Big Tin

Big tin: IT infrastructure used by organisations to run their businesses. And other stuff too when I feel like it…

Review of new WD 3TB WD30EZRX disk drive

Quiet and huge describes this new 3TB Western Digital disk drive pretty well. It contains enough data that, if printed out on paper would probably cover the whole of Wales or several elephants, but who’s counting? You could certainly fit well over 500 standard DVDs onto it.

The WD30EZRZ updates the previous model, the WD30EZRSDTL, by upgrading to the latest 6Gbps SATA interface, which won’t make much difference to most people as it will take several drives to fill that data pipe. In other words, the update is largely academic for most users, and the drive is mechanically identical to its 3Gbps predecessor.

What this drive promises is an ability to fit into a range of environments without disruption. If you sit next to your PC all day, you’ll know that the disk drive is one of its noisiest components. And if you have a PC in the living room, you’ll know that when it wakes up and does its stuff, you can hear the drive start rotating and then make a rattling sound when it’s working.

All drive makers have gone some way to making disk drives much quieter than before, with WD’s range of domestically-oriented devices dubbed ‘cool, quiet, eco-friendly’ by the manufacturer. #

So in addition to being quieter, this drive is claimed also to use less power. Fortunately for disk drive makers, the main users of power and generators of noise are the same: the motor that spins the disk and the actuator that moves the drive head — that’s the component that ‘rattles’. So by reducing the power to both of these they can achieve their objectives at the cost of performance. WD doesn’t reveal the speeds its ‘green’ disks spin but one enterprising reviewer calculated it from the sound of the disk at between 5400 and 7200 rpm.

The drive is quiet when idle — within a metre of it, it’s barely audible even while out of the PC case — and you can barely hear the drive rattle when seeking. A sound meter sited the standard distance of a metre away didn’t register the sound in a normal office environment.

But what does that quietness cost in speed? I tested the WD30EZRX using an Intel motherboard housing Intel’s four-core i7-2600K CPU clocked at 3.40GHz and with 8GB RAM. Running the SiSoft Sandra disk benchmark against the drive revealed a data transfer rate, at 100MBps, unchanged from its predecessor’s results. This isn’t the fastest transfer rate there, nor is the drive’s access time of nine milliseconds the lowest, but for most purposes the trade-off is probably good enough.

So if you need a drive to store your DVDs or CDs on, this is close to ideal. But watch out: 512GB solid state disks (SSDs), which are silent and hugely faster than mechanical devices, are commonplace if expensive. And while SSDs will always cost more than rotating media, they’re now approaching the point when you might consider abandoning spinning drives altogether.

In the meantime, the WD is at least as good as its rivals in the places where it matters.

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