Two months ago I looked at the world’s first 3TB desktop hard drive. It was a 5 platter, 3TB Seagate Barracuda XT inside an external GoFlex Desk chassis. The performance of the drive wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the poorly ventilated chassis seemed ill equipped to deal with the thermal load a 5-platter, 7200RPM 3TB drive would throw at it. I wasn’t terribly pleased and I wondered if Western Digital’s external enclosure might be better suited for heat dissipation. WD’s 3.5” external drives fall under the My Book brand and they have visibly more ventilation than the GoFlex Desk I reviewed.

As luck would have it, last week Western Digital announced its own 3TB external drive: the My Book Essential. The Essential suffix somehow implies USB 3.0 support.

Today, Western Digital takes it one step further and announces availability of the internal drive as well. The Caviar Green line is now home to a 2.5TB and a 3.0TB model, priced at $189 and $239 respectively.

Let’s go ahead and review both shall we?

The Caviar Green 3TB

Seagate’s external 3TB offering used five 600GB platters to hit the magic capacity point. While increasing platter count is a quick way to get a larger drive, increasing areal density is the desired approach. Seagate’s quick time to market justified the former, while Western Digital’s desire to deliver a low power drive demanded the latter.

As a result the Caviar Green 3TB uses only four 750GB platters, giving this drive the highest platter density of any 3.5” hard drive.

Western Digital Caviar Green 3TB
Interface SATA 3Gbps
Formatted Capacity (Base 10) 3,000,592 MB
User sectors per drive 5,860,533,168
Cache Size 64MB
Load/unload cycles 300,000
Limited Warranty 3 years

Spindle speed is another differentiating factor between WD’s drive and the earlier Seagate offering. While the GoFlex Desk houses a 7200RPM hard drive, WD’s 3TB drive is sold under the Green label. Western Digital doesn’t disclose actual spindle speed as it isn’t consistent across all Green label drives. The 3TB specs simply list it as IntelliPower.

I asked WD for more specifics and I got a reasonable explanation. In the Green line WD optimizes for power consumption. It attempts to make all drives consume roughly the same amount of max power, which happens to be 3 - 5W below a typical 7200RPM drive. The spindle speed isn’t dynamic, it’s set at manufacturing and remains at that.

All green drives will spin below 6000 RPM and the spec never drops below 5400RPM. What this means is that all 2.5TB drives will spin at one speed while all 3TB drives may spin at another, both between that 5400 RPM to 6000 RPM range.

Like many modern drives, the 3TB Caviar Green uses 4KB sectors internally however it emulates 512-byte sectors for compatibility reasons.

Unlike Seagate, Western Digital’s 3TB drive ships with a 3Gbps SATA interface. This isn’t a problem given that neither drive can push enough data to saturate the 3Gbps SATA interface. Without SSDs there’s very little reason for 6Gbps SATA support on desktop storage these days.

Where the 3TB Caviar Green really breaks the mold is that it is shipped with a HighPoint RocketRAID 620 PCIe SATA card. The purpose? Breaking the 2.19TB barrier of course.

The 2.19TB Barrier


View All Comments

  • Photo-Nerd - Sunday, October 24, 2010 - link

    It was slooooooooowwwwww, but on top of that, disk utility was reporting a smart failure.

    This drive equals the suck.

  • piroroadkill - Monday, October 25, 2010 - link

    You mean that now and then you get failures of <any product name here>?

    Colour me shocked.
  • pesos - Saturday, December 18, 2010 - link

    Hi Anand, I bought a mybook 3tb usb3 drive with the intention of using it to store Hyper-V VHD virtual disk files.

    Hyper-V is reporting that it cannot use drives with 4k sector sizes (way to go, microsoft). I have heard that the built-in WSB (same engine used for win7 backups) also has this limitation.

    Do you know if there is any way to get 512b emulation on the MyBook drives, or do I need to return this drive and go with a different solution?

  • Azaloom - Monday, January 10, 2011 - link

    That bundled PCIe-card really looks like a 4-port card. Maybe that's why the HighPoint’s drivers won't work - they have altered the card a little bit and removed port 3 and 4 plugs as excessive? But the solder bases looks to be there on the circuit board. I wonder if you could make it into a 4 four port SATA card just by soldering the missing SATA data-ports to their bases on the board. I mean I already thought about bying this HDD because I have all the SATA ports in use on my MB, and this would give the possibility of adding not one but two more HDD's - who knows, it that's four with a little tweaking. One PCIe lane should be more than enough to drive 4 mainstream HDD's for the average user. Reply
  • coyote2 - Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - link

    If a 3TB drive is only formatted to < 2.19TB, would that remove all complications of booting from it?

    (Odd question, I know. But I'm buying a new system, for which I already own a boot drive I want to reinstall the OS onto; but the system builder requires that I buy the new system with the OS [Windows 7 Pro 64-bit] pre-installed; I'm just wondering if they only format a 3TB hdd to < 2.19TB, will booting from it will be issue-free?)
  • eazmichael - Tuesday, March 1, 2011 - link

    Is WD using the same HD model in the 3TB My book as the internal package? The stand-alone drive costs around $215 or more while the 3 TB My book is now available for less than $180. i was thinking about putting two of the drives in a Synology DS211+ enclosure (Raid 1) - it looks a bit like it is cheaper to buy two My Books and rip the drives out. Reply
  • burbello - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    Does anybody know if it is possible to replace the hard disk of Western Digital 640GB My Book for a new one with 3TB ? When replacing only the disk, should I perform any particular step? Thank you. Reply
  • burbello - Monday, June 30, 2014 - link

    I have an Western Digital 640GB My Book, I would like to replace the hard disk to another WD 3TB, but I am not sure if it will work, does anybody know if this is compatible or even if I have to perform any additional step? Thank you Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now