Western Digital has been quiet on the performance front the past several months as they have placed an emphasis on their GreenPower family of products that we recently reviewed.  However, they have been busily working on a new line-up of Caviar SE16 drives that feature their new 320GB per-platter technology.  This type of areal density places WD in direct competition with Samsung's F1 lineup featuring 334GB per-platter sizes with similar thermal, acoustic, and power envelope specifications.
It does not come as a surprise that the first drive from WD to utilize the 320GB per-platter technology is the Caviar SE16 320GB WD3200AAKS.  What is surprising to us is that WD is not changing the product designation on drives that feature this new technology.  It's not really that surprising as a manufacturer will want to clear out inventory of previous product before introducing new product. We would like to see WD following Seagate, Hitachi, or Samsung by changing model numbers when there is a major switch in product technology.
Ordering a WD3200AAKS could land you the new drive or the older design with two 160GB platters.  Since only the part number changes in this case, the one you want is WD3200AAKS-00B3A0. For all intent purposes this means you need to find a dealer that carries OEM drives and will guarantee this particular part number is available.  It's either that or take your chances with a retail package.  WD started shipping these drives in mass at the end of January so odds are that retail kits will contain mixed stock at best.
We have had numerous requests to test this drive and fortunately our review samples recently arrived from WD.  However, what has not arrived yet are competing drives from Samsung (F1), Seagate, and Hitachi but those will arrive shortly.  In the meantime, we thought it would be prudent to post some early test results with this drive and provide a short synopsis of our experiences to date with Western Digital's latest and greatest.  Oh yeah, before anyone asks, WD is mum as to which drive will receive the 320GB platters next although they briefly had the specs up for a 640GB drive on their website.  Also, no new updates on the Raptor product family.
HDTune -
HDTach -
The average transfer rate of 87MB/s~91MB/s is exceptional in this drive class and exceeds the 73MB/s~75MB/s capabilities of the Raptor 150GB drive.  However, for reasons we are still investigating, the random access time of 16.3ms is poor compared to current desktop drives such as the Samsung HD501J that feature a class high 14.0ms random access time.  Although the performance of the drive in actual applications is not hindered greatly, it is perplexing to us why this drive has such high random access times.
Let's take a quick look at a few benchmarks and see how this drive compares to the Samsung SpinPoint T166 HD501LJ.  
PCMark Vantage and the wrap up....
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  • USAF1 - Tuesday, February 26, 2008 - link

    I just scored two WD6400AAKS drives from Newegg. Sweet...

  • iluv2fly - Sunday, March 9, 2008 - link

    The WD6400AAKS-00A7B is very fast with no access time problems at all.

    Here are the Benchmarks.

    HD Tune 3.00 read transfer rate

    Minimum 51.1 MB/sec

    Maximum 108.4 MB/sec

    Average 87.6 MB/sec

    Access time 12.5ms

    Burst rate 90.2 MB/sec

    CPU usage 9.5%

    It near silent and cool running.

    After partitioning the drive in Windows Vista there will be 595GB left of the original 640gb.

    Just a thought. Looking at HD tune benchmark graph. The drive does not loose much transfer rate over the first 30% of the drive. The first 30% shows a transfer rate of 108-98 MB/sec. So if you only make a 200gb partition, the drive will be faster than a 150GB Raptor except for the access time.

    I made 2 partitions. One 195gb for windows and my favorite games and one 400gb for storage. I have never had a faster computer!

  • - Tuesday, February 26, 2008 - link

    I'd like to see some comparison of XP64bit vs Vista64. SP1 has been delayed (yanked that is) and shows no signs of performance improvement anyway (if betas are to be believe there is no improvement). So why can't we look to something that has been 64bit for quite a bit longer and should have better drivers to boot? How about some XP64 testing for a change? If nothing else it should drive traffic to the site (isn't that the point of a website?) just because NOBODY else is doing XP64bit vs. Vista64. Why no love for XP64? With only 18% of Steampowererd.com using Vista why test in it? I don't really care if it ships on a PC when people run home and format and install XP. Shouldn't we see testing in the OS that 80% of the people use? Why cater to 18% of the market? Most of those people still have Vista because they don't know how to format and install XP (ok, maybe 1/2 of those people actually want that OS and like it). Until they remove DRM garbage and fix networking this OS sucks. Don't even get me started on application problems (SP1 BROKE 3rd party apps like Trend Micro for example). Search google for this for a complete rundown: vista sp1 3rd party apps

    I just want to know, is it work going to XP64bit for my 6GB to show up in XP? Or are we stuck with Vista? Do games run as faster or faster in XP64bit as they do in XP32?
  • Justin Case - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    The screenshots seem to be from HDTach RW, so why didn't Anadtech run the STR test on _all_ disk sectors, instead of using the "zones" approximation (the graph is clearly that of a "zoned" test, not a full one)? Sure, it can take over one hour, but can't you spare more than 5 minutes for an article that's going to be read by thousands of people?

    Running a full test (2 or 3 times) is the only way to spot drives that ship with remapped sectors (ie, some sectors already mapped to the spares, in a non-sequential way), which can cause problems in high-performance situations (such as video servers).

    Western Digital's 400 GB "RE" drives had lots of problems with that. The 500 GB "RE2" were better but some still came with remapped sectors. These show up as (consistent) "dips" in a full STR test (as done by HD Tach RW and WB99, for example), but won't be noticeable in a "zoned" test (which is the only kind available in the free version of HD Tach, and most other benchmarks).

  • Makaveli - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    16ms x 4 = 30 seconds?

    Last I knew

    1 second = 1,000 milliseconds

    unless my math is off.
  • 7Enigma - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    You forgot the 29 seconds due to sarcasm. Sheesh that post was about as obvious as it gets....
  • 7Enigma - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    Oh, and the fact that the rest of his reply was completely inaccurate. Actually the only thing in his post that wasn't "wrong" was his joke about the 30 seconds. On second thought, taking into consideration how poor his post was, you may be right. :) He could be serious...
  • FXi - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    Oh were is a Raptor based on this platter tech????


    People have been dyin for a larger raptor, perhaps even a 15k model for a while. There are 15k SAS drives aplenty in the 300 area, so this should be "doable" at 10k easy, and 15k with some work.
  • GregMuller - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    Here is the first Review of a Samsung SpinPoint F1 with 320 Gbyte (HD322HJ, 1 Platter wird 334 Gbyte!) worldwide!

  • Rusin - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link


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