Western Digital's Caviar WD400BB has subtly but surely proved itself to be the leader of the pack in today's shipping 20 GB/platter 7200 RPM ATA drives. Interestingly, WD decided to forgo releasing a 20 GB/platter 5400 RPM unit under the Caviar name, instead opting to introduce one under a new line... the Protégé.
As its sub-$100 price tag hints, the Protégé targets OEMs and users looking to upgrade their storage space while spending as little as possible. With the announcement of a 30 GB/platter Caviar, it appears that WD intends to maintain a 5400 RPM Caviar line.
Though it's a value-oriented unit, the Protégé maintains a spindle speed of 5400 RPMs. Specified seek time is definitely on the high side; Western Digital claims a lofty 12.1 milliseconds. The flagship unit utilizes just a single 20 gig platter, yielding a capacity of, well, 20 gigs. A full-size two-meg buffer rounds out the package. Also full-size is the warranty: an industry-standard three years.
The Protégé ships exclusively with an ATA-100 interface. Remember, since ATA drives have yet to break sequential transfer rates greater than even 45 MB/sec that ATA-66 (and in many cases, even ATA-33) interfaces will run a drive with optimal performance. Our testbed remains equipped with a Promise Ultra66 controller.