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BARE FEATS LAB - real world Mac speed tests

Hitachi 3TB 7K3000 versus
other large capacity HDDs

Thursday, December 30th, 2010, by rob-ART morgan, mad scientist

As capacity of HDDs grows, so does the speed. That's partially do to the higher density of the platters. The newest of the big, fat 7K SATA drives is the 3 terabyte Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000. We tested it to see how it compared to the recent crop of 2TB drives.

For this article we published QuickBench sequential and random transfer speeds. For the transactions per second, we used DiskTester. The Finder Duplicate forces the drive to read from and write to itself simultaneously. Graphs indicate average of 5 runs. Red bar means fastest.

Hit 7K3000 = Hitachi Deskstar 6Gb/s 3TB SATA HDD (HDS723030ALA640)
WD Blk 2TB = Western Digital Caviar Black 3Gb/s 2TB SATA HDD (WD2001FASS)
Sea XT 2TB = Seagate Barracuda XT 6Gb/s 2TB SATA HDD (ST32000641AS)
Hit 7K2000 = Hitachi Deskstar 7K2000 3Gb/s 2TB SATA HDD (HDS722020ALA330)

Graphs indicate average of 5 runs.
Red bar means fastest.
Test "mule" was a Mac Pro 6-core Westmere running OS X 10.6.5.

The Hitachi 7K3000 has impressive speed for large sequential transfers. However, it is unimpressive for small random transfers. The other drives beat it in three out of four small random tests. What does this mean. It means that the 7K3000 may not be the best choice for a boot drive. It will, however, make a good choice for sustained operations such as capture or playback of video/audio.

We observed that the first of five sequential iterations of the 7K3000 was significantly slower than the others. It made us wonder if the Mac Pro's internal controller is triggering the "RAID controller standby mode" built into the 7K3000's firmware that spins the disk at lower RPM to conserve power during idle.

The graph below how the fastest 7K SATA HDD compares to the fastest SAS HDD and a fast SATA SSD.

Legend of Perspective Graphs
OWC SSD = OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE 200GB 3Gb/s SATA SSD (OWCSSDMXRE200) -- mounted on the factory sled with the aid of an Icy Dock
Cheet 15K.7 = Seagate Cheetah 15K 600GB 6Gb/s SAS HDD (ST3600057SS) -- connected to a 6Gb/s SAS host adapter from ATTO
Hit 7K3000 = Hitachi Deskstar 6Gb/s 3TB SATA HDD (HDS723030ALA640) -- mounted in the Mac Pro factory sled

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copyright 2010 Rob Art Morgan
"BARE facts on Macintosh speed FEATS"
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