WD Caviar Green 2TB & Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB: Two Very Quiet Drives

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WD Caviar Green 2TB & Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB: Quiet Desktop HDDs

Mar. 26, 2009 by Lawrence Lee

Western Digital Caviar Green WD20EADS
2.0TB Desktop Hard Drive
Seagate Pipeline HD ST3500321CS
500GB Desktop Hard Drive
Sample Supplier
Market Price
US$300 US$60

Western Digital's Caviar Green Power series rocked our world when they were first introduced. The unconventional approach of slower rotational speed, combined with smarter seeking and head management resulted in the quietest and most power efficient desktop hard drives. Their largest drive to date, the Caviar Green 2TB, aspires to continue the legacy. You may think a 2TB couldn't possibly be quiet, but with no increase in the number of platters due to the extra high density 500GB platters, in theory it should do as well as the 1TB version.

Seagate has also stepped into the same market with a line of low noise, low energy drives, the Pipeline HD series. Marketed as the perfect drives for media devices, they essentially share the same values as Green Powers. We confirmed in a recent review that the 1TB Pipeline HD Pro spins at the usual standard 7200 RPM speed, but the lower capacity Pipelines all run at 5900 RPM. We're looking at the largest of these drives, the 500GB version.

Green Power 2TB on the left, Pipeline HD 500GB on the right.

Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB

WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADS: Key Features & Benefits
(from Western Digital's product web page)
Reduced power consumption - WD has reduced power consumption by up to 40 percent compared to standard desktop drives with the combination of WD's IntelliSeek™, NoTouch™, and IntelliPower™ technologies. Whatever the main contributor, the power efficiency of their Green drives is undisputed.
Helps enable eco-friendly PCs - WD Caviar Green drives yield an average drive power savings of 4-5 watts over standard desktop drives making it possible for our energy-conscious customers to build systems with higher capacities and the right balance of system performance, ensured reliability, and energy conservation. While 4-5 watts may sound low, in a server farm this can certainly add up.
Cool and quiet - GreenPower™ technology yields lower operating temperatures for increased reliability and low acoustics for ultra-quiet PCs and external drives. Lowering the spindle speed is a big reason for these improvements.
Massive capacity - Capacities up to 2 TB offer the most available capacity for storage-intensive programs and space-hungry operating systems, like Window Vista®, with plenty of room left over for photos, music, and video. As the first 2TB drive to hit the market, WD is at the top of the mountain at the moment.
Perfect for external drives - External drive manufacturers can eliminate the need for a fan in a high-capacity product with a WD Caviar Green drive, the coolest and quietest in its class. Hard-mounted in a stuffy enclosure, such a drive would be the perfect fit.
IntelliPower - A fine-tuned balance of spin speed, transfer rate and caching algorithms designed to deliver both significant power savings and solid performance Our 2TB sample spins at 5400 RPM. WD's literature lists the possible speed range as 5400~7200 RPM, but we have yet to come across a drive that falls between these two numbers.
IntelliSeek - Calculates optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise, and vibration. Just-in-time seeking that lets the seek head move more slowly when it would otherwise have to wait for the latency of the spindle. Should be good for reliability as well.
NoTouch ramp load technology - The recording head never touches the disk media ensuring significantly less wear to the recording head and media as well as better drive protection in transit. Not only does this reduce wear and tear, but it also lowers the risk of accidental damage.
Perpendicular Magnetic Recording (PMR) - Employs PMR technology to achieve even greater areal density. PMR is pretty much standard these days.
StableTrac™ - The motor shaft is secured at both ends to reduce system-induced vibration and stabilize platters for accurate tracking, during read and write operations. (2 TB models only) Vibrations are less of a problem for sub 7200 RPM drives.
Low power spin-up - WD Caviar Green drives consume less current during startup allowing lower peak loads. Measuring spin-up power consumption is very difficult to confirm.
Advanced power technology - Electronic components deliver best-in-class low power consumption for reduced power requirements and increased reliability. Sounds good.

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