Western Digital Caviar Black and RE4 2TB Drives Review - HotHardware

Western Digital Caviar Black and RE4 2TB Drives Review

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It happens to all of us at some point. We constantly run short of hard drive space, no matter how incredibly cavernous you thought your current drive was when you bought it. Did you really expect Dragon Age: Origins and Borderlands to soak up almost thirty gigabytes between them? Didn't think so. You either shove Office 2007 and Photoshop CS aside to make some room for your latest losslessly-ripped music and RAW photos, or grab a drive that offers up more capacity, say up to 2TB--such as the ones we're going to be evaluating here.

You know the contenders. These aren't solid state drives full of a speedy but thimble-sized flash memory chips--these are large, succulent drives with platters humming at 7200rpm and they're made by Western Digital.

Taken to task today we have three drives in total: the Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB which we'll use as a reference point, and two relatively new offerings from WD: The RE4 2TB drive and the Caviar Black 2TB. Which of the three drives outperformed the others? There was a clear winner, and that particular drive is an absolute speed demon.

  
WD RE4 and Caviar Black 2TB Hard Drives

WD Caviar Black and RE4 2TB Hard Drives
Specifications and Features

 

Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB

Western Digital RE4 2TB

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

Model

ST31500431AS

WD2003WYYS

WD2001FASS

Host Interface

SATA 3Gbps

SATA 3Gbps

SATA 3Gbps

Cache

32MB

64MB

64MB

Form Factor

Standard half-height 3.5" internal hard drive

same

same

Weight

1.59 lbs

1.66 lbs

1.66 lbs

Sectors

2,930,277,168

3,907,029,168

3,907,029,168

Average Latency

4.16 ms

4.2 ms

4.2 ms

Random Read Seek

<8.5 ms

Unspecified

Unspecified

Random Write Seek

<10.0 ms

Unspecified

Unspecified


Western Digital's spec sheets didn't specify seek times, but we'll figure them out via benchmarks. Looking at the specs, we can see that besides the difference in capacity, the most glaring difference between the WD drives and the Seagate drive is the cache. Will a double-sized cache make the WD drives perform better? We aim to find out.
 

Article Index:

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http://hothardware.com/Articles/Western-Digital-Caviar-Black-and-RE4-2TB-Drives-Review/?page=3

 

We're confused by your summary on Page 3:

it appears from the numbers that the RE4 is the winner, not the Caviar Black.

Please clarify.

 

MRFS

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You are correct. The wording was incorrect. The WD Black beats the Seagate drive, but the RE4 wins in that benchmark. Overall though, the Caviar Black is fastest, in terms of both transfer rates, access times, and real-world game load times.

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2TB drives are still pricey compared to their siblings (as you implied on page 7)... but it's getting closer. At the moment you can get two 1TB units for less than a 2TB (no matter what vendor it's from), but the price for 1 1/3 x 1.5TB drives is about the same as 2 x 1TB. Assuming you can find someone to sell you a third of a drive.

I expect this to change after Xmas, though, and the 2TB drives will be the price per GB champs. But I also think that many builders and upgraders will be going toward a lower-cost and more sedate large mechanical HD for storage of video and audio, and a much faster SSD for the OS and frequently used apps.

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I bought one of the 1.5TB Seagate drives when they first came out and have been very satisfied with it. A few weeks ago, I purchased a 2TB Hitachi drive that I haven't been all too impressed with. It is much louder than my Seagate, and makes some noises that don't sound very healthy. Although, at exactly half the price of the 2TB Caviar Black, it is still a bargain even if it is noisy.

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