Fastest 7200RPM SATA II Drive I Have Seen!!!
Quiet, Extremely FAST--Faster than other hard dirves I have used/seen, Excellent Storage space 500GB, SATA-II
None at all..
The Bottom Line:
The fastest conventional 7200RPM SATA-II drive. Period. Great price and superb performance.
I first bought the Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200RPM SATA-II hard drive on January 17, 2010. Initially, it was primarily intended for storage and for backing up files. After discovering its hidden superior performance through benchmarking (and comparison with hard drives by other manufacturers), I bought the second one, as well as its bigger brother, SpinPoint F3 1TB HD103SJ. Since then I have bought and installed Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB hard drives on all machines I have built for clients and friends.
It has been a year since I first used the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB; and I believe it is time to write a review with confidence in regards to its dependability and reliability. Of course, its superb performance has already been discovered from the start.
The introduction of the SpinPoint F3 series was not even a big thing, when they first appeared in Fall 2009. Firstly, the naming is different from its previous spinpoint P- and T-series. Secondly, there are only two members, namely the 500GB (HD502HJ) and 1000GB (HD103SJ) for the 3.5-inch form factor. The 500GB uses a single platter technology, and thus is quite light, while the 1000GB uses a dual-platter design with twice the cache of the 500GB.
Specifications: Samsung SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ
Model: SpinPoint F3 HD502HJ
Type: Mechanical 7200 RPM
Form Factor: 3.5-inch
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Platter: Single (one-platter)
Ave Seek Time: 8.9 ms
Ave Latency: 4.17ms
Warranty: Three Years
Benchmarking: As Data Storage
I first used the SpintPoint F3 500GB as a data/backup drive which I connected via the USB/IEEE-1394 using an external enclosure. It was freaking fast that I feared that the SpinPoint F3 might make me lose my loyalty of the SCSI technology.
I formatted the entire hard drive as one primary partition in NTFS, which after configuration, the available storage space was 465.76GB. I tested the SpinPopint F3 using various benchmarking software: HDTach, SiSoft Sandra, and HD Tune Pro, and Linux Disk Benchmarker
Here is the result from HD Tach (Windows XP 64-bit):
Burst Rate: 269.4 MB/s
Ave Read: 121.4 MB/s
Access Time: 13.3 ms
I conducted the benchmark a number of times on all my machines (three of them) using SATA-II internal interface. The result was the same on any of them.
The graph produced by HD Tach indicated an initial read speed (at the start of the disk) at 150MB/s and curved down to 80 MB/s toward the end of the disk at 500GB. The graph produced a consistent curve without any noticeable spikes which indicated that the storage density on the disk platter is quite consistent to produce an overall good read/write speed. An average read of 121.4 MB/s was the thing that caught my eye. It is the first 7200-RPM mechanical hard drive to produce such incredible speed; it is even faster than the WD Raptor I have tested earlier (though this one uses SATA-I), the Raptor's 10,000RPM spindle speed is blown away by the Samsung's modest 7200 RPM speed.
Comparison: How Good is the SpinPoint F3 500GB?
I report the following benchmark results as a comparison to the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB. The benchmark was done using HD Tune/Tach and Linux Benchmark, all three provided roughly similar disk test. For consistency, I will report results from my Linux benchmark.
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD160AAJS 160GB 7200RPM (current offering from WD, $42 at newegg.com):
Minimum Read: 34.1 MB/s
Maximum Read: 114.6 MB/s
Average Read: 95.5 MB/s
Access Time: 15.4 ms
The WD 160GB has been conducted while it was being used as a system drive. The graph produced by the benchmark revealed a number of deep spikes which indicated the inconsistency of its density on the disk platter. In other words, some sectors provide fast read/write while other yield slow read/write. These spikes also reveal the unreliability of the drive's overall performance.
Hitachi HDP725050GLA360 500GB 7200RPM (bought in January 2010, $54 at newegg.com):
Minimum Read: 53.4 MB/s
Maximum Read: 95.7 MB/s
Average Read: 82.9 MB/s
Access Time: 18.3 ms
The Hitachi has been conducted while it was being used as a data drive. It was connected by my Tyan S2877 system as the secondary drive, while the Samsung (being reviewed here) was connected and used as the system drive. This means that the Hitachi did not have any stress from being multitasked. The graph produced by the benchmark revealed deep spikes throughout the disk platter, indicating that it has a non-consistent density to produce reliable constant read/write.
Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB (being reviewed):
Minimum Read: 74.3 MB/s
Maximum Read: 150.2 MB/s
Average Read: 121.2 MB/s
Access Time: 13.3 ms
The Samsung has been conducted while it was being used as a system drive (under Fedora 13 64-bit Linux). I am overly impressed with the graph produced by the Samsung. It showed a nearly consistent and constant, smooth curve without any noticeable spikes like those weaknesses found on the WD and Hitachi. As can be seen by the scores reported above, the Samsung beats the two hard drives by a landslide!
Because of its fast throughout, I have decided to use the Samsung SpinPoint F3 as a system drive on my ATX workstation based on Tyan S2877 with two dual-core AMD Opteron 285 (2.6GHz each) with 6GB RAM (DDR400 ECC/REG). Here, I realize, with its huge storage space, I could built numerous virtual environments on the cheap and still obtain quite a responsive performance. What a low-cost virtualization scheme the Samsung 500GB offers!
I configured the disk with the following partition: First primary for /boot (140MB), second primary for Windows XP (65GB), and the rest of the disk space for Linux logical volume, containing swap, / “root” and /home. Being dynamic, the three logical partitions in the logical volume could shrink or expand based on the need of space.
Formatting the 65GB under Windows XP installation took less than 6 minutes. Copying all the .dll, .sys and .inf files was less than 2 minutes. I estimated it took about 15 minutes or less to complete the Windows XP installation, much faster than other 7200RPM hard drives I have seen.
There always seems a lack of response with ordinary standard 7200RPM hard drives, that is, after a click of the mouse, I would wait for the files to get loaded off the hard drive. With the Samsung this experience seems to diminish. While it is not as fast as my SCSI/SAS with their lightning response due to their fast access time (3-6 ms), the Samsung is pretty good in this regards, with its 13.3 ms, which by far is faster than those I have reported above in terms of accessing speed.
Here is the real-world result for copying files. For this test, I connected my Samsung 500GB as the primary hard drive as system device, and the Hitachi 500GB as a secondary drive solely as a storage device. I did a drag-and-drop copy of a 4.4GB video file from the Hitachi to the Samsung. Average transfer rate was reported as 53 MB/s and it took 45 seconds to complete the copy. This means that the 4.4GB folder was read off the Hitachi and written to the Samsung 500GB in 45 seconds.
I deleted the folder on the Hitachi 500GB drive and copied that same folder back from the Samsung. The transfer rate was recorded at 41.9 MB/s and it took 1 minute and 40 seconds to complete the folder copy.
As a result, the Samsung 500GB is almost two times faster than the Hitachi 500GB in this real-world file-copy test, both for read and write. I could not believe it, but it is true. The Samsung SpinPoint F3 is truly amazing. It is FAST!
The Samsung 500GB seems to get warn fast, not terribly warn, though, just mild warn. A good ventilation in the system case would solve the problem, especially with a fan blow air directly onto it. However, it operates at such a low noise. Spin-up did not produce any noticeable noise compared to the Hitachi 500 that was quite noticeable during spin-up; that high pitch sound. However, the Hitachi 500GB seems to operate at a lower heat compared to Samsung.
Warranty and Reliability
Because the Samsung SpinPoint F3 is the very first hard drive I have used, not only its large 500GB, but the first Samsung hard drive, so I had to regularly use it for a bit longer to determine its reliability and dependability. After a year of regular use, that is, almost a day-to-day usage, I am confident that the Samsung 500GB is not only fast, faster than any hard drives out there, it is also quite reliable. Its three-year warranty also adds confidence to the Samsung 500GB superb performance!
Conclusion and Recommendation
The Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB is truly exceptional, with regards to its performance compared to other hard drives in this calibre. Based on my benchmark test, the Samsung SpinPoint F3 is about 30% faster than the current Western Digital 160AAJS 160GB, which is supposed to be faster due to its low storage capacity, though it has only 8MB cache.
The real test comparison is the Hitachi 500GB since both the Samsung and Hitachi have the same storage capacity. As the real-world test results show, the Samsung 500GB is faster than the Hitachi by almost 30%. I have a few other Seagate SATA-II drives, but none are with the same storage capacity as the Samsung 500GB, worthy for a comparison test, even though the benchmark scores from them were quite low already.
Currently, the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB is $49.99 (free shipping at newegg.com), while Western Digital WD160AAJS 160GB is $35.99 (plus $6.29 S/H). This means that the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB is cheaper than the WD. In terms of Gigabyte per dollar, the Samsung is 10GB per $1.
I have been using SCSI/SAS hard drives for a very long time. This means that I know a fast hard drive when I see one. The Samsung SpinPoint F3 is amazingly fast in this regard. I highly recommend the Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB hard drive to anyone looking for a hard drive as storage (as external hard drive, using external enclosure) or as a system hard drive.
Samsung HD502HJ 500GB is currently used in my ATX workstation system:
Motherboard: Tyan S2877 dual-Socket AMD Opteron CPU
CPU: 2 AMD Opteron 285 (2.6GHz each), dual-core
RAM: 6x1024MB DDR400 EEC/REG IBM/NetLIST
Video: ATI Radeon x1600 512MB PCI-E 16x
HDD: Samsung HD502HJ 500GB
Power: Antec EarthWatts 430-Watts EPS12V
OS: Windows XP and Fedora 13 64-bit dual-boot
Virtual OS on Fedora 13 64-bit: RHEL 6, SuSE 10, FreeBSD, Windows 7, Windows 2008