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Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB
  August 7, 2001 Author: Eugene Ra  

Western Digital Caviar WD1000BB Available Capacities *
Model Number
100 GB
* The benchmark scores presented in this review represent expected performance across the entire line.
Estimated Flagship Price: $299 (100 GB)
Evaluation unit provided by Western Digital Corp.


With the release of its 20 GB/platter Caviar WD400BB nearly a year ago, Western Digital proved that it was a serious challenger in the ATA drive sweeps. Though IBM's Deskstar 75GXP managed to retain its throne, the WD400BB nonetheless provided a solid alternative to Big Blue's drive. Last spring, WD followed up the 400BB with the Caviar WD800BB, a drive that doubled the 400BB's size while delivering incremental performance gains. Interestingly, around the same time, the Deskstar-GXP series took a step backwards in capacity as IBM abandoned its premiere 5-platter design in favor of a more practical 3-platter implementation. The net result was a Western Digital offering that surpassed Big Blue's in capacity while creeping ever closer in performance terms.

This summer Western Digital brings the industry a product of symbolic significance. The Caviar WD1000BB is the first 7200 RPM ATA drive to hit 100 GB of capacity. It's also the first three-digit-capacity drive we've tested that features a low-profile, 1" high design. The 1000BB achieves its monstrous capacity by utilizing three platters each packing a bit over 30 gigabytes. WD specifies seek time at 8.9 milliseconds. A standard 2-megabyte buffer rounds out the package.

Western Digital positions the 1000BB for those that require the ultimate in capacity combined with high-performance operation. A 3-year warranty protects the drive.

The WD1000BB 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

WinBench 99 measures the Caviar WD1000BB's access time at 13.4 milliseconds, a scant 0.1 ms higher than its predecessor. This places the 1000BB at the upper end of a group of drives tightly bound within the lower 13ms range. Subtracting 4.2 milliseconds to account for the average rotational latency of a 7200 RPM drive yields a measured seek time of 9.2 milliseconds, a bit off of the 8.9 ms claim.

Ever since the WD400BB, WD's 7200 RPM caviar series lagged the pack when it came to sequential transfer rates. The 800BB, for example, brought up the rear when compared to contemporary drives that featured lower areal density. The 1000BB, however, finally brings the Caviar series up to the front of the pack. Outer-zone transfer rates weigh in at 43.7 MB/sec, the highest we've seen in an ATA drive. Inner-zone transfer rates are also impressive... the 1000BB bottoms out at 27.9 MB/sec.

WB99/Win2k WinMarks

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Caviar drives tend to excel in the WinBench 99 Disk WinMark tests... the WD1000BB is no exception. Its score of 8.7 MB/sec in the Business Disk WinMark 99 is the highest we've recorded to date, edging out the previous record of 8.6 MB/sec set by WD's own WD800BB by a 1% margin. The 1000BB's High-End Disk WinMark 99 of 22.5 MB/sec is even more impressive, besting the previous record holder (IBM's Deskstar 60GXP) by nearly 9%.

IOMeter Performance

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Western Digital inches ever closer to IBM's pace-setting Deskstar 60GXP in the Workstation IOMeter index, a normalized average of light, medium, and heavy loads. The WD1000BB's index of 164.13 trails IBM's drive by a scant 2% margin.

Differences in the File Server and Database indices are a bit more substantial, ranging from 3% - 11%. It's pretty clear that WD optimized the 1000BB's firmware for workstation-type loads.


The Caviar WD1000BB delivers heat and noise levels on par with that of its predecessor, the WD800BB. Though it doesn't plumb the depths like drives from, say, Samsung, idle and seek noises nonetheless remain quite unobtrusive. The 1000BB runs warm to the touch after extended heavy usage.

The Safe Buy Award

Simply put, this designation means we'd purchase this product without regret. Sure, there may be a slightly better, slightly faster, and/or slightly less-expensive model from a competitor, but you can't go wrong with this particular unit. This award is applicable, of course, to all units at the top of their class, but also applies to units that, though not quite best-of-class, provide a strong showing nonetheless. Overall, Western Digital's latest drive is a package that's hard to beat. It delivers the best overall single-user performance one can get from an ATA drive along with respectable performance in entry-level server situations. But perhaps most importantly, the WD1000BB presents users with 67% more capacity than the competitions' current-generation drives. It's hard to argue with that.

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