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WD Caviar Black 2TB & VelociRaptor 600GB

WD Caviar Black 2TB & VelociRaptor 600GB

October 10, 2010 by Lawrence Lee

Product
WD Caviar Black WD2001FASS

2TB 3.5" HDD
WD VelociRaptor WD6000HLHX

600GB 2.5"/3.5" HDD
Sample Supplier
Street Price
US$170 US$280

For quiet storage on desktop computers we often recommend SSDs and "green"
hard drives with rotational speeds of 5400~5900 RPM. Both are usually very quiet
(or completely silent in the case of SSDs) and energy efficient, but there is
a large capacity and speed gap between these two types of drives. SSDs are very
fast but still very expensive per byte — those with enough storage to rival
a desktop hard drive go for well over US$1000. "Green" drives are
big and cheap, perfect for storing large amounts of data like high definition
video but aren't quite as snappy as the 7200 RPM models found in the majority
of desktop systems. Western Digital's Caviar Black 2TB and VelociRaptor 600GB
are two hard drives that bridge the gap between speedy SSDs and high capacity green drives.


Caviar Black 2TB on the left, VelociRaptor 600GB on the right.

With dual processors and 64MB of cache on the larger models, Caviar Black is
WD's premier performance desktop hard drive line (as opposed to the energy efficient
Caviar Green
and middling Caviar Blue). The first Caviar
Black
we reviewed in 2008 was loud and power hungry, but hopefully time
has been kind and the new 2TB version is a refined, improved revision. We don't
expect any miracles though — with mechanical hard drives speed usually
comes at some acoustic cost.

For a brief period the best of both worlds was available in the VelociRaptor,
a unique 10,000 RPM 2.5" enterprise drive packed in a 3.5" heatsink/enclosure.
Removing it from its heatsink resulted in impressive acoustics at the time (though
it voided the manufacturer warranty), and with its high spindle speed and small
physical platters, it delivered top notch speed. With the arrival of faster
7200 RPM drives and SSDs, the 150GB and 300GB VelociRaptors have taken a big
hit in popularity. The new higher capacity 600GB model may have better luck keeping the SSD invasion at bay.


Specifications:

Caviar Black 2TB vs. VelociRaptor 600GB

Model Number WD2001FASS WD6000HLHX
Capacity 2 TB 600 GB
Cache 64 MB 32 MB
Interface Serial ATA 3 Gbps Serial ATA 6 Gbps
Rotational speed 7,200 RPM 10,000 RPM
Platters 4 x 500 GB 3 x 200GB
Host to/from drive transfer rate (sustained) 138 MB/s 145 MB/s
Average latency 4.2 ms 3.0 ms
Average drive ready time 21 seconds 7 seconds
Weight 0.75 kg 0.49 kg
Power: Idle / Seek 8.2 W / 10.7 W 4.3 W / 6.4 W
Acoustics: Idle / Seek 29 dBA / 34 dBA 27 dBA / 37 dBA
Warranty 5 years 5 years






Both of our hard drive samples are fairly new, having rolled off their
respective assembly lines in August.

PHYSICAL DETAILS

From the outside the Caviar Black and slower Caviar Green look
identical — peel off the sticker and it would be almost impossible
to differentiate the two. The VelociRaptor 600GB has the same appearance as
the older models, though the IcePack heatsink has undergone a small revision.



Caviar Black on the left, Caviar Green on the right... or is it the
other way around?




The VR600 is secured to WD's IcePack heatsink/3.5" adapter using
shallow torx screws.




Unfortunately, a quiet VR600 may come at a heavy cost. A sticker covers
one of the screws; removing it effectively voids the drive's warranty.




The newest IcePack has one small difference over previous versions,
adding housing for the block containing the jumpers.




We use an older IcePack to conveniently mount 2.5" drives in 3.5"
hot-swap caddies, but this revision makes it impossible to connect some
notebook drives like those from Hitachi and Fujitsu as well as various
SSDs.

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 noise, and great effort is taken to ensure it is comprehensively measured
and described. Performance is covered only lightly, for reasons discussed in detail in the methodology article.

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.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Performance Test System:

Performance Test Tools:

Benchmark Details

  • COD5: Load time for "Downfall" level.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for initial screen plus one level.
  • NOD32: Virus scan of 32 files/archives of varying size.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 8GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark06: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for 1,278 files ranging from 10KB to 4MB
    in size.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 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.

PERFORMANCE

A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50/100GB partition
at the beginning of each drive (depending on its overall size) and our entire
test suite was run start to finish 3 times with a reboot and defragmentation
in between runs except for SSDs and the Momentus
XT
(defragmentation resets optimizations made to the XT's flash memory).
The best times were collected for comparison.

Game load times were superb for both the new VelociRaptor and Caviar Black,
but the Black took 10 seconds longer to boot. The 2TB model specifications
list an "average drive ready time" of 21 seconds, three times longer
than the VR600. We've never really been conscious of how long a drive takes
to power up until now — in our experience most desktop drives spin-up in
about the the same amount of time. The slow power up process on the new Caviar
Black was impossible not to notice, though it was more like 10 seconds rather
than 21. The old VelociRaptor held up very well in these tests, though its
newer sibling booted up seven seconds faster.

The two new WD drives were neck and neck in application performance, easily
besting other mechanical hard drives. The Caviar Black beat out its closest
rival, the Barracuda
XT
by 25% in our ExactFile test, while the VR600 was about 29% faster
than its predecessor.

When copying files to itself, once again the two drives performed very similarly.

Timed installs of PowerDVD and 3DMark06 favored the SSDNow and Barracuda 7200.11.
The Black and new VelociRaptor were a step behind, grouped tightly with the
older VelociRaptor and Barracuda XT.

ACOUSTICS

WD Caviar Black 2TB

The first generation 1TB Caviar Black was one of the loudest hard drive we've
ever tested, measuring >21/25 [email protected] (idle/seeking) in our anechoic chamber.
While nowhere close to current quiet HDD leaders, the new 2TB version is a huge
improvement, generating 5 dBA less when idle, and about 3 dBA less when seeking.




Sounding fairly smooth when idle, seek activity produces a lot more
noise, both low and high frequency.

Sitting idle, the new WD Black mainly emitted the soft whoosh sound that
can be heard from most modern hard drives, and measured 16 [email protected], about
average for a 7200 RPM model. There was no audible whine or other undesirable
tones emanating from the drive whether at a distance of one meter or one foot.
The sharp clicks and soft thumps when seeking sounded much worse, measuring
between 21 and 23 [email protected]

WD VelociRaptor 600GB

The VR600 is even louder when the Caviar Black 2TB, at least until its warranty
is voided by liberating it from the IcePack heatsink. The bare drive sounds
more less the same as the old 300GB version.




The drive's 10,000 RPM rotational speed creates a fundamental tone
at ~167 Hz. Once removed from the heatsink, much of the higher frequency
noise dissipates.

Sitting idle, the VelociRaptor measures 17~18 [email protected] when mounted to the heatsink
but only 14~15 dBA bare. It produces a slight high frequency hum that is audible
even from one meter's distance in our anechoic chamber; it is much softer sounding
when the drive is removed. Despite the heatsink being padded, there is still
enough contact to amplify the drive's inherent vibration.




Once again the new VelociRaptor generates a lot more high frequency
noise when encapsulated by the IcePack, this time during seek.

The 600GB VelociRaptor's seeks are much sharper than the WD Black's and is
particularly bad when housed in the IcePack, measuring 24~26 [email protected] The drive
is 3 dBA quieter in its bare form.

VIBRATION & POWER

COMPARISON: PERFORMANCE DRIVES
HDD

Mfg date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

WD VelociRaptor 600GB WD6000HLHX

August 2010

firmware 04.05G04
7
[bare]

Idle
[14~15]

17~18
4.2 W
[bare] Seek
[20~22]

24~26
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor 300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008

firmware 03.03V01

(bare drive)
7
Idle
15
3.9 W
Seek (AAM)
20
5.7 W
Seek
22
6.2 W
WD Caviar Black 2TB WD2001FASS

August 2010

firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010

firmware CC13
7 / 8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W
WD Caviar Black 1TB WD1001FALS

July 2008

firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
10.9 W
Seek
25
11.0 W

The power difference between the new and old VelociRaptor is minor with the
600GB version using 0.3W more when idle and 0.7W less when seeking. Acoustically,
the two are almost indistinguishable. The new VelociRaptor has more capacity,
speed, and sacrifices little in the noise department.

The 2TB Caviar Black is a huge improvement in all areas over the first 1TB
version from two years ago. By modern standards however, its acoustics are fairly
loud and its energy efficiency is poor; the Black uses 2.6 W more than its Seagate
analog.

Seek noise can typically be tamed by enabling AAM, and while both drives apparently
support the feature, we were unable to enable it using either Hitachi Feature
Tool or HD Tune Pro.

DRIVE COMPARISON TABLE

Drive

Mfg date

firmware version
Vibration

1-10

(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics

([email protected])

Measured

Power

5,400 ~ 5,900 RPM DESKTOP DRIVES
Samsung EcoGreen F2 500GB HD502HI

February 2009

firmware 1AG01114
8
Idle
12
3.2 W
Seek (AAM)
15
5.3 W
Seek
16
6.1 W
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 1TB ST31000424CS

April 2009

firmware SC13
7
Idle
12
4.3 W
Seek
16
7.3 W
WD Caviar Green 1.5TB WD15EADS

November 2009

firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
13
4.5 W (2.8 W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
14
5.8 W
Seek
Seagate Pipeline HD .2 500GB ST3500414CS

March 2009

firmware SC13
8
Idle
13
2.7 W
Seek
14
6.7 W
WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EADS

February 2009

firmware 01.00A01
7
Idle
13
6.4 W (4.0W heads unloaded)
Seek (AAM)
6.5 W
Seek
13~14
6.5 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI

August 2010

firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
Seagate Pipeline HD 500GB ST3500321CS

July 2008

firmware SC14
6
Idle
14
4.1 W
Seek
15
6.9 W
Seagate Barracuda LP 2TB ST32000542AS

June 2009

firmware CC32
6
Idle
14
4.7W
Seek
17
7.9W
Samsung EcoGreen F3 2TB HD203WI

May 2010

firmware 1AN10003
7
Idle
15~16
4.7 W
Seek (AAM)
17~18
6.1W
Seek
18~19
6.9 W
7,200 RPM DESKTOP DRIVES
Seagate Pipeline HD Pro 1TB ST31000533CS

September 2008

firmware SC15
4
Idle
15
7.1 W
Seek
16
10.1 W
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB ST3500418AS

September 2009

firmware CC37
8
[muffled]

Idle
[16]

18
4.7 W
[muffled]

Seek
[18]

19~20
7.9W
WD Caviar Black 2TB WD2001FASS

August 2010

firmware 01.00101
6
Idle
16
6.3 W
Seek
21~23
10.5 W
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB ST32000651AS

May 2010

firmware CC13
7 / 8
Idle
17
7.0 W
Seek
18~19
7.9 W
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB ST31500341AS

October 2008

firmware SD17
4
Idle
17
8.8 W
Seek
19
10.7 W
WD Caviar Black 1TB WD1001FALS

July 2008

firmware 05.00K05
4
Idle
21
8.5 W
Seek (AAM)
10.9 W
Seek
25
11.0 W
10,000 RPM DESKTOP DRIVES
WD VelociRaptor 600GB WD6000HLHX

August 2010

firmware 04.05G04
7
[bare]

Idle
[14~15]

17~18
4.2 W
[bare] Seek
[20~22]

24~26
5.5 W
WD VelociRaptor 300GB WD3000GLFS

May 2008

firmware 03.03V01

(bare drive)
7
Idle
15
3.9 W
Seek (AAM)
20
5.7 W
Seek
22
6.2 W

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.

Comparatives:

CONCLUSIONS

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

The WD Caviar Black 2TB is a colossal improvement over the original
1TB model — power consumption,
vibration, and noise have all been cut by a noticeable amount. Compared to current silent leaders, the 2TB Black HDD is still quite loud when seeking and isn't very energy efficient. That is the tradeoff when you want speed, and on that front it does not disappoint. It is perhaps the fastest 7200 RPM drive money can buy at the moment, outpacing both the Barracuda
XT
and old VelociRaptor in our tests. It even gives the new VelociRaptor
a run for its money.

However, due to its seek acoustics, we can only recommend the Caviar Black 2TB if placed in a silencing enclosure or in an isolated PC. It sounds about on par with other 7200 RPM drives when sitting idle, but US$170 is a lot of money for a dedicated storage drive. A possible alternative is the Barracuda XT 2TB, priced at US$200. It is slightly slower, but its seeks are much more subdued.

Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB

The WD VelociRaptor 600GB is the fastest mechanical hard drive
we've tested, beating out the Caviar Black by a hair. Its noise level and energy
efficiency are more or less consistent with the earlier 300GB variant, but like its ancestor, its acoustics are only good when removed from its IcePack heatsink, which voids the manufacturer warranty. Mounted
in the IcePack, the VR600 is louder than the 2TB Caviar Black by 2~3 [email protected]

When the VelociRaptor was first released we were amazed by how
quiet it was removed from with its heatsink. While the new VelociRaptor
sounds about the same, the noise of the best HDDs has improved significantly in the interim. After prolonged experience with SSDs and the latest "green" drives from WD and Samsung, the VR600's acoustics are not so impressive. It is only quiet if you void the warranty and sits idle — an even bigger waste considering its US$280 street price. With that kind of money one could purchase a fairly good SSD with enough left over for an additional storage drive larger than 600GB. The value equation for the VR600 does not really work at this time.

Many thanks to Western
Digital
for the Caviar Black 2TB and VelociRaptor 600GB
samples.

* * *

SPCR Articles of Related Interest:



Samsung EcoGreen F4 &
Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB Hard Drives


Seagate Momentus XT: The Best of Both Worlds?

Samsung
2TB EcoGreen F3 Hard Drive


Western
Digital Green 1.5TB vs. Seagate 7200.12 500GB


More
500GB notebook drives: Seagate 7200.4 & Hitachi 5K500.B


5900rpm
Seagate Hard Drives: Barracuda LP, Pipeline HD .2

* * *

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