Trying to find the right high performance consumer hard
drive can be a frustrating task with all the options on the market. First there are the IDE, Serial ATA and Serial ATA II interconnect standards to deal with, then there are drive rotational speeds, cache sizes and other miscellaneous features... it's no wonder people get most confused when hard drive shopping.
When it comes to pure speed, the Western Digital Raptor series hard drive "should win" hands down because of its 10,000RPM platter speed. We say "should" because desktop level 7200RPM hard drives (HDDs) have made huge gains thanks to skyrocketing platter densities. In fact, those super large capacity HDDs offer performance that can almost rival the enterprise class 'Raptors.'
This is one of the reasons why people are often at a crossroads when buying a hard drive. Is an enterprise 'Raptor' which has proven itself time and time again, but limited in storage capacity the way to go? Well, if capacity is the concern then probably not.
PCSTATS has already seen what the Western Digital Raptor brings to the table, and now we'll take one of the largest hard drives on the market for a spin. Meet Western Digital's 400GB Caviar SE16 hard drive, model number: WD4000KD. Be sure to check out the Experts Tips on how to ensure the best possible performance from the Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD4000KD hard drive, a little later in the review.
The Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD4000KD
supports the 150MB/s Serial ATA I standard, and sports a mammoth 16MB onboard
cache buffer. The drive is physically the same size as any other 3.5" hard drive
in spite if its significant storage capacity (26.1 x 147 x 101.6mm)
and weighs in at about 600 grams.
Let's go over the drive's official performance
specifications; the Caviar SE16 WD4000KD is equipped with 16MB of cache and is rated to have average read and write times 8.9ms and 10.9ms. Average latency is 4.2ms, while track to track seek time is 2ms. The drive is rated to burst up to 150MB/s data, and comes with a three year limited warranty from the manufacturer directly.
As you can see on the back of the Caviar SE16 WD4000KD HDD are the Serial
ATA power connector, Serial ATA connector, jumpers and a 4-pin molex power
Many power supplies natively include Serial ATA power connectors, but not
all. The WD4000KD is versatile and will work equally well with either the 4-pin
molex power or Serial ATA power connector attached. Do not use both
to power the hard drive!
The jumper pins on the hard drive serve no purpose for consumers, none should
be shorted out.
Inside the Caviar SE16 WD4000KD are four 100GB platters with a total of eight read/write heads. Despite its relatively high rotation speed and complex 4-platter nature, the manufacturer lists the Caviar SE16 as generating just 28 dBA of noise on average. That rises to 33 dBA while the heads are seeking, which means the 400GB hard drive is extremely quiet in general.
During testing at high seek times the Caviar SE16 WD4000KD was noticeably quieter than the 74GB WD Raptor. Not only was the overall noise level down, but the drive could not be heard seeking when running tests. The same cannot be said for the WD740 Raptor!
According to Western Digital, the Caviar SE16 class is rated to
run in an environment temperature between 5 to 55 Celsius. During testing the drives' surface temperature reached 45C according to a Fluke 54-II thermometer. This means this drive runs as hot as the Enterprise WD Raptor. Considering the number of platters and heads inside the casing, we're really not surprised. If you're contemplating equipping a PC with a high speed, high capacity drive, do it a favor and make sure the there is good system airflow. Active cooling is not necessary, but it's not going to hurt either.