Western Digital's single-platter 320GB Caviar SE16 WD3200AAK

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Western Digital's single-platter 320GB Caviar SE16 WD3200AAK

Post by MikeC » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm

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Post by saipoob » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:30 pm

Thanks for the review.

I have to say I'm slightly disappointed. After the GP, and given the non availability of the smaller capacity F1 drives, I was hoping this would be a clear winner for 7200 rpm drives.

I am curious to see if the 2 platter drive performs better, because of the extra weight I wonder if it will vibrate less and sound less turbulent.
Last edited by saipoob on Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by andyb » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:40 pm

Saipoob, the WD 320GB is a clear winner in the 320GB market as the Samsung 320GB models are impossible to find - but this is only the case so long as you get the second sample that SPCR reviewed.

Nice to see that SPCR confirmed my belief of the F1's noise, now for the review.


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Post by butters » Wed Apr 09, 2008 3:28 pm

ZipZoomFly has the 750GB Samsung F1 for $113USD, get 'em while they last. I couldn't turn it down for that price. They had the 1TB F1 for $190 as recently as last night, but they are now out of stock.

I was also wondering about the 250/334 areal density issue. I'm hoping that it's just a higher-yielding derivative of the 1GB production line. This would make sense given that they have the same 32MB cache unlike all of the smaller models.

WRT the top shell resonance, I doubt it would take much to disrupt the standing waves. Try wrapping two rubber bands fairly tight around the drive bisecting the length and width respectively. That should nearly eliminate everything up to the fourth harmonic, which most likely has minimal amplitude.

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Post by JoeWPgh » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:50 pm

I just put a pr of the 640's into an Antec Fusion media box. They are vaguely audible during boot up, but never enough to be a distraction. After that, the pair is quieter than the Corsair hx 520 PSU - this in the stock fusion mounting scheme, and a brand new install of Vista. I don't have the interest to run benchmarks, but 'The Windows Experience Index' rates them at 5.9 - a rating for HDDs I've only gotten from Vista in a RAID config. The speed with which Vista installed lends credence to this dubious 'benchmark'.
I haven't spent much time with the new build, but my first impression of the WD 640 is all positive - quick, quiet and cheap.

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640GB drives have made it to Toronto

Post by wayner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:50 pm

You mentioned in the article that the 640GB drives haven't made it to Canada yet but according to Canada Computers' web site they have lots of the 640GB drives (WD6400AAKS) - an average of 5 or so per shop. Maybe they just haven't made it to the left coast yet - they flew straight over Vancouver!

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Post by angelkiller » Wed Apr 09, 2008 4:55 pm

Hi all,

First, thanks MikeC for the review! Extremely informative for me. After reading this, I discovered that my newly purchased WD3200AAKS is identical to the first sample you tested.
Image
Right now, I'm perplexed as to why I have this drive. This drive has a later manufacture date than either of your samples. I purchased this drive at Newegg about a week and a half ago. So apparently Newegg had WD's pre-production samples :?: :? Or maybe WD decided to return to the pre-production model?? I'm completely lost here. My (subjective) noise measurements matched the review's. I was expecting a bit quieter. Seeks are pretty silent but the rotational noise is hollow and a bit loud.

Any insight as to how I got into my situation? What should I do from here?

Thanks! :)

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Post by dhanson865 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 7:31 pm

I think it's just worth it to go for a known quantity and avoid the mess and confusion of dealing with the WD3200AAKS.

It still leaves a little bit of a bad taste for me that WD didn't handle this roll out better and I haven't even bought one of the new drives yet.

Dunno which way I'll go but the choice for me seems to be between the Green Power 500GB with 2 platters or the WD6400AAKS with 2 platters.

WD6400AAKS is 630 grams if you believe the specs.

Either way it'll be heavier than the 430/454 grams of the two drives SPCR weighed for the WD3200AAKS-00B3A0.

FWIW the WD5000AACS is speced at 730 grams +-10% as per 2879-701229.pdf So I guess that gives you an idea how much variance to expect in weight of WD drives. 2879-001144.pdf doesn't even list a weight or a variance.

Just like you might buy a Solo for the built in sound dampening on the side panels you can buy a WD6400AAKS for the extra weight and faster access times even if you don't need the capacity increase of the extra platter.

I'm more concerned about performance, initial price, and reliability than I am the noise difference, capacity difference, or difference in power draw.
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Post by mattthemuppet » Wed Apr 09, 2008 8:11 pm

thanks for the review, perplexing though it is. This was the one review I was looking forward to as it's 1st on the list of drives for a thorough upgrade, though now I'm not so sure.

There's already the confusion over the 2 platter vs. 1 platter drives (none of the net shops in Oz distinguish between the two) and now I may end up with a sonically inferior drive just be random chance. Hmm. Good job I don't actually have the money for the upgrade yet :)

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Post by MikeC » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:40 pm

As I reported in the review, the WD6400AAKS sample measured 604 grams. The second WD3200AAKS from WD measured within a couple grams of the first.

I think it's possible that the WD3200AAKS is out there with both variants of the casings. The way manufacturing is done, whatever parts are stocked up simply get used till they're gone, and it could be that WD was making a transition from one type of housing to another with overlap in between. This kind of thing happens ALL the time will all kinds of things, not just HDDs or computer gear.

My assessment of the samples from WD was not that they're bad but they're not as good as expected -- or as the different housing sample I got from Anitec. I stand by that assessment. I don't think getting one of those drives is like getting stuck with a bum product, and if you're sensitive and attentive enough to noise to the degree we're talking about here, you'll figure out what you need to do make it as quiet as you need.

I think elastic suspension could go a long way to changing the acoustics, and it may actually erase the differences between the two versions. So if you are a suspender anyway, well, it hardly matters which version you get.
Last edited by MikeC on Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by mattthemuppet » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:43 pm

thanks Mike.

It'll be suspended anyway (like the 120Gb 7200.7 IDE I have now) and by the time I'll upgrade there should be enough views out there, and enough 1 platter drives floating around, to make things simpler.

Then again, with baby no.2 about to arrive, I probably wouldn't be able to hear the difference between them :)

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Post by MikeC » Wed Apr 09, 2008 9:56 pm

BTW, I've started a poll on which type of housing users of the WD Caviar SE16 single-platter 320GB hard drive have. It should give us some indication of actual distribution of the two versions out there.
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Post by continuum » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:53 pm

The huge difference is unexpected- I would expect it to be more consistent than that between samples.

Is a WD6400AAKS review on the way too?

As for the Samsung F1, the 1TB's and 750GB's are easily available in the USA, I'm not sure about Canada though. Speculation that the 750GB is a 3x250GB platter drive is pretty rampant, though-- I think some benchmarks have been posted to confirm this on Storagereview and other sites, but that doesn't rule out that a 3*334GB short-stroked version exists either... hmmmm.

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Post by winguy » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:11 am

continuum wrote:Is a WD6400AAKS review on the way too?
Yeah, where're the figures for WD6400AAKS since it was mentioned?
Hope it comes soon.
8)

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Post by Tzupy » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:39 am

I believe there's a typo (this review was about the 00B3A0) on the last page of the review, quoting:
'Our final words are simple: The second sample of the WD Caviar SE16 2-platter 320GB drive deserves SPCR's recommendation.'
I also am interested in the review of the 640 GB drive, for my next build.

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Post by lobuni » Thu Apr 10, 2008 4:32 am

So the second sample looks more like the faster 2-platter version.

Did you compare HDTach results between the samples?

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Post by QuietOC » Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:10 am

lobuni wrote:So the second sample looks more like the faster 2-platter version.
The top of the single platter WD3200AAKS drives look completely different than my WD6400AAKS and the other ones that have been reviewed online.

Top of WD6400AAKS
Image

Bottom of WD6400AAKS:
Image

Bottoms of WD3200AAKS:
Image

My old 2-platter WD3200AAKS looked a lot like the WD6400AAKS, which makes sense since physically they should be similar.

Image

The laminated? top plate at least looks to be identical. I'll see if I took a picture of the bottom of the drive... Forgot I could just type "WD3200AAKS" into Google images:

Image

Looks like the new WD6400AAKS casing is identical to the old WD3200AAKS. So where does this new single platter drive casing come from?

Single platter WD1600AAJS:
Image

Single platter WD3200AAKS:
Image

Sorry, it looks like the better casing is the older design. I can find no photos of a WD1600AAJS or WD1600AAJB that look like the worse design. It could be a cost cutting measure. Even the top of new WD3200AAKS looks like it has been cut down in material compared to the older single platter drives. Acually, it looks like they just didn't put the little laminated part on top of the drive. I am guessing if you seperated the laminated top of a WD1600AAJS it would look exactly like this "new" top. This explains the wierd noise from the top that was so easy to get rid of--part of the top is missing!

This makes the lame excuss about the crappy seek times because of "noise reduction" laughable. The new WD3200AAKS is just a cost reduced drive, nothing more.
Last edited by QuietOC on Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by lobuni » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:09 am

I don't own any of these drives, so i'm not sure whats going on here. I took that info from page 4 of the review.

"The 640GB 2-platter sample that arrived at the same time has a casting similar to the 320GB samples, but a cover that's the same as the second sample, from Anitec"

But if the two samples look and sound different maybe the performance is different too.

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Post by QuietOC » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:15 am

Image

I missed this picture. Yes, it looks like the second WD3200AAKS (on the left in this picture) has the laminated cover like the old WD1600AAJS. The one on the right isn't so much different as just missing a piece.

So there is some chance that Western Digital just sent out a bunch of manufacturing defect drives to be reviewed?

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Post by Spare Tire » Thu Apr 10, 2008 11:00 am

It sucks that they didn't make it low-profile instead of depressing the bottom.

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Post by angelkiller » Thu Apr 10, 2008 1:30 pm

MikeC wrote:I think elastic suspension could go a long way to changing the acoustics, and it may actually erase the differences between the two versions. So if you are a suspender anyway, well, it hardly matters which version you get.
I thought suspending the drive eliminated the vibrations, not the idle noise. (Or does it?)
Image
Is this a good way to suspend my drive? The material is 1.8mm Stretch Magic. The suspended drive is louder than my 2 800rpm S-Flex's and 500W NeoHe. Normal? Can I improve?

Thanks :)

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Post by MikeC » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:22 pm

angelkiller wrote:I thought suspending the drive eliminated the vibrations, not the idle noise. (Or does it?)
There's usually some acoustic benefit -- depending on exactly how its done, and what drive.

Image
angelkiller wrote:Is this a good way to suspend my drive? The material is 1.8mm Stretch Magic. The suspended drive is louder than my 2 800rpm S-Flex's and 500W NeoHe. Normal? Can I improve?
If it's the Seagate drives in your sig, then I'm not surprised. We haven't recommended Seagates for a long time because of their loud seeks. Also, it looks like there is no elastic stretched across the top cover of your drive. That's needed to damp the vibration of the top thin cover piece.

For a start try placing a rubber eraser on top of the drive. ;)
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Post by angelkiller » Thu Apr 10, 2008 5:26 pm

MikeC wrote:If it's the Seagate drives in your sig, then I'm not surprised. We haven't recommended Seagates for a long time because of their loud seeks. Also, it looks like there is no elastic stretched across the top cover of your drive. That's needed to damp the vibration of the top thin cover piece.

For a start try placing a rubber eraser on top of the drive. ;)
No, no, that's not the Seagate. :oops: The suspended drive is my new WD3200AAKS, which is replacing the noisy Seagates. (Which I got before I joined SPCR) I was referring to my WD drive in my earlier posts also. (to clarify)


I tried pushing down on the top of the drive. (To my surprise) There was a noise difference. The higher pitch of the drive disappears when I press down. However, it seems a (relatively) significant amount of force is necessary for this change.
So you say just a regular rubber eraser? Image
I tried this, And I could not hear any noise difference. However, I think a piece of elastic squeezing the eraser to the top of the drive would have a good effect.

Am I on the right track? :oops:

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Post by MikeC » Thu Apr 10, 2008 7:30 pm

angelkiller wrote: So you say just a regular rubber eraser? Image
I tried this, And I could not hear any noise difference. However, I think a piece of elastic squeezing the eraser to the top of the drive would have a good effect.

Am I on the right track? :oops:
yes -- but don't squeeze too hard. A couple runs of elastic across the top might be enough.
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Post by lobuni » Thu Apr 10, 2008 9:22 pm

lobuni wrote:So the second sample looks more like the faster 2-platter version.

Did you compare HDTach results between the samples?
Oh sorry i missed the the part where it said:
"The random access time measured 16.4ms on both samples, and the firmware was unchanged"

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Post by Tsorovan » Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:21 am

Not bad. But, and I don't know if I'm alone in this here, 320 GB is just too small for me. I haven't bought anything below 500 GB for what, 2 years? Maybe longer. I can't remember when I bought my last 250 GB drive. And I wouldn't buy anything below 750GB today.

Sadly, this is, and will probably always be, the single-platter drive's Achilles heel.

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Post by jaganath » Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:39 am

Tsorovan wrote:Not bad. But, and I don't know if I'm alone in this here, 320 GB is just too small for me. I haven't bought anything below 500 GB for what, 2 years? Maybe longer. I can't remember when I bought my last 250 GB drive. And I wouldn't buy anything below 750GB today.

Sadly, this is, and will probably always be, the single-platter drive's Achilles heel.
what are you doing with all that storage though? I have a lot of downloaded music and movies, and I've only just filled up a 160GB drive. I can only imagine it's hi-def video and multi-megapixel photos.
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Post by NeilBlanchard » Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:44 am

Hello,
Tsorovan wrote:Not bad. But, and I don't know if I'm alone in this here, 320 GB is just too small for me. I haven't bought anything below 500 GB for what, 2 years? Maybe longer. I can't remember when I bought my last 250 GB drive. And I wouldn't buy anything below 750GB today.

Sadly, this is, and will probably always be, the single-platter drive's Achilles heel.
I have a 120GB and an 80GB HD in my machine (actual total available space = 185.5GB), and I have both WinXP and WinXP x64 installed, on a dual boot. I have been using this computer for almost 3 years (I do CAD work, I have lots of sound recordings, and personal pictures), and I still have almost 110GB still free...320GB would be plenty for me. And you can always get the 640GB 2-platter version?
Sincerely, Neil
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Post by Dirge » Sat Apr 12, 2008 8:39 am

Can someone tell me if the Caviar GP WD5000AACS is still the quieter drive? Is there a noticeable difference?

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Post by Tsorovan » Sun Apr 13, 2008 2:05 am

Hi jaganath and NeilBlanchard,

Ah, then I surmise this drive would be great for you both.

I have about 3 TB of storage (~1 TB free right now across all drives — a full drive performs terribly, plus I like some headroom). Mostly downloaded music (I'm a huge music nerd) and movies and tv episodes, plus backups of important personal stuff and my music collection.

I don't save much crap either (nor get much crap in the first place). I remove the movies and tv episodes directly after I've watched them. No backup of this stuff since it's easy to get again. Quite a big backlog though.

I only have 1.25 TB in my main machine because I refuse to have more than 2 drives in my main machine due to noise (750 GB Caviar SE, 500 GB Samsung HL501J or whatever it's called, in a P182), whilst the rest is in my fileserver.

Planning an upgrade on the fileserver soon, with RAID5, and then I'm going to use an old Pentium 4 for network backups only (no RAID). I'm tired of losing data.

/blog


I'd love to be able to use quiet single-platter drives such as this one, but the density just isn't there.

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