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Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB SATA 6Gb/s Hard Drive review

Ardjuna Seghers




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With SSDs getting all the limelight, it’s been a while since we looked at good old moving-parts hard drives. But with 3.5in drives offering capacities at least 20 times as high as similarly-priced solid state counterparts, they’re very far from dead. Considering the largest SSD size that’s even remotely affordable is 256GB, those with lots of data will still want a magnetic hard drive, which currently offer as much as 2TB (2,000GB). The first of these to market was Western Digital’s Caviar Green 2TB, which received our Recommended Award. Over a year on, we’re now looking at Seagate’s Barracuda XT 2TB, the first drive to claim SATA 6Gb/s compatibility which the company labelled “the world’s fastest desktop hard drive”. Can it possibly live up to this claim?

Unlike the WD Green then, which focused on power saving and quiet, reliable operation at the expense of performance, Seagate’s four-platter monster goes for speed over everything. To facilitate this, the Barracuda XT features a whopping 64MB of cache, facilitating top level burst performance and wiping the floor with most competitors that only offer half this. On the other hand its areal density of 368Gb per square inch doesn’t quite match up to the WD Green’s 400Gbits thanks to the latter’s perpendicular magnetic recording (PMR) technology.

However, it does use the fastest interface available: SATA 6Gb/s. This requires a compatible motherboard like the Asus P7P55D-E Premium, though older SATA II cables can be used as long as they’re shorter than one metre (which most are). Unfortunately, in our preliminary testing for the P7P55D-E we found there to be very little difference between SATA 6Gb/s and its preceding standard, but now you can see all the little nitty-gritty details for yourself, and like us you're likely to be unpleasantly surprised.

We've performed most SATA II tests using our usual Intel Core 2/Asus P5E3 hard drive testbed for consistency with results from previous hard drives. SATA 6Gb/s tests were performed using the above mentioned P7P55D-E with a Core i5.


February 18, 2010, 10:56 am

Lets face it none of those tests even exceed the sata 1.5gb/s limit.Another excuse to buy unneeded hardware.


February 18, 2010, 2:13 pm

These drives might not exceed the TEORETICAL max of sata I (1.5gbps), but in reality both sata II and III have their advantages, more specificly SATA II's new features like ahci, ncq and other enhancements that improve performance.

Otoh, i dont recomend getting sata 3 if you have sata 2 allready - you will still gain the performance of this disk (but only if you run them in ahci mode and not legacy ide).


February 18, 2010, 3:26 pm


For now, I agree with you. However, as I mention in my {http://www.trustedreviews.com/...} P7P55D-E motherboard review, SATA 6Gb/s should get the chance to come into its own once fast SSDs adopt the interface. Therefore it's not totally "unneeded" for future-proofing.


As above - if you're planning a build with a moving parts drive there seems little reason to get SATA III (which is officially called 'SATA 6Gb/s', much as 'SATA III' might have made everyone's life easier as 'SATA II' has become the most common appellation for its predecessor).


February 18, 2010, 8:56 pm

> We check out the first hard drive ... to come with 64MB of cache.

Is the WD Caviar Black 2TB not available in the UK? It's been on the market for almost 8 months now.

It's a bit odd that you don't compare the Seagate to that drive since the Caviar Black is a much more direct competitor for the Seagate than any of the other drives you compare it with.

G Hell

February 20, 2010, 3:57 am

I know I'm nit picking (after all, I can't fault your verdict) but

"...the higher bandwidth does result in faster maximum writes..."

is not what the histogram shows. Unless I'm reading it incorrectly it says that max write speed on SATA 3GB is 129.5 MB per sec and on SATA 6GB it is only 100.9 MB per sec.


February 22, 2010, 7:32 pm

The tests сlearly show that Marwell "SATA 3G" chips are a swindle. They are even inferior to Intel SB SATA II


March 2, 2010, 10:47 pm


Good point actually, I'm not sure which one made it to market first...

@G Hell:

Well spotted - that should have been "Reads". Review corrected, thanks.


Indeed, hence "The only possible conclusion to part of this puzzle is that the Intel 3Gb/s controller outperforms the Marvel 6Gb/s one regardless of bandwidth."

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