Seagate Barracuda XT ST3 review: Seagate Barracuda XT ST3

Unlike with Windows XP, the 3TB Barracuda XT works very well with Windows Vista and Windows 7. You do need to format it using a GPT partition if you want to use it as a secondary hard drive, and the OS will prompt you to. In order to use the 3TB Barracuda XT as the boot hard drive with its full storage space being recognized as one logical drive, a system with EFI-enabled motherboard is needed.

Cost per gigabyte

The Barracuda XT is a great deal in terms of cost per gigabyte. At about 8 cents per 1GB the drive offers the most storage space for your dollar among drives of its capacity. For comparison, the Samsung 470 has the lowest cost per gigabyte among SSDs, at around $1.95 per gigabyte.

Performance
We tested the Barracuda XT thoroughly both as the main hard drive and the secondary hard drive of the test machine and it offers very good performance for a hard drive, though quite far behind an SSD.

When the drive is used as the main hard drive that hosts the OS, the tests are designed to gauge the computer's performance as a whole. For this reason, the hard drive only plays a small role in the final score.

In the boot time test, the Barracuda XT took 48.2 seconds, significantly longer than an SSD but noticeably faster than Western Digital's 10,000rpm, 300GB VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS, which is the fastest SATA 2 hard drive. Note that this boot time includes the roughly 15 seconds the test machine takes to go through the hardware initialization. To shut down, the Barracuda XT took 12 seconds, about the same amount of time as the VelociRaptor.

In the Office Performance test, in which we time how long the computer takes to finish a set of different concurrent tasks including file transferring and compression and use of Word and Excel, the Barracuda XT took 391 seconds to finish, 2 seconds fewer than the VelociRaptor. The two drives tied in the iTunes conversion test and in the multimedia multitasking test, which gauges the computer's performance at converting a high-definition movie from one format to another while iTunes is doing a heavy job of music conversion in the background, the Barracuda XT scored 340 seconds, 7 seconds more than the VelociRaptor.

In the most important test for the hard drive, throughput performance, the Barracuda XT consistently beat the VelociRaptor. In this test we time how long it takes for the hard drive to finish copying a large amount of data from one place to another. Both as the main drive and as a secondary backup drive, the Barracuda XT's scores were impressive, registering 51.1MBps and 115.71MBps respectively. These were significantly faster than the 47.12MBps and 112.59MBps of the VelociRaptor. Note that these are real-world sustained throughput speeds, after all the software and hardware overheads.

All in all, we were happy with the Barracuda XT and believe it would make a worthy upgrade for computers that support SATA 3. The drive worked well throughout our testing process and remained quiet. It was rather hot, however; not enough to cause worries, but hotter than other hard drives we've seen.

CNET Labs system performance scores (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Multimedia multitasking  
iTunes  
Office  
WD VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS
323 
113 
393 
Seagate Barracuda XT
340 
113 
391 
Plextor PX-256M2S
323 
113 
383 
OCZ Vertex 3
322 
113 
338 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot time  
OCZ Vertex 3
5.8 
29.1 
Plextor PX-256M2S
6 
28.2 

Boot and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot time  
OCZ Vertex 3
5.8 
29.1 
Plextor PX-256M2S
6 
28.2 

Data transfer scores (in MBps)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Plextor PX-256M2S
261 
162.03 
OCZ Vertex 3
260.71 
150.01 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS
112.59 
47.12 

Service and support
When it comes to storage devices, the length of the warranty is the most important factor, and Seagate delivers: the company backs the Barracuda XT with a generous five-year warranty. At the company's Web site, you'll find a well-organized support area with downloads.

Conclusions:
The Barracuda XT hard drive is a workhorse that offers a top amount of storage space, backward compatibility and good performance for a desktop system. Due to the confusion of the 2.19GB storage barriers, if you choose to use the 3TB version of the hard drive in a BIOS-based computer, it works best to use it as a secondary backup and storage hard drive and use an SSD or a smaller but equally fast hard drive, such as the 2TB version of the Barracuda XT, as the bootable main drive.

What you'll pay

    Pricing is currently unavailable.

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    Where to Buy

    Seagate Barracuda XT (2TB)

    Part Number: ST32000641AS
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications See All

    • Regional specs shown for US. UK specs are unavailable.

    • Form Factor 3.5" x 1/3H
    • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
    • Interface Type Serial ATA-600
    • Capacity 2 TB
    • Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
    • Buffer Size 64 MB