Western Digital's 500GB Caviar SE16 and RE2 have a lot in common, especially when it comes to their exceptionally well-balanced performance. Most drives tend to excel in one area of our exhaustive suite of storage benchmarks and falter in another, but the SE16 and RE2 are remarkably consistent throughout tests that span typical desktop and enterprise workloads. That's a somewhat surprising result given that we're dealing with drives targeted at different markets, but we're certainly not going to complain about the fact that these drives can handle just about anything you throw at them.
Still, there are enough subtle differences between the Caviar SE16 and RE2 for us to pick a winner. On the performance front, the RE2 emerges as the favorite with its quicker access times, shorter load times, and stronger showing in our iPEAK multitasking workloads. For all intents and purposes, it's just as quiet as the SE16, and it consumes slightly less power. The real kicker, though, is the RE2's five-year warranty. We'd gladly pay the $15 price premium over the SE16 for the extra coverage alone.
Of course, that doesn't make the SE16 a poor choice, especially since you don't have to worry about disabling TLER for non-RAID applications. The SE16 is also the quietest drive we've ever tested, making it ideal for home theater systems begging for a half-terabyte of storage. But the SE16 doesn't have the versatility of the RE2, which we wouldn't hesitate to deploy in an enthusiast's desktop, a rackmount RAID server, a quiet living-room PC, and just about everything in between.