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The WD3200JB Up Close And Personal

Western Digital's WD3200JB: 320 GB and Lots of Ambition
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Most of Western Digital's recent drives can be recognized by their trademark dull black chassis and the unvarnished metal top. The new drive carries this look into the next generation, differing from its predecessors only in the drive-information label affixed to the top - and in the performance it offers.

With a peak sequential data transfer rate of 65 MB/s, the WD3200 surpasses its 250 GB predecessor, the WD2500, by a full 15%. Its UltraATA/100 interface has also improved since the last generation, offering 80.5 MB/s, up from 71.9 MB previously. Of course, other manufacturers' drives can reach peak transfer rates as high as 90 MB/s, but in the end, this only has a marginal influence on a drive's overall performance.

On its website, Western Digital emphasizes the drive's low operating temperature and noise level, both of which we were able to confirm both in our tests. Until this point, it had been the exclusive domain of Seagate's drives to be seen but not heard. Now, the WD3200JB is also quiet enough so that even more noise-sensitive users should no longer feel disturbed. At any rate, we came to the conclusion that the availability of such a quiet drive may well finally make 5,400 rpm drives obsolete.

The noise produced during drive accesses can be influenced using four pre-defined seek schemes. While seek times increase measurably in Mode 0, even high disk activity can only be perceived as a low murmur. Mode 3, on the other hand, is the fastest setting, and disk access is still audible as a slight clicking. Yet even this setting is anything but loud.

Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200JB
Capacity 320, 300 GB
Rotation Speed 7.200 RPM
Buffer 8 MB
Interface UltraATA/100 (BB)
Serial ATA 150 (JD)
Configuration Three Platters of > 100 GB each
6 Heads
Seek Time Read / Write 8.9 ms / 10.9 ms
Manufacturer Warranty 3 Years (only Special/RAID Edition)

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