Conclusion: Very Fast And Nearly Silent
Indeed, it looks like Western Digital can keep its promises regarding this drive. During our tests, it's operating temperature never exceeded 45°C, which is a new record for a desktop drive of the 7,200 rpm class. The WD3200JB was almost inaudible during operation, and only made itself heard under very heavy loads. However, the sound level can be reduced even further by switching to a less aggressive access mode. As far as ergonomics are concerned, the WD3200JB thus definitely raises the bar a good deal.
The drive also offers very good performance as well, as its data transfer rates can be compared to those of the WD320 Raptor. The 36 GB Raptor still offers a higher minimal transfer rate and lower seek times, but other than that the 320 GB Caviar SE combines the performance comparable of the first 10,000 rpm drive with the pleasanter general framework of a 7,200 rpm drive.
At a recommended retail price of $299, the WD3200JB does seem rather expensive. However, many online retailers already offer it for less than $200. At this price point, the drive is much more attractive than the much pricier 400 GB models, while falling short of the price/performance sweet spot of many 200 GB devices. However, if you seek a future-proof investment, then the 300 GB class is definitely worth a look. A version based on the SATA-interface will follow shortly.