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Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives

Western Digital Red

August 9, 2012 by Lawrence Lee

Product
WD Red WD30EFRX

3TB 3.5" HDD
WD Red WD10EFRX

1TB 3.5" HDD
Manufacturer
Street Price
US$180 US$100

For the past few years, Western Digital's consumer desktop hard drives have been divvied up into three distinct families for users with different needs. The Caviar Blacks provided high performance at a premium, Caviar Blues had balanced qualities for everyday use, and Caviar Greens delivered energy efficiency and low noise operation. The Green's qualities were mainly a result of a reduction in motor speed from the industry standard 7,200 RPM. But, what it lacked in speed, it made up for in price; more often than not, Greens offered the best capacity to price ratio, enabling budget-conscious consumers the luxury (or curse) of becoming digital hoarders.



The WD Red 3TB and 1TB.

The new Red series dumps the "Caviar" moniker entirely but it's essentially a tweaked version of the Caviar Green that is optimized for use in NAS (networked attached storage) devices and RAID setups. The Red is designed specifically to run in a 24x7 environment and doesn't have the Green's headparking energy-saving feature that causes lag and other issues in NAS systems. Red drives have also been tested and qualified compatible with a wide variety of NAS chipsets, is covered by 24x7 dedicated support, in addition to carrying a three year warranty instead of two. And last but not least, the WD Red supports TLER (time-limited error recovery), a feature found on Enterprise-class drives that is almost essential for RAID configurations to avoid data loss when errors are encountered.



Underside. 3TB model on the left, 1TB on the right.

The Red series is available in three sizes, 1TB, 2TB, and 3TB, and has received a upgrade in areal density compared to the most recent Caviar Greens. All three models sport 1TB platters, something that is quite evident after physically checking the 1TB and 3TB samples we received from Western Digital. Our 1TB sample weighs only 460 grams compared to to 640 grams for the 3TB model. Also, the 1TB version's casing is of standard thickness but on the underside there's a deep 10 mm inset, indicating the housing is much larger than necessary.


WD Red 3TB & 1TB Specifications

(from the product data sheet)
Model number WD30EFRX WD10EFRX
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Formatted capacity 3,000,592 MB 1,000,204 MB
Advanced format Yes Yes
Data transfer rate (host to/from drive, typical) 145 MB/s 150 Mb/s
Cache 64 MB 64 MB
Rotational Speed IntelliPower IntelliPower
Average power requirements Read/write 4.4 W

Idle: 4.1 W

Standby/Sleep: 0.6 W
Read/write 3.7 W

Idle: 3.2 W

Standby/Sleep: 0.6 W
Average acoustics Idle: 23 dBA

Seek: 24 dBA
Idle: 21 dBA

Seek: 22 dBA
Weight (+/- 10%) 1.4 lb / 0.64 kg 0.99 lb / 0.45 kg
MTBF 1,000,000 hours 1,000,000 hours
Limited Warranty 3 years 3 years

According to the datasheet, the 1TB variant is the faster, quieter, and more energy efficient of the two.

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially with

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two 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. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from 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.

As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs. Synthetic tests are also run to better judge the performance across the entire span of the drive.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

Performance Test Tools:

Benchmark Details

  • Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the average time to get to the "loading Windows" screen, 11 seconds on our test system)
  • COD5: Combined load time for "Breaking Point" and "Black Cats" levels.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 10GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark Vantage: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD 10: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for a variety of small HTML, JPEG, MP3, ZIP, and EXE files.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 AVI files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

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

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 22°C.



Our Red samples were both manufactured in June 2012.

Real World Performance

A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive and our entire
test suite was run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (except for SSDs and hybrid drives) and reboot
between runs.
Average times were collected for comparison.

The 1TB Red was a huge disappointment in our loading tests with an atrocious boot time. It finished dead last, well behind even a 5400 RPM notebook drive, the WD Scorpio Blue 1TB. The 3TB version fared much better, trailing the 7200 RPM WD Caviar Black 2TB by a slim margin and booting up eight seconds ahead of an older model WD Caviar Green 2TB.

In our application testing, the Red 3TB delivered superb performance edging out the VelociRaptor 600GB, the second faster hard drive we've ever tested. The 1TB model performed as one would expect, faster than the Scorpio Blue, but slower than the 7200RPM Barracuda XT.

Both samples were fairly impressive in our file copy test, with the 3TB model breezing past the Barracuda XT and Caviar Black. The 1TB was noticeably slower but blew away the Seagate Momentus XT, a 7,200 RPM hybrid notebook drive.

The Reds finished out our test suite with a mediocre results in timed installations of PowerDVD and 3DMark Vantage. The 3TB Red failed to match the Barracuda XT and the 1TB model finished barely ahead of the WD Scorpio Blue.

Overall Performance

To accurately represent the overall performance of the drives, we gave each model a proportional score in each real world benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation), with each benchmark set equally weighted. The WD Red 3TB was used as a reference point, assigned 25 points in each category for a total of 100 points.

Using this scoring system, the WD Red 3TB triumphs over 7200 RPM models like the Barracuda XT 2TB and Caviar Black 2TB. Both of these drives are older, 4-platter drives, but it's still quite an accomplishment given the Red's lower rotational speed which we confirmed as ~5,400 RPM via acoustic testing. We're not half as impressed by the 1TB Red. It managed to beat out a Caviar Green by several points but the WD20EVDS is a three year old drive.

HD Tune Performance

Real world benchmarks are useful but they don't portray the whole picture as drive speed varies across a drive's span. HD Tune's transfer rate benchmark measures speed across the entire disk.




Both drives have very poor access times above 20 ms which is poor even for a sub-7200 RPM model. The transfer rates were noticeably higher on the 3TB sample. The 3TB's read speed only dropped under 100 MB/s over the last quarter of the drive while the 1TB model crossed this same threshold with a third of its capacity remaining.

Power Consumption

Note: the above idle figures don't account for headparking; the WD Caviar Green 2TB and 3TB's power consumption drops by an additional 0.4 W when their heads are parked.

The new Red drives perform better than their Green descendants (especially the 3TB model) but there doesn't appear to be any cost in energy savings — both drives are incredibly power efficient. The 3TB model is particularly frugal compared to its predecessor with a savings of 35% in seek mode.

Acoustics



Both Red drives were incredibly quiet with the 1TB Red producing 12~13 [email protected] and the 3TB model emitting about 1 dB more. Furthermore, the seek noise of both drives was indiscernible from one meter or even one foot away — we had to place our ear inches from the drives to confirm there was any additional noise at all. The two Red drives produced a slight tone at ~90 Hz, confirming that their motors spin at about 5,400 RPM.

Comparison Chart: Environmental Characteristics

1TB+ DESKTOP HARD DRIVES
Drive

Mfg date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

WD Caviar Green

2TB WD20EARS

August 2010

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
Seek
6.5 W
WD Red
1TB WD10EFRX

June 2012

firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
12~13
2.9 W
Seek
4.1 W
WD Caviar Green

1.5TB WD15EADS

November 2009

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W (2.8 W heads parked)
Seek
13~14
5.8 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4

2TB HD204UI


August 2010

firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Hitachi Deskstar

7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332


February 2010

firmware JP4OA39C
5
Idle
13
4.6 W
Seek (AAM)
15~16
6.4 W
Seek
17
9.6 W
WD Caviar Green

2TB WD20EVDS

February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
8~9
Idle
13~14
3.9 W
Seek
6.5 W
WD Red
3TB WD30EFRX

June 2012

firmware 80.00A80
9
Idle
13~14
3.6 W
Seek
4.9 W
WD Caviar Green

2TB WD20EADS

February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
7
Idle
14
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
Seek
13~14
6.5 W
WD Caviar Blue

1TB WD10EALS


August 2010

firmware 05.01D05
7
Idle
14
5.2 W
Seek (AAM)
16~17
6.6 W
Seek
20
8.2 W
WD Caviar Green

3TB WD30EZRS

September 2010

firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W (3.7 W heads parked)
Seek
7.5W
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632

April 2011

firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003

November 2010

firmware CC31
8
Idle
14~15
4.6 W
Seek
17~18
7.3 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001

November 2011

firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W

(5.6 W >30 secs)

(3.9 W >50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W

The 1TB Red is on par with the last Caviar Green 2TB with both sharing the title of SPCR's quietest desktop drive. The 3TB Red meanwhile is clearly the quietest 3TB drive we've ever tested. The vibration level of the 1TB model was very good but not noticeably more prevalent than the the 3TB version. It's a common issue with single-platter drives with less bulky casings.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

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:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The WD Red series is a fine addition to Western Digital's cadre of low power desktop drives. Though designed to overcome the shortcomings of the Caviar Green that make them less than suitable for 24-7 use in NAS environments and RAID configurations, they also deliver reductions in power consumption and noise. Both the 3TB and 1TB version are the most energy efficient and quiet models we've tested in their respective capacities. Seek noise is almost nonexistent and vibration levels are excellent.

Performance-wise the 1TB model is nothing to write home about, more or less equivalent in speed to your typical 5,400 RPM desktop drive. The 3TB variant however, is much faster, outclassing older 7200 RPM models like the 2TB WD Caviar Black and Seagate Barracuda XT in our real world application tests. If you want it all — performance, a minimal noise footprint, and a respectable amount of capacity, the WD Red 3TB is about as good as it gets, at least for a single, one-drive fits all solution. It doesn't compare to a solid-state drive or the latest 1TB VelociRaptor but it's speedy enough that you'd be hard pressed to notice the difference compared to a standard 7,200 RPM model.

At US$180, the WD Red 3TB is easily the better choice over the Caviar Green 3TB. The Green sells for $10 less but is inferior in every measurable category. The Red isn't the cheapest 3TB model though as the 7,200 RPM Seagate Barracuda 3TB can be found for under US$150 at some e-tailers. The Red 3TB might not be as fast but it's definitely quieter, more energy efficient, supports TLER, and has a three year of warranty rather than one; for some users, this is enough to make up for the price difference.

For US$100, the WD Red 1TB offers much of the same as the 3TB variant except that its performance is decidedly lackluster. It's not very fast but it is the quietest, more energy efficient 3.5 inch drive we've ever tested, period, perfect for a simple storage/NAS drive. It carries only a $10 premium over most 1TB drives but the problem is 1TB drives in general have poor capacity to cost ratios to begin with. We imagine many consumers would skip the Red 1TB in favor of the Red 2TB for an extra $30.

Many thanks to Western Digital for the Red 3TB and Red 1TB
samples.

* * *



WD Red 3TB
wins the SPCR Editor's Choice



WD Red 1TB
is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:



ADATA XPG SX910 128GB Solid State Drive

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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