The 10.1 gig Caviar posted some modest improvements over the 8.4 gig version, which means that the drive still isn't a stellar performer. The top performing 5400rpm drive in Windows 95/WinBench 98, the IBM Deskstar 16GP, outraces WD's latest by more than 14%. Similarly, a top Windows NT performer, the Maxtor DiamondMax 3400, posted scores 20% higher than the Caviar.
ThreadMark-wise, the WD drive managed some respectable scores, especially under Windows NT, where it outperformed the IBM 16GP. Remember, though, that IBM's entry-level drives aren't exactly screamers when it comes to ThreadMark performance.
Seek noise was rather noticeable with this latest Caviar. Though it's not exactly a Barracuda or Cheetah, the WD was louder than both IBM and Maxtor's ATA offering. The 10 gig Caviar also continued the tradition of cool operation; as usual, you should have no problems integrating this WD ATA drive into any system.
Once again, I have to admit that I'm disappointed with Western Digital's latest drive. Though the drive provides a small increase over its predecessor, the AC38400, the AC310100 still lags behind same-generation drives from IBM and Maxtor. It seems like Western Digital is in a "holding pattern" of sorts, simply trying to keep up with the competition in capacity with little regard to performance. In some circles, Western Digital still enjoys a reputation as the manufacturer of the fastest ATA drives. It would be nice if the company could once again become an innovator and not a follower.