Caviar Black: WD's Performance 1TB HDD

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TEST RESULTS

Our sample was tested in SPCR's anechoic chamber according to our standard hard drive testing methodology. The test drive sample was compared against a few other drives. Our methodology focuses specifically on HDD noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured and described. Performance is covered only lightly, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article. For comprehensive HDD performance testing results, we recommend Storage Review, who have established a long reputation as the specialist in this field. The WD1001FALS is in their performance database in a head-to-head comparison with Samsung's F1 series.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These types of noise impact the subjective perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and subjectively. Both the subjective and objective analyses are essential to understanding the acoustics of the drives. Airborne acoustics are measured using a professional caliber SLM. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter above the top of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments are relevant to the sample we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without telling everyone.


Our Caviar Black sample came off the assembly line about 6 months ago.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 11 dBA and 19°C.

ACOUSTICS & POWER

Reference Drive Re-testing:
Our anechoic chamber became operational shortly after our last hard drive review. Some of the reference drives (the ones we still have access to) were re-tested in the chamber for airborne acoustics. As such the SPL readings and audio recordings will be different from those taken previously.


DRIVE NOISE EVALUATION
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State
Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)
Measured Power
Western Digital WD1001FALS
July 2008
firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
21
10.9 W
Seek (Normal)
25
11.0 W
REFERENCE DRIVES*
Western Digital WD6400AAKS
February 2008
firmware 01.03B01
7
Idle
16
6.8 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
8.1 W
Seek (Normal)
18~19
9.3 W
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD
March 2006
firmware 20.07P20
5
Idle
16
8.2 W
Seek (AAM)
26~27
12.2 W
Seek (Normal)
26~27
12.2 W
Samsung F1 3D
HD753LJ

February 2008
firmware 1AA01109
6
Idle
16
6.9 W
Seek (AAM)
18~19
8.9 W
Seek (Normal)
20~21
10.2 W
WD Caviar SE16 500GB WD5000KS
March 2006
firmware 07.02E07
4
Idle
19
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
19
8.6 W
Seek (Normal)
22
10.7 W
* These drives are references in the sense of previously tested and known entitities to which newly tested products can be compared and contrasted against.

The WD Black 1TB sounded smooth in operation, with similar acoustics to its Caviar Blue cousin. No unpleasant tones or whining were noted but the overall noise level of the Caviar Black was significantly higher both at idle and during seeks. Seeking was particularly loud at 25 dBA, within spitting distance of the 10,000 RPM 150GB Raptor. Compared to our selection of newly re-tested reference drives, the WD Black fared poorly.

The overall sound is broadband, except for the 120Hz fundamental tone of its motor spinning at 7200 RPM. Without AAM enabled (the default state), seeks had a slight, audible tonality that we measured at roughly 3.2 kHz. The seek noise was very sharp — easily audible from a meter away. Turning AAM on improved the seek noise substantially. The tonal peak faded, and the sound became both smoother and quieter — very muted at one meter's distance.

The level of vibration was higher than we've come to expect from Western Digital. The Caviar Black vibrated noticeably more than Caviar Blue and Samsung F1 750GB drive. It was more or less indistinguishable in this regard to the Caviar SE16 500GB — a two year old drive with 4 platters. Soft-mounting is definitely recommended, suspension is preferable.

The power consumption of the drive was quite a bit higher than that listed in the specifications: 8.5W idle, and about 11W during seek, whether AAM is enabled or not. The last drive we reviewed that broke 11W was the 150GB Raptor.

We no longer have our sample of Samsung's F1 terabyte drive (our current 7,200 RPM favorite), so we were unable to re-test it in the anechoic chamber or make a direct comparison. Our original review rated it a 5 on our vibration scale, measured power consumption at about 7W at idle and 10W during seek. It operated at approximately the same noise level as the 750GB version.



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