The Underdog: Western Digital Caviar Blue--500 GB
WD’s mainstream hard drive family is called the Caviar Blue and is available in various capacities between 250 GB and 750 GB. We received the 500 GB mainstream model, which comes at a standard 7,200 RPM spindle speed and SATA/300 with NCQ. Its 16 MB cache memory falls between the cache offerings from Samsung and Seagate, and is on pair with those of Hitachi.
You might be disappointed if you look at the throughput results first, as this drive has the lowest maximum transfer rate of our contestants at 95.8 MB/s. Samsung is slightly faster, while Seagate and Hitachi reach more than 100 MB/s. The drive reaches mixed results in the PCMark05 application benchmark, where it is fast at the Windows XP Startup section, but loses in File Writing due to its sub-average throughput. However, the access time and I/O performance of this drive are the best in this roundup.
Low Temperature, Unbalanced Efficiency
We also measured low surface temperatures after the standardized hour of drive activity; only Hitachi’s Deskstar 7K1000.B reached a slightly lower temperature. At the same time, idle power consumption was rather high (6.1 W), while the average power required for our streaming reads and workstation I/O testing was very acceptable, and not too far away from the idle power result.
The drive actually does best in workstation I/O performance per watt, thanks to its high I/O performance paired with acceptable power requirements. Yet it isn’t particularly efficient in terms of performance per watt in the streaming reads benchmark, most likely because of the throughput drawbacks.