For several months, the battle for the biggest consumer hard drive was only fought by Hitachi and Seagate. First, only Seagate was in it with its 750GB hard drive using perpendicular recording technology. Then, Hitachi decided to skip 750GB and go straight to 1,000GB (1TB). Seagate has announced its 1TB hard drive, but we have yet to get one in our hands or see it in the retail channel. Recently, a new combatant finally stepped into the ring as well: Western Digital entered the fray with a 750GB offering.
We aren't sure why Western Digital waited so long to offer a drive bigger than 500GB, but we are happy to see the competition heating up. Plus, with storage prices so low right now, Western Digital's move seems rather smart. The company can offer its flagship drive (in terms of capacity) at a very attractive price. The MSRP for the new 750GB WD Caviar SE16 is only $249.99, which is roughly $0.33/GB.
The model number for the Western Digial Caviar SE16 drive that we have in the labs today is WD7500AAKS. This drive boasts 16MB of cache and a 3Gb/s transfer rate. Additionally, the drive features perpendicular recording, just like the 750GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 that we will be comparing it to in our benchmarks.
Capacity: 750 GB
Interface: SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle Speed: 7200 RPM
Cache Buffer: 16 MB
Height: 25.4 mm
Length: 147 mm
Width: 101.6 mm
Weight: 0.63 kg
Average Latency: 4.20 ms
Read Seek Time: 8.9 ms
Write Seek Time: 10.9 ms
Track-To-Track Seek Time: 2.0 ms
Full Stroke Seek: 21.0 ms
Buffer To Host (Serial ATA): 3 Gb/s (Max)
Buffer To Disk: 972 Mbits/s (Max)
Idle Mode: 28 dBA (average)
Seek Mode 0: 33 dBA (average)
Seek Mode 3: 29 dBA (average)
Read/Write: 8.77 Watts
Idle: 8.40 Watts
Standby: 0.97 Watts
Sleep: 0.97 Watts
Top performance for Windows Vista
WD Caviar SE16 SATA and EIDE drives are certified for
Windows Vista and are top performers on the Windows
Vista Experience Index.
16 MB cache
Bigger cache means faster performance. A massive
16 MB cache combined with advanced acoustic and
power-reducing technologies make these ultra-fast
drives the perfect solution for the fully loaded PC.
Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR)
The latest generation of WD Caviar SE16 drives
employs PMR technology to achieve even greater
areal density. (750 GB only currently)
Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power
consumption, noise and vibration.
Parks the recording heads off the disk surface during
spin up, spin down and when the drive is off. This
ensures the recording head never touches the disk
surface resulting in improved long term reliability due
to less head wear, and improved non-operational
The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce
system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for
accurate tracking, during read and write operations.
(750 GB only currently)
3 Year Warranty (bare drive, 1 year for retail kit)
Although it didn't come in full retail trim, our sample came with all of the same goodies you would find in a retail package, including a Quick Install Guide, a CD with Data Lifeguard Tools, four screws and a Serial ATA cable with SecureConnect.
While the last WD Caviar SE16 drive we reviewed (the WD5000KS) included a 4-pin (Molex style) power connector, the WD7500AAKS does not. It only includes SATA power and SATA data connectors. There is also a set of 8 pins that can be jumpered for different settings. For instance, when pins 1 and 2 are jumpered, SSC (Spread Spectrum Clocking) is enabled.
Considering the benefits of perpendicular recording, it is nice to see more companies, like Western Digital, taking advantage of the technology (listed as PMR - perpendicular magnetic recording in the feature list above). Perpendicular recording allows for greater areal density by storing bits perpendicularly to the plane of the disc rather than parallel to it. In addition to introducing PMR to its Caviar SE16 line, the WD7500AAKS also features IntelliSeek, SecurePark, and StableTrac, which all combine for making a more attractive drive. Let's take it around the track for a couple laps and see how it performs.