The Barracuda SATA II 7200.10 160GB (ST3160815AS)
Recommend this product?
The Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 SATA II is the current offering of storage devices from Seagate. I have been a satisfied user of Seagate hard drives since their release of the Barracuda 7200.7 SATA-I. I guess by now storage devices from other makers would have reached the same peak of reliability and dependability. I choose Seagate because I have been very happy with their products which I have come to rely on.
Compared to the third generation of Barracuda (7200.9), the fourth generation (7200.10) has a lot of new technology on the plate. Firstly, the physical structure of the hard drive itself is very small; it is thin and light. When placed side by side with the 7200.8, the 7200.10 is almost half the height. Secondly, in terms of weight, the 7200.10 is lighter than its predecessor almost by a factor of two. I was shocked by surprise the first time I opened the box to see its small size; I thought newegg.com had shipped the wrong drive for me (for a laptop instead of a desktop). The Barracuda 7200.10 has only a few family members: 80GB, 160GB, 250GB, 400GB, 500GB, 750GB and the 320GB with perpendicular recording technology.
For every system I build, I mostly suggest the owner to use at least two hard drives: one for operating system(s) and the other for data storage. Initially, we wanted the 80GB for the operating system. But the price between the 80GB and 160GB is not that much different ($48 vs. $59). So we opted for the 160GB to use as a dual-boot system for Windows XP and Fedora 7 Linux.
Below is a quick reference of the Seagate 7200.10 SATA II 160GB specifications.
Interface: SATA II 3.0GB/s
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Average SeekTime/Latency Time: 11ms/4.16ms
Form factor: Internal, 3.5-inch
Seagate offers a 5-year warranty on this product. We obtained the unit from newegg.com as an OEM product that was shipped with just the hard drive alone, nothing else.
Depending on the motherboard, hardware installation should be straightforward, which merely requires an empty drive bay inside the system case. Different motherboards offer slightly different setting on SATA and IDE connection. For newer motherboards that exclusively offer SATA (I or II) technology with only one IDE port for optical devices, the SATA port is enabled as IDE by default for the system to boot from. For those motherboards that still offer two IDE ports, with one intended for IDE/ATA devices, a few settings may require to have the system boot from SATA.
The motherboard (Biostar TF570 SLI) that I use for this hard drive has six SATA-II ports and one IDE one that is exclusively for optical devices. Here I basically connect the hard drive to the first SATA-II port. The BIOS basically points the system to boot from the first SATA-II hard drive.
Since this is the system hard drive that is intended for use as a dual-boot for Windows XP and Fedora 7 Linux, I divide it into separate partitions. I needed to make at least three separate partitions for Linux. The first two primary partitions are for boot (110MB) and swap (1500MB). The third partition is used for Windows XP (60GB). Then I created the remaining disk space as an extended partition and further divided it into three logical partitions: one for Fedora root (25GB), the other for share partition (FAT32, 24GB) and the last one for program storage (NTFS). The shared partition is formatted in FAT32 to allow both operating systems to share files.
In order to divide the disk into partitions specified above, Windows XP CD-ROM cannot be used to boot and set up the partitions. A third-party software (like partition magic) cannot be used (without OS) on a new hard drive anyway; plus it's too expensive to invest in such a program. But, Linux can easily help divide the partitions and specify the filesystem accordingly, whether they be Linux filesystem or Windows FAT16/32 or NTFS; they all can be done within Linux fdisk utility. That was what I used to prepare the disk. I booted the system into Linux rescue mode to set up the disk. Once partitions have been configured, I rebooted the system into Windows XP from the CD-ROM for installation, and specified it to use the third partition.
Windows XP installation went smoothly and seemed a bit quicker too. I held off Windows XP activation until all the software programs were installed and operated successfully. I tested the system until everything met the specifications by the owner. It is important especially for a dual-boot system, because if anything went wrong, Windows XP cannot be easily reinstalled after Fedora 7 Linux has been installed and the master boot record has been rewritten by Linux.
Then, once everything worked exactly as specified, I formatted the second logical partition as FAT32 and last logical partition as NTFS. The FAT32 partition will be made visible for Fedora 7. I then started to install Fedora 7 Linux, using the first and second primary partitions, the first logical partition as the root and the second logical partition as a share partition. On this disk, a total of six separate partitions were made: three primary and three logical. Another practice I always do, even with a brand new hard drive, is perform a disk scan to check for any bad sectors and have Windows try to fix them.
The following lists the hardware components configured with the Barracuda 7200.10 160GB SATA-II.
Motherboard: Biostar TF570 SLI
RAM: Kingston DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) 2x512MB 240-pin
Video: ATI X1600 Pro 512MB PCI-E; nVidia FX5500 PCI 256MB (initially)
Hard Drives: Seagate 7200.10 160GB and 7200.8 250GB
Performance: Benchmark and Real-world
Booting into Windows XP was very quick; from the selection in the boot menu to the log-in screen seemed to lapse roughly three seconds. During application launch and other activities on the system, the Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 160GB seemed utterly fast. Application software installation was also fast.
This is among the first 7200.10 generation hard drives I have tested. Its operation noise is extremely low; I would say it's almost silent that basically hides itself in the background noise from the fans in computer case and power supply. During extended operation, heat was not really an issue at all, especially for a good case that utilizes good cooling system.
How fast is fast in this new generation of 7200.x Barracuda? I always run a benchmark test on new hard drives I acquire; I also keep records of old ones I tested. Below are the benchmark scores from SiSoft Sandra2007 and HD Tach.
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 160GB
SiSoft Sandra2007: Windows XP Pro SP-2
Drive Index: 65 MB/s
Ave Read: 84.0MB/s
Ave Write: 70.0 MB/s
Access Time: 6 ms
Under SiSoft Sandra 2007, the disk yielded a buffered read of 124MB/s. Its sequential read/write speeds were identical (75/75 MB/s).
HD Tach (long zone analysis):
Burst Rate: 128.5MB/s
- Inner Zone: 38MB/s
- Outer Zone: 80MB/s
Ave Read: 62.8 MB/s
CPU Time: 4 %
Access Time: 14.9 ms
HDTach average read of 63MB/s is quite good. The results reported by SiSoft Sandra were based on averaging. HDTach result seems to match the drive index given by SiSoft Sandra. Based on the inner zone result given by HDTach, this hard drive makes an excellent system partition from 0GB to about 50GB. Because, according to HDTach's sequential read graph, the drive put out a near constant graph from 0GB at 74MB/s to 50GB at 60MB/s and coasters up and down to around 40MB/s. The graph also indicates its fast accessing speed at the beginning of the first and subsequent sectors. However, during sustain access time, this drive decreases in speed, which is evident in its 14.9 accessing time. But this is still the drawback in all 7200RPM SATA hard drives any ways.
As a comparison, the new Barracuda 7200.10 is a bit faster than its predecessor (250GB 7200.8). On the same system, SiSoft Sandra2007 gave a drive index of 57MB/s for the 7200.8 250GB. This yields a difference by 8MB/s. HDTach graphs show both to be roughly similar, but the 7200.10 160GB has a smoother curve initially.
It is important to note that benchmark scores from these two drives do not reveal real comparison, since the 7200.8 250GB was being benchmarked on the entire drive whereas the 7200.10 160GB only a few separate partitions scattered throughout the drive. Thus, comparison is not really consistent. Worse yet, the 7200.10 160GB was also tested under the condition that the drive had to provide access to the operating system and programs.
It has been my experience that Seagate Barracuda 7200.x drives are quite good. Sometimes when a hard drive develops bad blocks/sectors, Windows OS (such as XP) is quite good (I would say “smart”) at ignoring them; that is, by assigning those sectors as bad blocks and stop using them. Windows makes us think that our hard drive is always healthy. Only when we scan the drive and have Windows fix bad blocks do we know that the hard drive has developed bad sectors. Linux operating system takes a different approach on hard drives with bad sectors, especially during installation. In many cases, the Linux installer stops during formatting the partitions if the drive is discovered to contain bad sectors. Depending on a Linux distribution, this incident could go without an explanation.
I have built a number of desktop systems with dual-boot configuration, mostly Windows XP and Fedora Linux or Windows XP and Ubuntu Linux. I have always had 100% success rate on Seagate Barracuda 7200.x, whether it is new or pre-owned. However, on a different hard drive, I often run into a mysterious problem on Fedora Linux freezing in the middle of installation, or checking filesystem consistency during boot-up, which I later found out it was due to bad sectors in the hard drive.
What's the disadvantage in ignoring bad sectors? Well, if the drive develops bad sectors, it will not stop, unless corrected. If the problem is allowed to persist, those important data will be in jeopardy. The initial indication of Linux not accepting a drive with bad sectors is an excellent precaution. This will prevent the risk of losing important data in the future. In other words, I have not come across a single Seagate Barracuda 7200.x drive with bad sectors.
It is always a good practice to have Windows XP or Vista scan the hard drive (all its partitions) and fix them if possible.
In terms of price (GB/dollar), the Barracuda 7200.10 160GB is quite attractive (for under $60). It has a quiet operation during accessing, reading or writing. Its average read/write, even though not a real dramatic improvement, puts it above its predecessors. It also runs very cool. It is very thin and light. It has a height of 0.78 inches and a weight of 0.83 pounds. This in turn makes a your hard drive bay very roomy, and air can easily pass to cool each device.
As stated previously, the 7200.10 family only has storage capacity up to 750GB. If you prefer a larger storage capacity, even in the order of 1000GB, the Barracuda 7200.11 would satisfy your thirst for massive storage.
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