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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [05.11.05]
Manufactured by: Hitachi

 

Introduction

A lot of attention has been paid to what we believe was the first review of a SATA-II hard drive, the Hitachi T7K250. However, when we reviewed it, it was in comparison to several non-SATA-II drives. Therefore, the tests were performed in SATA 150 mode, or 1.5 Gb/s.

As you know, one of the capabilities called for by the SATA-II specification is 3 Gb/s transfer rate, or SATA 300. There are obvious implications to overall drive performance when using this transfer rate; with a potential 3 GB/s of burst transfer rate, we should theoretically see the highest performance ever from a 7200 RPM drive!

And that's exactly what we're going to find out today. To get the absolute most potential performance from these drives, we tested them in RAID-0 mode (striping) and RAID-1 mode (mirroring) as well.

But first, there are a few questions our readers brought up after reading the first review. We'll have to take care of those before moving on.

Myths Debunked

Myth #1: My drive is a SATA-II drive, because it supports NCQ.

Fact: While NCQ is one of the capabilities of the SATA-II spec, it does not automatically make your drive a SATA-II drive. Many SATA drives support NCQ.

Myth #2: SATA-II = 3 Gb/s or SATA 300

Fact: Again, 3 Gb/s transfer rate is a capability of SATA-II, but it NOT the only one. As mentioned on this FAQ from SATA-IO (the new name for the SATA committee), there are several capabilities defined by the SATA-II specification. This includes both NCQ and 3 Gb/s, in addition to features like staggered spinup and hot plug support.

The hard drive drive controller must support all these features to be able to call itself SATA-II. You'll notice that NVIDIA does not mention SATA-II at all in their tech specs for the NF4 Ultra chipset; only 3 GB/s support. Intel does the same for their 955X chipset.

So it's important to make sure not to use SATA-II to describe 3 Gb/s support, and vice versa.

Hitachi does call their drive a SATA-II drive, as it does support all of the newest features, including NCQ, 3 Gb/s, and Staggered Spinup.

Well, let's get right to it! I bet you're dying to see how this SATA-II drive performs! I know I was!

HGST Drive Feature Tool

It is important to note that for compatibility, the T7K250 comes set to 1.5 Gb/s by default. You are going to have to set it to 3 Gb/s yourself, using the HFST Drive Feature Tool:

Only do this if you have a drive controller capable of 3 Gb/s, such as the NF4 Ultra, or Intel ICH7 Southbridge.

You should also take this opportunity to change other settings that can enhance performance, such as acoustic management, and power consumption management settings. For the best performance, you'll want to make sure both are disabled.

If you bought an OEM drive, and it didn't come with a floppy, you can download a bootable CD ISO from Hitachi's site.

The Test

All tests were performed on the following system:

CPU: AMD Athlon64 3000+ (supplied by Newegg.com)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 (NFORCE4 Ultra)
Memory: Kingston HyperX PC4300 3-4-4-8, 1T timing
Video: GeForce 6600GT
OS: WindowsXP w/ SP2, DirectX 9.0C

Drivers: NVIDIA NF4 Standalone Kit v6.53

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