Western Digital’s 6Gbps Caviar Black 1TB hard drive

Manufacturer Western Digital
Model Caviar Black 1TB
(WD1002FAEX)
Price (street)
Availability Now

Western Digital’s 640GB Caviar hard drives have found their way into each and every one of our system guides for just about two years now. We’ve recommended one flavor or another across a wide range of systems, including our budget Econobox, the mid-range Grand Experiment, and even the modestly opulent Sweeter Spot build. Indeed, the 640GB Caviars have been one of the best examples of the proverbial sweet spot in recent memory.

As all half-dozen or so of our female readers can no doubt attest, the sweet spot can be difficult to find. You’ll know when you’ve found it, though. The original Caviar SE16 640GB debuted with all the right ingredients: two of the highest-density platters available at the time, a 7,200-RPM spindle speed, low noise levels, reasonable power consumption, an affordable price tag, and best-in-class performance across a diverse range of sequential, random, synthetic, and real-world tests.

For obvious reasons, the SE16 became an instant favorite among enthusiasts. Eventually, it was supplanted by the Caviar Black. Largely the same drive as the SE16, the Black doubled the cache to 32MB and bumped the warranty up to five years. And since the 640GB flavor was still a lower capacity than then-flagship terabytes, you could still get it cheap. That’s like taking the sweet spot, drizzling it with chocolate sauce, and then adding bacon. Even I couldn’t resist and bought two for the RAID 1 array in my personal desktop.

The uncanny ability to combine top performance with low noise levels is what really made the 640GB Caviars so special. Higher-end terabyte drives were louder at the time, likely because they needed to use three or four platters to hit the 1TB mark. 640GB only took two platters, which meant less weight for the drive motor to spin, less power consumed, and less heat generated, too.

Naturally, we’ve been eagerly anticipating the 640GB Caviar’s spiritual successor: a two-platter Caviar Black that uses Western Digital’s latest 500GB platters. This next step up the areal density ladder debuted more than a year ago inside a low-power, two-terabyte Caviar Green. Some eight months later, the very same platters spun up to a full 7,200 RPM inside the Caviar Black’s shot at the 2TB mark. And now, finally, Western Digital is putting them in a two-platter Caviar Black.

Platter capacity is so important to mechanical hard drives because it plays a large role in defining overall drive performance. What really matters is the platter’s areal density—how many bits it squeezes into a given unit area. The higher the areal density, the more data the drive head can access over a given physical distance. Platters that have the same total capacity don’t necessarily share the same areal density, though. For example, Seagate’s Barracuda XT 2TB features 500GB platters that have an areal density of 347 Gb/in², while Western Digital’s 500GB platters squeeze 400 gigabits into every square inch. Advantage, WD.

Dacking data so densely under the drive head will speed sequential transfers, but it can make seeking random sectors more difficult. To give you an idea of what kind of precision is required, consider that data points on the surface of a 3.5″ platter spinning at 7,200 RPM are moving at up to the equivalent of about 120 km/h. WD’s 500GB platters have a track width of roughly 100 nanometers—one thousand times narrower than a human hair. The drive head, which sits at the end of an actuator arm several inches in length, must be capable of darting from track to track in milliseconds, all while flying within nanometers of the surface of the platter.

To help it track quickly in such challenging conditions, the 2TB Caviar Black employs a secondary actuator stage powered by a tiny piezoelectric motor perched at the tip of the drive arm. This second stage gives the drive head 500 nanometers of fine-tuning precision beyond what’s offered by the main actuator. However, this dual-stage approach hasn’t trickled down to the 1TB Black, which uses a single-stage design. Western Digital said the 2TB Black would have been slower without the dual-stage actuator, so it seems likely that some performance has been left on the table by not including it in the 1TB model.

Maximum external transfer rate 600MB/s
Maximum sustained data rate 126MB/s
Average rotational latency 4.2 ms
Spindle speed 7,200 RPM

Cache size
64MB
Platter size 500GB
Areal density 400 Gb/in²
Available capacities 1TB
Idle power 6.1W
Read/write power 6.8W
Idle acoustics 28 dBA
Seek acoustics 33 dBA
Warranty length Five years

Of course, Western Digital’s own datasheets already concede that the new 1TB Black is going to be a little slower than its four-platter, 2TB cousin. The 1TB drive has a maximum sustained data rate of 126MB/s, while the 2TB model can sustain speeds of up to 138MB/s. That discrepancy might seem counter-intuitive given that the drives use the very same platters. However, the fastest area of the disk is the outer edge of the platter; the 2TB drive has twice the platters of the 1TB model and thus double the outer-edge area.

Although the new terabyte Black may not have the platter count or dual-stage actuator to challenge for the performance crown, it does have an ace up its sleeve with support for a 6Gbps Serial ATA interface. Well, maybe it’s more of a joker. The fact is that the drive’s 126MB/s maximum sustained transfer rate isn’t even fast enough to saturate a gen-one 150MB/s SATA link, let alone the second-gen 300MB/s SATA ports present in most modern systems.

Only short burst transfers from the Black’s DRAM cache memory stand to benefit from the drive’s faster host interface. That cache does weigh in at 64MB, which is a lot for a mechanical hard drive. However, 6Gbps SATA support didn’t do much for Seagate’s Barracuda XT, which also has a beefy 64MB cache, so we don’t expect much better from the Black.

I’d expect retailers to trumpet the Caviar’s new-fangled SATA support from the rooftops, so it shouldn’t be difficult to differentiate the drive from the old three-platter, 3Gbps Caviar Black 1TB. You can also tell the two apart based on their model numbers: the old Black is the WD1001FALS, while the new drive carries a WD1002FAEX model designation.

Like other members of the Caviar Black family, Western Digital’s latest is covered by a five-year warranty. Most desktop hard drives offer three-year warranties, which is yet another reason we’ve been recommending the Black for all this time. A longer warranty doesn’t necessarily guarantee your drive will last, of course, but if it fails, at least you’ll be guaranteed a free replacement for longer.

Our test methods

Today, we’ll be looking at the Caviar Black 1TB’s performance against its most natural rival: the two-platter, 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200.12. Samsung and Hitachi also make two-platter drives with terabyte capacities, and while we’ll be covering both soon, they’ve yet to arrive in our labs.

In addition to letting the Black square off against a terabyte ‘cuda, we’ve thrown a couple of flagship 2TB drives from WD and Seagate into the mix. The Caviar Black 2TB uses the same platters as the 1TB model and has that fancy dual-stage actuator, but it only supports 3Gbps SATA. Seagate’s Barracuda XT 2TB has a 6Gbps SATA port and uses the same 500GB platters as the 7200.12.

All four drives were tested on the 3Gbps SATA controller inside Intel’s P55 Express PCH. Since they both support third-gen Serial ATA, the Caviar Black 1TB and Barracuda XT 2TB were also tested on Marvell’s 9123 SATA 6Gbps controller with the company’s 1.0.0.1027 drivers. The Marvell controller puts two 600MB/s SATA ports behind a single PCIe 2.0 link that offers 500MB/s of bidirectional bandwidth, so it’s not an ideal implementation. However, the 9123 is the only SATA 6Gbps controller currently on the market, and it should be plenty fast for our purposes today. Neither the Barracuda XT nor the Caviar Black is capable of fully exploiting a 600MB/s SATA link.

We used the following system configuration for testing:

Processor

Intel Core i7-870 2.93GHz
CPU/chipset link DMI (2GB/s)
Motherboard

Asus P7P55D Premium
Bios revision 0711
Chipset Intel P55 Express
Chipset drivers
Chipset 9.1.1.1015
AHCI/RAID 8.9.0.1023
Memory size 4GB
(2 DIMMs)
Memory type

Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
at 1333MHz
CAS latency (CL) 9
RAS to CAS delay (tRCD) 9
RAS precharge (tRP) 9
Cycle time (tRAS) 24
Command rate 1T

Audio
Via VT2020 with
6.1.7600.16385 drivers
Graphics

Gigabyte GeForce 8600 GT 256MB
with ForceWare 190.62 drivers
Hard drives Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB


Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB


Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB
with CC12 firmware
OS

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Our test system was powered by an OCZ GameXStream power supply unit.

With the exception of our power consumption and noise levels, all tests were run at least twice, with the results averaged. We used the following versions of our test applications:

The test systems’ Windows desktop was set at 1280×1024 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

WorldBench
WorldBench uses scripting to step through a series of tasks in common Windows applications. It then produces an overall score. WorldBench also spits out individual results for its component application tests, allowing us to compare performance in each. We’ll look at the overall score, and then we’ll show individual application results.

The 1TB Black ties the WorldBench overall score of its 2TB Caviar counterpart when the two are connected to the Intel storage controller. However, the terabyte drive scores one point higher when it’s paired with the 6Gbps Marvell controller. We’re only looking at a two-point spread between the fastest and the slowest drives, so don’t get too excited about 6Gbps SATA just yet.

Most of WorldBench’s multimedia editing and encoding tests offer equivalent performance with the drives we’re looking at today. The Photoshop test does run notably quicker on the Caviars, though. The 2TB drive is a hair faster, but the terabyte model has a decent lead over the rest of the field, at least when connected to the Intel storage controller. When paired with the Marvell controller, the Caviar’s performance slows by about 7%.

The terabyte Black proves a little quicker in WorldBench’s Office test, but it’s trailed closely by the Barracuda XT. Scores from the web browsing and multitasking tests are too tight to call.

While there’s little difference in WinZip performance between the drives, WorldBench’s Nero test produces some interesting results. The Caviar Black 1TB is quite a bit quicker with the Marvell controller this time around, yet it’s barely slower than the 7200.12 when both are connected to the Intel chipset.

Boot and load times
To test system boot and game level load times, we busted out our trusty stopwatch.

The terabyte Black is the slowest drive to boot by a couple of seconds. It’s only about a second slower than the 7200.12, though.

Don’t pay too much attention to the Marvell scores here. The 88SE9123 appears to be in no hurry to initialize drives, which is why the Barracuda XT and Caviar Black are both slower than when connected to the Intel PCH.

Call of Duty 4 level load times don’t vary much from one drive to the next. Load times in Far Cry 2 are close, as well, with just over half a second separating the fastest configuration from the slowest one.

File Copy Test
File Copy Test is a pseudo-real-world benchmark that times how long it takes to create, read, and copy files in various test patterns. We’ve converted those completion times to MB/s to make the results easier to interpret.

Vista’s intelligent caching schemes make obtaining consistent and repeatable performance results rather difficult with FC-Test. To get reliable results, we had to drop back to an older 0.3 revision of the application and create or own custom test patterns. During our initial testing, we noticed that larger test patterns tended to generate more consistent file creation, read, and copy times. That makes sense, because with 4GB of system memory, our test rig has plenty of free RAM available to be filled by Vista’s caching and pre-fetching mojo.

For our tests, we created custom MP3, video, and program files test patterns weighing in at roughly 10GB each. The MP3 test pattern was created from a chunk of my own archive of ultra-high-quality MP3s, while the video test pattern was built from a mix of video files ranging from 360MB to 1.4GB in size. The program files test pattern was derived from, you guessed it, the contents of our test system’s Program Files directory.

Even with these changes, we noticed obviously erroneous results pop up every so often. Additional test runs were performed to replace those scores.

The Caviar Black 1TB fares well in this batch of file creation workloads, besting the 7200.12 with each test pattern. Only the video test pattern really seems to benefit from switching to the Marvell controller, at least with the Caviar—the Barracuda XT is much faster when connected to the Marvell than it is when running on the Intel chipset.

As you can see, the 2TB Caviar Black is measurably faster than the terabyte model across all three test patterns. With a sequential task like file creation, I suspect we’re seeing the 2TB drive’s greater outer-edge area at work.

Again, the terabyte Black pulls up short of its 2TB counterpart. However, the Caviar is still faster than the 7200.12 with the program files and video test patterns.

Do be wary of the Marvell controller, though. While the terabyte Black is quicker in 6Gbps mode with the MP3 test pattern, it’s actually slower with the other two.

Our copy tests combine read and write operations, and they prove a little problematic for the terabyte Caviar, which lags behind the 7200.12 with two test patterns and ties it with the third. Fire up the Marvell controller, and the Black’s performance improves slightly to eclipse that of the 7200.12.

IOMeter
IOMeter presents a good test case for both seek times and command queuing.

Western Digital drives have long offered the best performance with our IOMeter workloads, and the terabyte Black is no exception. Interestingly, the drive’s a little slower than the 2TB model. I wouldn’t expect outer-edge area to make much of a difference with the random access patterns of our IOMeter workloads, but perhaps we’re seeing the 2TB Black’s second actuator stage coming into play here.

Even though it trails the 2TB Black, the terabyte model still offers much higher transaction rates than either Barracuda. Notice also that, on the Marvell controler, the Caviar and Barracuda XT run into a performance bottleneck when the load increases beyond 32 concurrent I/O requests. When connected to the Intel controller, both drives continue to ramp up transaction rates all the way to 256 I/O requests.

Nothing to see here, folks. IOMeter uses a tiny fraction of our test system’s CPU resources with each drive.

HD Tach
We tested HD Tach with the benchmark’s full variable zone size setting.

Areal density matters, folks. The Caviars’ platters offer 53 more gigabits per square inch than those inside the Barracudas, and that translates to faster sequential transfer rates in this HD Tach drag race. The terabyte Black is 3-4MB/s quicker than the 7200.12 here.

3800MB/s from a third-gen SATA interface that’s supposed to top out at 600MB/s? Something’s fishy here, and it turns out the culprit is Marvell’s drivers, which carve out a slice of system memory to use as a drive cache. So let’s ignore those results and focus on the Intel controller, which has the terabyte Black out ahead of the 7200.12 by 9MB/s in HD Tach’s burst speed test. Oddly, the Black 1TB is 10MB/s slower than the 2TB drive, despite the fact that both use a 64MB cache.

As has become tradition, the Caviars register much quicker random access times than their Barracuda rivals. You’re looking at a difference of two-and-a-half milliseconds between the terabyte Black and 7200.12. That margin might not sound like much, but keep in mind we’re working with in the multi-GHz confines of a modern PC. In that sort of environment, milliseconds matter.

I don’t want to make too much of the 0.2-millisecond difference between the terabyte and 2TB Caviar Blacks here. However, I can’t help but wonder if this is another indication of the performance penalty associated with the terabyte drive’s lack of a dual-stage actuator.

Our CPU utilization results are within HD Tach’s +/- 2% margin of error for this test.

Noise levels

Noise levels were measured with a TES-52 Digital Sound Level meter 1″ from the side of the drives at idle and under an HD Tach seek load. Drives were run with the PCB facing up.

Our noise level and power consumption tests were both conducted with the drives connected to the P55 rather than the Marvell controller.

Although thankfully not as noisy as the 2TB Black, the terabyte model is a few decibels louder than Seagate’s Barracudas. At idle, the difference isn’t noticeable to my ears. However, the Black definitely chatters louder than the 7200.12 when seeking. I can easily hear the difference from a few feet away, although I should point out that we’re running this system on an open test bench rather than inside an enclosure.

Power consumption
For our power consumption tests, we measured the voltage drop across a 0.1-ohm resistor placed in line with the 5V and 12V lines connected to each drive. We were able to calculate the power draw from each voltage rail and add them together for the total power draw of the drive. Drives were tested while idling and under an IOMeter load consisting of 256 outstanding I/O requests using the workstation access pattern.

Surprisingly, the terabyte Black has similar power consumption to the 2TB drive, even with half the number of platters. The 7200.12 is the most efficient of the bunch, drawing about a watt less than our comparable Caviar.

Conclusions

Does Western Digital’s latest Caviar Black 1TB stand out from the pack as conspicuously as the venerable 640GB drives that it effectively replaces? Not quite, at least based on the results we’ve seen today. But then the Black did have quite a lot to live up to.

On the performance front, the Black is still faster overall than the Barracuda 7200.12. Western Digital has a definite edge when workloads involve random access patterns. As our HD Tach sustained transfer rates nicely illustrate, the Caviar’s plenty quick when it comes to sequential transfers, too. I suspect the Black could be a little faster if, like the 2TB Caviar, it had a dual-stage actuator that enables a five-track “short seek” without moving the main actuator. Regardless, the terabyte Black still offers the sort of well-rounded performance we’ve come to expect from Western Digital drives—even when you’re not taking advantage of the drive’s support for 6Gbps SATA, which seems largely pointless.

So far, so good. But the Black begins to falter when we look at its noise levels, which are higher than those of the Barracuda at idle and under load. I doubt many folks will hear the difference at idle. However, the Black is noticeably louder than its Seagate rivals when seeking, although thankfully not annoyingly so.

The terabyte Black really isn’t quiet enough to match the all-around awesomeness of its forebears. However, I’m not sure it needs to be. Ask yourself this: where would you actually put a 1TB, 7,200-RPM hard drive? Probably in an inexpensive, performance-minded system with a single drive. If you’re in the market for silence, you’re better off with a low-power model that spins its platters much slower than 7,200 RPM. With more to spend, I’d be inclined to run an SSD alongside one of those low-power drives to get the best of both worlds. That sort of setup doesn’t come cheap, though, and the Caviar Black is cheap. Sort of.

Although it doesn’t seem to be widely available just yet, our online price search engine tells me that Amazon is currently selling the WD1002FAEX for $120. At that price, the Black costs $30-35 more than the Barracuda 7200.12 and $20-25 more than the old Caviar Black 1TB. That premium should shrink as the new Caviar becomes available from a broader collection of retailers, but its 6Gbps SATA support is still likely to cost a little extra, as is the Black line’s five-year warranty.

For high-performance desktops that don’t have the budget for a multi-drive setup, I’m inclined to recommend the latest Caviar Black 1TB, at least provisionally. We don’t yet know how the Black compares with two-platter, 1TB rivals from Hitachi and Samsung, making it difficult to reach a definitive conclusion. We do have those drives—the Spinpoint F3 and Deskstar 7K1000.C—en route to the Benchmarking Sweatshop, however. Once those have been run through our gauntlet of storage tests, we should have a much clearer picture of where the sweet spot lies in the latest crop of two-platter, 7,200-RPM hard drives.

Comments closed
    • grantmeaname
    • 10 years ago

    KGA_ATT: I’m amazed you guys dared to compare it to a bunch of drives on the 3Gb spec! This life is unfair! Why aren’t you guys vocal like when the Indilinx controller sucked?
    Dissonance: We compared it to some great drives, and more are on the way.
    KGA_ATT: You didn’t compare it to a drive that costs more than twice as much, that happens to have the 6Gb interface, which I think matters.

    Fastidious: I agreed with the conclusion of the review but I think I’m passionately disagreeing with it.
    Dissonance: Reading the article helps to understand the points made in the article.
    KGA_ATT: I refuse to pay lots of money for ‘par’ performance. It’s slightly slower than the Cuda XT in some benchmarks.
    Dissonance: The Cuda costs $300 and is significantly slower in these other benchmarks.
    KGA_ATT: The fact that it’s 2TB has nothing to do with my post! Also, 3.5″ 7200rpm 2TB drives have really bad access times, and the only benchmarks that matter are massive RAID arrays.
    Matt Butrovich: The only other 2TB drive we’ve ever tested is ridiculously fast at random access.
    KGA_ATT: It’s silly to say some things are faster than other things. You should go to sleep.

    I love TR.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      Well done, a winnar is you.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      Someone should cap this for posterity.

      • WillBach
      • 9 years ago

      An excellent summary! I’m glad some commenters are paying attention. I think Dissonance is a saint for his patience.

    • Jambe
    • 10 years ago

    Do they have a single-platter 500gb model available? Nice as these terabyte-plus drives are, the vast majority of people I build PCs for don’t need that much space (I’ve been sticking the increasingly-rare 500GB Spinpoint F3s in them, and even THAT is overkill).

      • bittermann
      • 10 years ago

      Seagate has the 7200.12 single platter 500GB model, of which I own one. Very fast and very quiet. Averages around 102MB on an intel controller…

      • mbutrovich
      • 10 years ago

      The 500GB Caviar Blue is single platter spinning at 7200 RPM. In fact it’s probably faster than the 640GB Caviar Black.

    • Voldenuit
    • 10 years ago

    l[

    • SomeOtherGeek
    • 10 years ago

    Yet another good article! How you even eat or sleep and get all this done, must be a trade secret!

    First, a little typo maybe, last page (conclusion) 2nd paragraph: “I suspect the Black could be a little faster if, like the l[<2GB<]l Caviar, it had a dual-stage actuator that enables a five-track "short seek" without moving the main actuator." Should it be 2TB? Anyway, this might be a stupid question, but why are the numbers different for SATA III and SATA II? Manufactures? I would just think that since the drives are not a faster than 3Gbps then there should not be such a difference. Maybe I missed that part. From reading and comparing all these drive, I would say that whatever is cheapest is the way to go.

    • biaachmonkie
    • 10 years ago

    “one of the best examples of the proverbial sweet spot in recent memory.” … “As all half-dozen or so of our female readers can no doubt attest, the sweet spot can be difficult to find. You’ll know when you’ve found it, though.” … “That’s like taking the sweet spot, drizzling it with chocolate sauce, and then adding bacon. Even I couldn’t resist and bought two for the RAID 1 array in my personal desktop.” …

    Chocolate sauce and bacon on the “sweet spot”, seriously the writer needs to get laid and get over the childish imagery.

    • SnowboardingTobi
    • 10 years ago

    Would have been nice to see a WD Green drive thrown into the mix just to see how much those 2 differ.

    • WillBach
    • 10 years ago

    q[<[...] the sweet spot can be difficult to find.<]q I've never thought so. Then again, maybe that's why women prefer engineers. Just some food for thought.

      • dmjifn
      • 10 years ago

      Yeah, because they think it’s cute the way we’re all socially awkward and they love our snazzy pick up lines like “Hi. Would you like to practice fulfilling our biological imperative?”

      Get’s ’em. Every. Time.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        I find it helpful at times like these to remind myself that our true enemy is instinct.

      • bwcbiz
      • 10 years ago

      …and with that comment your female readership has probably dropped to negative numbers…

    • jalyst
    • 10 years ago

    great review looking forward to the other major contenders being compared. Thanks so much!

    • SubSeven
    • 10 years ago

    l[

      • Veerappan
      • 10 years ago

      *shrug* It made me chuckle a bit.

      But really, is it so hard to believe that women are picky shoppers when looking for hard drives ๐Ÿ˜‰

        • SubSeven
        • 10 years ago

        Oh they’re picky… ask any woman and they’ll tell you that when it comes to hard-drives, size does matter.

    • lex-ington
    • 10 years ago

    So . . . . . .the sweet spot is hard to find huh?????

    • lycium
    • 10 years ago

    /[

      • xaphias
      • 10 years ago

      “Of course, Western Digital’s own datasheets already concede that the new 1TB Black is going to be a little slower than its four-platter, 2TB cousin. The 1TB drive has a maximum sustained data rate of 126MB/s, while the 2TB model can sustain speeds of up to 138MB/s.*[

        • jalyst
        • 10 years ago

        I thought it was the other way round;
        Twice the no. of platters hence twice the “inner-edge” area.
        Isn’t the inner-edge normally quicker?

          • MadManOriginal
          • 10 years ago

          For STR at a given rotation speed the outer parts of the drive are faster. From geometry we know that the circumference of a circle is directly proportional to the diamater, factor in equal rotation speed and more disk surface (=more data) can move under a disk head in a given amount of time for a larger circle.

            • jalyst
            • 10 years ago

            So generally speaking, when one short strokes say a 3 platter 1TB black.
            You’re stopping it from going into the inner sectors of the platters?

            I want to use my black as my boot disk for a build I have planned, but I also want it as the main HD DVB-T stream capture drive, so I can’t limits it’s capacity too much.

            The captured streams would eventually/automatically be transferred to 2x 2TB near-line 5400RPM disks I’m still searching for (RE4-GP is a rip). They’d be in a RAID-1 config or even just spanned.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            A partition upon OS install will do the same thing as short-stroking but allow you to use the rest of the drive for data.

            • jalyst
            • 10 years ago

            *slaps head* Doh, of course! Thanks.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            Yeah, it’s not quite a facepalm statement though so don’t feel bad ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s not obvious because many of the low level drive benchmarks like HDTach, HDTune won’t benchmark *partitions* but only whole drives. There is a similar one that will do partitions but I can’t recall the name off the to of my head. In any case making an OS/program partition as the first partition upon OS install will force that data on to the fast part of the drive, then once the OS is installed a data partition for the rest of the drive will go on the slower part. This has the extra advantage of being abloe to later wipe your OS partition without affecting the data partition.

            I’ve got my 1TB drive partitioned in to a 160 GiB OS/program ‘C:’ drive and the rest as ‘D:’ and it works out nicely, both in performance and convenience.

            • Mr Bill
            • 10 years ago

            “So generally speaking, when one short strokes say a 3 platter 1TB black.
            You’re stopping it from going into the inner sectors of the platters?”
            IIRC short stroking does not limit where on the platter you read but simply how far the read head moves (strokes). Anywhere on the platter can be read or written but related read and write activity would tend to be focused into bands on the platter rather than spread all across the platter.

            • jalyst
            • 10 years ago

            Yeah what #57 said right?

            If limited to a small partition (say 20GB)…
            The head can move up/down in a relatively narrow slither of bands in that partition, & also around/along them.

            Thanks.

            • MadManOriginal
            • 10 years ago

            btw I wanted to emphasize that I was talking about STR there. Seek time or latency is faster on a smaller diameter area of a platter.

            Actually I’ve confused myself now because isn’t the lowest seek time part of a drive also the part with the highest STR?

          • Veerappan
          • 10 years ago

          No, the outer edge is quicker, but unlike optical drives (which start on the inside and go out), hard drives actually start on the outside of the platters (i.e. Byte 0 is at the outer edge).

          Because the outside is passing the read/write head faster, you can read/write more bits per second at the outside than the inside of the platter.

        • jalyst
        • 10 years ago

        how come these articles comments don’t just link back to the normal forum?
        I’ve always found these comment sections a little awkward to use.
        Or am I missing something? Thanks!

    • impar
    • 10 years ago

    Why no Samsung F3 500GB platter HDDs for comparison?

      • Veerappan
      • 10 years ago

      Read the article. He’s planning on testing the F3, but it hasn’t arrived yet (last paragraph of the last page, and also stated at the beginning somewhere).

    • Bombadil
    • 10 years ago

    The 12ms random access time confirms this does have the dual stage actuator. Its a shame its so loud. No more Caviars for me.

    • wira020
    • 10 years ago

    Hey, i’m wondering… does this mean there will be no 3gbps 1tb caviar black version with 2 platter?… I dont see much benefit from the 6gbps connection, it will usually cost a premium too… so, will buying the newer 6gbps one is the only way to get 2 platter 1tb?

    p/s: Did they hit a brickwall to the size of platter or something? 500gb per platter seems old already… and i havent heard of consumer hdd more than 2tb?.. perhaps the os limitation to 2tb boot drive is cause for concern?

      • grantmeaname
      • 10 years ago

      2tb drives have only been around for a handful of months now. There will be higher capacity drives, but they’re not ready yet. Patience!

      • d0g_p00p
      • 10 years ago

      It’s backwards compatible, no need to a SATA 6Gb connection.

    • Krogoth
    • 10 years ago

    Good review.

    There is hardly any difference between the HDDs in the line-up. Just subtle differences in noise, STR, random seek time and cost.

    IMO, noise and cost are the decisive factors here. The older 7200.12 1TB is the clear winner here. Its true that WD Black Caviar is slightly better at workstation-loads then 7200.12, however any decent SSD would be a superior choice if capacity isn’t a primary concern.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      KROGER IS NOT IMPRESS.

        • Meadows
        • 10 years ago

        LOL

    • Blazex
    • 10 years ago

    Geoff, did you have one too many “made the’s” in this sentence right above the first pic on the first page?
    r[

    • ClickClick5
    • 10 years ago

    l[<"However, the Black is noticeably louder than its Seagate rivals when seeking, although thankfully not annoyingly so."<]l I get a tickle out of this all the time. For a HTPC or an office, I can understand quiet, but I personally prefer the louder drives so I know they are working....and the light is not on just for fun. My happy Raptor X 150GB (the clear top) make noise worse than the 15,000RPM optical HDDs my server friends tell me. Grind way oh wise one. ๐Ÿ™‚ Five years old and still kicking out 85MB/s. ๐Ÿ™‚ I'm so proud. Good write Geoff!

    • KGA_ATT
    • 10 years ago

    The review seemed a bit ‘candy coated’. In fact I’m stunned that the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB was included. How can that drive be a rival to the WD Caviar Black 1TB model? The Cuda’ has 32MB cache to the 64MB of the WD. The Cuda’ is the older SATA II 3Gbp’s standard to the SATA III 6Gbp’s standard of the Caviar.

    Why didn’t the review have in the mix the current WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA II 3Gbp’s standard as well? Because the review is ‘candy coated’ to place the WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA III 6Gbp’s model unfairly in a better light. Oh well, one cannot expect fairness in this life.

    I recall that the Tech Report team was quite vocal over the controller from Indilinx when it gave poor result’s on SSD’s in a used state. Is that boldness gone when it comes to a ‘so-so sub par’ drive from Western Digital especially if it is labeled ‘Caviar Black’? The apparently once ‘Flagship’ series of the HD industry?

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      Actually, we’ve concluded with only a provisional recommendation pending further testing of the Caviar Black’s natural rivals–other two-platter, 1TB drives. That’s why the 7200.12 was included in the mix. And we threw in the Barracuda XT and Caviar Black 2TB, which is hardly limp-wristed competition.

      If anything, including the old 3x333GB Caviar Black would have shone a more favorable light on the new drive’s most glaring weakness: noise levels. The old Black is seriously loud.

        • KGA_ATT
        • 10 years ago

        I picked up on the point that other drives were in route to be tested in the review- which is a ‘good thing’. Nevertheless, the 7200.12 isn’t Seagate’s 6Gps product. The Cuda’ XT is. Therefore, the Cuda’ definitely had a place in the competitive review. I can understand testing drives ‘within’ the family of SATA II 3Gbs vs other SATA II 3Gbs -or SAS II 3Gbs for that matter.

        However when there is an interface change and a new standard, there should be ‘higher’ critique of the new product(in this case the WD 6Gbp 1TB) when comparing it to an older standard/competitor. Thus the reason that i came away from the review believing that their were ‘excuses’, ‘over looks’ and ‘candy coating’ of the ‘sub par’ or even ‘par’ performance of a line of products that ‘set the bar’ for all others… The -Caviar Black- series.

        • Bombadil
        • 10 years ago

        Maybe they were thinking of the 640GB Black which didn’t get reviewed much, and probably wasn’t worth the $10 premium over the Blue anyway.

      • grantmeaname
      • 10 years ago

      How about because the cache size really has no bearing on sequential performance and similar figures? Or maybe the fact that the 6Gbps interface is also completely irrelevant? Did you ever consider either of those?

      Your post makes my head hurt. How is this situation anything like that Indilinx controller one?

      • Fastidious
      • 10 years ago

      In general TR seems to really like WD drives for some reason. The numbers looked pretty mixed to me yet even though this drive is significantly more than some other drives almost as fast, such as the Seagate. I don’t see how they can recommend it for a budget multi drive solution when the choice would be 3 Blacks or 4 Seagates. Seems a no brainer which is better value in such a setup.

        • Dissonance
        • 10 years ago

        /[

    • KGA_ATT
    • 10 years ago

    OK, if you wish to recommend the latest WD Cav Blk 1TB drive you can. I personally been a WD fan since I bought my first WD 4GB HD back in the late 90’s (I still have it on my book shelf, it’s actually 4311MB total).

    But I am far more of a ‘scrutineer’ these days and I refuse to pay top dollar for ‘par’ or ‘sub par’ performance. Maybe I had so much respect for Western Digital that i feel betrayed by their latest WD Cav Blk 1TB release. And when I read the review it did come across as lacking ‘a depth’ of objective scrutiny.

    Times are still economically tough for a lot of folks, and paying a premium price for an average (even below average on occasion vs the Cuda XT in some areas) drive just doesn’t ‘fly’ with me. So for me, I couldn’t recommend the WD over the Seagate.

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      You do realize that the Barracuda XT is only available in a 2TB capacity, right? It costs $270-300 online. And the 1TB Black still has substantially faster random access times and much higher IOMeter transaction rates.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      I can’t wait for results from Samsung F3 hard drives, they look to be the top competitior versus WD at the moment. WD does have a notable price premium. Despite my crazy ranting about the PSU reviews I love TR reviews and look forward to the broad real world application reviews of hard drives.

      • KGA_ATT
      • 10 years ago

      Dissonance, nice tactic. Bringing up a point that had nothing whatsoever to do with my post. But…if you feel that you need to bring up 2TBs in size.. to win a point on a false premise… go ahead. The false premise being 2TB size had ‘anything’ to do with my comments. Again, bravo on the tactic though.

      My comments happened to do with ‘objective’ scrutiny and performance. Although I/O performance is enormously important to myself and many others, most I/O data can be irrelevant for a single drive configuration(for me). True(or more complete) I/O data can only be benched when drives are in RAID configurations and attached with a particular HBA/Raid Controller(low end, mid or high end). That’s the I/Ops that is important for me. Now as far as access times? Of course the XT would have slower access times. It’s not a 2.5″ 200GB 1platter drive spinnin’ at 15krpm. It’s a 3.5″ 7200rpm 4platter 2TB drive with different density. Slower access times goes with the territory.

      Clear this time?

      • mbutrovich
      • 10 years ago

      /[

      • KGA_ATT
      • 10 years ago

      Silly. Downright Silly. Hmmmm, one 2TB drive is faster than another? Of course! What are you even doing posting something like that?

      Hate to break it to you mbutrovich but eventually there will be /[

      • pedro
      • 10 years ago

      chill d00d

      • KGA_ATT
      • 10 years ago

      I just was a bit amazed by the post, I actually laughed. Maybe mbutrovich will be online and follow up with specific’s.

      • Meadows
      • 10 years ago

      If I were him, I wouldn’t bother.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 10 years ago

      He was addressing your point about ‘economic tough times’ and not paying a premium so he was talking specifically about something you’d brought up. One is forced to pay a premium for the Seagate XT in terms of $/GB versus 1TB or 1.5TB drives because it’s only available in a 2TB configuration. Get it?

      • KGA_ATT
      • 10 years ago

      MadManOriginal , if you post something at least pay attention a bit more. You are assuming way to much. But that’s fine, I’ll clarify for you even though my posts have been about ‘objective’ scrutiny and performance of the 1TB WD drive. I’ll detour to address your assumption of what ‘economic tough times’ means for me, you have somewhat shown what it means for you.

      Paying a high price for performance is acceptable, paying a high price for ‘par’ or ‘sub par’ is not. So if one is to shell out the ‘big bucks’, they wish to believe they are getting their moneys’ worth. Any 2TB is going to be pricey, especially one with good performance. That goes for car’s, LCD TV’s and anything in ‘economic tough times’.

      Got that?

      • grantmeaname
      • 10 years ago

      Nope, that’s a moronic double standard of an argument. If you were concerned with value and not e-peen or status, wouldn’t twice as many 1TB drives be an option?

      • KGA_ATT
      • 10 years ago

      It’s all too clear you wish to see things from your own altered reality. Fine, that’s your right. It just makes things impossible to discuss. Nevertheless I’ll try on one point.

      Twice as many drives may very well work in a desktop setting. In an Enterprise environment storage real estate is precious, and many times it’s the most precious real estate in a rack. Therefore the large ‘performance’ drive may be the ‘far more sound’ option.

      Easy as pie…

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      So do you personally order thousands of drives for an enterprise based on TR reviews, or do you just play someone who does that on the internets?

      • KGA_ATT
      • 9 years ago

      Whether I’ve dealt with hundreds or thousands, it’s irrelevant. Despite your cynicism stating “or do I play one…”. My basis of objective scrutinizing of performance is sound. Even considering a single drive. Everyone should want to get the best performance that fits their needs.

      There seems to be a ‘mental block’ on this subject here at TR with /[

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 10 years ago

    Been waiting for a reasonably priced, fast desktop drive.
    You can almost buy 3 of these drives instead of the ridiculously priced 2TB model.

    • Palek
    • 10 years ago

    Geoff, if we are to believe your power consumption graphs the WD drives draw more power when idle than when under load. Accidental number swap?

    <edit>The 1TB Barracuda numbers are also fishy.</edit>

      • Dissonance
      • 10 years ago

      Jacked up formula that’s fixed now. Thanks.

    • potatochobit
    • 10 years ago

    I have to totally disagree with you
    most people with high end systems will be running an ATI card
    noise from a hard drive is meaningless
    these same people also are going to have tons of videos in high def most likely
    and storage matters
    1TB was the only choice for me as the main drive

      • insulin_junkie72
      • 10 years ago

      If you’ve got a ton of video, 1TB is way too dinky to cover all the bases (OS/apps/video).

      Running multiple hard drives in your primary computer – if even a modicum of thought and effort has been put into noise control – can get loud quickly, and indeed the smaller, quieter primary hard drive (SSD or something like a Samsung 500/WD 640) + multiple bigger, slower, quieter drives is the common config.

      Of course, if you’re really hardcore on the video storage, all the storage for video is external to the main box anyways, stashed out of sight in a server or a NAS, ready to push it out to various destinations around your house.

        • clhensle
        • 10 years ago

        +1
        Dual 640 Blacks (raid 0) in my computer. Plus an old athlon xp “server” downstairs with Dual WD 1.0 green, and Dual 1.5tb 7200.12s, raid1, pushing movies to 2 XBMC and 2 PS3 setup rooms. The 1.5s are for TV/Movies, the 1.0s are my computers “D” drive and backup storage. My server is down to 200gb of free space, looking at buying a set of 2tb’s soon. I live in a house with 4 tech savvy people, we fill up drives fast.

        • End User
        • 10 years ago

        l[

          • insulin_junkie72
          • 10 years ago

          I’ve had a P182 for a couple of years as well, and since I finally got around to replacing the annoying piece-of-crap ADDA fan in my Corsair PS with an S-Flex, the four HDs in my system stand out even more.

          I’ve got a fan controller in my system, so I can turn all the case fans temporarily off to eliminate them from the equation, and it’s the hard drives.

        • indeego
        • 10 years ago

        HDD’s have long since not been the primary source of noise in consumer level systems. I have 4 drives at home and 3 at work and I can’t hear them, everg{<.<}g

          • Bombadil
          • 10 years ago

          Unless I am gaming, the hard drive is the nosiest component in my systems, and I use the quietest single 3.5″ drives. Multiple “same” rpm drives can create a beat effect in the noise which is even more noticeable. Luckily I haven’t need more storage than 2-platters have offered, but my new SDHC format HD camcorder might challenge that.

          • crazybus
          • 10 years ago

          As a group, the four hard disks in my system are easily the largest contributors to overall noise. My PSU’s fan is near enough silent and none of my other fans run at more than 1000rpm.

            • indeego
            • 10 years ago

            I build 4-5 PC’s a year for friends/family, image OEM for work, and have my own, and I can’t remember the last time I heard a HDD beyond external enclosures. I don’t even particularly build for low-noise systems.

            I typically hear low CPU fan or Power supply as primary causes of noise, and of course a GPU when ramped up.

            Oh well, YMMV, I guessg{<.<}g

            • crazybus
            • 10 years ago

            I guess I’ve been deliberate about PSU and fan choices, where it isn’t difficult to more or less eliminate noise, as opposed to hard drives, where I would have to replace multiple disks with a single large, quiet, but possibly slower drive to bring noise levels down to where I’d like. The ideal solution of course would be to have a SSD for the system disk and to have all storage on the network, with the spinning platters well out of earshot.

      • End User
      • 10 years ago

      l[http://store.steampowered.com/hwsurvey<]ยง

      • flip-mode
      • 10 years ago

      “high end computer” doesn’t necessitate a high end video card. Lots of high end computers are not at all intended for gaming. Lots of high end computers are for CAD/CAM, where Nvidia still reigns.

    • Meadows
    • 10 years ago

    Putting in an actual 640 gig old brother would’ve been no mistake.

      • cygnus1
      • 10 years ago

      seconded

      • Vasilyfav
      • 10 years ago

      Putting in at least any SSD for a hilarious comparison would have been no mistake either.

        • Dashak
        • 10 years ago

        SSDs are still kind of exotic. I think many of us are waiting for their capacities to reach up to something around 256GB so that we can get a 64GB or 128GB at a more reasonable price with comparable performance. At least, that’s my thinking at the moment.

        Thirded – I would have also liked to see the 640GB Caviar Black included for comparison.

  • Pin It on Pinterest

    Share This