Hitachi 400GB

Hard Drive: Space Age Space
by Paul C. Breenen

The first thing I noticed about this 400GB drive is that it is a weightier than other drives. With five disks inside you’d expect a little more weight. When I turned it over I noticed three external plates covering about 1/3 the underside.

The answer, of course, is that with such a high capacity, the disks need a very stable environment to write thinner tracts spinning at 7200rpm.

These external plates provide that stability. To help even the data flow, the included eight MB buffer (sometimes called “cache”) helps smooth the data flow. And it quickly becomes apparent that this is a high performance drive.

I was delighted to review this HD since Hitachi has a strong reputation for reliability and durability. I also reviewed the external HD case separately in which this HD will be housed. My tests were run inside the computer and connected directly to the motherboard. Since external case electronics slow down file transfers, it would not be fair to evaluate the HD operation other than inside.

We don’t do “lab” testing, but tests in the real world; imperfect though they be, that is what a reader expects. Although the Hitachi specs the transfer rate at 100MB/Sec, using Sandra Pro 2004, I obtained a more modest rate of 94.8MB/Sec – in practice that’s not much difference. And that is basically a sustained speed, not a burst or peak, just an everyday use of the hard drive.

My tested average seek time was better at 7.2 ms. I conducted three other speed tests, but most were close to the manufacturer’s specs. I won’t list them since you have an accurate idea of how quickly it responds from the two pieces of data already provided. The manufacturer tested with relatively small files. I used a minimum of 40MB and 1.5GB files. I think this provides a more real world experience for the potential use of this large HD. It runs via an Ultra ATA/100 interface. Although you won’t see them, there are a series of built-in self diagnostics.

With an electronic system that has to access five disks quickly and transfer data, you’d think it would heat up quickly. Not so. Idle down the system and it consumes nine watts of power. Even when streaming large video files, I did not notice an appreciable rise in temperature as one might find in a 10K rpm drive.

If you use this HD in an external case as I do for backup of large amounts of files - basically, an archive system - you’ll find you have plenty of speed. I’ve never been particularly impressed with speed tests. By far the most expensive part of a hard drive is not the drive, but the time and expense of the data created. So speed freaks beware: I’m more interested in the integrity of my data years from now. I’ll trade off speed for dependability any day.

This drive is faster than a typical high capacity hard drive. Frankly, I was surprised that five disks spinning at 7200rpm were so quiet, just a barely perceptible whirr. My Sones meter registered less than 31 sones at 10 inches from the internal unit. (A typical bathroom exhaust fan will average over 60 sones). When I transferred large files the noise increased a bit, but was still drowned out by the computer’s own white noise.

This 700 gram hard drive is the most responsive I’ve tested and certainly gets three thumbs up for the best in its peer group. If your data costs mean anything, you should seriously consider this drive. Consider it also for your server. For more info go to

Paul C. Breenen is a HAL-PC member, entrepreneur and co-owner of, the largest purely antiques and collectibles site on the web. He can be contacted at