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Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB (HD502HJ)

500GB Per Platter: Three Next-Gen 7,200 RPM Hard Drives

The Spinpoint F is Samsung’s 3.5” hard drive family for desktops. Past Spinpoint drives were named by the capacity that Samsung could store on a single platter, as with the Spinpoint P102 or T166. The naming changed slightly with the introduction of the company’s first 1TB hard drive, the Spinpoint F1. The second-generation Spinpoint F2 has thus far only been available in an EcoGreen version (F2EG) spinning at 5,400 RPM. The new Spinpoint F3 marks the next-generation performance desktop drive, running at 7,200 RPM and storing 500GB per platter.

The first product we received is the 500GB HD502HJ, and we hear from Samsung that 1TB models are also available now. However, higher capacities may still take a few weeks. While the HD502HJ can only store 500GB, this capacity point is the sweet spot for volume hard drive sales today because it allows drive makers to bring cost down to a minimum, thanks to the single-platter design. At the same time, utilizing the latest recording technology also introduces a decent performance boost. The Spinpoint F3 500GB reached a maximum read throughput of 136 MB/s and an average of 110.4 MB/s—not bad! The two WD drives are capable of beating the F3’s maximum throughput, though.

Samsung’s single-platter design introduces another less obvious advantage: this is one of the coolest medium capacity drives we’ve had in our test labs. The lowest operational temperature we measured on WD’s Caviar Green (WD20EADS) was 39°C, but that one spins at 5,400 RPM while Samsung has the 7,200 RPM performance boost. Samsung’s idle noise is also acceptable, since more platters always introduce more noise. This applies both for idle noise and noise during high I/O activity.

Samsung’s 13.5 ms access time isn’t particularly amazing. It’s good enough for general consumer use, but the access speed does impact I/O performance and drag down the drive’s numbers, at least at this capacity point.

In this context, it’s important to look at power requirements. Samsung could have optimized this drive for low power rather than maximum performance, which it actually did. Showing just 5.7W maximum power draw during I/O-intensive workstation operation, Samsung beats any other hard drive on this test, including all the fancy green models. Power consumption during HD video playback also is also very low at 4.4W; only streaming reads at maximum throughput are more power-intensive (6.8W). In the end, the Spinpoint F3 delivers the best performance per watt in terms of throughput.


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  • 0 Hide
    tinnerdxp , 29 October 2009 17:42
    am I missing something here? Where is Samsung 2TB on the Access Time and IO perf graphs?
  • 0 Hide
    tinnerdxp , 29 October 2009 17:53
    Right... it's the Samsung 500GB not 2TB... my bad... sorry
  • 0 Hide
    unknownsock , 29 October 2009 19:49
    I do partially feel these results are either just a bad sample or their is some bias here.
    I have 2 500gb Samsung F3's, and they performance significantly better than these reults.
  • 0 Hide
    shaman83 , 30 October 2009 13:49
    It would be quite interesting to see the results of 2 of those drives in RAID 0 compared to some SSD's
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 30 October 2009 15:03
    Why did they use the 500gb Samsung F3? Why not the 1tb version? The 500gb model only has 16mb cache compared to the 32mb of the terabyte model. It seems like a very strange oversight.
  • 0 Hide
    Reynod , 1 November 2009 20:58
    The WD drives look very good.

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 3 November 2009 02:39
    You really need to compare these acoustic readings with a truly quiet drive. All the newer, larger drives seem to be getting louder and if you want peace and quiet its intolerable. Please put up for comparison (for instance) a Deskstar P7K500 which is MUCH quieter than any of these.
  • 0 Hide
    phcahill , 5 November 2009 18:32
    At the other end of the scale. Can anyone recommend a fast, low cost, lowish capacity boot drive? Even with W7/Vista winsxs folder I like to keep my boot/programs partition fairly small.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , 9 February 2010 17:59
    Here's an interesting question: Tom's reviewed both the RE4 and the RE4-GP. The difference: the GP version consumes less power. Is there a big difference between the two drives, or is "going green" costing you a tiny performance difference in RAID format? I would LOVE to see a side-by-side of all of the 2TB drives in such a case!