User Review: Western Digital Special Edition 120GB HDD


So, how'd you like my review? (Be sure to read it first ;) )

  1. It was OK for a first-timer.

    2 vote(s)
  2. Excellent!

    6 vote(s)
  3. You've got a long way to go, but it was a good start.

    2 vote(s)
  4. That was the most ill-conceived rubbish I've ever read! Thanks for wasting my time!

    1 vote(s)
By Vehementi · 12 replies
Dec 6, 2002
  1. As was suggested a long time ago, I have finally gotten to writing the promised review for my HDD. This is my first time reviewing anything like this, or anything for that matter :rolleyes:

    Anyway, I hope you like it...

    Western Digital has been making hard drives for a while now. They have always been known for their excellent build quality and superior performance. But currently, WD makes some of the best hard drives on the market. I personally favor them, as this is my 2nd Western Digital, and after 5 years, the 1st WD, a 10GB Caviar, is working wonderfully. Although hard drive reliability is purely subjective, everyone has their own experiences on the matter. There is no “best” hard drive manufacturer, IMHO, but WD currently has the fastest drives out. Another factor to consider is that this drive is ATA100. Since ATA133 offers no real performance increase, as no drive today can give out that speed, Western Digital just decided to keep it @ ATA100.
    The drive came packaged in a pretty colorful WD standard box, with two big stickers announcing it to be 120GB and w/ an 8MB cache. The drive was packaged well with an anti-static bag, and bracers to each side of the drive. WD also has the good sense to package in an IDE cable, mounting screws, a manual, a quick setup poster, and WD’s own proprietary Data Lifeguard software.
    Setting itself apart from the fodder, the WD1200JB has an 8MB cache, aside from the regular 2MB. The ‘standard’ WD1200BB has only a 2MB cache. Because of this, the SE is pretty much the fastest single IDE drive on the market today. And, at capacities ranging all the way from 80GB to 200GB, it’s also quite roomy. In order to allow for more protection to the sensitive controller card, Western Digital has also inverted the chip found underneath the drive, and placing some soft foam padding in between the bottom and the top of the controller card. A sign of true great build quality. Western Digital has also claimed the Special Edition series of drives can handle up to 200G’s of non-operating shock and 65G’s of operating shock for 2ms. Although I wouldn’t want to test this if I were you ;)
    For the basics, here are some of the manufacturer-supplied specifications of this drive:

    Rotational Speed 7,200 RPM (nominal)
    Buffer Size 8 MB
    Buffer To Disk 602.0 Mbits/s (Max)
    Read Seek Time (Average) 8.9 ms
    Write Seek Time (Average) 10.9 ms (average)
    Track-To-Track Seek Time 2.0 ms (average)
    Full Stroke Seek 21.0 ms (average)
    Average Latency 4.2 ms (nominal)
    Mode 5 Ultra ATA 100.0 MB/s
    Mode 4 Ultra ATA 66.6 MB/s
    Mode 2 Ultra ATA 33.3 MB/s
    Mode 4 PIO 16.6 MB/s
    Mode 2 multi-word DMA 16.6 MB/s
    Cylinders 16,383
    Number of Heads (Logical) 16
    Number of Heads (Physical) 6
    Sectors Per Track 63
    Formatted Capacity 120,034 MB
    Interface EIDE
    Actuator Type Rotary Voice Coil
    Number of Platters 3
    Bytes Per Sector 512
    User Sectors Per Drive 234,441,648
    Servo Type Embedded
    Height (English) 1.028 Inches (Max)
    Length (English) 5.787 Inches (Max)
    Width (English) 4.00 Inches (+/- 0.010 inch)
    Weight (English) 1.32 Pounds (+/- 0.14 pounds)
    Operating Shock (Read) 65G, 2ms
    Non-operating Shock 200G, 2 ms
    Idle Mode 35 dBA (average)
    Seek Mode 0 39 dBA (average)
    Seek Mode 3 37 dBA (average)

    Now about partitioning strategies. I loosely followed Radified’s Partitioning Strategies, with the following configuration:

    C:/ Windows XP 8GB FAT32
    D:/ Swap XP 2GB FAT32
    E:/ Games 16.9GB FAT32
    F:/ Music 16.9GB FAT32
    G:/ Free 23.8GB FAT32

    K:/ Junk 43.8GB NTFS

    For the 2nd HDD:

    J:/ Alternative OS 7.53GB
    L:/ Swap 2.00GB

    Now for the benchmarks. The testing platform is as showed:

    Athlon XP 2100+
    ASUS A7V8x
    512MB PC2700 DDR-SDRAM
    ATi Radeon 8500 Pro
    Sound Blaster Audigy MP3+
    Western Digital Special Edition 7200RPM 120GB HDD
    Western Digital Caviar 7200RPM 10GB HDD
    Seagate Barracuda 5400RPM 20GB HDD
    Windows XP Home

    PCMark 2002 Free – Build 100
    Higher is better
    HDD Score – 1155
    That’s the highest score I’ve ever seen for a single drive.

    SiSoftware Sandra 2003 Standard (Test file size: 512MB)
    Higher is better
    Drive Index score: 32769 kbps

    C: - Buffered Read: 87 MB/s
    Sequential Read: 41 MB/s
    Random Read: 7 MB/s
    Buffered Write: 88 MB/s
    Sequential Write: 40 MB/s
    Random Write: 13 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 7 ms (estimated)

    D: - Buffered Read : 87 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 47 MB/s
    Random Read : 8 MB/s
    Buffered Write : 87 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 42 MB/s
    Random Write : 12 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 7 ms (estimated)

    E: - Buffered Read : 87 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 46 MB/s
    Random Read : 8 MB/s
    Buffered Write : 88 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 41 MB/s
    Random Write : 14 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 6 ms (estimated)

    F: - Buffered Read : 87 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 45 MB/s
    Random Read : 8 MB/s
    Buffered Write : 88 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 40 MB/s
    Random Write : 14 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 6 ms (estimated)

    G: - Buffered Read : 87 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 33 MB/s
    Random Read : 8 MB/s
    Buffered Write : 88 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 30 MB/s
    Random Write : 13 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 6 ms (estimated)

    K: - Buffered Read : 559 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 26 MB/s
    Random Read : 13 MB/s
    Buffered Write : 19 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 18 MB/s
    Random Write : 12 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 2 ms (estimated)

    J: - Buffered Read : 54 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 13 MB/s
    Random Read : 2467 kB/s
    Buffered Write : 6 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 13 MB/s
    Random Write : 4 MB/s
    Average Access Time : 21 ms (estimated)

    L: - Benchmark Breakdown
    Buffered Read : 54 MB/s
    Sequential Read : 10 MB/s
    Random Read : 2089 kB/s
    Buffered Write : 6 MB/s
    Sequential Write : 10 MB/s
    Random Write : 3894 kB/s
    Average Access Time : 25 ms (estimated)

    As you can see, performance really differs between the partitions. K: is a completely different file system, and it takes up 1/3 of the drive, so you can’t really compare it to the others. The difference between the 2MB and 8MB WD models are clear: as much as 22 ms. Avg. access time.

    HD Tach 2.61

    WD Special Edition: Bottom pic
    WD Caviar: Middle pic
    Seagate Barracuda: Top pic

    I would like to extend my personal thanks to LNCPapa, for graciously hosting my image

    From the results, the WD1200JB is one monster of a drive. It's performance is outstanding, it's build quality is exceptional, and the 3 year warranty is also great, not that (I hope) you'd need it. Western Digital has always been known for excellent drives, and the Special Edition only extends that feeling. Western Digital is definitely one of the top hard drive manufacturers. Currently, they just released an external USB2.0 200GB HDD. I would love to review that...but this drive is settling enough.
    I don't believe there's one thing that I didn't like about this drive. Now that file copies take a significantly shorter amount of time, I can easily mess around with any partitioning strategy I please. And I can store .iso's of pretty much every CD I have (In the Junk partition), just because I'm really paranoid when it comes to losing, scratching, or breaking CD's. Plus I can store my entire music collection...Ah! The possibilities are endless when it comes to high amounts of storage.
    Knowing some of you may be of the mind to upgrade your HDD's, if I were you I'd get a WD SE. Seriously...this drive is the fastest one out there right now. I was pleased, and I have high expectations when it comes to electronics; I only buy the best.
  2. RustyZip

    RustyZip TechSpot Paladin Posts: 322

    Excellent Vehementi...

    I too have one of these 8mb Cache drives, and am happy with its performance.

    Psst - the pictures in the review don't show up;)
  3. Th3M1ghtyD8

    Th3M1ghtyD8 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 664

    I also have one of those drives and am very impressed with it.

    Nice review mate. ;)
  4. hdmk

    hdmk TS Rookie Posts: 104

    Cool...thanks. I'm just about to upgrade to almost exactly the same as you test rig - XP2100+, 512mb PC2700 etc...

    the only difference being that I'm getting a WD800JB (the 80gig version of you hd - with the 8mb cache etc).
  5. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    That's strange...Zone must not like remote file linking.

    Anyone wanna host a 207kB picture for me? ;)

    Thanks guys, I appreciate it.

    The pic URL is if you want to check it out.
  6. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    Nevermind on that last post - Papa hosted it for me :D
  7. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    Good review Vehementi:grinthumb I have the WD1000 w/8mb cache..I love mine too....actually didnt I kinda recommend you to get one of these drives Vehementi?:cool:
  8. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    Hehehe yes you did. But that certainly wasn't the only reason I bought it ;) Thanks man.

    Good pick on both of our parts. :D

    I actually almost bought an 80GB Seagate instead, to save money! Now I'm glad I didn't.
  9. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    I'm glad you didnt too:D
  10. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    If I had I probably wouldn't have written a review for it, since it's just a ho-hum 2MB cache drive :p
  11. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    Next review I think I'll do is my new speakers, the Altec Lansing 641's. The reason I won't do one for my A7V8x is that I can't really compete with other sites' reviews...Mine wouldn't be half as decent as reviews from sites like Anandtech, Tom's, etc. Plus I don't have near as many different comparision system boards, no experience, I just wouldn't do as good a job.
    Anyway...I don't have much else to review so my speakers will probably be my 2nd and last review for a while...
  12. Vehementi

    Vehementi TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 2,704

    Wow, Bump on this, for nostalgia purposes :D

    Seems like it was forever ago that I wrote this. Yet it's only been 10 months :confused:

    As for the Altec Lansing 641 review, I never got them :D I opted for a PC home theater system.
  13. lalaji

    lalaji TS Rookie Posts: 136

    The drive is awesome. Crazy fast. Love it!
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