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Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives

Western Digital Red 4TB & Se 4TB Hard Drives

October 21, 2013 by Lawrence Lee


4TB 3.5" HDD
WD Se WD4000F9YZ

4TB 3.5" HDD
Street Price
US$200 US$260

While the PC market continues expanding and migrating to mobile platforms,
one desktop computer component continues to sell well. Sales of storage devices
are increasing, with considerable growth in the home server and NAS markets.
While people are computing on lighter and smaller devices, we still need some
place to store all the ever increasing digital content. Though hard drives are
arguably the most antiquated technology left in our PCs, they buck the trend,
and continue to grow steadily in capacity.

In this article, we have a pair of 4TB drives from Western Digital, the WD
and WD Se. If you look at the spec sheet, they seem to be
from very distinct classes but they're actually two sides of the same coin.

The WD Se 4TB (left) and WD Red 4TB (right).

The Red series is a upscale version of the eco-friendly WD Green, upgraded
with a 3 year warranty, around the clock support, and NASware — firmware
designed specifically for operation in multi-drive RAID configurations used
in consumer NAS devices. The main difference is support for TLER (Time-Limited
Error Recovery) which limits the time a drive will spend attempting to remap
a bad sector. If the drive takes too long, the RAID controller interprets this
unresponsiveness as drive failure and drops it from the array. The Red series
is unique in that WD tests it for compatibility with many of the popular NAS
models on the market.

The Se is an enterprise drive less concerned about user experience and more
about raw performance and reliability, qualities vital in more professional
settings. It's also optimized for RAID but it's the type of drive you'd use
in a data center where time and money are at stake, rather than storing your
home theater library and sitting on its butt most of the time. It's like a WD
Black in that it has a 5 year warranty, a 7,200 RPM motor, dual processors,
and dual actuators. However, each drive goes through an extended burn-in process
for better quality control and is outfitted with a multi-axis shock sensor.

Underside. Once again, Se on the left, Red on the right.

The underside of the Red 4TB lacks the ribs extending from the motor to the
outer shell found on the 3TB and 1TB versions, using a more all-encapsulating
casing. The Se 4TB has a larger PCB than the Red but it also seems to have fewer
exposed solder points suggesting more of the electronics is imbedded inside.
The portion where the board resides is also sunk in deeper on the Red. This
combined with the weight difference (our Se samples weighed 760 grams to the
Reds' 680 grams) suggests the Se has a more substantial housing, perhaps to
help limit the increased vibration caused by the higher rotational speed.

WD Red 4TB & Se 4TB Specifications

(from their respective product web pages here and here)
Model number Red WD40EFRX Se WD4000F9YZ
Capacity 4 TB 4 TB
User Sectors Per Drive 7,814,037,168 7,814,037,168
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s SATA 6 Gb/s
Rotational Speed IntelliPower * 7,200 RPM (nominal)
Buffer Size 64 MB 64 MB
Data Transfer Rate (sustained maximum host to/from drive) 150 MB/s 171 MB/s
Average Acoustics Idle Mode: 25 dBA
Seek Mode 0: 28 dBA
Idle Mode: 31 dBA
Seek Mode 0: 34 dBA
Power Dissipation Read/Write: 4.50 Watts

Idle: 3.30 Watts
Read/Write: 9.50 Watts

Idle: 8.10 Watts
Weight 0.68 kg 0.75 kg
Load/unload Cycles 600,000 300,000
MTBF 1,000,000 hours 800,000 hours

1,200,000 hours (1-5 Bay NAS)
Limited Warranty 3 years 5 years

The differences in the specifications are classic for a low power vs. a high
performance model. The Se is spec'd considerably louder and for double the power
usage. It's hard to judge reliability purely from these numbers. The Red has
double the load/unload cycle limit but the 4TB version head-parks to save power,
so it likely will reach its limit sooner. Its mean time before failure is 200,000
hours longer, but the Se's 800,000 hours is still much longer than the average
human lifespan.


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 sub-20 [email protected] devices.

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:

Real World Performance Test Tools:

Real World Benchmark Details:

  • Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the time for an average SSD to get to the "loading Windows" screen, 12 seconds on our test system)
  • COD5: Combined load time for the "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 20~23°C.

Synthetic Performance

We start off with synthetic results from the popular HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark utilities. They don't tell the whole story of course, but it's a quick and dirty way of gauging relative performance between drives and of course, it's easily reproducible by our readers at home.

The WD Se did well in HD Tune's transfer rate benchmark, which measures sequential speed across the entire disk, finishing just behind the VelociRaptor 1TB, the fastest hard drive on the market. The WD Red 4TB didn't perform nearly as well, as one would expect, but it also lagged behind the smaller capacity versions of the family. It did lead the Red series in access times but was still well behind drives with higher rotational speeds.

The random read/write results from CrystalDiskMark are more representative of the day-to-day workload of an operating system rather than transferring large chunks of sequential data (file transfers). With large 512K blocks, the Se impressed again, slightly edged out by the 600GB VelociRaptor, while the 4TB Red was almost on par its 3TB counterpart. The smaller 4K block size brought the Se back down to earth.

Real World Performance

Our real world performance testing begins with a Windows 7 image, loaded with our test suite, being cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive. The suite is 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.

Though the Se 4TB loaded Call of Duty 5 very quickly, its Far Cry 2 performance was lackluster. Also, an unusually long spin-up time delayed its boot time by a three or four seconds, making it fall short of the Barracuda XT 2TB in total loading performance. The Red 4TB trailed by only a few seconds overall. It's fairly snappy for a 5,400 RPM model.

Both models excelled in our application tests, with the Se landing in second place behind the VelociRaptor 1TB and the Red achieving a better than average rank thanks to an excellent result in the ExactFile test.

The VelociRaptor 1TB once again claimed the top spot in our file copy tests, but the Se took the silver and the Red nabbed the bronze. These two new drives are in pretty good company.

Fractions of a second typically determine the winner of our installation tests and this race was ridiculously close. Powered by a strong showing in 3DMark, the Se 4TB's combined time was only 0.1 seconds behind the VelociRaptor 1TB. The Red 4TB performed well too, but only for a 5,400 RPM model.

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. A perfectly average drive would be awarded 25 points in each category for a total of 100 points.

Using this scoring system, the Se 4TB is the fastest 7,200 RPM drive we've ever tested, handily beating the older 600GB VelociRaptor. Despite its lower rotational speed, the Red 4TB is no slouch, finishing ahead of the smaller Red drives and a couple of 7,200 RPM models from Seagate.

Power Consumption

The WD Red 4TB idled at 4.0 W while 6.2 W was consumed during seek activity,
which is right in line with its little brothers, after accounting for the 4TB
variant's extra platter. Interestingly, the WD Green's headparking feature,
absent in the 1TB and 3TB Red drives, makes an appearance here, unloading after
7~8 seconds and shaving off 0.8 W. The Se 4TB used twice that amount at idle
and almost topped 10W when seeking. It's still not bad for a 4TB 7,200 RPM drive.


The Red 4TB wasn't as quiet as the smaller versions, though the type and character
of noise was similar. Sitting idle, it produced a soft, innocuous whooshing
which measured 15 [email protected] Seeks were produced in a slightly scratchy pitter-patter
pattern that was so muted that the SPL increased to only 15~16 [email protected] Altogether
the sound is pleasant — only the most sensitive listeners will find fault
with it.

The Se 4TB measured only 1 dB higher at idle as it had a similar sound but
with hint of buzzing. Its seeks seemed to be lower in frequency, sounding less
distinct to the ear, but they had a heavier, thumpy character. It's definitely
a louder model overall but the noise lacks any truly negative characteristics.

Low frequency tonal peaks were detected at 90 Hz and 120 Hz on the Red and Se drives, confirming their rotational speeds of 5,400 and 7,200 RPM, respectively.

Comparison Chart: Environmental Characteristics


Mfg date

firmware version


(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])



WD Caviar Green


August 2010

firmware 01.00A01
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
6.5 W
WD Red


June 2012

firmware 01.01A01
2.9 W
4.1 W
WD Caviar Green


November 2009

firmware 01.00A01
4.5 W (2.8 W heads parked)
5.8 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4


August 2010

firmware 1AQ10001
4.0 W
5.6 W
WD Caviar Green


February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
3.9 W
6.5 W
WD Red


June 2012

firmware 80.00A80
3.6 W
4.9 W
WD Caviar Green


February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
2.8 W (2.4 W heads parked)
6.5 W
Hitachi Deskstar

7K1000.C 1TB HDS721010CLA332

February 2010

firmware JP4OA39C
4.6 W
Seek (AAM)
6.4 W
9.6 W
WD Caviar Green


September 2010

firmware 01.00A01
4.1 W (3.7 W heads parked)

August 2013

firmware 80.00A80
4.0 W (3.2 W heads parked)
6.2 W
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632

April 2011

firmware 580
5.6 W
WD Caviar Blue


August 2010

firmware 05.01D05
5.2 W
Seek (AAM)
6.6 W
8.2 W
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB ST2000DL003

November 2010

firmware CC31
4.6 W
7.3 W
Seagate Barracuda

3TB ST3000DM001

November 2011

firmware CC47
6.4 W

(5.6 W >30 secs)

(3.9 W >50 secs)
9.9 W
WD Se 4TB WD4000F9YZ

October 2013

firmware 01.01A01
8.1 W
9.7 W
Hitachi Deskstar

7K3000 2TB


August 2011

firmware MNGOA5C0
5.3 W
7.8 W
Seagate Barracuda XT

2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010

firmware CC13
7.0 W
7.9 W
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ

March 2012

firmware 04.06A00


4.0 W


5.3 W

On our subjective vibration scale, two of WD Red 4TB samples scored an 8 (very good) while the other two scored 9 (excellent), indicating some sample variation. Both of our WD Se 4TB samples scored a 7, which is about average for a typical desktop drive these days.

Taking this into consideration, we rank the Red 4TB just below its little brothers while the Se 4TB finishes ahead of 2TB 7,200 RPM models form Seagate and Hitachi and slightly behind the Barracuda 3TB.


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:


Western Digital Red 4TB

The 3TB and
1TB Red
drives we reviewed last year had excellent energy efficiency,
whisper quiet operation, and very low vibration levels. The new 4TB version
is a bit noisier and uses more power but the differences are proportionate to
its higher capacity and it still sounds pretty good. Its performance as a boot/OS
drive is particularly impressive, surpassing older 7,200 RPM drives, and improving
on the Red 3TB variant by about 10% in real world tests.

It's also equipped with firmware specifically to play well in multi-drive NAS/RAID configurations, and has been tested for compatibility with a variety of popular NAS devices. At 3 years, the warranty is also longer than typical as well and Red drives qualify for 24x7 support.

The WD Red 4TB is selling for about US$200, which isn't great in terms
of sheer capacity:cost compared to a typical 3TB model, but for a 4TB eco-friendly
sub-7,200 RPM drive, it's more than fair. Seagate has a similar 4TB NAS drive
on the market for the same price but it lacks the extra support and warranty.
Cheaper models lacking RAID-optimized firmware like the WD Green and Seagate
Desktop 4TB are viable alternatives for basic desktop use, but you don't really
save much, about $10~$30. If we were talking about a US$100 drive,
this would be significant difference but at the much higher price-point, we
have little hesitation recommending paying a bit more.

Western Digital Se 4TB

The WD Se 4TB exhibited exceptional performance, producing the best real world
results we've obtained from a 7,200 RPM drive, beating out the previous generation
10,000 RPM VelociRaptor
. It's not particularly quiet by modern standards but the sound
it produces isn't unpleasant and shouldn't bother the average user. It does
vibrate more than the Red series, and used in a desktop, it would definitely
benefit from suspension. That being said, if used alone as a single drive, it's
probably not worth the bother if the drive cage is well-secured and at least
damped with good rubber grommets.

The Se line is RAID-optimized but it hasn't been tested for consumer NAS operation,
nor does it have day and night support. It does go through a rigorous testing
and burn-in phase to ensure reliability, comes with a 5 year guarantee, and
has a multi-axis shock sensor which allows the drive to take steps to protect
data when shock events occur. While you should always have backups, if you want
peace of mind, this is a pretty solid bet.

The WD Se 4TB can be found for US$260 and surprisingly, despite its
extra features, isn't any more expensive than WD's standard high performance
desktop drive, the WD Black, or most 4TB 7,200 RPM model in general. It's cost-effective
enterprise storage marketed for high-end NAS and data center operation where
performance is key. The speed is overkill for a typical home server or NAS but
it certainly wouldn't be out of place as a standalone performance drive in a

Many thanks to Western Digital for the Red 4TB and Se 4TB

* * *

WD Red 4TB
wins the SPCR Editor's Choice

is Recommended by SPCR

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:

Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives

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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