Caviar Black: WD's Performance 1TB HDD

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The averge read speed (90.6 MB/s) and maximum burst speed (219 MB/s) of the Caviar Black were similar to the results obtained for our 640GB Caviar Blue sample. The random access speed of 13.6ms was a bit higher, however. These results are a bit disappointing. After all, the Black line is supposed to be the grand daddy of the Caviar series. The Samsung F1 1TB had more or less the same read and burst speeds, though it's random access speed was almost 3 ms slower. CPU utilization was higher by a few percentage points.

These results are more or less bourne out by the results at Storage Review, which gives the Caviar Black a modest lead over the F1, except in multi-user, server-oriented environments where the Caviar Black was clearly superior.

Turning on AAM resulted in the exact same read and burst speeds with a 4.5 ms increase in random access time. The reduction in noise level is well worth it though.

Very similar to the Samsung F1 1TB drive.

With AAM engaged for lowest noise, random access speed suffered but read speed and burst speed remained constant.


These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality digital recording system inside SPCR's very 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 recording starts with 5 seconds of ambient noise, then 10 second segments of the drive in the following states: idle, seek with AAM enabled, and seek with AAM disabled.



The WD Caviar Black 1TB drive is a bigger, louder, and more power hungry version of the Caviar Blue 640GB. Performance according to HD Tach was a bit disappointing — though it has a higher areal density and twice the cache, it didn't seem to be any faster. It did beat out the Samsung F1 1TB drive in random access time. Of the three drives, the Caviar Black came in last in both acoustics and power consumption. Of course, this is a limited set of tests, and more extensive comparisons may show a clearer edge in performance.

Automatic Acoustic Management greatly improves the seek noise of the Caviar Black, but at the cost of random access speed — a price we think is worth paying. However, even with AAM enabled, audio performance was not stellar. We also highly recommend suspending the drive as it does vibrate more than a typical modern 3.5" drive. It is no doubt, a fast drive, but the higher noise level is disproportionate to its performance especially when you consider what Western Digital accomplished in the Velociraptor. The Velociraptor is an incredibly fast yet quiet drive (once taken out of its icepack mounting frame). Of course, not everyone is willing to pay the premium Western Digital charges for the drive.

The Caviar Black is likely one of the fastest 1TB drives on the market, but the extra performance is incremental as far as we can tell — an end-user may be hard pressed to perceive any advantage over the closest challenger. For those with a quiet PC, the increase in noise level over the drive's we've recommended over the years (such as the Samsung 1TB F1) is much more likely to be noticed.

Many thanks Western Digital for the review sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
SPCR's Hard Drive Testing Methodology
SPCR's Recommended Hard Drives
WD SE16 Caviar 640GB is now Blue
WD VelociRaptor: A Triple Crown
Samsung F1 750GB & 1TB Drives: Fast... and Silent?
WD Green Power: A New Benchmark in HDD Acoustics & Power
Western Digital Raptor 150GB: New Revision, New Noise?
WD Caviar SE16 500GB: Big Low-Noise Champ?

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