If asked to name a hard drive manufacturer, most folks are likely to point to Seagate or Western Digital. Some might even mention Hitachi or Maxtor, but Samsung? Probably not. Samsung's hard drives have seemingly been lost in the flurry of flat-screen televisions, cell phones, MP3 players, printers, and other products in the consumer electronics giant's portfolio. That's really a shame, because Samsung's latest Spinpoint F1 hard drive is quite an achievement.
The F1 is Samsung's first stab at the terabyte mark, and it comes to the party a little late. Hitachi's Deskstar 7K1000 first broke the terabyte seal last year, and it was followed by Western Digital's Caviar GP and Seagate's Barracuda 7200.11. However, what makes the F1 special isn't its terabyte capacity, but how Samsung has packed that much storage capacity into the drive. Hitachi achieves a terabyte using five 200GB platters. Seagate and Western Digital use four 250GB platters. Samsung needs only three platters, each of which packs a whopping 334GB.
By squeezing 33% more capacity per platter than its closest competitor, Samsung has bestowed upon the Spinpoint F1 a huge potential performance advantage over its rivals. The lower platter count should also help to lower the drive's power consumption and noise levels and even improve its reliability. This all sounds like a recipe for success, but how does it pan out in the real world? The folks at NCIX hooked us up with a Spinpoint F1 and we've tested it against two dozen other drives to find out, with enlightening results.