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Roundup: twelve 1 TB hard drives!
by Marc Prieur
Published on September 21, 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.

Even if we aren’t on a par with SSDs here, performances obtained by the 7200 rpm models are almost all very good, with the exception of the SpinPoint F3, and manage to carry out Windows 7 start-up faster than the VelociRaptor 150 GB. The WD Caviar Black and Blue are fastest here. For start-up of Crysis, the different 7200 rpms are all very close to one another with scores of 57 to 58 seconds, except the 7K1000.C which takes 61.5 seconds.

Start-up of Windows with five applications simultaneously shows the 7200.12 and 7K1000.C moving ahead of the Caviar Black and Blue once again: this test only extends the boot by 43 and 44.5 seconds for the 7200.12 and the 7K1000.C respectively, against 52 to 53 seconds for the Caviars. Here the SpinPoint comes back into things as it only takes 53.5 more seconds on this complex start-up than a simple start-up. It is nevertheless far behind the extra 6.1 seconds needed for the Crucial C300! Among the 5400/5900 rpm drives, the Barracuda LP does relatively well, but the others confirm that they aren’t apt for use as system disks when too many demands are put on them.

Here the differences are much smaller. The first stage of installation of Photoshop shows similar results on all the storage devices – extraction from an archive is mainly limited by decompression speed, which depends on 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 “old” WD10EARS which is dragging its feet, because of the problems we’ve already pointed out in its processing of small files. The more recent version does better and, though trailing, is less far back.

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