Hard Drives: Two Western Digital Caviar WD7500AAKS
The performance of Western Digital's Caviar WD7500AAKS startled us when this high-capacity 7200 RPM drive was the first to beat the same company's 150 GB Raptor 10,000 RPM model in read and write transfer speed. Pairing two of these on the nForce 680i SLI chipset's RAID controller using Level 0 mode is sure to boost performance even more.
Unlike our previously-chosen WD5000YS RE2 drives, the WD7500AAKS is not specifically designed for use with RAID controllers, and thus doesn't feature the company's Time Limited Error Recovery (TLER) mode by default. TLER is designed to prevent a drive from dropping out of an array during error recovery, by limiting its recovery time to seven seconds, though we did not experience any such issue in our test system. TLER relies upon the RAID controller's fault tolerance to fix errors that take longer than seven seconds to recover, and anyone who's worried about error recovery times is welcome to contact Western Digital in regard to its TLER tool.
Another drawback of choosing "desktop" drives is Western Digital's shorter desktop component warranty period of three years. Very concerned buyers can instead choose the WD7500AYYS, an RE2 version of the drive complete with TLER enabled by default and a longer five-year warranty, for a price premium of around 20%. We didn't test the RAID Edition drive, so we cannot guarantee equal performance to the desktop version.
The Caviar WD7500AAKS sells for around $180.