Western Digital's Caviar SE16 750GB hard drive

Seeking gets smarter
— 1:46 AM on June 15, 2007

POWER CONSUMPTION HAS BECOME an increasingly important metric for PC enthusiasts and professionals over the last several years, and this trend has touched nearly every component inside modern systems. We now have processors that intelligently throttle clock speeds and shut down entire portions of themselves when idling, graphics chips—at least those downwind from high-end flagships—that sparingly sip power even when rendering complex scenes, and power supplies boasting high efficiency ratings that translate to dollars saved on your utility bill. This penchant for power efficiency is driven by more than penny-pinching and tree-hugging, though; components that consume less power also generate less heat, and that can allow for more relaxed, quieter cooling.

The latest PC component to undergo a power-efficiency makeover is one we weren't quite expecting: the hard drive. Western Digital's latest Caviar SE16 features IntelliSeek, a just-in-time approach to actuator movement that is supposed to not only lower power consumption but also reduce noise levels by minimizing seek-induced vibration. WD claims these gains are accomplished without slowing seek times, which bodes well for the Caviar's appeal among enthusiasts who demand that power savings not come at the expense of performance.

Western Digital has also given the drive a much-needed capacity boost up to 750GB courtesy of four perpendicular-packed platters, and they've fiddled with the internals to improve reliability. Are those changes, coupled with IntelliSeek, enough to elevate the Caviar above its rivals? Read on to find out.

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