Test Setup -
Not too much to say about the test platform except it is generally fast and we are utilizing Vista 64 SP1 as our OS of choice now.  This platform is slightly different from our standard test bed as we are in the process of comparing our NVIDIA based setup to the Intel X48 for future drive articles. However, performance differences between the two platforms were within 1% of each other so the numbers are comparable to previous results.
Quick Tests -
We are providing PCMark Vantage results today along with initial acoustic and thermal results.  The details about the PCMark Vantage HD suite tests and how results are determined can be located hereOur acoustic tests measure the decibel levels while the system is at idle and under load while running the Hard Disk test suite within PCMark Vantage.  We take measurements at a distance of 5mm from the rear and front of the drive in a separate enclosure.  The test room has a base acoustical level of 20dB(A).
Our thermal tests utilize sensor readings via the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) capability of the drives as reported by utilizing the Active SMART 2.6 utility. We also utilize thermal sensors and infrared measurement devices to verify our utility results. We test our drives in an enclosed case environment.  Our base temperature level in the room at the time of testing is 24C.
The drive makes a good showing in the PCMark Vantage tests that basically simulate real-world performance patterns utilizing a variety of actual applications.  However, we expected more from the 320GB per-platter technology and it appears the high random access times is a culprit to some degree in a couple of the individual tests.  The WD drive compared favorably in performance to one of our favorite drive choices, the Samsung HD501LJ, except in the Windows Media Center tests where the Samsung exhibited exceptional results.  Scores that in our own off-line DVD (HD/SD) application benchmark testing showed similar results.
As far as acoustic and thermal testing, this drive has the best results outside of Western Digital's own GreenPower series in these particular tests.  Even during heavy seeks, noise levels remained muted and at idle the drive's acoustical footprint was near silent.  As much as we like the Samsung drive for HTPC duties, we would give a slight nod to the WD drive at this time based on acoustics and the fact that its video/audio performance in actual applications is still very good.
In actual application testing (results not shown) the drive has performed slightly better than the Samsung drive in areas such as program loading and digital image manipulation.  The drive is on equal footing with the Samsung in gaming and compression tests but falls behind slightly in our video/audio tests.  However, the differences are minor in all cases with no "actual" differences in performance being noted during application usage. This drive does excel in providing excellent acoustics and thermals and as such should be considered for situations where these attributes are important to the user. 
In the end, our expectations before testing the drive were high as we thought the 320GB per-platter technology would provide a measurable performance difference compared to current drives with 167GB~200GB per-platter designs.  There are some differences in early testing but not enough of a difference for us to declare the drive a winner yet (unless you need a high performance silent drive).  That will have to wait for direct comparisons to the latest drive technologies from Western Digital's competitors, something we will have for you in the coming weeks.


View All Comments

  • DN - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    Owls, do you get upset that easily? May I suggest some KY and an adult magazine? LOL. Reply
  • Owls - Monday, February 25, 2008 - link

    "For all intent purposes"

    Do you guys even proofread?
  • Samus - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    "Testing 4 of these in raid 0 and 5 in raid 5 would give me an orgasm. "

    No they wont, because multiply that horrible access time by however many drives you plan to add. Your sustained transfer will be good, but it'll take 30 seconds just to bring up a large directory of files.

    And forget extracting rar's from and to it.

    RAID arrays are good for a collection of drives with low access time and average at best sustained transfer rates. ie, Raptor's. The low access time makes up for the fact your multiplying it, and the sustained transfer rate's scale with the number of drives you add.
  • Justin Case - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    Oh boy.

    Apparently you don't understand how access times work, and you don't even understand how file systems work. I suppose the fact that you use the expression "RAID arrays" should be a clue.

    You don't need to "multiply" anything; seek commands are sent to all drives at the same time. You will have to wait for the _slowest_ one, but that's still only the (maximum) seek time for _one_ drive.

    And reading a directory means reading only a couple of meta-files (typically placed at the middle of the drive, in modern file systems, so head travel times are never more than 50%). The system doesn't scan the whole disk looking for files; it only needs to read the file table. For large (multi-sector), contiguous file tables, that means arrays can actually read them _faster_ than single drives.

    Finally, most operating systems cache large chunks of the file table, so chances are you don't have to wait at _all_. The time you need to wait when displaying large directories in Windows Explorer, for example, is the time it takes to sort the data (by name, date, size, whatever) and prepare to display it (generate the icons, build thumbnails, etc.). Actual directory access (ex., for a program trying to save a file) is virtually instant.
  • Christobevii3 - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    I don't know if he's arguing that they would be slow in raid or that i can't orgasm :( Reply
  • Justin Case - Saturday, February 23, 2008 - link

    Well, I doubt that one would vibrate enough for that, but with 5 I'm sure you'd get there, eventually. ;) Reply

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