Samsung SpinPoint T review

Price when reviewed

The most obvious attraction of the Samsung SpinPoint T series – and especially the HD501LJ model – is that it’s great value. At the time of writing the 500GB SpinPoint T can be had for £51 exc VAT – just 10.2p per Gigabyte, some 20% cheaper than its A List predecessor, the SpinPoint P120.

Running costs are lower too: though few of us audit every Watt in our system, it’s good to know you’re using one of the most efficient drives around, consuming just 8.2W when idle. For comparison, Western Digital’s comparable 500GB model consumes 8.9W, Seagate’s draws 9.3W and Hitachi’s is quoted at 9.6W. If you leave your PC or server on all the time, those units start to add up.

The SpinPoint T also boasts all the right credentials when it comes to performance: 7,200rpm spindle speed, a 16MB buffer and a competitive seek time of 13.9ms (9.7ms when adjusted for average rotational latency). Seagate claims to undercut this by a millisecond or two, but in actual use we doubt you’d ever notice the difference. This applies especially if you’re using Vista, which aggressively caches data to RAM to minimise hard disk access times.

In benchmark tests it achieved a read speed of 79.8MB/sec and a write speed of 76.6MB/sec for a single 100MB file – a superb performance that puts it clearly ahead of competing half-terabyte SATA units from Western Digital (77.2MB/sec read, 68.0MB/sec write), Hitachi (75.3MB/sec read, 64.6MB/sec write) and Seagate (58.7MB/sec read, 63.6MB/sec write). It also led the pack when the tests were repeated with a 100MB “real world” collection of smaller files, achieving an overall speed of 28.3MB/sec reading and 12.0MB/sec writing.

Like almost all modern drives, the SpinPoint T uses a SATA/300 data interface, with SATA/150 available via a jumper setting. Notably, though, it won’t accept power via a standard 4-pin Molex-type plug: its only power socket is of the newer SATA type. Thankfully, the only difference between the two connectors is the physical shape of the plug, and converters only cost a few pounds, so it’s easy enough to drive the SpinPoint T from an older power supply.

If you’re particularly concerned about reliability then Samsung’s three-year warranty might bother you – it’s on par with what you’d get from Hitachi or Western Digital, but if you were to pay a little more for a Seagate unit you’d get an extra two years’ cover. In our experience, though, a drive that survives for anywhere near three years without failing will almost invariably go on to outlive its usefulness, so we can accept a three-year warranty without too much anxiety.

Presuming you can do the same, we’re happy to recommend the SpinPoint T as an excellent candidate for your next upgrade.

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