Hitachi was the first to market with its 7,200rpm 2TB hard drive, but it no longer has this space to itself. Western Digital has released two new 2TB hard drives that sacrifice the power-saving technologies of their GreenPower counterparts in favour of performance. Targeted at the enterprise, the Western Digital RE4 2TB 3.5in internal hard drive boasts 64MB of cache and the ability to read large files quickly, although it certainly consumes more power than other 2TB hard drives currently available.
As with other 2TB hard drives, the Western Digital RE4 3.5in internal hard drive fits its storage capacity over four 500GB platters. On older 2TB hard drives, however, these platters were limited to a slower spin speed than most conventional desktop drives; Seagate's Barracuda LP has a spin speed of 5900rpm whereas Western Digital's GreenPower options are closer to 5400rpm. While these hard drives did have lower power consumption, the slower spin speed also had an impact on the drives’ overall performance.
The move to a 7200rpm spin speed helps to improve performance, and the use of a 64MB drive cache ensures the hard drive can handle large amounts of data at any one time. Western Digital has also implemented other technologies in this internal hard drive including a dual actuator system and dual processors to improve performance. Dual actuator technology places a second actuator in the WD RE4 internal hard drive to increase the accuracy of the head position when it’s reading and writing data, while two processors on the hard drive's circuit board theoretically increases the overall performance when it’s running multiple tasks.
One familiar piece of technology in the Western Digital RE4 internal hard drive is StableTrac, which reduces potential vibration. During testing, the hard drive was certainly quiet, although it could be heard when performing intensive read/write tasks.
In our tests, the Western Digital RE4 2TB internal hard drive consumed an average of 6.1 watts when idling and 9.6W when reading or writing; a far cry from the 6-7W range the Western Digital RE4-GP (GreenPower) 2TB hard drive recorded. When idling the Western Digital RE4 2TB will consume less than similar capacity hard drives like the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1.5TB but we still wouldn't recommend it if you're trying to shave a few dollars off your energy bill.
If you are looking for performance in a high storage capacity, however, the Western Digital RE4 internal hard drive certainly has its charm. We conducted our tests by transferring two lots of files between the hard drive and a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor. The first test comprises 20GB of large files (about 3 or 4GB each) while the second test involved 3GB worth of 1MB files.
In the 20GB test, the RE4 2TB internal hard drive had a write speed of 76.4 megabytes per second (MBps), a read speed of 113.5MBps and it performed a simultaneous read/write task at a rate of 58.8MBps. Though write speeds don't differ significantly from the slower spinning 2TB hard drives, read and simultaneous tasks are performed much faster.
Speeds in the small file test — 3GB of 1MB files — weren't as impressive. Here, the RE4 2TB internal hard drive wrote at a rate of 31.3MBps, read at 34.5MBps and had a simultaneous read/write speed of 49.2MBps. This test is typically more intensive than the 20GB test and, as such, yields slower results. However, the RE4 hard drive still fell behind Seagate's Barracuda LP in overall speeds in these tests.
Our tests reveal that the RE4 2TB internal hard drive's strengths lie in reading large files. The 64MB cache and dual processor technology also allows for it to perform simultaneous tasks quickly. However, the comparatively poor results in the small file test show that this drive is better at dealing with large files — uncompressed videos or image backups for examples — rather than continually accessing smaller files.
With a cost per formatted gigabyte of 23c, the Western Digital RE4 is slightly cheaper than the RE4-GP internal hard drive was at its inception. Its performance advantages are also clear, particularly when dealing with large files. The exclusion of Western Digital's GreenPower technologies did impact the drive's overall power consumption, and we think this is worth taking into account.
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