WD SE16 Caviar 640GB is now Blue

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June 19, 2008 by Mike Chin

WD Caviar Blue (SE16) 640GB WD6400AAKS-00A7B0 SATA 3 Gbps Desktop Hard Drive
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The 320GB WD drive we reviewed some weeks ago is the single platter version of the two-platter 640GB drive under examination here. Both of these drives feature very high areal density, 320GB/platter, which is just shy of the Samsung F1 1TB model's 334GB/platter. That does mean high performance, hopefully achieved with very low noise, like the other mentioned drives.

WD has just revamped its Caviar line into three color categories: Black, Blue and Green. The Green category is a no-brainer these days; WD's marketingspeak quips, "cool, quiet, eco-friendly." Blue represents "performance and reliability for everyday computing", while Black products provide "maximum performance for power computing." So does the SE16 Caviar in 640GB capacity still exist? Yes, it was only introduced a few months ago. The model number remains the same (WD6400AAKS-00A7B0) but its moniker is now Caviar Blue... a delicacy prized by fat cats everywhere?

The Caviar Blue 640GB 2-platter drive has a more substantial casing than the single-platter version.

We discovered during our review process that there were two different types of casings for the 320GB model, one considerably less robust than the other. The practical end result was that with one casing, the drive was very quiet, and with the other, it wasn't so quiet — demonstrating once again the importance of resonance and vibration control for good acoustics in all devices that have moving parts. Thus far, no such variations in casing has been discovered with the WD6400AAKS... but that does not necessarily mean it doesn't exist. We certainly hope it doesn't, because with the 320GB model, the casing difference is not indexed or referenced by the model designation, so there's no way of telling which casing you'll get unless you're actually looking at it.

WD Caviar SE16 (or Blue) 640GB WD6400AAKS
(from WD's product overview)
Top performance for Windows Vista - WD Caviar SE16 SATA and EIDE drives are certified for Windows Vista and are top performers on the Windows Vista Experience Index. The usual marketing fluff.
16 MB Cache - Bigger cache means faster performance. Quickly becoming standard.
Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) - The latest generation of WD Caviar SE16 drives employs PMR technology to achieve even greater areal density. PMR is quickly becoming standard. It's part of what makes the high areal density possible.
IntelliSeek™ - Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise and vibration It sounds good.
SecurePark™ - Parks the recording heads off the disk surface during spin up, spin down and when the drive is off. This ensures the recording head never touches the disk surface resulting in improved long term reliability due to less head wear, and improved non- operational shock tolerance. Did not cause audible clicking in the 320GB version.
3 years End-user Limited Warranty OK, but not as good as Seagate's 5 years.

Specifications: WD6400AAKS & WD3200AAKS-00B3A0
Disks / Heads
2 / 4
1 / 2
Interface SATA 3Gb/s SATA 3Gb/s
Spindle RPM
7,200 RPM
7,200 RPM
Data Transfer: Buffer / Disk 972 Mbits/s (max) 70 MB/sec
Data Transfer: Buffer / Host (SATA) 3 GB/sec 3 GB/sec
Average Seek - Read / Write
4.2 / 4.7 ms
4.2 / 4.7 ms
Average Latency
4.2 ms
4.2 ms
630 g
600 g
Power Requirements: Idle / Seek (avg.)
7.7 / 8.3 W
7.2 / 7.8 W
Acoustics: Idle / Seek / AAM
25 / 29 / 26 dBA
25 / 29 / 26 dBA

A quick glance at the table of published specifications indicates that the two drives are virtually identical, as they should be, aside from the number of platters and heads. This difference is reflected in the weight and power, which are higher in the 640GB model, but the acoustics are the same, which goes against the truism that higher platter count usually means higher noise levels. Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) seek is not specifically mentioned; the reference is to Seek Mode 0 and Seek Mode 3, the latter showing the lower dBA.

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