With extra discount for active personnel.
Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB hard drive
Reviewed just prior was the Western Digital RE4, the enterprise-grade 2TB version. The 2TB Caviar Black model (WD2001FASS-00U0B0) reviewed here costs a lot less money, so how does it stack up against the enterprise version?
I put a pair of the Caviar Black 2TB drives through their paces.
The Caviar Black is whisper quiet— I ’m not even sure I could hear them over the fan of the Mac Pro while the overnight DiskTester fill-volume test ran. Nor did I hear any oddball recalibration noise as is found with some drives.
Of course, when heavy disk seeking is happening the RE4 makes the usual seeking noise that all hard drives do, but it’s not particularly different than most drives.
I tested sequential read and write speed both singly and in a RAID-0 stripe. Testing was performed with DiskTester, part of the diglloydTools software suite, using the run-sequential command.
Versus Hitachi: my data storage requirements and backup needs mean that I have about twenty of the Hitachi 7K2000 drives, so I know them really well. They do vary up to 10% in speed, ranging from about 120MB/sec to about 135MB/sec, averaging about 125MB/sec. The speeds shown below are thus what I feel is accurate based on my extensive experience with them; you could in theory “cherry pick” them up to about 135MB/sec. However, I saw no such variance with the enterprise-grade Hitachi A7K2000, which is steady at 125MB/sec.
The Caviar Black 2TB performs about 20% faster than the Hitachi 7K2000 for reads, and 12% faster for writes, which is a very impressive advance! However, it comes at about an 80% price premium.
RAID-0 stripe of two drives
In terms of value (price), the Hitachi wins hands-down, but the two Western Digital models do offer a significantly higher performance level (yet one that few users will notice).
As of July 2010, the Western Digital RE4 2TB is the fastest SATA drive I’ve yet tested.
The performance level is high enough that the speed of just a 2-drive RAID-0 stripe should suffice for all but the most demanding users. This drive would be an excellent choice for the MPG Pro Workstation for users seeking the highest possible hard drive performance.
The RE4 is also an enterprise grade drive, which implies higher reliability. That reliability, along with apparent best-in-class performance means that this is a great choice for demanding users.
Where to buy
Here is a handy shopping cart with recommended hard drives (as of July 2010).