In our first look at Hitachi's new Deskstar 7K1000 we thought it was the best 7200rpm drive that has passed through our labs. Throughout testing we found the performance of the drive to be very balanced across a broad spectrum of benchmarks that stressed write and read speeds, or a combination of both. This unique blend of performance and capacity also comes at a fairly reasonable price of 40 cents per-Gigabyte or approximately $399 for the drive although two 500GB drives can be had for around $250 now.

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies announced the drive right before CES 2007 and stated a shipping date in late Q1. The drive did start shipping last month but was only available in systems from Dell or Alienware. We expected retail shipments of this drive at the beginning of April but it appears the drives will not be widely available for another week or so now.

We were able to procure a retail unit directly from Hitachi and have been testing it thoroughly for the past few days. Our initial impressions about this drive have not changed as we did not notice any perceivable performance differences between the O.E.M. supplied unit from Dell or the retail drive. The only change we could identify between the two drives is the firmware being updated from GKA0A51C to GKA0A51D.

Our preliminary acoustic testing revealed minor differences between the drives with the retail unit having an increase in noise levels at idle from 26dBA to 27dBA and load results going from 35dBA to 36dBA with AAM enabled at the silent setting of 128. At an AAM setting of 254 we noticed an increase from 27dBA to 28dBA along with load results increasing from 36dBA to 38dBA. Our AAM disabled settings did not change. We also noticed a little more vibration in the retail drive but will temper our findings until we have additional retail drives to test. Our differences are more than likely caused by slight manufacturing variations between the two drives and not the firmware or retail configuration.

Our thermal results did not change although we are revising both our acoustic and thermal tests to reflect environmental conditions in an ATX and uATX case design along with vibration testing in a typical drive cage with rubber bushings or attached directly to the chassis. Our two configurations will simulate a typical gaming/enthusiast machine and one designed for quiet desktop or HTPC usage. We recommend a visit to SPCR if you are interested in pure acoustic test results of the drives without other system components being in the test mix.

In the meantime, we created a thirty minute script to simulate general home/office/gaming usage with the drive's temperature increasing from 31C at idle to 39C over the course of the test. We feel like this particular test gives a better indication of a drive's average operating temperature during typical usage. We will have complete test results with our other drives in the upcoming 500GB+ drive roundup.

With all that said, the purpose of today's second look is to provide some initial RAID results with this drive and convey our experiences with the 7K1000 after having additional test time with it. We had a deluge of reader requests asking for test results in RAID 0 based upon the overall performance of the drive being near, equal, or better than the Western Digital Raptors. We are not fans of RAID on the consumer desktop; especially motherboard based solutions, but nevertheless thought it might be an interesting exercise to see how two of the top performing drives in the consumer SATA market compare against each other.

Sure, RAID 0 will certainly provide some very impressive synthetic benchmark scores, PCMark05 being a prime example, but in actual applications we see it having more of a placebo effect than providing any real performance gains. Our technical briefing and commentary on RAID 0 can be located here. Let's see how the Hitachi Deskstar 7K1000 and Western Digital WD1500 drives perform in RAID 0 across a variety of benchmarks.

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  • userexists - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    As I understand it, from previous articles, the limiting factor in gaming tests seems to be the CPU. I understand why you'd want to use an Opteron or Xeon system for benchmarking the access patterns -- the only people who care about those results are probably going to be running servers. But most people playing games aren't using server components. I'd love to see how the QX6800, for example, and some fast RAM affects gaming benchmarks under RAID-0 -- i.e. answer the question of whether the CPU bottleneck has been relieved. Probably not, but who knows until you test it, right? Reply
  • Gary Key - Sunday, April 22, 2007 - link

    I will have some Intel benchmarks with a QX6700 up this week although I doubt the results will be that surprising. ;-) Reply
  • cbuchach - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    For all the arguing, NO ONE can say that RAID0 is overall slower. In most situations it is faster by varying degrees, maybe a percent or two or maybe more. For enthusiasts, the percent counts. Look at heatsinks or overclocking. Someone may spend an extra $50 for a better heatsink, for what, maybe an increased overlcock from 3300 MHz to 3400 MHz or spend lots of cash for a water cooling setup, or spend an extra $100 for slightly better RAM; the list goes on and on. For real enthusiasts, the extra 1-2% counts.

    (And as far as data loss goes, everyone should backing up all their nonrecoverable data data anyways, so that point is moot.)
  • tshen83 - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    and don't even talk about performance, people who want performance will buy Raptors X or SCSI drives. this drive is for storage. RAID storage for cheap Reply
  • tshen83 - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    yes, backing up 2TB of data, with what? probably a RAID1(takes 4 drives to have 2TB) or RAID5(3 drives) of the same drives. so why not just use RAID1 or RAID5 in the beginning? Reply
  • ncage - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    I just wish hitachi would make this drive in something other than 1TB. I love hitachi hard drives and just which this awesome thing would come in like a 500GB or something like that.

  • Gary Key - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    750GB drives will be available in May, the smaller capacities later this summer. Reply
  • TomWomack - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    What I'd be much more interested by is a review of performance for a pair of these drives in RAID1. RAID1 read speed ought to be the same as RAID0, and most disc-limited tasks are read-limited, whilst running drives in RAID1 seems a sensible reaction to the combined unreliability and cheapness of modern HDDs.

    [also you can break a RAID1 mirrored pair and grovel for deleted data on one of the drives while running the computer happily on the other, which I've found useful in the past]
  • Watson - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    I would love to see if useful speed increases are actually available over multiple drives when splitting OS and cache files from applications vs. Raid 0. I have a Raid 0 on 10k Raptors in my machine, and they are very fast (obviously), but I have often wondered in a reinstall if I would be better off splitting the drives and what is put on them. Any thoughts? Reply
  • yyrkoon - Thursday, April 19, 2007 - link

    If you are wondering if booting from this array would be slower, or faster, the chances are with RAID0 if anything, the array will boot slower vs a single Raptor. The reason behind this is simple: booting windows, HDDs benifit more from faster access times, and RAID0 will increase random access times. RAID1 on the other hand, could help some here, but it really depends on the controller(RAID1 paired with the right controller can actually decrease access times, but it will not be a huge difference).

    Now, all that being said, there is a reason why systems, where speed, and redundancy is crucial, people opt for RAID10. Obviously, there is the redundancy factor, but you can get the from RAID5 as well as speed if enough drives are used. Pretty much, you get the best of both worlds having a RAID10 array, faster access times, and throughput. This performance of course comes at a cost, you need a minimum of 4 HDDs, so for instance, using 4x 1TB Hitachi drives, we are talking in the balpark of $1600 for a bare minimum + controller capable of handling RAID10.

    When it is all said and done, unless your system is serving thousands of people data every hour of the day, heavily editing video, or some other similar task you do not need this kind of disk performance. Also, for the life of me, I can not see how making one large disk array, for your OS, and putting all your data on this array is going to help things either. Personally, I think it is much smarter, to use a single fast disk for the OS, and perhaps multiple drives for data, keeping everything seperate. As for using RAID, well, I can see an application for it, even in the home, but not for the OS.

    Think about it, what is so important about the OS that you need redundancy for it ? Nothing, plain and simple. Need a RAID array for video editing, or something else ? fine, get a third HDD for the OS, and keep the RAID0 array seperate. Same goes for RAID1, or RAID5, keep it seperate from the OS, and if something catostrophic does happen, chances are, it wont be on the data disks(however, nothing is ever set in stone). I have been using this technique since the mid 90's, and have had very little problems, and have lost next to zero data, that I needed. Not only this, but it does help to organize your data, so it is more easily found later on, but not as important.

    As for splitting OS/swap accross multiple drives, this is debatable. First, if all of your SATA channels are saturating what your system is capable of handeling, then no, but in theory it should help. I personally have noticed the bigest differences when transfering file locally, if I am transfering files from a PATA -> SATA drive, or vice versa. Two different interfaces, using two difference I/O channels.

    </two cents>

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