Western Digital 640GB blows away rivals in The Tech Report review

At a first glance, 640GB seems a rather unusual drive size considering most manufacturers make drives of 500GB or 750GB in size and the most logical new drive size would be something greater than the current 1TB drives or even a higher capacity Raptor.  After I came across this review where it was given The Editor’s Choice award, it became quite clear just what makes this drive so special.  In this 640GB drive, Western Digital has crammed 320GB per platter, which means that with just two platters, this not only reduces power consumption and cost due to less platters, but also increases the data throughput with high platter density as well as reduces the chance of catastrophic head crash with less platters for its heads to crash into.

The review tested this against 25 other hard disks of various brands and models, including the Raptor X, 150GB and 74GB models.  It went off to a great start with the drive scoring 2 points higher than Samsung’s Spinpoint F1 and Western Digital’s 750GB RE2 and Raptor 150GB drives in the WorldBench, putting it at the top.  In Multimedia editing and encoding, Image Processing and multitasking tests, it scored near or at the top in all tests apart from the VideoWave Move Creator Test. 

When it came to file handling, the drive really blew away the rivals scoring the best for WinZip and Nero tests.  For file copying, it scored between the best and second best of the 5 file creation, reading, copying and partition to partition copying tests.  In these tests, the Raptors were all well down the charts.  This 640GB drive scored well above average in the Tech Report’s custom disk-intensive multitasking tests, with it near or at top in these tests.  In the HD Tach tests, it achieved 96.5MB/s and 96.2MB/s read and write speeds respectively and its average access time reported is 12.8ms, which are all very impressive for a 7200RPM spindle. 

Two usual drawbacks when it comes to high performance hard drives include the noise level and the power consumption, but these issues were certainly not the case for this drive.  In the noise tests, the drive scored 4th for the quietest idle and one of the best for the quietest seeking against the 25 others.  Finally, when it came to power consumption, it scored 4th best for idle power consumption at 6.17 watts and 3rd best for seeking at 8.43 watts.  To give a comparison, the Raptor X uses 9.2 watts idle and 12.52 watts seeking.  While the wattage differences may seem small, these really add up when it comes to multiple drives in servers and data centres.  For example, 600GB of Raptor X’s would consume 36.8 watts idle and 50 watts seeking, not to mention 4 times the noise of a single already noisy Raptor X and 4 times the space.

Finally, for those worried about the price, it is sold cheaper than the Raptor 150GB drives in most stores, such as NewEgg where it retails for $130 at this time of writing.   The full in-depth review against 25 rivals can be read on The Tech Report, which is well worth reading for those planning on building a new system or adding or replacing a hard disk in their desktop.