Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Wrap Up / Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised to see these drives performing as well as they did.  While everything seems to be pushing towards solid state, it’s awesome to see such advancements taking place in spinning disk tech.

Added power consumption and heat output should be a consideration for moving to any 7200 RPM drive.  These new units consume more power at idle than their 5400 RPM counterparts do at full load.  Prolonged heavy use without sufficient ventilation will likely reduce usable lifetime.  Those consumers previously used to VelociRaptors and GP models will need to revisit the good old days where decent airflow across your drives was required to prevent them from cooking themselves.

Pricing and Availability

The Caviar Black 2TB was released on Tuesday with an MSRP of $299.  A quick search reveals a few E-tailers already listing close to that price.

Expect RE4 availability to be spotty, as they are typically snatched up in large quantities by enterprise clients filling cages full of racks with them.  The increased quality control involved in producing them makes keeping up with the initial large order surges difficult at best.  It took several months for the RE4-GP to become commercially available in decent quantities.  I vowed to upgrade my own 8-drive array to RE4-GP’s after my review, but was unable to order additional drives until just recently as they simply were not available.

Don’t forget the RE4-GP if you are a power user looking for RAID features, or just trying to get the best possible performance out of a lower power drive.  It should be considered that since the Caviar Green 2TB has fallen to less than $200 while the RE4-GP has maintained its $300 price point, the performance per dollar gain is not as good as it once was.  Hopefully RE4 availability will help push the RE4-GP prices down a bit.

Western Digital 7200RPM Caviar Black and RE4 Series 2TB Hard Drive Review - Storage 30

From left: Caviar Green (WD20EADS) | RE4-GP (WD2002FYPS) | Caviar Black (WD2001FASS) | RE4 (WD2003FYY)

PROS:
  • Fastest spinning disk transfer speeds we have seen to date.
  • Fastest seek times seen from a 4-platter drive.
  • Capacity!
CONS:
  • Relatively long spin-up / ready times as compared to other drives.
  • RE4 performance gain over Caviar Black is negligible.
  • Power consumption and heat generation may limit use in low ventilation scenarios.
Warranty

Caviar Black and RE4 series drives come with a 5 year warrantyMTBF is rated at 1.2 million hours (137 years).

Final Thoughts

Caviar Black 2TB:  Western Digital is really pushing the envelope with this drive.  They took the track geometry improvements seen in the RE4-GP and brought them over to their performance line.  They didn’t stop at a simple spindle speed increase.  The introduction of their Dual Actuator technology had a noticeable impact on seek times, resulting in a truly impressive package.

RE4 2TB:  While I’ve previously recommended the RE4-GP due to its proportional price / performance jump as compared to the Caviar Green, I can’t say the same this time (for desktop users).  Since both drives performed so well, there wasn’t much room for the RE4 to improve, leaving only its enterprise / RAID features to distinguish it from its brother.  Enterprise customers demanding the best possible array performance will naturally flock to these drives, but end users looking to purchase only 1 or 2 of these for their desktop are probably better off going with the Caviar Black, at least for the time being.

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