Western Digital – Caviar WD800JB review

fast 80GB hard drive with big buffer
Photo of Western Digital – Caviar WD800JB
Price £89 + VAT

Before Serial ATA finally makes an appearance later this year, hard disk manufacturers are squeezing the last drop of performance and capacity out of the IDE drive format. Previously only found in its huge 100GB and 120GB drives, Western Digital has now added its massive 8GB data buffer to another drive, this time in the smaller, more affordable 80GB capacity.

The Caviar WD800JB is basically a 120GB WD1200JB drive with one less 40GB platter, and gives similar performance (i.e. exceedingly fast) to its larger sibling. But with one less platter you have the added bonus of less noise and heat generation. In fact two things that really make this drive stand out are its quietness of operationg and, surprisingly for a fast hard drive, its low operating temperature, so there’s no need for any additional cooling.

As well as the huge data buffer – which is which is four times greater than that of the competition and helps to speed up multiple read and write operations – this drive has a spindle speed of 7,200RPM and a stated seek time of 8.9 milliseconds, although when tested the drive only managed 9.7ms which is a little slow compared to the opposition. Overall, though, when taking data throughput and multiple random accesses into account, the drive’s performance is excellent.

The drive comes with WD’s own Data Lifeguard package. Data Lifeguard is a combination of embedded hardware features and software tools that make installation, configuration and diagnostics of the hard drive easy and straightforward. The embedded hardware features include error detection and repair features, which automatically detect, isolate and repair problem areas of the disk that may occur over the life of the drive.

You also get protective head parking, which safely parks the heads of the drive if the rest of the system fails, and additional filters inside the drive to protect it from excessive humidity and temperature changes. The Caviar WD800JB is also S.M.A.R.T. equipped which helps predict errors before data loss occurs.

The box packaging includes an ATA/100 IDE cable, mounting screws, a manual, a quick setup poster and a floppy disk containing the software part of the Data Lifeguard package, which helps with the installation and diagnostics of the drive. As with all Western Digital drives, the Caviar WD800JB comes with a three-year warranty.

The Caviar WD800JB’s speed and capacity make it ideal for a games system, or for fast transfers of large files in applications such as DV editing. It would also be well suited for an entry-level file server.

Company: Western Digital

Contact: 01372 360055

The Caviar WD800JB has stunning performance for an IDE drive, being faster than many SCSI drives currently available. And it has a very reasonable price tag. Suitable for either desktop or workstation application, it really takes some beating in this capacity.