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Western Digital's 4 TB WD4001FAEX Review: Back In Black

Western Digital's 4 TB WD4001FAEX Review: Back In Black
By , Achim Roos

Western Digital has a new 4 TB flagship. Its WD4001FAEX is part of the company’s Black family of performance-oriented drives. Spinning at 7,200 RPM, it might seem at home in a high-end desktop, but our numbers suggest it might fare better in a server.

Western Digital recently added a new model to its Black family of performance-oriented hard drives. The new disk, technically referred to as WD4001FAEX, sports 4 TB of space. It spins at 7,200 RPM, employs a 6 Gb/s SATA interface, and includes 64 MB of cache.

Although the company won't divulge how many platters this behemoth uses to hit its capacity ceiling, our benchmark/power data suggests the magic number is five. You can’t tell by simply looking at it; the drive is 26.1 mm-thick, just like many other 3 and 4 TB repositories.

As a general rule, the more capacity a hard drive hosts, the longer it takes to benchmark. Western Digital's WD4001FAEX is certainly no exception. It took us 19 hours of testing to get a complete picture of its performance. Fortunately, the company kept this in mind when it sent out samples, providing us with some much-needed sugar. It's too bad that you don't get chocolate as part of the disk's standard bundle. When you spend $330, a bare 4 TB hard drive is all you get.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer
Western Digital
FamilyBlack
Model NumberWD4001FAEX
Form Factor3.5"
Capacity4 TB
RPM7,200
Other Capacities
500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
PlattersUnknown
Cache64 MB
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Operating Temperature
0-55° C
Power Consumption at Idle (Manufacturer's Specifications)8.1 W
Power Consumption at Idle (Measured)7.9 W
Maximum Allowable Shock Level (2 ms, read)65 G


Benchmark System

Benchmark System Hardware
CPU
Intel Core i5-2500K (Sandy Bridge), Stepping D2, 32 nm, 4C/4T, 3.3 GHz Base Clock Rate, 3.7 GHz Maximum Turbo Boost, 4 x 256 KB L2 Cache, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache, HD Graphics 3000, 95 W TDP
Motherboard
Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3, Revision: 0.2, Chipset: Intel Z68 Express, BIOS: F3
RAM
2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333, Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D
System SSD
Intel X25-M G1, 80 GB, Firmware 0701, SATA 3Gb/s
Benchmarked Hard Drive
Western Digital Black WD4001FAEX, 4 TB, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s, 7,200 RPM
ControllerIntel PCH Z68 SATA 6 Gb/s 
Power Supply
Seasonic X-760 760 W, SS-760KM Active PFC F3
Benchmarks
Benchmark Software
CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 x64
h2benchw 3.16
PCMark 7 1.0.4
I/O Benchmark SoftwareIOMeter 2006.07.27
Webserver Benchmark
Database Benchmark
Fileserver Benchmark
Workstation Benchmark
Streaming Reads
Streaming Writes
4K Random Reads
4K Random Writes
System Software and Drivers
Software and DriversDetails
Operating System
Windows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1
Intel INF9.2.0.1030
Intel Rapid Storage Technology10.5.0.1026
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Top Comments
  • 17 Hide
    cumi2k4 , January 9, 2013 3:17 AM
    what? 5 years warranty? does this include all other wd black drives?
  • 14 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , January 9, 2013 4:56 AM
    Chocolate? Since this about 4TB of storage, at first i thought i was looking at picture of a work out video for the hard drive junky, 10 condoms, WD happy mascot, and a rubber keychain all part of a harmless joke by WD.
  • 12 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 9, 2013 3:28 AM
    One thing i have never found a answer to : Is it worth defragmenting HDD's on modern systems, with Win7 and NTFS ?
    I do defragment my HDD, but subjectively i find no difference. And i have yet to find objective data.
Other Comments
  • 5 Hide
    joytech22 , January 9, 2013 3:14 AM
    Quote:
    So, who should buy Western Digital's WD4001FAEX? The company says its drive is meant for PC enthusiasts and professionals. But we can’t quite agree because Seagate's Barracuda is, quite simply, faster.


    For enthusiasts, all we really want is space and lots of it. We fill it up fast, but we don't do anything super-intensive requiring a constant of 80+Mb/s over long durations.

    For enthusiasts that do a lot of video editing using lots of tracks, sure it's a bit of a limitation but so is any one drive solution.

    As for professionals, it just depends what they need it for.
    A high-end workstation needing plenty of storage and speed just needs a RAID config containing a few of these babies. Or super-expensive high capacity SSD's...


    All in all, I'm just saying it depends on your situation but generally you find people are happy with big drives regardless of speed (since all drives perform admirably nowdays anyway).
  • 17 Hide
    cumi2k4 , January 9, 2013 3:17 AM
    what? 5 years warranty? does this include all other wd black drives?
  • 12 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 9, 2013 3:28 AM
    One thing i have never found a answer to : Is it worth defragmenting HDD's on modern systems, with Win7 and NTFS ?
    I do defragment my HDD, but subjectively i find no difference. And i have yet to find objective data.
  • 2 Hide
    alidan , January 9, 2013 3:59 AM
    mayankleoboy1One thing i have never found a answer to : Is it worth defragmenting HDD's on modern systems, with Win7 and NTFS ?I do defragment my HDD, but subjectively i find no difference. And i have yet to find objective data.


    it really depends.
    if you dont have a boot specific drive, than defragmenting is kind of important.
    if you do... than it doesn't tank system performance to not defrag.
    really what kills a hdd performance is being a a boot drive and storage, as it can get so slammed with access that it drags the over all performance to sub mb levels.

    what hurts a hdd on storage when its not a boot, is filling the damn thing up to the last mb.

    generally, if you have a hdd and have enough space to defrag it without the program complaining (15-25% of the space remaining) you dont need to defrag. it helps, but you wont see the gains that you otherwise may see if you didnt have the space to defrag.
  • 0 Hide
    avjguy2362 , January 9, 2013 4:44 AM
    Before SSD's I used to use a 75 GB raptor and used O&O's defrag COMPLETE method on the OS and it made a substantial difference. O&O has multiple types of defrag: a quick version, a standard version and a "Complete" version that takes a long time because it moves the data to the other end of the drive and then puts all the files back in the order that they would most likely be read. It's unnecessary for data drives, but for the OS it made a big difference.
  • 14 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , January 9, 2013 4:56 AM
    Chocolate? Since this about 4TB of storage, at first i thought i was looking at picture of a work out video for the hard drive junky, 10 condoms, WD happy mascot, and a rubber keychain all part of a harmless joke by WD.
  • 0 Hide
    _Pez_ , January 9, 2013 5:12 AM
    I prefer storage over extreme speed of SSD.
    Nice Review I liked more the hitachi perfomance, also those are better than the WDs' HDD I think WD is getting left behind about perfomance numbers, now I see in this review that the strong ones are Seagate and Hitachi.
    My main PC has 14TB of storage; 4 seagate 3tb 2&2 in RAID 0, 2 seagate 1TB RAID 0 for OS, all of those are the newely Seagate models of 1TB per platter.
    I do not see the need to spent on SSDs while there's the chance to get lots of storage and decent speeds, except for 4Kb transfers.
  • 2 Hide
    Luay , January 9, 2013 5:26 AM
    Seagate Barracuda 3TB is on three (1TBx3) platters so why not WD?
    Another issue I dislike about the WD Caviar blacks is the noise they make. How much does this update improve on this issue?
  • 5 Hide
    abbadon_34 , January 9, 2013 6:05 AM
    Not sure why WD is being secretive about the number of platters, it's always been standard info and I can't see a reason not to. It's nice to see 5 years warranties back, and not confined to enterprise or Raptor series. While nothing to exciting, it's nice to see a good solid hardware review.
  • -4 Hide
    hytecgowthaman , January 9, 2013 7:11 AM
    80mb per sec Ok how many hours to fill the hdd.
    5Year warranty is ok but we need data recovery warranty because (4tb) hdd fails no way to get the files.
    so always use another 4tb for back up use.
    another thing is how many hours take to recovery the files.
  • -5 Hide
    hytecgowthaman , January 9, 2013 7:14 AM
    For 4tb hdds atleast 500mb per sec is needed for customers .
  • 1 Hide
    jaideep1337 , January 9, 2013 7:38 AM
    I understand WD trying to make large capacity HDDs but the Read/Write Speeds are just too slow. I wouldn't go above 2tb for a single drive. Either buy multiple HDD and run them separately or make a decent RAID setup
  • 3 Hide
    xkm1948 , January 9, 2013 9:07 AM
    WD's quality control is going down the drain. I bought one 1.5TB Black drive and it only last 14 months before becoming unable to access. WD sent me a 2TB Black re-certified drive for RMA. Drive shows huge Raw Read Error Rate right out of the box. Within 2 weeks I get several current pending sectors and offline uncorrectable sectors.
  • -1 Hide
    Onus , January 9, 2013 10:09 AM
    The WD Black drives I've bought lately are a LOT quieter than the one I bought three years ago. That's the oldest one I have, but other than a single DOA drive last Spring, none have failed or had any problems. With other companies reducing their warranties, that WD hasn't is a big deal to me. This weekend I'll be setting up a third RAID1 pair of them.
    I agree with joytech22 about all [7200rpm] drives having adequate performance. My boot drives are SSDs, but for data, the speed differences in everyday use from one magnetic to another aren't noticeable.
  • 3 Hide
    Nakecat , January 9, 2013 10:37 AM
    Last I checked, WD Black is for regular desktop user and not recommended for sever use due to the lack of TLER function. My company ran into this problem 2 years ago when WD first removed the TLER and causing our RAID failed every week or 2. Then WD recommended us to use RE only drive in RAID setup.
    If you are not using single drive for your server, stay away from the Black edition. go for RE or RED from NAS.

  • 5 Hide
    pchisholm , January 9, 2013 10:54 AM
    I'm slightly confused by the reviewers acertion that somehow a single 4Tb drive would be more appropriate in a server. I work as a storage analyst with products from NetApp, HP, EMC, etc, and a single 4Tb disk housing a 4Tb volume wouldn't see the light of day in any of the FTSE/DOW/NASDAQ 100 enterprises that I consult for. Too many eggs in too big a basket meaning limited scope for resilience. A single 4Tb disk fails and thats a lot of data that disappears in one foul swoop, and in order to get the reslience from an appropriate sized RAID setup would mean the resultant capacity would be more than most enterprise applications warrant even in these days. A large capacity array also implies a high performance requirement and SATA drives at this end of the market just do not deliver. There is more chance of me putting a nest of vipers down my pants than speccing any enterprise hardware to include this device, so please TH it's best not to speculate on such an application for such a device.

    It's a consumer product, plain and simple.
  • -2 Hide
    TheBigTroll , January 9, 2013 11:38 AM
    id rather pick up a seagate 3tb for 120 dollars. didnt have luck with WD
  • 5 Hide
    warmon6 , January 9, 2013 12:36 PM
    hytecgowthaman80mb per sec Ok how many hours to fill the hdd. 5Year warranty is ok but we need data recovery warranty because (4tb) hdd fails no way to get the files.so always use another 4tb for back up use.another thing is how many hours take to recovery the files.


    ... Did you think before posting? Some parts make no sense and other parts.... well just me to shake my head....

    1. If your worried about data recovery options (certainly on a HDD of this size), I would say you have bigger problems with your backup/recovery solution(s).


    hytecgowthamanFor 4tb hdds atleast 500mb per sec is needed for customers .


    2. If your worried about the speed of a single HDD. Your looking at the wrong thing.

    3. 500MB/s is an unreal goal for any HDD for the near future. even the 15K rpm drives (last i check) haven't passed the 300MB/s mark.


    Not everyone would need insane speeds with High capacity drives. If your setting up a HTPC with Live TV for example, you dont need a lot of speed for recording and viewing but with each show/movie going anywhere from 1GB to 10+ GB (largest recoding i've had was 25GB when I recorded the opening of the summer Olympics), You'll need a lot of space.

    Not saying that someone building or adding storage to an HTPC will get this particular drive but since you said

    Quote:
    4tb hdds atleast 500 mb per sec


    to me means any 4tb drives needs insane speed.
  • 2 Hide
    warmon6 , January 9, 2013 12:44 PM
    BigMack70Warranty is a huge factor on hard drive purchases for me (probably the biggest factor)... I just flat out won't buy a hard drive unless it has a 5 year warranty attached to it, which is why I love the WD Black series.I have NEVER had an HDD last for 5 years if it didn't have a 5 year warranty... every drive I've ever purchased that had a 1/2/3 year warranty died shortly after the warranty expired.


    Guess I'm just lucky as the drives I've got drives that go from 1 years to 5 years and all of them were either DOA or lasted well beyond the warranty..Longest one my family has is about 10 year old (maybe 11, im losing track now :lol: ) 80GB seagate HDD and it's still active and working to this day. Think it only had 2/3 year warranty.
  • 1 Hide
    mayankleoboy1 , January 9, 2013 2:08 PM
    WD, Seagate or Samsung. All are same. None have really reliable drives.
    Backup, Backup and more Backup.
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