To take full advantage of the technology, you'll also want a system with at least an Intel Core i5 processor (to make use of Intel's SATA 6Gbit/sec.-supporting X55 chip set), at least 4GB of memory and a decent graphics card.
If you're thinking about buying either drive and plugging it into a SATA 3Gbit/sec. motherboard, that's not something I'd recommend. While both of the current SATA 6Gbit/sec. offerings are backward-compatible with SATA 3Gbit/sec., they lose all their advantages in the process.
The Barracuda XT, for example, could only muster 180.1MB/sec. burst speed when it was connected to an older port, but it hit 296.6MB/sec. when attached to its native interface. Write speed was also down somewhat -- the Barracuda XT needed 20 seconds more to complete the write test with the slower interface. (The read speeds with the two interfaces were nearly identical, however.)
Western Digital's Caviar Black suffered a similar fate: Its burst speed dropped from 320.7MB/sec. (using its native interface) to 206.0MB/sec. Its average read time took a small hit, from 112.4MB/sec. to 108.9MB/sec., and its performance in the read test went from 4 minutes, 32 seconds to 5 minutes, 9 seconds. (In this case, write speeds were pretty much the same.)
In fact, all of the 3Gbit/sec. drives were faster reading and writing my data packet than either of the SATA 6Gbit/sec. drives attached to a 3Gbit/sec. interface. That makes a SATA 6Gbit/sec. hard drive a poor choice for either interface type compared to what's already available for data writing or retrieval involving large blocks of information.
Testing the new SATA 6Gbit/sec. drives
I wondered if the Seagate and Western Digital drives could meet or beat each other -- and how they'd fare against a number of different types of 3Gbit/sec. drives. I chose several existing drives to pit them against. These included Western Digital's 2TB SATA 3Gbit/sec. Caviar Black and WD RE4-GP and Seagate's Barracuda LP
I added to these Western Digital's 300GB WD VelociRaptor, a drive with a 10,000-rpm spin rate, universally recognized as one of the fastest SATA drives currently available. And finally, I pitted the new wares against a solid-state drive, Intel's 160GB X25-M.
To test the hard drives, I used three basic tests: SimpliSoftware's HDTach test suite; a file transfer of 8.06GB comprised of 5,089 various files and folders to and from the drive; and a video rendering test to see what effect the destination hard drive has on the process. All of the drives were freshly formatted and without any other content to minimize much of the mechanical overhead.
Note that the Caviar Green and Barracuda LP each have 32MB of cache, the VelociRaptor has 16MB and the remaining 2TB drives were equipped with 64MB each.