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Western Digital Enterprise WDE18300-0048A2

  February 23, 1999 Author: Eugene Ra  
Evaluation unit provided by Western Digital Corp.
See also our Drive Cooler Roundup

It's the time of year again where a new generation of SCSI drives ship. Unlike their ATA counterparts, which seem to constantly undergo new model upgrades every quarter, SCSI drives generally outdate themselves only on a yearly basis. Thus, a cyclical pattern emerges. The year begins with a fresh new batch of SCSI disks handily outperforming ATA drives. As the year progresses, however, faster and larger ATA units race out the gates, narrowing and eventually eliminating the gap. Then the next year rolls around, with SCSI once again pushing forward.

Western Digital EnterpriseTraditionally, one looks to Seagate or IBM to introduce the first of the next-generation units. This time around, however, it's Western Digital that's first out of the gate. The 7200rpm Enterprise WDE18300 is the first low-profile (1") 18.2 gig SCSI drive. Thus, it features a previously unheard of (for SCSI) areal density of 3 gigs per platter. Seek time for the drive squeaks in at just under the 7 millisecond mark, standard for today's SCSI drives. Buffer size seems to be another upped ante in the disk stakes these days, the Enterprise featuring a previously spacious yet ever more commonplace 2 megs. The drive is protected by a standard 5 year warranty.

Installation proceeded smoothly. As an Ultra2 SCSI drive, the Enterprise follows a growing trend of disks shipping without built-in termination options. This sat well with's testbed, fully equipped with the Adaptec 2940U2W SCSI host adapter and a plethora of 68-pin cables featuring active termination.

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As the first of 1999's 7200rpm SCSI drives, the WDE18300 can't yet be contrasted against its direct competitors. We can, however, compare it to the best 7200rpm unit available in 1998- IBM's Ultrastar 9LP. As would be expected, the newer, shinier specs of the WD drive helps it muscle past the venerable IBM. The Enterprise outguns the Ultrastar by about a 16% margin in WinBench 98 tests under Win95. Tests under NT further the gap with the WD drive racing past the IBM by 23% or more.

Though it doesn't report true sequential transfer rate, ThreadMark 2.0 does heavily weight STR into its overall performance weighting. Thus, the WD18300's impressive STR (just a shade under 20 MB/sec) results in record-breaking ThreadMark scores. At 11.24 MB/sec in Win95, the WD drive even edges out IBM's latest 10k rpm offering, the Ultrastar 9LZX. Under NT, the WD lands just shy of the 12k rpm Hitachi Pegasus. All hail areal density !

This newest Enterprise drive continues the tradition set by its predecessor when it comes to heat and noise. There is no noticeable whine. Seek noise is quite tolerable when compared to other 7200rpm SCSI drives. Outside of a drive cooler, the drive runs only moderately warm to the touch. Granted, our testbed case is spacious, but it's quite possible to run the WD drive without a cooler. Now that's a true rarity when it comes to 7200rpm disks!

Again, this new Enterprise is the first of the new-breed 7200rpm drives we've tested. Though we have nothing to compare it to quite yet, the drive clearly demonstrated new performance levels for a "mainstream" SCSI drive. Combining such competent performance with unobtrusive noise/heat operation, this drive paints a promising picture for both WD's budding foothold in the SCSI market and the army of new SCSI disks on the horizon.

Western Digital Enterprise WDE18300
Estimated Price: $795
Also Available: WDE9180 (9.1 GB for $460)
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* Note: Threadmark 2.0 and WinBench98 test results are the average of five trials.
WinBench99 test results are the average of three trials.


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