Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB

Overall Score

It’s been about 6 months since Seagate launched their 1.5TB Barracuda 7200.11 series drive.  At the time, the 375GB platters Seagate used were impressive.  Now, just 6 months later they are launching their Barracuda 7200.12 series drives with 500GB platters.  The drive we are reviewing today packs 500GB of storage into a single-platter design.

500GB platters might not seem important to you, but if you are a fan of high-performance storage solutions you should take note.  500GB platters not only offer the possibility of enhanced performance, but they pave the way for 2TB drives.  Western Digital has already released their 2TB offering (we have a review of said 2TB offering on the way!), and Seagate recently announced 2TB drives for enterprise applications.

We think it’s a smart move in terms of business strategy for hard disk drive (HDD) manufacturers to focus on extreme platter density.  Solid-state drive (SSD) manufacturers are “nipping at their heels” so to speak and a lot of R&D is going into SSD technology from heavy hitters like Intel. This means that traditional drives are not going to be able to compete with their solid-state counterparts in raw performance, so focusing on capacity is the only logical course of action.

Since this is too much text and too little action for some of our readers let’s look at some pictures.

As you might be able to see from this side shot, this drive is actually somewhat of a “slim” drive compared to the average 3.5″ drive.  It’s also incredibly light due to the single-platter design which could be a consideration for external drive applications and LAN party rigs.

ST3500410AS vs ST3500418AS

We wanted to make a note about 7200.12 model numbers, since this has generated quite a bit of confusion in our forums and other enthusiast forums.  We found it strange that after having the 410AS model out for around a month Seagate also released the 418AS model with nearly identical specifications (the only real difference being acoustic performance).  We contacted Seagate many times about this, and the following is the most up-to-date information we can provide you with.

The 410AS model adheres to industry standard “low halogen” specs and thus is more environmentally friendly than 418AS.  The 410AS model also produces less noise than the 418AS model.  That’s about all we know, and to date Seagate has done little to distinguish these models from each other in their marketing material, which is odd.

Testing Methodology and Test Setup

All hard drives were tested on the same PC (specs below), running on the same SATA controller.  We get each hard drive new, and take great care to ensure that every step of preparation is exactly the same on each hard drive (that means formatting each drive using the same procedure, same allocation unit size, etc.).  We swap SATA ports / cables and re-test to make sure there are no anomalies in our test setup that could give any drive an unfair test result.

To further ensure that the results of our testing are accurate, we run each test 3 times and take the average of the 3 test runs as our final score.  Our readers take hardware reviews seriously, and so do we.

Test Setup
CPUIntel Core 2 Quad Q9550 @ Stock
GPUEVGA GeForce 9800GTX @ Stock
MotherboardGigabyte GA-EP35-DS3P
RAMOCZ Platinum Revision 4GB DDR2 800 @ Stock
CaseCooler Master RC-690
Power SupplyCorsair CMPSU-620HX
Operating SystemWindows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit

As you can see our test setup is a pretty generic setup as far as enthusiast rigs go.  We keep CPU/GPU at stock since they do not largely contribute to these tests anyway, and we don’t want to deal with the possibility of any errors from hardware besides the HDDs in question (this rig with everything at stock is incredibly stable).


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