Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 review

£203
Price when reviewed

The Barracuda 7200.8 is easily the most interesting 7,200rpm disk here in terms of performance. Rather than make the expected jump from the 7200.7’s 80GB platters to 100GB platters, Seagate jumped straight over that barrier and onto 133GB.

This is good news, not simply from a capacity point of view, but higher data densities mean faster transfer rates as well. When the data is packed more tightly onto the platters (120,000 tracks per inch as opposed to the more common 90,000-100,000), the heads have to move less distance to reach the data.

You’d imagine this would lead to a faster seek time and, although Seagate claims 8ms on average (versus the 7200.7’s 8.5ms), we measured it as 9.43ms. Even so, and despite the 8MB buffer – which is half the size of the new Maxtor DiamondMax 10’s – this is a very fast hard disk.

We’ll get onto just how fast in a minute, but it’s worth pointing out that, unlike some other manufacturers that use only high-capacity platters in their high-capacity models, Seagate uses 133GB platters in every capacity of the 7200.8. This means that, no matter what capacity you opt for, performance should be more or less the same.

Average STR was 57.8MB/sec – a good margin ahead of the Maxtor and not embarrassingly behind the Raptor. Outer-zone rates were even closer to the Raptor at 70.3MB/sec. The Raptor pulled away on the inner zones, though – 53.8MB/sec against the Seagate’s 39.1MB/sec.

Any ground lost was immediately regained when we ran our Photoshop test. The 7200.8 beat the Raptor here, albeit by less than a second. For a 7,200rpm disk, though, this is a superb performance. Boot time was similarly quick at 22.43 seconds, comfortably beating everything on test.

Reading large files and writing small files, the Seagate took second spot, but it overtook the Raptor for a third time when writing large files, managing a blistering 61.3MB/sec. Reading small files was the only mediocre result at 14MB/sec.

Seagate has even reduced noise. At 29.2dBA when seeking, you’ll be hard pushed to hear this disk. Costing 51p per GB, it’s expensive, especially compared to the Maxtor, but you’ll only think like this if you’re not concerned by performance. If it’s speed you’re after, the 7200.8 is by far the best-value choice here, and it’s far quieter than the expensive Raptor.

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