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Report: nine 2 TB hard drives!
by Marc Prieur
Published on August 24, 2010

Practical tests
After raw performance levels and file copying, we now move on to some slightly more meaningful numbers, the practical tests. While for the other tests, the hard drive was set up as a secondary drive, here it becomes the primary drive. After installing Windows 7 64-bit we time various tasks:

- Windows 7 start-up
We measure how long it takes to start up Windows 7, from initialising the load to the appearance of the Windows desktop.

- Windows 7 start-up + various applications:
This is the time required to start up Windows 7, Adobe Photoshop CS 5, Excel 2010, Word 2010, PowerPoint 2010 and Outlook 2010.

- Launch of a Crysis level:
We measure how long it takes to launch Crysis and a game level launched straight from a command line.

- Installation of Photoshop CS5:
This is the time required to install Photoshop CS5 from the Adobe site download archive to the hard drive. Installation is broken down into two stages, the extraction of files from the archive, then the actual installation.

- Installation of Office 2010:
Here we measure the time required to install Office 2010 from an image on the hard drive.

For information, we have also included the results obtained for a VelociRaptor 150 GB (HDD 10K rpm) and Crucial C300 128 GB (SSD) so as to give a basis for comparison with other storage device ranges.

The Caviar Black is fastest for Windows 7 startup at 25.5s: better than a VelociRaptor! We shouldn’t forget that in spite of slightly higher access times overall, Windows 7 occupies proportionally much less space on such a drive, which in turn means that less ground has to be covered when accessing the data. Only an SSD is faster, and this is especially visible when accessing multiple tasks such as Windows startup along with several applications.

Moreover this test shows up the limitations of the EcoGreen F3/F4, WD EADS and EARS and these drives are best avoided if you’re looking for a very responsive system. The Barracuda XT scores top here, followed by the Caviar Black, the 7K2000 and, surprisingly, the Barracuda LP.

The differences here are much lower. The first stage of the installation of Photoshop shows similar results on all the storage devices – extraction from an archive is mainly limited by decompression speed, which depends on the CPU and memory. You do however get bigger gains on the second part of the installation process and on the installation of Office 2010. Here, it’s the 4-platter WD20EARS that stands out, but rather for its poor performance thus confirming the results obtained for writing small files.

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