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Review: Three new Western Digital drives hit top speeds

These hard drives hit top rpms and data-transfer rates

By Bill O'Brien
July 31, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - Recently, Western Digital Corp. has come to market with three drives aimed at increasing the performance of both 2.5- and 3.5-in. drives.: the Caviar Black, the Scorpio Black and the VelociRaptor. Nothing about them speaks to "green power." Rather, the "black" lineup is aimed at enthusiasts who want performance and let their power supplies be damned if they can't handle the load.

Caviar Black

The Caviar Black (WD1001FALS) is Western Digital's new 3.5-in., 1TB drive and is an upgrade from WDC's venerable WD RE2-GP (WD1000FYPS) GreenPower drive. The new drive provides an interesting performance bump but suffers a power grab in exchange (see "Review: Western Digital's 'green' RE2-GP 1TB hard drive").

 Fortunately, the Caviar Black is faster, with a burst speed of 234.2MB/sec. compared with the RE2-GP's 211.8MB/sec. The Caviar Black has an average read of 88.2MB/sec. and a random-access rating of 12ms.
The Caviar Black

The earlier RE2-GP drive emphasized power enhancements that were aimed at saving money during operation while providing the best possible performance in the balance, using a host of intelligent features. None of the features assigned to the Caviar Black are titled "Intelli-" anything. Where the RE2 trumpets IntelliOower, IntelliSeek, and IntelliPark processes to reduce power consumption by throttling back on activity unless they're actually needed, the Caviar Black simply spells out its power needs: The drive sucks up 490 milliamps (mA) and 500mA during read/write operations, and 470mA and 420mA when idling, at 12V and 5V, respectively. The RE2-GP, on the other hand, is rated at a more modest 340mA for read/write and 254mA at idle on the 12V rail, while it uses 675mA for read/write but only 195mA on the 5V side at idle. Clearly, the Caviar Black is a bit more e-piggy than its predecessor.

Fortunately, the Caviar Black is faster, with a burst speed of 234.2MB/sec. in comparison with the RE2-GP's 211.8MB/sec., according to the HDTach 3.0 test. Using that same test, the Caviar Black had an average read of 88.2MB/sec. compared with the RE2-GP's 65.6MB/sec., and a random-access rating of 12ms against the RE2-GP's 15.1ms. Certainly, the 32MB of cache found on the Caviar Black (versus 16MB on the RE2) does make a difference.

The Caviar Black's current top capacity is 1TB with a 750GB alternative (although with Seagate Technology LLC recently announcing a Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB drive, that might be a transitory cap). Western Digital has set the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the 1TB version at $250. (The RE2-GP lists for $300.)

Scorpio Black

The Scorpio Black (WD3200BEKT) is Western Digital's first attempt at a 7,200rpm 2.5-in. drive. The good news is that the power consumption ratings for this drive haven't changed in comparison with earlier WD2500BEVS (250GB) and WD3200BEVT (320GB) 5,400rpm models (both part of the Scorpio Blue series), despite the increase in spin rate and the bump from 8MB of cache to the Scorpio Black's 16MB. The device's read/write function draws 500mA, and when idle, it consumes 400mA. It consumes 50mA during standby.

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