edging it out by 1.6 seconds loading up a level of Call of Duty: World at War. Overall, it also bested the performance of hard drives like the 2TB Caviar Black and Barracuda XT.

Application performance was closer between the two drives, with the Caviar Blue finishing our ExactFile test seven seconds faster, but the Deskstar squeeked past it by four seconds in TrueCrypt. Overall, they were competitive with the Barracuda XT, but a big step behind the fastest WD drives, the Caviar Black and 600GB VelociRaptor.

When copy files to itself, the Hitachi was a beast with large files, but a bit of a dog with small ones. The Caviar Blue was worse overall, painfully slow with large files, and average with small files.

The Hitachi also bested the Caviar Blue in timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06. Though the margins between the 10 drives compared above were small, the Caviar Blue ended up with the poorest result.

Overall Performance

To gauge the overall performance of the drives, we assigned a top score of 25 to the top performer in each benchmarks series (loading, application, copying, and installation) and the rest proportionally, giving each benchmark series an equal weighting. The OCZ Vertex 2 was the fastest in all tests, resulting in a perfect score of 100.

Though close in overall performance, the Deskstar outperformed the Caviar Blue by a larger margin in the tests it won, giving it a slim victory. The two drives seem to just a step below the Barracuda XT 2TB, but slightly faster than WD’s old 300GB VelociRaptor.

HD Tune

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 a maximum transfer speed of over 130 MB/s, offering more evidence that our Caviar Blue sample has two 500GB platters just like the Deskstar 7K1000.C. The two drives also performed very closely in our timed tests and are similar in weight as well.

Altering the Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) setting is a simple way of improving a hard drive’s acoustics. In essence it slows the aggressiveness of the drive’s seeks, whih increases access time and slows performance. For the Deskstar 7K1000.C and Caviar Blue, setting AAM to “quiet” produced a longer access time of 4.1 and 4.7 ms respectively. AAM had no effect on file transfer speeds.

NOISE

Despite being 7200 RPM models, both Deskstar and Caviar Blue samples were very quiet when idle, rivaling the noise level of “green” drives from Western Digital and Samsung. The Caviar Blue measured 14 dBA@1m, while the Deskstar produced only 13 dBA@1m. Up close, the Western Digital drive sounded a little more ‘hollow’ than the Hitachi. Inside a case with a side panel of reasonable thickness, both drives should be near inaudible at one meter’s distance, at least when they’re idle.



The Deskstar and Caviar Blue 1TB when seeking.

When seeking the Deskstar is quieter once again, but the difference is much greater. The WD measured 20 dBA@1m to the Hitachi’s 17 dBA@1m. The Caviar Blue had more pronounced seeks, sounding like little thumps while the Deskstar’s seeks produced scratching type noises. Using AAM, we managed to lower the Caviar Blue’s noise output by 3~4 dB when seeking, but only got a 1~2 dB improvement out of the Hitachi.

VIBRATION & POWER

COMPARISON
HDD
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power
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
WD VelociRaptor.
600GB WD6000HLHX

August 2010
firmware 04.05G04
(bare drive)
7
Idle
14~15
4.2 W
Seek
20~22
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor.
300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008
firmware 03.03V01
(bare drive)
7
Idle
15
3.9 W
Seek (AAM)
20
5.7 W
Seek
22
6.2 W
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

The Deskstar used very little power when idle but a surprisingly high amount when seeking, almost 10W. The Caviar Blue was more average in this regard. While the Hitachi was the quieter drive, the level of vibration was much stronger than that of the Caviar Blue, even surpassing the 2TB Caviar Black. Properly suspended, the Deskstar would be acoustically superior, but if hard-mounted, it would probably cause a more noise.

DRIVE COMPARISON TABLE

Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power
5,400 ~ 5,900 RPM DESKTOP DRIVES
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
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 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
[muffled]
Idle
[16]
18
4.7 W
[muffled]
Seek
[18]
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
10,000 RPM DESKTOP DRIVES
WD VelociRaptor.
600GB WD6000HLHX

August 2010
firmware 04.05G04
(bare drive)
7
Idle
14~15
4.2 W
Seek
20~22
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor.
300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008
firmware 03.03V01
(bare drive)
7
Idle
15
3.9 W
Seek (AAM)
20
5.7 W
Seek
22
6.2 W

The Desktar 7K1000.C and Caviar Blue are very quiet compared to other 7,200 RPM drives, but their acoustics only rival “green” drives when idle. Power consumption is a bit on the high side.

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.

Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

The Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C and WD Caviar Blue are the quietest 7200 RPM drives we’ve tested when idle. When seeking, the Deskstar’s noise output is fairly low, while the Caviar Blue is more or less average. However, our sample Hitachi generates a great deal of vibration that makes it unsuitable noise-wise unless you utilize a hard drive suspension system. This hard-mounted Deskstar will shake the hard drive cage and the rest of the case and likely cause resonance effects that are far more undesirable than the noise emitted by the drive alone. Without suspension, the Caviar Blue is the better choice.

If speed is a priority, the Deskstar seems to be slightly faster overall than the Caviar Blue, barely edging it out in our tests. Neither drive can compare to a WD’s Caviar Black or latest VelociRaptors, but they perform better than the 5400/5900 RPM “green” drives currently on the market. They are not as energy efficient, but that shouldn’t be a deciding factor unless you plan on deploying a large number of drives. Between the two, the Caviar Blue uses a bit more power than the Deskstar when idle, but less when seeking.

If your system requires 500GB+ of fast but quiet storage, the best configuration would be a SSD large enough to fit your operating system and commonly used applications and a “green” drive for storing the rest of your data. SSDs of course produce no measurable noise and the acoustics of “green” hard drives simply can’t be beat. Unfortunately this combination is fairly expensive because the price of solid state storage is still many times that of the magnetic variety. The latest generation of VelociRaptors might be quiet enough for some (if you’re willing to remove the heatsink and void the warranty), but they, too, cost a good chunk of change.

Despite all the changes and product variation in mass storage over the recent years, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000.C and WD Caviar Blue 1TB drives prove that the good old 7200 RPM hard drive still has a place in the world. Both drives offer a good mix of capacity, performance, and noise, and best of all they retail for around US$60. The only alternative in the same price range is a larger capacity but slower “green” drive.

Many thanks to Hitachi and Western
Digital
for the Deskstar 7K1000.C 1TB and Caviar Blue 1TB
samples.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

New high areal density 2-and-3 TB Greens from WD
Consumer SSD Battle: WD, Kingston, OCZ, Intel
WD Caviar Black 2TB & VelociRaptor 600GB
Samsung EcoGreen F4 &
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB Hard Drives

Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?
Samsung
2TB EcoGreen F3 Hard Drive

* * *

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