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

Western Digital's Performance-Oriented 4 TB Hard Drive

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

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ManufacturerWestern Digital
Model NumberWD4001FAEX
Form Factor3.5"
Capacity4 TB
Other Capacities500 GB, 1 TB, 2 TB
Cache64 MB
InterfaceSATA 6Gb/s
Operating Temperature0-55° 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

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Benchmark System Hardware
CPUIntel 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
MotherboardGigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3, Revision: 0.2, Chipset: Intel Z68 Express, BIOS: F3
RAM2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333, Corsair TR3X6G1600C8D
System SSDIntel X25-M G1, 80 GB, Firmware 0701, SATA 3Gb/s
Benchmarked Hard DriveWestern Digital Black WD4001FAEX, 4 TB, 64 MB Cache, SATA 6Gb/s, 7,200 RPM
ControllerIntel PCH Z68 SATA 6 Gb/s
Power SupplySeasonic X-760 760 W, SS-760KM Active PFC F3
Benchmark SoftwareCrystalDiskMark 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 SystemWindows 7 x64 Ultimate SP1
Intel INF9.2.0.1030
Intel Rapid Storage Technology10.5.0.1026
  • 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).
  • cumi2k4
    what? 5 years warranty? does this include all other wd black drives?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • _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.
  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.