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Seagate 7200.10 Review

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All this discussion about the noise of these drives seems to go back and forth endlessly. When someone mentions that a drive is noisy then at least try give a point of reference against another drive you own or have owned. Also, tell us whether you are using them in RAID, what drivers (MS or nVidia), and what type/manufacturer of case they're in. For example, my WD2500KS is noisier on seeks with the MS drivers, like a light ticking sound. The nVidia drivers certainly quiet the drive down a bit. There's absolutely nothing wrong with the drive and it runs cool to the touch. Others have made this observation about MS vs nVidia drivers on nForce chipset mobos.

What I would especially like to know is from those who already own one or more 7200.10, do these drives emit a high-pitched whine?

Almost everyone I've talked to in forums and systems I've built for people over the years make it known to me if a drive whines. It's the type of noise that can actually give one a headache after long exposure, and I speak from personal experience. You're chatting with someone who's owned about every type of conceivable drive for the PC, as far back as MFM units. I'm no expert on the matter but I can relate my own and others' experiences.

Though I have two 7200.10 320GB drives coming to me from Newegg that does not mean I simply won't return them. I'm not scared of new technology as long as there's a solid warranty to back it up, as Seagate commendably does. It's whether I can live with the drive day-to-day.

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How do the 7200.10 (ST3320620AS) compare with the previous gen 7200.9 (ST3300622AS). I'm trying to decide which one to get. Perfomance is not as important as idle noise (e.g high pitched idle noise etc) and running cooler and obviously reliability.

ST3300622AS (7200.9): 2.7 bels idle, 3.4 bels seek

ST3320620AS (7200.10): 2.8 bels idle, 3.2 bels seek

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It doesn't make sense to look at the official specifications, they are useless. It is hard to find two 7200.10 owners with the same level of noise :)

How do the 7200.10 (ST3320620AS) compare with the previous gen 7200.9 (ST3300622AS). I'm trying to decide which one to get. Perfomance is not as important as idle noise (e.g high pitched idle noise etc) and running cooler and obviously reliability.

ST3300622AS (7200.9): 2.7 bels idle, 3.4 bels seek

ST3320620AS (7200.10): 2.8 bels idle, 3.2 bels seek

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What I would especially like to know is from those who already own one or more 7200.10, do these drives emit a high-pitched whine?

At least mine doesn't. If it did, i would have returned it asap or sold it to someone who doesn't care about this.

Btw., someone asked me for the RW copy of HDTach. To make this clear: I have a legal version and i won't send it around.

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What I would especially like to know is from those who already own one or more 7200.10, do these drives emit a high-pitched whine?

At least mine doesn't. If it did, i would have returned it asap or sold it to someone who doesn't care about this.

Btw., someone asked me for the RW copy of HDTach. To make this clear: I have a legal version and i won't send it around.

Thanks for your honest answer. My drives will be arriving tomorrow and I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully this RAID install will go a bit smoother than one I had years ago on an early revision SI3112.

P.S. Don't know why anyone would want the RW version of HDTach unless they're a review site and intend to use it commercially. In that case they should just pay the $50 for a license. It's the right thing to do and programmers need to eat too. ;) There's a host of free hdd testing software available so why pirate?

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ST3320620A (7200.10 320GB, PATA)

720010a1gl.jpg

720010c5qd.png

Noted the burst rate & the slow access time. The average STR is only ~66MB/s. Could the ATA-100 bandwidth or possibility of AAM beening on be affecting the performance? (access time is the same when i tried to verify it on another system) :(

Edited by Sen

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Since Seagate drives do not support AAM, it sells the sata devices with setting <performance> and the pata ones with <silent> seeks. We can only speculate for the reason for this, but I suppose its has to do with the reliability of the drives. They test sata drives at the factory with performance seek, and the drive would be more reliable if the user do not alter this setting, same for the pata ones. Of course this is just a guess.

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Yuri, you may have a point there, but it doesn't really answer the question IMHO which is why did they choose those settings in the first place? I mean they could very well test them both without AAM or both with AAM. So the reason Seagate generally* enable AAM for PATA and disable it for SATA is IMHO unclear. There could be many reasons.

Perhaps Seagate feels people using the PATA models on average have older computers with less RAM and generally slower and so may not notice the slower seek times etc so much whereas people using SATA are likely to have faster computers with more RAM and so are more likely to notice the seek times etc difference when AAM is disabled.

Alternatively perhaps they feel people using SATA are more likely to have new & high performing computers with noisy fans whereas people with PATA have older, slower, quiter computers. Of course, this isn't actually that true for AMD, my A64 is definitely quiter then my Athlon and I think this is the case for many people but I guess it's more true for Intel users, at least until the Conroe launches. There could be many reasons, who knows but Seagate?

*I say generally because at least one user has suggested it's possible for an OEM to ask for AAM to be disabled or enabled depending on their needs.

Edited by Nil Einne

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Last Friday i received my 4x320 seagates to build a raid5 array...

unfortunately during last nights tests, i found out that one of them has some bad sectors

resulting in degraded raid performance...

The question is:

should i try and fix it with a low level format or something?

will it be as good as new?

or will it eventually fail again?

RMA is not a problem but i just don't want to wait untill they have seagates again in stock..

and i really can't play around with a 960gb array (have to get my refugee data back on an array soon)

TIA

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Last Friday i received my 4x320 seagates to build a raid5 array...

unfortunately during last nights tests, i found out that one of them has some bad sectors

resulting in degraded raid performance...

The question is:

should i try and fix it with a low level format or something?

will it be as good as new?

or will it eventually fail again?

RMA is not a problem but i just don't want to wait untill they have seagates again in stock..

and i really can't play around with a 960gb array (have to get my refugee data back on an array soon)

TIA

RMA the bad one now. usually when drive new and has bad sectors its an impending failure sooner or later.

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It would be interesting to see if Seagate's acquisition of Maxtor means they re-introduce user-adjustable AAM. Since it's a patent issue, and if Maxtor has licensed it, it'll depend on the license I guess (if it involves royalties for example, they might not bother). On the other hand, if Maxtor has used another implementation that doesn't violate the patent, then Seagate will acquite this tech and should hopefully be able to integrate it.

BTW, it almost definitely is a patent issue. Convolve and MIT have sued Compaq and Seagate for violating their patent. See this link http://www.convolve.com/pr2000-7-12a.html The lawsuit was filed about 6 years ago so I would have assumed it would be resolve by now but I can't find any info (and US lawsuits to tend to take an awfully long time to be resolved so perhaps it hasn't).

Seagate does have a patent on AAM BTW.

I also found this old e-mail someone posted from Seagate

Hello:

Seagate has decided that we will no longer support AAM. Seagate is in

the process of removing all product information pertaining to the

support of AAM.

Our drives are extremely quiet while operating at the highest

performance levels, so we believe the ability to switch between Modes is

unnecessary, though supported by ATA specifications.

We are also involved in patent litigation with Convolve and MIT.

Although we believe the lawsuit is without merit, Convolve alleges that

one of its patents, US Patent No. 6,314,473, covers AAM technology.

We understand that Convolve told the T-13 standards committee that it

would license its patents on a reasonable, non-discriminatory basis.

If you want a utility that will switch AAM modes you must procure it

from a third party. Seagate cannot make any recommendations as to what

third party utility you choose to use, nor do we in any way support the

utilities. However you can perform an Internet search for Automatic

Acoustic Management and select from the available 3rd party

If you have further questions, please contact us.

Regards,

Jeremy W.

Seagate Technical Support

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Perhaps Seagate feels people using the PATA models on average have older computers with less RAM and generally slower and so may not notice the slower seek times etc so much whereas people using SATA are likely to have faster computers with more RAM and so are more likely to notice the seek times etc difference when AAM is disabled.

I suspect it's because PATA drives are still popular in the DVR market, where slower seeks are not an issue but noise is.

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Where did you get that from ? I don't know about PATA drives, but there are SATA 7200.10 drives around with both silent and loud seeks. This is confirmed by Seagate representative and according to him depends of distribution channels (OEM/Retail), but in reality it seems like there is no rule. What you realy end up with is pure luck. Why should drive be more reliable when the user doesn't change the setting ? I can only expect that, at least theoreticaly, silent (slower) seeks mean less mechanical stress therefore better reliability.

But unless you have extreme seeks 24h a day/7days a week, this is just a theory.

Since Seagate drives do not support AAM, it sells the sata devices with setting <performance> and the pata ones with <silent> seeks. We can only speculate for the reason for this, but I suppose its has to do with the reliability of the drives. They test sata drives at the factory with performance seek, and the drive would be more reliable if the user do not alter this setting, same for the pata ones. Of course this is just a guess.

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Come on, is there realy anyone who can notice 1 or even 2 ms difference in seek time ? :) For 99% applications this is irrelevant, there are so many other factors.

I prefer louder seeks, not because of the speed, but I simply need to know when is my drive seeking.

When zero noise PCs become available maybe I'll think about it again.

Perhaps Seagate feels people using the PATA models on average have older computers with less RAM and generally slower and so may not notice the slower seek times etc so much whereas people using SATA are likely to have faster computers with more RAM and so are more likely to notice the seek times etc difference when AAM is disabled.

I suspect it's because PATA drives are still popular in the DVR market, where slower seeks are not an issue but noise is.

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When talking about the noise Seagate drives output, the most important thing to mention about personal experiences is whether they are based on PATA or SATA variants, as that probably makes more difference than platter counts and generation numbers.

PATA = slow and quiet seeks.

SATA = fast and noisy seeks.

They don't support AAM (Automatic Acoustic Management) like all other recent ATA drives do, so one cannot change the acoustic setting from it's factory default. It never ceases to suprize me, why...

Forgot to check this thread. My .9 is a SATA. In which case it is in "fast" mode. Could that be why my seek times seem to be much lower than Seagate's published, and rather pathetic, 11ms? I get about 13ms access time every time I run HDtach. Which gives about 8.8 seek. Not bad at all.

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Come on, is there realy anyone who can notice 1 or even 2 ms difference in seek time ? :) For 99% applications this is irrelevant, there are so many other factors.

I prefer louder seeks, not because of the speed, but I simply need to know when is my drive seeking.

When zero noise PCs become available maybe I'll think about it again.

Perhaps Seagate feels people using the PATA models on average have older computers with less RAM and generally slower and so may not notice the slower seek times etc so much whereas people using SATA are likely to have faster computers with more RAM and so are more likely to notice the seek times etc difference when AAM is disabled.

I suspect it's because PATA drives are still popular in the DVR market, where slower seeks are not an issue but noise is.

I think this used to be a bigger problem with older drives, with smaller capacity. Drives now tend to have to seek less. All their small program and system files are close together, physically. XP on an 8GB drive would take up about 10-15% of the disk surface. XP on a 200GB drive would take up 0.5% of the disk surface.

Plus, space-hogging things now are large collections of audio and video, where seeking doesn't matter too much.

This is all just speculation on my part though. The slowest thing in a computer is, and always will be, a seeking hard drive (not counting floppy or optical drives). So I could see how taking 1 or 2 ms off the seek time would help a lot with performance.

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Yuri, you may have a point there, but it doesn't really answer the question IMHO which is why did they choose those settings in the first place? I mean they could very well test them both without AAM or both with AAM. So the reason Seagate generally* enable AAM for PATA and disable it for SATA is IMHO unclear. There could be many reasons.

Perhaps Seagate feels people using the PATA models on average have older computers with less RAM and generally slower and so may not notice the slower seek times etc so much whereas people using SATA are likely to have faster computers with more RAM and so are more likely to notice the seek times etc difference when AAM is disabled.

Alternatively perhaps they feel people using SATA are more likely to have new & high performing computers with noisy fans whereas people with PATA have older, slower, quiter computers. Of course, this isn't actually that true for AMD, my A64 is definitely quiter then my Athlon and I think this is the case for many people but I guess it's more true for Intel users, at least until the Conroe launches. There could be many reasons, who knows but Seagate?

*I say generally because at least one user has suggested it's possible for an OEM to ask for AAM to be disabled or enabled depending on their needs.

Those are all good points. Though I still don't see a reason for all the AAM stuff. I have yet to hear a drive seek today that's louder than a drive 6 years ago. Of course, AAM is useful for things like DVRs where even the slightest seeking is annoying. But people have always assumed there would be rattling coming from their PC. Though I don't think excessive noise is good, I don't think seeks should be slowed to compensate. Use better construction on the drive to minimize vibration, but I don't want slow seeks. I think HDD makers should specifically market QUIET drives and leave the rest of the drives on max performance. If people want quiet, they buy quiet. Otherwise, people get normal drives.

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IMO, seagate is fast, but is noisy. If anyone ever try Maxtor DiamondMax 10 6V160E0, i think this is the QUITEST hard disk ever. When it's seeking, reading, writing, and whatever, I can barely hear its noise. FYI: my ear is sensitive, but still this Maxtor model is doing great job.

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This doesn't seem to have been mentioned before but I came across this Seagate page which lists 320gb 8mb cache and also 300gb 8 and 16 mb cache 7200.10 drives for both SATA and ATA. The 320gb 16mb cache appears to be the predominant version and I guess the other versions are primarily for OEMs for who the price difference is likely to make a difference. Nevertheless, this does suggest you should be cautious when buying the 320gb drive. Make sure it is 16mb cache. And if the drive is confirmed as a 7200.10 but listed as 300gb, don't assume it is actually a 320gb. Easiest thing would be to ask for the model number

http://www.seagate.com/products/details/0,,4,00.html

Edited by Nil Einne

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What I would especially like to know is from those who already own one or more 7200.10, do these drives emit a high-pitched whine?

Almost everyone I've talked to in forums and systems I've built for people over the years make it known to me if a drive whines. It's the type of noise that can actually give one a headache after long exposure, and I speak from personal experience. You're chatting with someone who's owned about every type of conceivable drive for the PC, as far back as MFM units. I'm no expert on the matter but I can relate my own and others' experiences.

Though I have two 7200.10 320GB drives coming to me from Newegg that does not mean I simply won't return them. I'm not scared of new technology as long as there's a solid warranty to back it up, as Seagate commendably does. It's whether I can live with the drive day-to-day.

None of my 3 x 7200.10/320GB/sata disks makes a whining noise, they are all very quiet in when idle.

But all 3 have very high seeking noise, even higher than my raptor 150GB!

Two of my 3 drives vibrate some, the last one is perfectly balanced.

I use them with nForce4 and standard MS drivers

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I finally have my 320GB 7100.10s installed and running in RAID 0. I have them partitioned as 200GB/396GB.

Here are my HDTach results:

NCQ enabled, quick bench

HDTach-NCQenabledquickbench.jpg

NCQ enabled, long bench

HDTach-NCQenabledlongbench.jpg

NCQ disabled, quick bench

HDTach-NCQdisabledquickbench.jpg

NCQ disabled, long bench

HDTach-NCQdisabledlongbench.jpg

As you can see, the NCQ-disabled numbers are absolutely incredible. I'm using the latest DFI BIOS (4/6/06) and nForce drivers (6.70). I was thinking about a Raptor 150GB but I'm glad I went with these drives instead. Like the Raptor, though, they do run a bit warm so you don't want to bunch them to close together unless you have some hd coolers on them. I installed my drives in the drive cage that came with my Lian Li case. There are two 80mm fans that pass air over the two 7200.10s and my WD2500KS. This keeps the drives cool enough for reliable operation.

Seeks are nearly silent as the two drives are quieter than most other single drives I've had. I did notice a high pitched "whirring" or spinning noise, but it's not a high-pitched whine. It's hard to describe but you'd know what I mean if you had a pair of these drives running. I have the side of my case off until I replace the current 120mm fan installed in the side cover with a quieter unit (the current Global Win is really noisy and if I put the cover back on all I hear is the noise from it). Once I replace the fan I will post more comments regrading noise but for now I'm just going to leave the side case cover off.

P.S. Yeah, I know it's an ugly color scheme, but it's easy on my eyes. :P

Edited by NLight95

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K15, "My .9 is a SATA. In which case it is in "fast" mode. Could that be why my seek times seem to be much lower than Seagate's published, and rather pathetic, 11ms? I get about 13ms access time every time I run HDtach. Which gives about 8.8 seek. Not bad at all."

The "11ms" seek time (15ms access time) on the specs might be the average value over a population of 7200.9 PATA and SATA drives. PATA variants have access time greater than 15ms. The one in this computer has average access time of 16ms but I've heard of worse performance on other model series.

Before the "11ms" seek time was introduced into the specs, the "official truth" was that all (PATA and SATA) had a "8ms" seek time (IIRC): something slightly faster than true SATA performance and totally different from true PATA performance ...thus an outright lie.

Well, it's no the first time Seagate played the ridiculous seek time in specs stunt. For example Seagate U5 has average access time of 19.48 ms in "performance" mode. Promised seek time "8.9ms". This is a 5400rpm drive so we need to substract more average latency (5.6ms), yet still the measured seek time is 13.9ms. And the one StorageReview tested was not just a bad sample.

It's better they'd stick to the "11ms" that publish outright lies about their products. Well, they could at least admit officially the differences in seek time and include these in the specs.

K15, "The slowest thing in a computer is, and always will be, a seeking hard drive (not counting floppy or optical drives). So I could see how taking 1 or 2 ms off the seek time would help a lot with performance."

But a good caching algorithm matters much more than that, since a drive that doesn't need to seek at all, but simply burst data out of it's integrated cache, is very fast. 1 or 2 ms off the seek time might be 10...20% off the seek time, but less off the average access time since average latency remains constant.

K15, "Though I still don't see a reason for all the AAM stuff. I have yet to hear a drive seek today that's louder than a drive 6 years ago."

Are you actually comparing a drive to some other drive 6 years old? Is a drive quiet enough if it's more or at least equally silent as a 6-year-old drive? If the HDD industry really had that attitude, you'd be sure the HDDs were still as noisy as ever. Luckily some people demand silent operation - and there's no reason why to manufacture a different drive to them and offer the less demanding customers a noisier one.

K15, "Of course, AAM is useful for things like DVRs where even the slightest seeking is annoying."

It simply costs more to manufacture a silent drive in addition to a noisier one. So I consider AAM a great possibility of making two-drives-in-one: one drive suitable for both the computers and to the DVRs.

Seagate representatives say their drives are "silent enough" as they are. Total Bullsh*t â„¢! Why would they slow PATA drives down if SATA drives were already "silent enough"?

K15, "I think HDD makers should specifically market QUIET drives and leave the rest of the drives on max performance. If people want quiet, they buy quiet."

Why? Isn't it even better to have a drive I can configure myself to suit my needs and possibly reconfigure it again in the future (if I for example move it into another computer case)? Why should the decision between silent and fast be made only when purchasing the drive? Why couldn't I have "both" drives (i.e both AAM modes) in the price of one single drive? This is utter nonsense. Of course drives should support AAM. IMHO, it's one of the best innovations so far, since 99.99% of all HDD improvements have to do with either speed or capacity. Innovation on a field of performance is more like continuous improvement than a Real Innovation.

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I thought you couldn't adjust Seagate drives? If you can, then of course that's better than designing two seperate models. As for comparing drives, yes I did actually compare. However it's just a general opinion of mine. Though the data says that ball bearing drives ARE noisier than FDB drives. For seeking, it's a conclusion i've come to myself, it could be wrong. Of the 4 5+ year old drives I have, all have much noiser seeks than my 6 or so newer drives. I would be perfectly happy with new drives as noisy as old drives (in terms of seeking). It's fine that other people would not be, but that doesn't mean I want to sacrifice performance. That's why I would rather have a way of knowing what mode a drive was in and being able to change it. I just don't like "automatic accoustic management" unless I can CONTROL it. With Seagates, you can't. That is what I was talking about. I would love a drive with multiple modes also, then WHY doesn't Seagate DO that?!

I have a U5 and a U6, they are just pathetic. I never used them as boot drives, but even for loading programs, they were horribly slow. For caching, how can that negate performance increases in seeking? No matter how you look at it, a drive WILL have to seek and find data on the surface. All the while, the cache HAS to wait for it to seek. Only after it has seeked can it begin doing something useful. Good caching can reduce seeking, but does not eliminate it. Since seeking is SO much slower than the cache, any increase in seek performance is an overall performance increase. Just depends on how much you can notice it. I don't think taking 1ms off average seeking is a huge benefit, but it's also not worthless either. Personally, I would find track-track seeks of more importance than average seek times. A drive doing 1ms track-track will likely seem faster than a drive doing 2 or 3ms track-track seeks.

Edited by K15

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