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Western Digital Protégé WD200EB
  February 1, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

Western Digital Protégé Available Capacities *
Model Number
20 GB
10 GB
* The benchmark scores presented in this review represent expected performance across the entire line.
Estimated Flagship Price: $99 (20 GB)
Evaluation unit provided by Western Digital Corp.


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.

WB99/Win2k Low-Level Measurements

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Click here to examine the STR graph for this drive

The Protégé's measured access time of 18.1 milliseconds certainly won't win any awards. Its right on par with Quantum's Fireball lct15... and the Fireball features a 4400 RPM spindle speed! That said, 18.1 ms is an expected figure. Adding 5.6 milliseconds of rotational latency to the specified seek time of 12.1 milliseconds yields a theoretical average access time of 17.7 ms... proportionately speaking, the Protégé isn't far off the mark.

A maximum sequential transfer rate of 25.6 MB/sec is also decidedly mediocre. While the WD manages a 5 MB/sec lead over the Fireball lct15, it trails offerings from competitors such as Maxtor and Seagate.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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WD's drive scores 6.6 MB/sec in the Business Disk WinMark 99, managing to top all competitors save Maxtor's DiamondMax 80. The Protégé's High-End WinMark score of 15.2 MB/sec is also competitive, basically matching the score turned in by Fujitsu's MPG3xxxAT... but still trailing the Maxtor.

IOMeter Performance

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The Protégé does surprisingly well in our IOMeter suite. Though it turns in the low scores that one would expect under Linear and Very Light loads, WD's firmware allows the drive to perform well under escalating loads. Its IOMeter Workstation Index (a normalized average of Light, Medium, and Heavy loads) score of 117.96 actually edges by the Maxtor DiamondMax 80 and is decidedly higher than value offerings from Quantum and Seagate.


As one would imagine, a single-platter 5400 RPM drive with an 18 millisecond access time can only create so much noise and heat. The Protégé creates little of either and will work well in any configuration.

In conclusion, the Protégé surely isn't a drive that power-hungry SR readers would consider for themselves. Its scores in high-level benchmarks such as the WinBench Disk WinMarks or IOMeter, however, compare favorably to value units from the competition. If one needs a dirt cheap drive and can live with only 20 gigs, the Protégé deserves consideration.

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