We have long recommended installing operating systems on solid state drives. Regardless of which HDD you use, SSDs perform better. But magnetic hard drives are too early to be scrapped. Their advantage is in the huge capacity and relatively low cost. And as users demand more and more storage space, manufacturers are looking for more and more sophisticated technical ways to increase it. According to forecasts by the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium, which unites storage manufacturers, by 2025 the capacity of magnetic hard drives should increase to 100 TB.
And today we have what we have. Traditional 3.5-inch drive capacity is limited to 10TB. So, Seagate Enterprise Capacity 10TB is a measure of all HDDs, not only in terms of capacity. It occupies the first position in the 3.5″ internal hard drive category in the CHIP rankings and is therefore the winner of the 8TB vs. 10TB hard drive comparison test. It would seem that eight or ten terabytes means, first of all, only a large capacity. But no, both numbers also point to interesting changes regarding data storage and recording: after all, conventional technologies cannot provide more than 8 TB, because the basic principles of magnetic disk drives have not changed over the past decade.
Ways to Increase Storage Density
Today’s hard drive cases have thin magnesium or aluminum alloy plates coated with a very thin layer of magnetic material. Movable read/write heads magnetize microscopic areas of the platters as they spin at breakneck speed, delivering data transfer rates of up to 200 MB/s. But this technology has its limits. Up to six magnetic plates can be installed in one 3.5-inch case, placing them one above the other. Each of them currently can store up to 1.33 TB of data. That is, if nothing is done, the maximum capacity will be 8 TB.
If you follow our test winner and second and third place finishers (HGST Ultrastar He10 and Seagate IronWolf) and fill the case with helium, you can reach capacities of up to ten terabytes. The advantage of using an inert gas, which is lighter than air, in the sealed area of the hard drive is to reduce the turbulence that occurs during the rotation of the plates, and reduce the power consumption of the spindle motor. As a result, manufacturers were able to reduce the thickness of the magnetic plates, increase their number in a 3.5-inch package to seven, and achieve a capacity of 10 trillion bytes — in binary terms, it turns out 9.3 TB.
Big means fast
The largest hard drives we’ve tested read and write the fastest. We used the CHIP Diskbench benchmark, which shows read and write data transfer rates, as well as hard drive access times. We pay more attention to read speed, because in typical use in desktop PCs or network storage, data is read more often than it is written.
Three 10 TB hard drives showed excellent results in terms of read and write speed. The test winner Seagate Enterprise achieves speeds of 201 MB/s and a very short access time of 12 ms, results that no other device can challenge. In terms of write speed, the HGST Ultrastar He10 is slightly faster, showing 200 MB / s and an access time of 6 ms. The reason for such high performance of ten-terabyte hard drives is the use of the already proven technology of perpendicular magnetic recording (perpendicluar magnetic recording, PMR) instead of the new tiled magnetic (shingled magnetic recording, SMR). Tiled magnetic recording is another way to increase the capacity of hard drives.
Unlike helium-filled hull technology, SMR does not require special costs. High storage density using SMR technology is achieved by reducing the distance between tracks on magnetic platters: each subsequent track partially overlaps the previous one, like a tiled roof. The width of the read head is less than the width of the write head, so a narrow part of the tracks is sufficient for the read head. But writing data using this technology becomes more difficult and much slower, since the wider recording head overwrites the data on the adjacent track every time.
Therefore, before changing, all relevant data is read and temporarily stored, and only then can the recording head update and overwrite it. Of the tested devices, only Seagate Archive uses SMR technology. In terms of write speed (157 MB / s), it lags far behind the top models, and the access time of 284 ms makes it impossible to compete with hard drives that can be used to store system files. But it costs about two to three times cheaper than ten terabytes with helium — the price of a gigabyte is 2..
Small means cheap
Speaking of prices. Top drives with a capacity of 10 TB are on average the most expensive hard drives. Eight terabyte models are usually cheaper than larger counterparts — with the exception of the Seagate IronWolf. From a purely economic point of view, larger drives are only beneficial if the large space is used regularly. For the home, the best in terms of price / quality ratio are drives with a capacity of 4 to 6 TB. Higher-capacity HDDs are currently relevant primarily for data centers, since a six-terabyte drive takes exactly the same amount of space as a ten-terabyte one needs.
If there is no financial issue, then a good option would be to acquire the leader of our testing. Seagate Enterprise 10TB with a price of 3. per gigabyte will cost even less than the top drive HGST Ultrastar He10 10TB with its 6. per gigabyte — one of the most expensive drives. Both devices come with a five year warranty. Seagate IronWolf, which took third place, clearly demonstrates that helium-filled disks do not have to be expensive — 2. per gigabyte. It is perfect for building a huge network storage. In general, users usually buy high-capacity hard drives just for network storage. All devices are equipped with SATA 6 Gb / s interface and, according to manufacturers, are designed for long-term use, even if the specifications of any drive do not record that it is optimized for network storage.
Ideal for NAS
In addition to IronWolf, two eight-terabyte Enterprise NAS and NAS HDD models are ideal for building home network storage. Their speed is high both when writing and when reading; data is transferred at speeds over 190 MB/s. Other eight-terabyte devices are quite far from them: the data transfer rate of the HSGT Ultrastar He8 is about 160 MB / s, Western Digital Red or Western Digital Purple — about 150 MB / s. The 8TB Seagate models we tested benefited from a 256MB cache, while the others only had 128MB.
In addition, Western Digital’s drives spin at 5400 RPM — the rest go up to 7200. The Seagate Enterprise NAS is affordable, so it’s great for the home, despite the fact that it is intended for corporate use. If you are not planning to buy network storage, take a closer look at the Seagate Archive 8TB — the most inexpensive drive with a price of 2. per gigabyte.
High capacity alternatives
Huge disk space is required not only for PCs and network storages, but also for mobile devices and laptops. We present leaders of various categories.
The Samsung 850 EVO, the largest solid state drive currently available, has a whopping 4TB of storage. The top model from our rating gives the best results in terms of read and write speed. It uses 3D V-NAND flash memory technology and a huge cache.
3.5″ external drive
The Seagate Innov8 is one of the world’s largest 3.5″ external hard drives. It will fit as much as 8 TB of information.
However, a large amount of data is transferred slowly: the write speed and access time of the disk is not impressive. But the reading speed is decent.
SSHD drive 2.5″
Until now, the capacity of 2.5-inch hard drives for laptops was limited to 1 TB. The Seagate FireCuda expands storage space to 2TB and at 7mm thin it fits in any laptop.
Built-in 8GB flash memory greatly improves reading speed.
2.5″ external drive
The practical advantage of the five-terabyte Seagate Backup Plus Portable Drive enclosed in a 2.5-inch external case is that it does not require a separate power supply.
The disc is great for use on the road. But due to SMR technology, the write speed is not the best.
PHOTO: manufacturing companies; CHIP Studios