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Western Digital Enterprise WDE9100-007

  May 21, 1998 Author: Eugene Ra  
See also our Summer 1998 SCSI Drive Roundup
See also our Drive Cooler Roundup

Western Digital Corporation in many ways deserves to be called the premiere ATA drive manufacturer. In addition to enjoying perhaps the strongest retail-presence of any company, WDC was the pivotal player in the establishment of many ATA (IDE, EIDE) standards. The company is not, however, a major force in the SCSI market. WD entered this market recently with its Enterprise series of drives. The smaller 4.3 gig WDE4360 received a cursory look in the Storage Review’s initial 4.5GB Ultra SCSI drive roundup; here we’ll take a look at the larger 9.1 gig WED9100.

Western Digital EnterpriseLike IBM’s Ultrastar 9ZX, the Enterprise spans its 9.1 gigs of data storage over six rather than five platters, thus resulting in a slightly lower areal-density of 1.5 gigs per platter. Unlike the IBM, though, WD manages to fit it all into the standard 1” high form-factor. The Enterprise features a standard spindle speed of 7200rpm, along with an average seek time of 7.9 milliseconds. The standard 0007 (Ultra-Wide) unit features a 512k buffer. The drive is also available in an “A/V Ready” version (0016) with features a full megabyte. The disk is protected by a 5 year warranty.

Though it didn’t come in a fancy retail box, the Enterprise arrived with thorough, easy to follow documentation. The well-illustrated manual is definitely a notch above the docs that come with other disks, sometimes no more than a simple folded photocopy of jumper settings. The drive mounted easily into our drive cooler and installed without a hitch. Both read and write caching were enabled by default.

ZDBop's Winbench 98 along with Adaptec's Threadmark 2.0 were both run on the unit in Windows 95 OSR 2.1 and Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The drive was partitioned into a single volume of maximum size. The average of 5 trials is presented below.

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The Enterprise turned in some mixed benchmark figures. The lower-priced Quantum Viking II managed to top the WD drive in all major catagories save that of NT Threadmark, where the WD managed to slide by the Viking. IBM’s pricier Ultrastar 9LP posted figures equal to (NT Threadmark) or greater than (everything else) those of the Enterprise. The WD’s performance was quite mediocre.

On the other hand, the Enterprise was rather unobtrusive when it came to both noise and heat. There was little noise while the drive was idle. Seek times were only slightly louder than that of the typical ATA drive. When operating in a drive cooling unit, the drive ran quite cool... possibly the coolest SCSI drive we’ve yet tested, along the same line as IBM’s Ultrastar 9ES.

Western Digital’s Enterprise is “straddling” two generations of offerings from its competitors. The drive had been in distribution before the current generation of disks from Quantum, IBM, and Seagate arrived. The WD drive, when compared to the last generation from the major SCSI crowd, is more than competitive. Unfortunately, however, it seems to lag a bit behind current 1998 offerings, struggling to keep up even with Quantum’s budget Viking II. Though it may be a bit louder and warmer, the increased performance and lower price of the Viking make it, in my opinion, a better buy. Or, if track records of reliability and longevity are paramount, the more established Barracuda or Ultrastar series may be your best bets.

Western Digital Enterprise WDE9100-007
Estimated Price: $800
Specifications
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* Note: All reported test results are the average of five trials.


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