Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX hard disk review

A solid marriage of performance and price, with nice added features.
Photo of Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX hard disk
Around £63 inc VAT

Western Digital’s Caviar Black WD1002FAEX is a sprightly hard drive that aims to mix up good performance with reliability, boasting support for the 3Gbit/s and 6Gbit/s SATA disk interface. With a spin speed of 7,200rpm, it sits towards the upper end of the WD consumer desktop hard drive range, and is backed by a not-to-be-sniffed-at five year warranty. Clearly, Western Digital has confidence in its products.

Inside the cool (as in temperature) housing for the drive is a dual processor and 64MB cache, both of which are deployed with good performance in mind. Western Digital sells these drives in capacities of up to 2TB, although our test unit was a 1TB device.

Performance
Billed as a general-use drive, it works a treat in that role – although it’s no gaming slouch, if not at the cutting edge. In the series of intensive tests we threw at the unit over a three-week testing period, it generated no errors, and kept its performance pretty much intact. In short, it’s a drive you can bank on.

But then you can bank on lots of hard drives in the market – which begs the question of just what distinguishes the WD1002FAEX from the many others in the market. The answer: not too much. It’s a quiet device (some online have complained of the unit’s noise, and while it does emit a low whir, it’s still far from noisy, and is only likely to cause a problem in a silent PC). The size of the WD1002FAEX’s cache does, inevitably, have a positive effect on performance. Support for the 6Gbit/s SATA interface remains more impressive to read about on the box rather than in practice, though.

Bearing that in mind, we concentrated on looking at the drive’s performance using the SATA 3Gbit/s interface, with a little bit of help from HD Tach. It reported a solid burst speed of 238.8MB/s, with the sequential read speed inevitably declining from a peak of 140MB/s down to 70Mb/s as it hit the 1TB level. Again, it’s not cutting-edge performance, but it will still serve most of the people, pretty much all of the time. And it’s a cut above budget drives.

Small price premium
The WD1002FAEX is a very good piece of hardware, with an OEM drive setting you back around £63 at current street prices. That means you’re paying a £10 premium over entry-level units in this sector, but then you do get the performance advantage for doing so. Even though it’s impossible to extract the full advantage of 6Gbit/s SATA support, it still offers a solid upgrade from 3Gbit/s if you have the hardware to support it. And that, combined with the 64MB cache, gives the Caviar Black a performance edge over much of the crowd.

A solid, reliable piece of hardware, and an ideal candidate for a medium to high(ish)-end system too.

Company: Western Digital

Positives
  • A combination of performance and reliability at a sweet spot of a price.
Negative
  • Small quibble over noise; mild price premium.

Verdict

A quality, reliable hard drive, with welcome added performance features.