HD Tach confirmed that Hitachi’s claimed 8.5ms seek time doesn’t include the average latency of 4.16ms that you get with a 7,200rpm drive so the true figure is actually 12.5ms, which is still faster than the 13.2ms we saw for the Seagate drive.
The HD Tach figures looked perfectly acceptable but we decided to format the drives, install Windows XP and then run PCMark05. This reminded us of one of the issues with high capacity drives as it took two and a half hours to format the 7K500. In the process we lost 35GB of space which is the usual seven percent that you kiss off to formatting, but it seems like a monumental amount when you consider that you have doubtless owned PCs with less than 35GB of storage.
Once we were done we ran PC Mark05 and initially, the results were quite shocking as the Hitachi only scored 1,217 marks compared to 1,924 for the WD Raptor and 2,174 for the Samsung. There’s no way that the Hitachi has a mere 55 per cent of the performance of the Samsung so we checked our test results carefully and found that PCMark05 requires a CPU driver patch to make the test recognise dual-core processors correctly. You can download the patch here. The patch only works with Windows XP SP2, rather than SP1, so we had to reinstall Windows on the Hitachi, Samsung and WD drives but the effort was worth it as the Hitachi managed the same overall performance as the Raptor, which is rather impressive.
All of this messing around was a pain in the neck however it set a train of thought in motion. Buying 500GB of storage in the form of two 250GB drives or three 160GB drives will currently cost you about £160 or £170 so you’re paying a significant premium for a single 500GB drive. Formatting the 500GB drive takes ages, and if it fails then you lose everything on it, which is likely to be a huge amount of data, while offering you little in return unless you’re the one in a million who has a small form factor PC yet you feel you need for half a Terabyte of storage.
Hitachi can legitimately claim that the 7K500 is the first 500GB hard drive on the market but despite the fact it uses SATA-II there’s no compelling reason to buy one enormous drive instead of two smaller capacity units.