What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Hard Drive Review

Status
Not open for further replies.

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284



Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Hard Drive Review





Manufacturer Product Page: WD Caviar Black 2 TB
Model Number: WD2001FASS
TechWiki Info: Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB - TechWiki
Price: Click Here to Compare Prices
Warranty: 5 years


It has been a little while since we looked at the state of Hard Disk Drives and while Solid State Disks do hog the limelight it is the venerable “HDD” that is the true workhorse of nearly every computer out there. Theses drives may not be considered “sexy” by many but the very fact that they are so ubiquitous is testimony to their staying power regardless of the assault SSDs have launched as of late. If you are going for price per GB, there really isn’t anything better than a good HDD to whet your storage cravings.

Western Digital really needs no introduction as they are one of the biggest and most highly respected names in the industry. Indeed, if you take a look around at any enthusiast forum you will see many, many people’s rigs sporting at least one of their storage products. In what can only be called a smart move WD has separated their 3.5” SATA 7200rpm internal drives into easily classifiable and recognizable sub niches. If you exclude their Blue line which has now almost been phased out, you are left with two main 7200rpm lines: the "Green" and the "Black". The Green series is their low power, earth friendly model line where low noise and low heat trumps shear speed but these attributes make for perfect data drives as they are quiet and draw less power. Then you have the Black Editions; these drives are all about speed and while they can be used as data only drives they excel at being your number one OS drive. Add in an industry leading 5 year warranty for the Black line (the same as the VelociRaptor's) and you have the makings of one awesome, “enthusiast grade” HDD.

Today we are looking at Western Digital’s latest offering: the WD 2TB Caviar Black. This amazing piece of technology not only has 64MB of on-board cache (double that of the 1TB unit we looked at awhile back) but also boasts a dual controller, dual actuator design. This massive drive is the largest capacity Black Edition drive listed on WD site and is starting to become available at retailers and e-tailers here in Canada with a price that is almost as big as the drive itself: $320. We know this drive will be fast but it should be interesting to see if this price (nearly three times that of the 1TB version) is justified in higher performance numbers.

Even though we will be including SSDs in this review, they are in-place for reference only since just like the Black will never be able to compete against an SSD on a pure performance level, and SSD can’t compete with HDDs in terms of value. All in all, this should make for a particularly interesting article.


 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Specifications

Specifications








<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/WD2TB/wdfDesktop_CaviarBlack.jpg" border="0" alt="" />
 
Last edited by a moderator:

SKYMTL

HardwareCanuck Review Editor
Staff member
Joined
Feb 26, 2007
Messages
13,421
Location
Montreal
A Few Features Under the Microscope

A Few Features Under the Microscope


In a world where the “green” shift is becoming a hefty push, manufacturers are always looking for a way to increase efficiency while improving performance. Hard drives aren’t exactly the most power hungry components in someone’s system but if you have enough of them, they can draw enough power that their efficiency becomes paramount. In order to differentiate themselves from the competition, Western Digital has implemented some interesting features into this Black Edition drive.


Continuing this trend of increased efficiency, this model also comes with dual actuators (actually to be precise it is a dual stage actuator). What this means is the primary electromagnetic actuator moves the head and arm roughly into position and then a secondary piezoelectric based actuator located on the arm itself fine tunes the head positioning with 500nm precision. To put this another way the conventional actuator is responsible for moving the whole arm and the piezoelectric actuator built into the arm allows the head to swing back and forth within a five track band without the need to move the whole arm and does so extremely quickly.


Why is this new dual actuator important and why should you the consumer care? It is important because this one - two punch is actually faster than the older way of doing things and Western Digital claims a 0.4ms reduction in average seek times. This not only makes it faster but it should also be quieter and produce less vibrations while going about its job. If the seek time is reduced and the precision is increased this should mean that not only does the drive spend even less time “hunting” for the right track but it should also translate into lower random access times.

WD has also implemented their “NoTouch” technology. This is a fancy way of saying your drive heads never touch the platters and during shutdown automatically park themselves. Except for a few of us old timers, can anyone really remember having to manually tell their hard drive to park the heads? It was a big deal back in the day…but now every drive does this. On the other hand if your heads do hit the platter its called “cow belling” and the drive is toast as it makes that oh so memorable distinctive cow bell-like sound. Once again, this is a standard feature on most hard drives and it’s a lot like saying your brand new car came standard with seat belts and windshield wipers.


Next up on the list of features is StableTrac, which made its debut with the 1TB Black and it is nice to see that Western Digital has continued to use this in their 7200rpm drives. Just as their VelociRaptor line and other manufacturer’s high speed drives (e. g. 10k and 15k SCSI), high stress drives have the drive shaft anchored at both ends, so too does the 2TB Black. In this case it’s more for reducing vibrations, noise and increasing life expectancy than added stress as it is a 7200rpm drive and they have been getting by for a long while now with only one end anchored. This drive may not be the first with this technology but as we said we are glad that Western Digital has continued to include it in drives besides their VelociRaptor and SCSI model drives.

PMR or Parallel Magnetic Recording is another feature that all modern generation drives have and its what is allowing for such dense platters. One thing worth noting is this drive is probably the last SATA Rev 2.0 (3.0GB/s) drive Western Digital is going to make. We can say this with a certain amount of certainty as one of their main competitors Seagate has already come out with a SATA Rev 3.0 (6.0GB/s) 2TB drive. To us this is all marketing spin as hard drives are only now starting to saturate SATA 1.0 bus bandwidth with the only notable exception being burst speed, which we think is highly over-rated. SATA 6.0GB/s was specified more with SSDs and raid arrays than single hard disk drives in mind.
 
Last edited:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
A Closer Look at the Western Digital Black 2TB

A Closer Look at the Western Digital Black 2TB



Unlike previous models this Black edition drive does not exactly look like a generic drive. Sure it has the same form factor as previous models (or any 3.5” HDD for that matter) but this one has had a bit of a makeover in the looks department. Except for the more extreme measures (like the windowed version of the Raptor X for example) there really is not all that much you can do to make a drive look better besides putting a more fancy label on it. In the Black Edition’s case, it may only be a subtle addition of a black inlay to the top of the drive but that alone makes a huge difference and turns a “ordinary” drive into one with a bit of sex appeal.


Once you actually lift up this sucker you realize that it’s no lightweight. To get 2,000,000,000,000 bytes of data into this drive Western Digital had to use four 500GB platters. It actually seems we have become spoiled with lightweight drives like the dual platter Western Digital 640 Black or single platter 320GB Black.

Sine the density has increased to 500GB per platter, this should allow for even faster random access as the heads don’t have to move as much to read the massive amounts of data this drive can hold. Just remember, even though it is listed as a 2TB drive, your OS will only show it as approximately “1.81TB” drive. This is still an insane amount of storage space for one drive and really blows our minds at how much bigger these things are getting with every generation.


While the case of the drive has received a makeover, its data label is a standard white with black trim and a black font. All the information you need to know is right here at your finger tips. The most notable information is the power consumption seems to be around 0.6a off the 12 volt line (7.2 watts) and 0.45A off the 5 volt line (2.25 watts), for a combined total of 9.45 watts. This is over a full watt less than the previous Black model we reviewed which needed nearly 11W to get off the ground. Honestly though, unless you are running huge arrays in a dara center configuration, an extra watt or two is not a big deal even though every enhancement does count.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Under the Hood

Under the Hood



Like many other newer model drives, this HDD does not use attached cables to move data and power from the PCB to the drive (and vice versa). Rather it relies on perfect placement for the spindle power connections (the four hard points near the orange cable in the above picture) and a multi prong data port. This really is a nice step up from the old way of doing things as those old school cables were very delicate. To ensure proper alignment there are two small plastic alignment posts which have accompanying holes in the PCB. This is exactly how the 1TB did things, but the PCB of this drive is actually much larger than previous models.


Once we turned everything over we instantly realized why Western Digital had to go with a bigger PCB: it uses external and integrated cache, thus requiring additional chip. This drive ships with a massive 64MB of on-board cache and while we don’t think it will make much of a difference versus smaller cache sizes, it obviously had an impact on the PCB layout. The previous generation drive which we looked at had 32MB of cache integrated into its Marvel Controller chip; whereas we guess Marvel couldn’t cram 64MB onto its chips so to get the 64MB total cache Western Digital had to add the secondary 32MB chip to boost the specifications.

To be precise the chip used for the additional cache is a Hynix HY5DU121622DTP-D43 (please note that “f” in the above picture is really a 6) unit specified as 66 pin, lead free, 32MB DDR400 (3-3-3) memory.


It certainly is interesting to see that Western Digital has gone for a hybrid cache setup with half being integrated right onto the controller and the other half being a separate non-integrated chip. We have a sneaking suspicion that the controller will only use this secondary chip when its own on-board cache is full. This is only an educated guess as this would allow it to keep its efficiency from being degraded by having to call for data from the ram chip all the time (after all integrated cache is much faster).


As expected the dual processor which is the brains of this drive is very similar to the one we found on the previous generation 1TB model we reviewed. In this particular instance it is a Marvel 88i8945P-TFJ2 dual processor System On a Chip (SOC). As with all of Marvell’s chips very little is known about it. All we can tell you is our particular chip was made in 15th week of 2009 and this chip comes with what ARM refers to as “TCM” or Tightly Coupled Memory (or as it is commonly referred to as “On Die” memory).


Also as expected the Motor Controller on the WD 2TB Black is made by STMicroelectronics and is a SMOOTH L7251 3.1 controller chip. In a nutshell, if the Marvell is the “brain” of this setup then this chip is the Central Nervous System. It is responsible for governing nearly everything related to mechanical & electronic power functions of the drive. In many cases this is the chip which gets overstressed and dies or takes the power fluctuation (from a bad power supply) and burns out…etc. etc. More importantly this is why swapping out the PCB of many “dead” drives will resurrect them. All in all, it’s an important piece of silicone to say the least. It is also worth noting that this revision is much newer than the one we found on the 1TB as that was a 2.2 version and this one is a 3.1.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a hard drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for SSDs to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our testbed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the XP load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being a WD 320 single platter drive.

For these tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HDTune, Cystal Disk Benchmark, h2benchw, SIS Sandra Removable Storage benchmark, and IOMeter for synthetic benchmarks.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long XP startup took, Adobe CS3 (w/ enormous amounts of custom brushes installed) took, how long a single 4GB rar file took to copy to and then from the hard drives, then copy to itself. We also used 1gb of small files (from 1kb to 20MB) with a total 2108 files in 49 subfolders.

For the temperature testing, readings are taken directly from the hottest part of the drive case using a Digital Infrared Thermometer. The infrared thermometer used has a 9 to 1 ratio, meaning that at 9cm it takes it reading from a 1 square cm. To obtain the numbers used in this review the thermometer was held approximately 3cm away from the heatsink and only the hottest number obtained was used.


Please note to reduce variables the same XP OS image was used for all the hard drives.

For all testing a Gigabyte PA35-DS4 motherboard was used. The ICH9 controller on said motherboard was used.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

Processor: Q6600 @ 2.4 GHZ
Motherboard: Gigabyte p35 DS4
Memory: 4GB G.Skill PC2-6400
Graphics card: Asus 8800GT TOP
Hard Drive: 1x WD 320
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 600W Performance Testing

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):
G. Skill Titan: 0955
G.Skill Falcon: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)
OCZ Apex: 955
OCZ Vertex: 1.3 (AKA FW 1571)
Patriot Torqx: 1571 (AKA FW 1.3)
Corsair P64: 18C1Q
OCZ Summit: 1801Q

Please note: The "G.Skill 64GB" listed in some of the graphs (the one with incomplete data) is the very first SSD we here at HWC reviewed. It does not have a name but its model number is FS-25S2-64GB and here is a link to our review of it.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture.

We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and the main reason we include it is to show what under perfect conditions a given drive is capable of; but the more important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.




While its burst speed is slightly lower than a VelociRaptor’s numbers, the real standout in is the fact that this 7200rpm, drive beats the VRaptor in average speed. Heck, we bet that if you short stroked the 2TB Black down to 300GB (like the VRaptor) it would eat its smaller brother for lunch. If this is a sign of things to come….WD may have just made the Raptor line redundant.


Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.



These are som scary good numbers. This truly is the first 7200rpm hard drive we have reviewed which beats an award winning SSD. Lets face it, the X-25M is no slouch yet it and the VelociRaptor lose in the average read speeds to this new Black drive. The minimum number may be slightly lower than that of VRaptor but in our opinion a little less than 2MB/s reduction in minimum speed for 1700GB’s of extra space sounds like a pretty good trade-off to us.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
Crystal DiskMark / Random Access Times

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5. When all 5 tests for a given section were run Crystal DiskMark then averages out all 5 numbers to give a result for that section.

Read




In all three read tests the Western Digital 2TB Black easily beats every hard drive we previously have tested. The fact that this 7200rpm drive’s small file read speeds are nearly 29% better than a 10,000rpm drive is seriously impressive. Of course even the fastest hard drive is easily beaten by even the slowest of slow SSDs….but that is not really a fair comparison as they are different technologies and you are giving up speed for size and price per GB with an SSD.


Write




As is becoming one heck of an amazing reoccurring theme, this drive easily out-paces even the mighty VelociRaptor. Its 512kb test numbers are the best we have ever seen for hard drive OR SSD and the sequential numbers are in the top 5 as well. If Western Digital can ever figure out how to get a hard disk drive’s small file speeds up to SSD levels….SSDs may be in trouble,


Random Access Time


To obtain the absolute, most accurate Random access time, h2benchw was used for this benchmark. This benchmark tests how quickly different areas of the drive’s memory can be accessed. A low number means that the drive space can be accessed quickly while a high number means that more time is taken trying to access different parts of the drive. To run this program, one must use a DOS prompt and tell it what sections of the test to run. While one could use "h2benchw 1 -english -s -tt "harddisk test" -w test" for example and just run the seek tests, we took the more complete approach and ran the full gamut of tests and then extracted the necessary information from the text file. This is the command line argument we used "h2benchw 1 -a -! -tt "harddisk drivetest" -w drivetest". This tells the program to write all results in english, save them in drivetest txt file, do write and read tests and do it all on drive 1 (or the second drive found, with 0 being the OS drive).



As expected the VelociRaptor is still king of the random access numbers when it comes to hard drives. It’s simply a fact of life tha a 7200rpm drive is going to be slower in random access numbers when compared to a 10,000rpm one. However, this sub 10ms number is impressive and is actually a great improvement over previous generations of Blacks. It seems the dual actuator technology really does make a difference.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.

Read



As expected, all of the hard drives are about the same in ultra small reads and it is only when we get to about the 8kb size does this drive start to pull ahead….and destroy the competition. Sure, newer generation SSDs are still in a league of their own, but appears the Black 2GB has carved out a whole new high water mark for hard drives.

Write



Once again the Western Digital 2TB Black destroys all other hard drives starting at about the 8kb mark. This drive really is a beast when it comes to synthetic tests and we are REALLY looking forward to seeing what the IOMeter results look like.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,284
IOMeter

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 que depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular que depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/WD2TB/Black_2TB_IOM_1.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Well….ummm, that’s not that helpful now is it? SSDs are just so much better that they really are in a league of their own and have a tendency to compress ALL hard drive results into a smudge at the bottom of the chart. Let’s yank all the SSDs and see what the various hard drives can do.


Hard drives only


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/WD2TB/Black_2TB_IOM_2.jpg" border="0" alt="" />​

Now at least we can see what the various hard drives have to offer on this tough test. As expected the VelociRaptor’s 10,000rpm speed advantage is just too great for any 7200 rpm drive to overcome. However, this advantage is getting smaller and smaller with each successive Black series revision. The Black 2TB is once again MUCH improved and easily outpaces even the 640GB Black model. You have to be impressed with performance numbers like that.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top