Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives

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These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn't hear it from one meter, chances are we couldn't record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled (if applicable), and seek with AAM disabled.

Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:


Western Digital Red 4TB

The 3TB and 1TB Red drives we reviewed last year had excellent energy efficiency, whisper quiet operation, and very low vibration levels. The new 4TB version is a bit noisier and uses more power but the differences are proportionate to its higher capacity and it still sounds pretty good. Its performance as a boot/OS drive is particularly impressive, surpassing older 7,200 RPM drives, and improving on the Red 3TB variant by about 10% in real world tests.

It's also equipped with firmware specifically to play well in multi-drive NAS/RAID configurations, and has been tested for compatibility with a variety of popular NAS devices. At 3 years, the warranty is also longer than typical as well and Red drives qualify for 24x7 support.

The WD Red 4TB is selling for about US$200, which isn't great in terms of sheer capacity:cost compared to a typical 3TB model, but for a 4TB eco-friendly sub-7,200 RPM drive, it's more than fair. Seagate has a similar 4TB NAS drive on the market for the same price but it lacks the extra support and warranty. Cheaper models lacking RAID-optimized firmware like the WD Green and Seagate Desktop 4TB are viable alternatives for basic desktop use, but you don't really save much, about $10~$30. If we were talking about a US$100 drive, this would be significant difference but at the much higher price-point, we have little hesitation recommending paying a bit more.

Western Digital Se 4TB

The WD Se 4TB exhibited exceptional performance, producing the best real world results we've obtained from a 7,200 RPM drive, beating out the previous generation 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor 600GB. It's not particularly quiet by modern standards but the sound it produces isn't unpleasant and shouldn't bother the average user. It does vibrate more than the Red series, and used in a desktop, it would definitely benefit from suspension. That being said, if used alone as a single drive, it's probably not worth the bother if the drive cage is well-secured and at least damped with good rubber grommets.

The Se line is RAID-optimized but it hasn't been tested for consumer NAS operation, nor does it have day and night support. It does go through a rigorous testing and burn-in phase to ensure reliability, comes with a 5 year guarantee, and has a multi-axis shock sensor which allows the drive to take steps to protect data when shock events occur. While you should always have backups, if you want peace of mind, this is a pretty solid bet.

The WD Se 4TB can be found for US$260 and surprisingly, despite its extra features, isn't any more expensive than WD's standard high performance desktop drive, the WD Black, or most 4TB 7,200 RPM model in general. It's cost-effective enterprise storage marketed for high-end NAS and data center operation where performance is key. The speed is overkill for a typical home server or NAS but it certainly wouldn't be out of place as a standalone performance drive in a desktop/tower.

Many thanks to Western Digital for the Red 4TB and Se 4TB samples.

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WD Red 4TB wins the SPCR Editor's Choice

WD Se 4TB is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives
WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB
Icy Dock 2.5"/3.5" Drive Accessories
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
Tiché PC HDD Vibration Killer
Seagate Barracuda 3TB: 1TB Platter Behemoth

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