by eugene

Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD


Note: Since the publication of this review, this drive has been retested under Testbed4, a newer hardware/software/benchmark platform. Please see this article for updated results. This review remains for reference purposes only.

Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD Capacities
Model Number Capacity
WD3200JD 320 GB
Lowest Real-Time Price (320 GB):


Introduction

Ever since the introduction of the Caviar WD400BB, Western Digital has been a premiere contender for the ATA performance crown. WD solidified this lead by migrating its ATA drive line from the then-standard 2-megabyte buffer to a roomy 8-megabyte standard. The WD1000JD has since spawned a series of successors that furthered the firm's dominance in performance testing. In particular, the 10,000 RPM WD740GD, though over a year old, remains without peer.

More recently, however, the venerable Caviar line has encountered pressure from competitors such as Hitachi and Maxtor. Hitachi has revitalized the flagging Deskstar line with SATA units that deliver top-flight performance and, more recently, that return to the family's unique five-platter design. Though Maxtor does not offer five- or even four-platter drives like Hitachi, the firm nonetheless managed to ship products with 100 GB platters right alongside industry-leader Seagate. With the MaXLine III and certain DiamondMax 10 models, Maxtor was also the first to extend buffer sizes up to 16 megabytes. Seagate, of course, has not rested either- they remain alone in offering product incorporating an amazing 133 GB per platter.

Top of the driveThe Caviar WD3200JD, as a result, faces stiffer competition. This 320 GB offering is the natural extension of a line dating back all the way to the original WD1000JD, then called a "Special Edition Caviar." The WD3200JD combines the firm's established 7200 RPM design with three of WD's highest-capacity platters to date. Claimed seek time remains the same as always, 8.9 milliseconds. The customary 8-megabyte buffer rounds out the offering.

Like its predecessors, the Caviar WD3200JD continues to use a PATA-to-SATA bridge chip to offer its SATA interface functionality. While it has been proven that such conversion designs are not necessarily a performance detriment (consider, for example, that WD's own Raptor still uses a bridged paradigm), it must be pointed out that much of the competition has already moved to or at the very least announced native SATA designs.

The WD3200JD goes head-to-head against the largest SATA drives around, vying to be the choice for high-end desktops, entry-level servers, and low-cost data archiving applications. In the tests that follow, the Caviar WD3200JD will be compared against the following drives:

Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB) Previous-generation competing unit
Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB) Current-generation competing unit
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB) Previous-generation competing unit
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB) Current-generation competing unit
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB) Manufacturer's previous-generation unit





Low-Level Results

For diagnostic purposes only, StorageReview measures the following low-level parameters:

Average Read Access Time- An average of 25,000 random accesses of a single sector each conducted through IPEAK SPT's AnalyzeDisk suite. The high sample size permits a much more accurate reading than most typical benchmarks deliver and provides an excellent figure with which one may contrast the claimed access time (claimed seek time + the drive spindle speed's average rotational latency) provided by manufacturers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - Begin- The sequential transfer rate attained by the outermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the highest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

WB99 Disk/Read Transfer Rate - End- The sequential transfer rate attained by the innermost zones in the hard disk. The figure typically represents the lowest sustained transfer rate a drive delivers.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Service Time Graphs (in milliseconds)
Average Read Service Time
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 12.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 13.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 13.5|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 13.6|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 14.6|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 15.0|
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WD3200JD Average Read Service Time

The Caviar WD3200JD's measured access time weighs in at an even 13.0 milliseconds. Accounting for the standard 7200 RPM rotational latency of 4.2 ms leaves us with a measured seek time of 8.8 milliseconds. A pleasant change of pace for WD, whose drives more often than not have missed their specified claims. Only Hitachi's Deskstar 7K400 boasts a swifter seek time.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Transfer Rate Graphs (in megabytes per second)
Transfer Rate - Begin
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 69.8|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 66.5|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 65.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 60.6|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 60.4|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 60.2|
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Transfer Rate - End
Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 40.8|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 39.9|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 37.8|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 37.2|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 36.5|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 32.9|
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WD's latest hits an outer-zone transfer rate of 66.5 MB/sec, just enough to squeak by Maxtor's MaXLine III by a slim margin. The Caviar's 107 GB platters, however, fall short of the Seagate Barracuda 7200.8's 133 GB discs... the 'Cuda retains the crown when it comes to 7200 RPM transfer rates. The Caviar's transfer rates, however, decay relatively gracefully as the heads move inwards. Inner tracks register at 40.8 MB/sec, the best we have yet seen.





Single-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess non-server use:

StorageReview.com Office DriveMark 2002- A capture of 30 minutes of actual computer productivity use that exactingly recreates a typical office-style multitasking environment. The applications include: Outlook XP, Word XP, Excel XP, PowerPoint XP, Calypso (a freeware e-mail client), SecureCRT v3.3 (a telnet/SSH client), CuteFTP Pro v1.0 (an FTP/SSH client), ICQ 2000b), Palm Hotsync 4.0, Gravity 2.3 (a Usenet/newsgroups client), PaintShop Pro v7.0, Media Player v8 for the occasional MP3, and Internet Explorer 6.0.

StorageReview.com High-End DriveMark 2002- A capture of VeriTest's Content Creation Winstone 2001 suite. Applications include Adobe Photoshop v5.5, Adobe Premiere v5.1, Macromedia Director v8.0, Macromedia Dreamweaver v3.0, Netscape Navigator v4.73, and Sonic Foundry Sound Forge v4.5. Unlike typical productivity applications, high-end audio- and video- editing programs are run in a more serial and less multitasked manner. The High-End DriveMark includes significantly more sequential transfers and write (as opposed to read) operations.

StorageReview.com Bootup DriveMark 2002- A capture of the rather unusual Windows XP bootup process. Windows XP's boot procedure involves significantly different access patterns and queue depths than those found in other disk accesses. This test recreates Windows XP's bootup from the initial bootstrap load all the way to initialization and loading of the following memory-resident utilities: Dimension4 (a time synchronizer), Norton Antivirus 2002 AutoProtect, Palm Hotsync v4.0, and ICQ 2000b.

StorageReview.com Gaming DriveMark 2002- A weighted average of the disk accesses featured in five popular PC games: Lionhead's Black & White v1.1, Valve's Half-Life: Counterstrike v1.3, Blizzard's Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction v1.09b, Maxis's The Sims: House Party v1.0, and Epic's Unreal Tournament v4.36. Games, of course, are not multitasked- all five titles were run in a serial fashion featuring approximately half an hour of play time per game.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Desktop Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR Office DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 472|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 472|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 433|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 433|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 418|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 410|
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SR High-End DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 472|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 455|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 448|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 444|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 422|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 382|
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SR Bootup DriveMark 2002
Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 490|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 435|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 429|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 392|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 391|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 365|
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SR Gaming DriveMark 2002
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 609|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 589|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 545|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 542|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 539|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 534|
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StorageReview's Office DriveMark pegs the Caviar WD3200JD at 433 I/Os per second, which, coincidently, matches the score turned in by the drive's predecessor, the WD2500JD. While certainly an adequate score, 433 I/Os per second lags category leaders from Maxtor and Hitachi by a margin of almost 10%.

The WD3200JD slips just a bit when contrasted with its predecessor in the SR High-End DriveMark. Here the newcomer delivers 444 I/Os per second and slightly trails the older drive.

This discrepancy widens, however, in the Bootup DriveMark. At 391 I/Os per second, the WD3200JD trails the 2500 by nearly 10% and lags behind the MaXLine III by an eyebrow-raising 25%.

Things attenuate in the final single-user test, the Gaming DriveMark. The WD3200JD's 545 I/Os per second slides by the WD2500JD's showing by the slimmest of margins.

In all four cases, the Caviar fails to match the numbers delivered by the MaXLine and Deskstar. On the other hand, WD's drive manages a solid showing when contrasted with the Barracuda 7200.8 or Spinpoint P80.





Multi-User Performance

StorageReview uses the following tests to assess server performance:

StorageReview.com File Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads and writes through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated file server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

StorageReview.com Web Server DriveMark 2002- A mix of synthetically-created reads through IOMeter that attempts to model the heavily random access that a dedicated web server experiences. Individual tests are run under loads with 1 I/O, 4 I/Os, 16 I/Os, and 64 I/Os outstanding. The Server DriveMark is a convenient at-a-glance figure derived from the weighted average of results obtained from the four different loads.

For more information click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Server Performance Graphs (in I/Os per second)
SR File Server DriveMark 2002
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 125|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 125|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 122|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 117|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 109|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 108|
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SR Web Server DriveMark 2002
Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 135|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 127|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 124|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 123|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 117|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 113|
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The Caviar's relatively swift access time makes itself felt in the SR Server DriveMarks, two tests that simulate the highly-random activity produced by a multi-user server. The WD3200JD musters 125 I/Os per second in the File Server DriveMark to tie with the Samsung P80 for top honors among contemporary SATA drives. Similarly, a score of 127 I/Os per second in the Web Server DriveMark allows the Caviar a solid second place.





Legacy Performance

eTesting Lab's WinBench 99 Disk WinMark tests are benchmarks that attempt to measure desktop performance through a rather dated recording of high-level applications. Despite their age, the Disk WinMarks are somewhat of an industry standard. The following results serve only as a reference; SR does not factor them into final judgments and recommends that readers do the same.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Legacy Performance Graphs (in megabytes per second)
ZD Business Disk WinMark 99
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 13.7|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 11.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 11.5|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 11.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 10.7|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 10.5|
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ZD High-End Disk WinMark 99
Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 48.4|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 46.2|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 41.6|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 40.7|
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Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 38.8|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 36.9|
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Heat and Noise

Idle Noise- The sound pressure emitted from a drive measured at a distance of 18 millimeters. The close-field measurement allows for increased resolution between drive sound pressures and eliminates interactions from outside environmental noise. Note that while the measurement is an A-weighted decibel score that weighs frequencies in proportion to human ear sensitivity, a low score does not necessarily predict whether or not a drive will exhibit a high-pitch whine that some may find intrusive. Conversely, a high score does not necessarily indicate that the drive exhibits an intrusive noise envelope.

Net Drive Temperature- The highest temperature recorded from a 16-point sample of a drive's top plate after it has been under heavy load for 80 minutes. The figures provided are net temperatures representing the difference between the measured drive temperature and ambient temperature.

For more information, please click here.

Note: Scores on top are better.
Heat and Noise
Idle Noise (in dB/A @ 18mm)
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 39.4|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 40.2|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 40.4|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 41.0|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 41.2|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 41.2|
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Net Drive Temperature (in degrees celsius)
Samsung SpinPoint P80 (160 GB SATA) - 18.8|
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Maxtor MaXLine III (300 GB SATA) - 19.5|
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Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD (320 GB SATA) - 19.7|
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Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD (250 GB SATA) - 19.9|
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Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (400 GB SATA) - 20.1|
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Hitachi Deskstar 7K400 (400 GB SATA) - 22.3|
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Western Digital was among the last of manufacturers to convert the majority of its products to fluid dynamic bearing (FDB) motors. Further, when the firm did start the transition, noise measurements of WD's initial FDB attempts were less than stellar. Since then, however, the manufacturer has steadily been tweaking its results. The Caviar WD3200JD delivers just 40.2 dB/A at idle and ranks among the quietest drive's we have measured. Seeks are muffled, though audible- just loud enough to let one know the drive is working on retrieving data.

After heavy use, the WD3200JD's top-plate temperature hits 19.7 degrees Celsius above ambient room temperature, a figure quite similar to that of other SATA drives.





Reliability

The StorageReview.com Reliability Survey aims to amalgamate individual reader experiences with various hard disks into a comprehensive warehouse of information from which meaningful results may be extracted. A multiple-layer filter sifts through collected data, silently omitting questionable results or results from questionable participants. A proprietary analysis engine then processes the qualified dataset. SR presents results to readers through a percentile ranking system.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, a predecessor of the Western Digital Caviar WD3200JD, the Western Digital Caviar WD2500JD , is more reliable than of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation.

Note that the percentages in bold above may change as more information continues to be collected and analyzed. For more information, to input your experience with these and/or other drives, and to view comprehensive results, please visit the SR Drive Reliability Survey.





Conclusion

In the end, it's reasonable to conclude that the Caviar WD3200JD delivers more of the same. That is, it delivers the performance one has come to expect from the Caviar line in a more competitive flagship capacity. "More of the same," of course, is not necessarily a bad thing. However, with drives such as the MaXLine III and Deskstar 7K400 raising the bar, it is disappointing that the WD3200JD fails to keep up.

To WD's credit, the WD3200JD features the best noise profile to date that we've heard from the manufacturer, implying that the firm's transition to contemporary FDB motors is complete. The FDB Caviars have gone from being among the loudest to one of the quietest when it comes to idle noise. Thus, in a similar vein, we've got to wonder how much better WD's 7200 RPM design could be if it was constructed from the ground up with native SATA in mind.

  Review Discussion