Our goal for this evaluation was to see if the Western Digital Caviar RE2 could deliver performance equal to the aging Raptor lineup, while consuming less power, producing less heat and noise. In reality, the results from this new WD drive were quite imrpessive at times, but the end result is somewhat mixed. Western Digital has made large performance gains in their 7,200 RPM disk drive lineup, and overall the Caviar RE2's performance is very close to that of the WD1500 Raptor. However, the RE2 did not deliver the consistently across the board enough to unseat the WD's 10K RPM workhorse in our analysis.
With that said, the Caviar RE2 is still a rather impressive hard drive. These drives, which are priced at about the same level as the Caviar SE16 lineup, deliver extremely low noise and thermal characteristics, performance at about 90% to that of a 10K RPM Raptor drive, have full SATA-II/300 support (which the Raptors don’t have), and of course, boast over four times the storage space as a high-end Raptor drive. The Caviar RE2 750 GB has a street price of $199 (0.26 cents per GB) compared to the Raptor 150 GB drive, which runs at $169 or $1.12 per GB. From our perspective, that’s a pretty good value.
Of course, there will be holdouts saying that the Raptor is built to higher standards and is a “true” enterprise class drive. That may be the case, as the Raptor is definitely a more heavy-duty drive by design, with integrated heatsink runs and a much sturdier shell. However, the Caviar RE2 boasts the same component lifespan and warranty levels as the Raptor drive, and has a better chance of a longer lifespan due to the more modest thermals and lower vibration of a 7200RPM architecture. For a server or workstation environment, the Caviar RE2 boasts a strong feature set which definitely will make buyers think twice instead of just opting for the “faster” Raptor drive.
Western Digital is not alone in this enterprise-class 7,200 RPM market, however. Both Seagate and Samsung have enhanced feature sets over the Caviar RE2 and also offer capacities up to 1TB at this time, whereas WD is just peaking at 750GB. Hopefully we’ll see WD push the RE2 lineup to 1TB+ and get their cache levels up as well. In any case, today’s WD Caviar RE2 750GB / 16MB cache drive is powerful, quiet, and reliable, and has pretty much everything we want in a high-end disk. The Caviar RE2 is definitely a solid buy.