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

Western Digital's WD4001FAEX: Probably Not For Home Use

Sometimes, benchmark results frame a product as decidedly average. After looking at all of our numbers, Western Digital's WD4001FAEX certainly seems to qualify as just another 4 TB drive; nothing particularly noteworthy. But it's important to consider the Black drive's intended usage before jumping to a final decision on it.

We've already seen that the WD4001FAEX's performance is generally middle-of-the-road. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. It simply means no one attribute stands out compared to the other 3 and 4 TB drives out there. The Black drive manages to place third in our desktop performance suite, which is weighted most heavily to throughput, but also includes PCMark and I/O results. Only Seagate's Barracuda and Hitachi's Deskstar 7K4000 finish higher, and only one of those two drives is a 4 TB model.

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.

However, Western Digital’s five-year warranty coverage tells us a slightly different story. Priced at $330, the 4 TB Black drive is a good deal for companies that want to put as many terabytes as possible into a server for data storage (rather than high accessibility). It should work well in that type of environment, in spite of fairly high operating temperatures and power consumption. If you're a home user with a five- or seven-bay NAS, we'd be inclined to stick with Western Digital's Red family instead.

While we were running benchmarks on Western Digital's WD4001FAEX and eating the chocolate in our review kit, we started thinking about what it'd take to make a hard drive more exciting in 2013. A combination of 4 TB on four platters, for example, would probably be better for power consumption (fewer platters to spin), temperatures (less friction), and performance (higher areal density), endearing itself to home use. Or maybe Western Digital could make a 4 TB version of its Red family for networked appliances?

Even more interesting would be a big leap in technology that'd enable a 4 TB drive using three platters. Will it happen? Some day, almost assuredly. Only time and the hard drive industry can tell us when. It has been a long time since we've seen anything to get excited about in the hard drive space, though, especially when it comes to per-platter capacity.

  • joytech22
    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).
    Reply
  • cumi2k4
    what? 5 years warranty? does this include all other wd black drives?
    Reply
  • mayankleoboy1
    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.
    Reply
  • alidan
    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.
    Reply
  • avjguy2362
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • _Pez_
    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.
    Reply
  • Luay
    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?
    Reply
  • abbadon_34
    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.
    Reply
  • hytecgowthaman
    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.
    Reply