When it comes to 7,200 RPM desktop drives, there are few names in the industry that are quite as well respected as the Western Digital Caviar lineup. It’s a time-tested brand which has consistently held its own, in terms of raw performance, acoustics, and reliability. While the Caviar name once stood for a single lineup of drives, Western Digital has now branched out the Caviar name to different markets, slightly tweaking the feature sets to address different requirements.
Beyond the standard Caviar drives, which are now targeted for the low-end market, we’ve got the Caviar SE and SE16 drives for the performance desktop market, along with the power-friendly Caviar GP lineup for those looking to build ultra low-noise/low power boxes. There is another Caviar variant which many people don’t know about, however, and that’s the Caviar RE2. The Caviar RE2 can’t be found along Western Digital’s traditional disk lineup. To find one, you have to wander into the extended duty realm of “enterprise” hard drives.
Western Digital’s RE2 lineup is targeted at workstations and servers, which need lots of disk capacity along with top-notch RAID performance and long-life reliability. At its core, the RE2 lineup is identical to the SE16 lineup for the performance desktop, but has a slightly different feature set, along with more robust MBTF (mean-time between failure) ratings and warranties. WD also has features to enhance RAID performance as well, which is attractive for end users as well, since RAID is so popular even in the high-end desktop and workstation arena. Considering WD charges virtually no price premium for an RE2 class hard disk, compared to an SE16 variant, it seems like a no-brainer decision for any system with any inkling of a need for long term reliability.
Western Digital’s latest RE2 disk currently tops out at a peak capacity of 750GB, which is a full quarter less than Seagate’s competing ES2 lineup that is available at 1TB. Normally, such a drive wouldn’t get much excitement here at Hot Hardware, although the rumor going around is that these new RE2 drives can basically perform to the same level as Western Digital’s high-end Raptor lineup, with lower acoustics, lower power consumption, and a much lower cost per GB. So, we wanted to know – is it possible to get all the performance and reliability of a Raptor disk in a much more cost-efficient format? Let’s find out.