Pros: Excellent storage capacity, FAST--Faster than competing models; Quiet. No other 7200/10K SATA-II-drives can beat this!!!
Cons: None yet
I bought the Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ 1000GB 7200RPM SATA-II hard drive after finding out the impressive performance delivered by its smaller storage-capacity member, the 500GB, which I reviewed recently. Prior to the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB or the 1TB, being reviewed here, I did not care much about large storage capacity. There were two reasons behind my rationale. First, a large storage capacity hard drive is slow. Second, its reliability is still under question, particularly for a 7200-RPM conventional hard drive.
Good lesson from the Recent Past
I have three Western Digital hard drives that are dead after three years of moderate use, one of them actually died within two years (based on the manufacturer date on the drive), though I could not claim for RMA since it was bought off eBay. They now serve as paper weight. Two of them are the Raptor 10K RPM (74GB); the other one is the Caviar 120GB 7200RPM; all three were with lousy performance. In fact, the 120GB died without a warning and my uncle lost all his data on it. The funny part is that I remember buying it at Circuit City and putting it in my uncle's system; and then having to replace with a Seagate 160GB barracuda. While my other Seagate Barracuda 7200.x RPM are still reliable, they are hopelessly slow.
What My Reliable/Dependable Hard Drives Are
My Fujitsu MAS3367NP 36GB Ultra 320 SCSI hard drives (which I bought back in 2005) as well as my Seagate Cheetah ST374353LC/LW 74GB 15K.3 RPM and Cheetah ST330000LC 300GB 10K7 Ultra 320 are still working without a glitch. These SCSI hard drives have been used on my server/workstation on a daily basis. To this day, these hard drives are still in peak operation, without a slight sign of deterioration or hick-up. That's why my preferred hard drives must be SCSI based technology.
Currently, my two workstations for programming and multimedia are based on Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) and SCSI hard drives, using Seagate Cheetah 15K5 74GB and 15K6 300GB, Fujitsu MBA3xxx 15K RPM series, their 74GB and 147GB, Hitachi UltraStar 15K RPM 146GB, including a few other Maxtor 10K7 RPM 74GB and 147GB. This is due to the fact that these hard drives are dependable, reliable and fast, with the exception of the 10K-RPM Maxtor which are moderate in terms of speed. Of course, these SCSI/SAS hard drives are expensive, but I get what I paid for in contrast to the unreliable Western Digital Raptor and Caviar.
The Samsung SpinPoint F3 Changed My Mind About Large Storage and 7200RPM
But, when I found out about the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB and its impressive performance, my first rationale had to be re-evaluated. This is also the time when SATA-II technology has been improved and re-improved by competing manufacturers. Surprisingly, only Samsung SpinPoint F3 seems to surpass this theoretical threshold (120MB/s) that many conventional 7200-RPM hard drives still fail to deliver, still in the range of 80-90MB/s.
Specifications: Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ
Model: SpinPoint F3 HD103SJ
Type: Mechanical 7200 RPM
Form Factor: 3.5-inch
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Platter: Dual Platter (four read/write heads)
Cache: 32 MB
Ave Seek Time: 8.9 ms
Ave Latency: 4.17ms
Warranty: Three Years
The Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB uses a dual-platter technology with 32MB cache to keep up with sustain read/write accessibility. By comparison, it is quite heavy compared to its younger brother 500GB.
I bought the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB in the summer of 2010 from newegg.com for $89. It was still expensive then. Now, you could get it for less than $70. It comes with a three-year warranty. This purchase basically entitles you just the bare hard drive (as OEM); it comes without a retail package, cable, or installation kit. The unit I bought came in a plastic casing and mounting screws.
I use the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB solely as a data/storage device for backing files, photo images, and videos, obviously taking advantage of its 1000GB large storage capacity. I divided the disk into three separate partitions: Photo (367GB), Data (115GB) and Media (518GB). All three partitions are formatted in NTFS. Of course, after formatting, the available space is less than 1TB.
My primary workstation has three drives connected permanently in the internal bays; these are Cheetah 15K5 RPM 74GB, Fujitsu MBA3073RC 15K RPM 74GB and 147GB. The Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB is used as a hot-swap via front load using the SNT SATA/SAS drive cage, through the use of hot-swap tray. This means I can turn on/off the hard drive on a need basis. In many cases, the Samsung 1TB is in off mode, unless I need to back up data or viewing DVD movies, then I would turn it on. However, its connection is still via SAS/SATA internal port. This means that it is connected via an ensured optimal interface. The SNT drive cage supports three hot-swappable trays. The other two are for my SAS Maxtor 10K7 74GB and 147GB; they are also used for backing up data.
Benchmark Test and Daily Usage
As a data hard drive, the Samsung SpinPoint F3 is impressive! My workstation is based on a dual-boot configuration with Windows XP 64-bit and Fedora 13 64-bit Linux. Both operating systems can access any of the three partitions during use.
To determine its performance, I conducted several benchmark tests that included Windows-based HD Tach, HD Tune Pro and Linux-based Disk Benchmark Utility. Here are a few benchmark reports done on Windows XP 64-bit:
Burst Rate: 251.8 MB/s
Ave Read: .120.8 MB/s
Access Time: 13.9 ms
The sequential read speed graph produced a consistent low periodic spikes from the beginning of the disk at 155MB/s all the way down to 80MB/s. There are no unusual long spikes like those I have seen on other hard drives (WD, Seagate and Hitachi).
HD Tune Pro:
Burst Rate: 193.3 MB/s
Minimum Read: 69.6 Mb/s
Maximum Read: 144.6 MB/s
Ave Read: .115.0 MB/s
Access Time: 14.0 ms
At the beginning of disk read, HD Tune Pro indicated a maximum read of 144.6MB/s and minimum read of 133.9 Mb/s, showing an overall consistent areal density.
Here is a benchmark result done on Fedora 13 64-bit via Benchmark Disk Utility
Minimum Read: 74.4 MB/s
Maximum Read: 153.5 MB/s
Average Read: 122.3 MB/s
Access Time: 13.6 ms
Among the three benchmark tests, HD Tune Pro gave a somewhat low result, but nonetheless consistent with overall read speed from HD Tach and Linux Benchmark Disk Utility.
The above results indicate that the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB is almost faster than its 500GB sibling (please read my other review of it). Most impressive is the fact that the graph produced by the Linux Benchmark indicated a smooth curve starting at the beginning of disk platter at 155MB/s and “curved down” almost moderately, yet maintaining a smooth curve, towards the end of the disk platter at 1000GB that ends at about 76MB/s. There are no deep spikes displayed on the graph at all, meaning that the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB produces an excellent consistent read/write performance. It is basically a sign of an excellent hard drive and its areal density on the disk platter, which reminds me of the high quality SCSI hard drives.
Comparison: How Good is the SpinPoint F3 1000GB?
This is the only 1000GB hard drive I have in possession so far. I have tested and used other external 1TB and 500GB hard drives before, mainly the Seagate Agent and WD, those that I ordered for friends and relative; I tested the units but did not have a record of their benchmark. So I cannot say how the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB stands against the competing models from other manufacturers.
However, based on several benchmark scores I have at hand from other small storage capacity hard drives, such as the Western Digital 160GB AAJS and Hitachi P7 500GB, the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB beats both units hands down.
The most embarrassing blow to those hard drives is the fact that the Samsung SpinPoint F3 is a 1000GB hard drive, and yet is able to deliver a throughput at an average of 122MB/s beating out the WD160AAJS with its 95MB/s throughput and the Hitachi 500GB at 80MB/s.
As a real-world test, I copied picture folder (3.63GB) containing some 353 jpeg images from my Linux-based ext4 filesystem (based on Fujitsu 15K RPM 74GB hard drive) into Windows-based NTFS file system on Samsung SpinPoint F3 its first partition (Photo). Average rate was recorded at 57.6 MB/s. Half way through, Fedora 13 64-bit Linux indicated 20 second remaining. The entire copy took 61 seconds. This means that the Samsung F3 1000GB is able to transfer and write files at 59.9 MB/s.
Still on Fedora 13 64-bit Linux platform, I copied that same folder from the Samsung F3's first partition to another NTFS partition based on Fujitsu 15K RPM 147GB. Transfer rate was recorded at 54.2 MB/s. The entire copy took 74 seconds. It seems that Windows-based file system is a bit slow compared to Linux filesystem.
Then I copied a movie folder containing 4.36GB from Samsung F3 (third partition, NTFS) to my Linux home partition (first primary partition, ext4). The recorded transfer rate was at 99.6 MB/s. The entire copy took 44 seconds. Again, it seems Linux ext4 filesystem is faster than Windows NTFS file system. Even though this time the transfer rate was based on the Fujitsu at 99.6MB/s, it was also the high throughput of Samsung F3 that was able to keep up with the 15K RPM Fujitsu SAS throughput. The quick 44-second copy of a 4.36GB video files was phenomenal, both as a result of the Samsung F3's fast read speed and Fujitsu MBA3147RC 15K RPM write speed.
Now, I booted into Windows XP 64-bit and performed the same copy of the picture folder from Samsung F3 into Fujitsu 147GB and then back into Samsung. From Samsung F3 into Fujitsu, it took 60 seconds. From Fujitsu back into Samsung it took 61 seconds. This indicated that the Samsung F3 1000GB has an incredible read/write speed with consistency.
Similar to its smaller-capacity hard drive, the Samsung SpinPoint F3 operates a very comfortable low noise. It gets warm a bit, but if there is good ventilation in the system and with a fan blowing air onto it constantly, there should be no concern regarding its possible overheat circumstance. My hot-swappable tray has a small fan sucking air out from the front; but there is not much air circulation at all due to its small holes and small fan helping to keep three hard drives cool. The unit is just mildly warm not to produce any concern. This means that the unit operates in almost at normal condition, compared to other hard drives I have worked with.
Warranty and Reliability
It is probably too early to say that the Samsung SpinPoint F3 is reliable, with only about seven months of moderate use. However, the unit comes with a three year warranty. So I am keeping a tab on this and see if the unit will serve as promised by the manufacturer; that is, it at least should operate up to three years of regular use. One thing for sure is that it is very fast, faster than other hard drives I have tested thus far.
Conclusion and Recommendation
Both the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB and 1000GB deliver impressive performance. Their sustain throughput both for read and write has surpassed my expectation of a 7200-RPM conventional mechanical hard drive. Based on my daily use and benchmark tests, I have not seen any 7200-RPM hard drive deliver such incredible read/write speed.
While it is still too soon to talk about its reliability and dependability, one thing for sure is that this is a freaking fast hard drive with 1000GB storage capacity. By definition, reliability is not the strong point of most 7200-RPM hard drives, or even any high quality hard drives, including the SCSI/SAS for that matter, even the new Solid-State drive (SSD). The fact remains that in order to protect valuable data, data should not be kept only in one place. For me, I keep a copy of my important data in three different places: 1) in the current hard drive, 2) in the Samsung, 3) in my back-up drive that I only connect to the system to back-up data.
The Samsung SpinPoint F3 has a three-year warranty, and it is too soon for me to pass judgment on its reliability, in spite of the fact that it has been over seven months since I first used it. Moreover, I really enjoy using the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB and 500GB, both of similar calibre, for the sheer performance.
I highly recommend the Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB or its 500GB without reservation, confident with its performance that hardly any 7200-RPM hard drives out there can match, given the same specifications.
Samsung HD103SJ 1000GB is currently used in my Extended ATX workstation system:
Motherboard: Tyan S2696 dual-Socket Intel Xeon 771-Socket
CPU: 2 Intel Xeon 5150 dual-core (2.66GHz each)
RAM: 4x2048 MB (8GB) Elipda DDR-667 FBDIM ECC
Video: ATI Radeon x700 Pro 256MB PCI-E 16x
HDD: Cheetah 15K RPM 74GB; Fujitsu 15K RPM 74GB, 147GB; IBM/Maxtor 10K RPM 74GB, 147GB; Samsung SpinPoint F3 1000GB.
Power: OCZ 550-Watts Fatality 1 EPS12V
OS: Windows XP 64-bit and Fedora 13 64-bit dual-boot