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Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive

We were pleasantly surprised by the fast, quiet, and efficient nature of the 5940RPM Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000. Up this time around is the 7200RPM version, the 7K3000.

Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive

February 13, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000
HDS723020BLA642

2TB 3.5" HDD
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$170~$180

The last Hitachi hard drive we reviewed, the Deskstar 5K3000, was surprisingly fast, competing directly with 7200 RPM drives despite being positioned as an eco-friendly model with a 5940 RPM motor. It also impressed in other areas, being fairly energy efficient, lacking in vibration and generating very little in the way of airborne noise. We hope to see more of the same from a member of their mainstream Deskstar 7K3000; hopefully the presence of a "proper" 7200 RPM motor boasts performance without making too many sacrifices.


The Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB.

The Deskstar 7K3000 offers all the usual modern amenities like a 6 Gb/s SATA interface, 64MB of cache, and the usual promises of high performance and improved energy efficiency over previous models. The one feature you won’t find on 7K3000 (or 5K3000) is 4 kilobyte advanced sectors. Hitachi appears to be the lone holdout amongst hard drive manufacturers, still relying on the old system of 512 byte sectors. Our sample is a 2TB version with three platters just like the 5K3000 we reviewed a few months ago. It’s also available in 1.5TB and 3TB models.


The underside.

Like previous Hitachi offerings, the drive is noticeably nondescript with a plain-Jane metal exterior and lacking the support ribs found on the WD Caviar Green and Samsung EcoGreen series. Thankfully the hard drive is one of the few PC components have yet to be exploited by manufacturers as a vehicle for bright LEDs.


Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000: Specifications
(from product
overview
)
Model(s)HDS723030ALA640
HDS723020BLA642
HDS723015BLA642
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Capacity (GB)3TB / 2TB / 1.5TB
Sector size (variable, Bytes/sector)512
Max areal density (Gbits/sq. in.)411
Data Buffer (MB)64
Rotational Speed (RPM)7200
Media transfer rate (MB/sec, max)207
Interface transfer rate (MB/sec, max)600
Acoustics, Idle (Bels)3TB: 2.9
<3TB: 2.7
Power, Performance Idle (W)3TB: 6.8
<3TB: 5.2
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 Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB sample rolled off the assembly line in August 2011.

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.
Average times were collected for comparison.

Our loading tests are often decided by fractions of a second, but the 7K3000 edged most of the other compared drives by a full two seconds in Far Cry 2 and had the best boot time for a 7200 RPM model. Discounting the boot time, and it’s in the same league as the 600GB WD VelociRaptor.

In application performance the 7K3000 wasn’t quite as impressive, falling to the WD Caviar Black 2TB and VelociRaptor in the ExactFile test by a sizable amount but still managing a good overall effort.

When it came to copying files to itself, the 7K3000 was in elite company, being substantially faster than both the VelociRaptor and Caviar Black. It was however significantly slower than the monstrous Seagate Barracuda 3TB.

The 7K3000 finished off our test suite with a superlative result in timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06. The Deskstar edged out all comers to take the top spot.

Overall Performance

To more accurately represent 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 VelociRaptor 600GB was the fastest, scoring just under 97 out of a possible 100.

Our current 7200 RPM champion, the Barracuda 3TB retains it spot, but now must share it with the 7K3000. Though the Seagate was substantially faster in a couple of tests, the Hitachi’s more balanced performance (it placed in the top four in all our tests) allowed it to draw even. As an O/S drive, it’s the cream of the crop, at least as far as 7200 RPM models go.

HD Tune Performance

Real world benchmarks are one thing but it doesn’t portray the whole picture as drive speed varies across its capacity. HD Tune’s transfer rate benchmark measures speed across the entire disk.

The read speed of the Deskstar 7K3000 2TB was a solid 121 MB/s on average, topping out at 157 MB/s near the beginning of the drive. The raw throughput gradually slows to an acceptable 75 MB/s at the end of the disk. Access times seemed to be a bit slow despite it’s impressive showing in our benchmark suite.

Even the slowest portion of the 7K3000 is about 15 MB/s faster than most "green" drives and the only 7200 RPM model to exceed it was, once again, the Barracuda 3TB, which has a natural advantage thanks to its 1TB platters.

Acoustics & Power Consumption



Noise levels of the he Deskstar 7K3000 2TB, idle and seeking.

While the Deskstar 7K3000 2TB performs like a beast, the noise level was nothing to write home about, measuring 17 dBA@1m when idle and 18 dBA@1m when seeking. Its acoustic profile has a bit of an electrical twang to it that is perhaps a result of the vibration level of the drive (we measure/record with the drive on a bed of foam but it doesn’t eliminate vibration completely); It produced a noticeable 120 KHz spike caused by the drive’s 7200 RPM motor. Seek noise was much better, so muted the difference was almost inaudible at one meter’s distance.

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

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB
HDS723020BLA642
August 2011
firmware MNGOA5C0
5
Idle
17
5.3 W
Seek
18
7.8 W

The last 7200 RPM Deskstar we reviewed, the 7K1000.C, had a significant vibration problem and the 7K3000 is similar, scoring a five on our subjective scale. They are noticeably worse than most drives released in the last four years or so; Unlike other manufacturers, Hitachi seems to have done little over the years to reinforce the casings of their hard disks, still relying on a mostly unchanged industrial design.

Given the drive’s level of performance we were surprised to discover its power consumption was quite modest: 5.3W idle and 7.8W when seeking. It’s not quite "green" drive territory, but noticeably lower than other 7200 RPM models. Unlike the Barracuda 3TB, it doesn’t have any extra power saving features (head-parking) though.

HIGH CAPACITY DESKTOP DRIVE COMPARISON
Drive
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
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
April 2011
firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Caviar Green
3TB WD30EZRS
September 2010
firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W (3.7 W heads unloaded)
Seek
7.5W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003
November 2010
firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001
November 2011
firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W
(5.6 W >30 secs)
(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W
WD Caviar Black
2TB WD2001FASS

August 2010
firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB
HDS723020BLA642
August 2011
firmware MNGOA5C0
5
Idle
17
5.3 W
Seek
18
7.8 W
Seagate Barracuda XT
2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010
firmware CC13
7~8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W

Of all the high capacity 7200 RPM drives we’ve tested the 7K3000 is actually the most frugal when it comes to power; Only reduced-RPM drives can compete with it in this department. As far as noise is concerned, it’s not too bad, marginally louder than the Barracuda 3TB; It’s unlikely one could hear the difference, at least if the drives were both suspended. Extra noise from vibration can’t be calculated as its effect varies depending on the case.

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

Despite being an older model without the latest advances in areal density, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB hard drive still managed to tie the Seagate Barracuda 3TB for the top 7200 RPM spot in our real world benchmark suite, making it excellent choice for a high capacity, operating system drive (the Barracuda is faster over its entire span though). Its airborne acoustics are middling, but acceptable given the drive’s speed. Its level of vibration on the otherhand is atrocious, like something out of another era. On the bright side it does operate with surprising energy efficiency, being more frugal than any previously tested 2TB+ 7200 RPM variant.

Given the 2TB version’s properties we’d describe the 7K3000 as ideal for an industrial/workplace environment rather than personal use. However, vibration is the only serious issue we have when it comes to the typical end-user— if you’re at all noise-conscious, it’s enough to rule it out altogether. The only exception is if you plan on pairing it with a suspension system to decouple the drive from the rest of the case, either homemade or using a product like the HDD Vibration Killer. Neutralizing this one problem leaves you with a very big, fast drive, that would likely be drowned out by the fans of most systems, even those built to be on the quiet side.

The only other current obstacle for the 7K3000 is price. Our sample was acquired through retail channels on special for significantly less than its current available pricing which is in the US$170~$180 range. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, the Barracuda 3TB can be had at the US$200 mark at some e-tailers. It’s hard to argue with an extra 1TB of capacity, lower noise and vibration, all for just US$20 more. The discrepancy is probably a temporary phenomenon though, stemming from the continued price volatility of hard drives following the flooding in Thailand. When the market eventually settles down we expect its price to be more reasonable compared to the competition.

Many thanks to Hitachi for the Deskstar 7K3000 2TB
sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth
WD Scorpio Black 750GB & Scorpio Blue 1TB
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB 5940RPM Hard Drive
Icy Dock MB973SP-B SATA Backplane Module
HP Proliant MicroServer

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