With peak data rates up to 95 MB/s, the 750 GB top-of-the-line member in the Caviar SE 16 family is the fastest 7,200 RPM hard disk we've seen in our test labs to date. Even the median value of nearly 75 MB/s is on a par with that of the 10,000 RPM Raptor drive WD1500, and its minimal transfer rates clearly trump those of the competition. However, it still cannot beat the 74 GB version WD740. Because slower rotation speed translates into longer rotational latencies before actual data access begins, the average access time of 13.3 ms also can't really keep up with the 8 ms posted for the WD Raptor. Beyond that, however, the rest of our benchmarks should give WD plenty to cheer about. In particular, the I/O performance in the file server and database server schemas is noticeably superior to that of other 7,200 RPM drives Compare Prices on Caviar 750 GB Drives.
The temperature reading on the top surface of this drive hovered around an acceptable 118° F (48° C) after several hours of constant activity, though it's clear that this drive requires active cooling. In the same situation, four-platter drives like the Barracuda 7200.10 read at nearly 124° F (51° C), and Hitachi's five-platter monster 7K1000 raises the mercury to almost 128° F (53° C). One or more fans, or a cooling cage, are definitely indicated for any or all of these drives.
With a three year warranty on the drive, WD is neither the best nor the worst in the field. It's probably worth observing that Seagate offers a five year warranty, but also can't guarantee that it will replace a defective drive with the identical model. For RAID arrays where identical drives are a must, this isn't terribly helpful. In view of its posted performance, the new 750 GB Caviar appears a likely candidate for installation in entry-level servers. Those who want RAID versions of these drives will have to wait for WD to release them, those will be specially designed for constant, 24/7 operation.
As far as installation in a high-end desktop goes, the WD7500 is a big winner. If you leave money out of the consideration process, this drive is the best choice on performance grounds. If the 400 or 500 GB drives come in at prices under $100 and $130 respectively, the Caviar SE16 models will clearly outstrip the competition. We're also watching for the pending appearance of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 family, and the new Samsung HD102UJ (1 TB) and HD752LJ (750 GB) with great interest as well.