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7200RPM Ultra ATA/66 Hard Drive

Company: Western Digital
Product: 20.5 Hard Drive Retail Box Version
Street Price: ~ $185
Complete Spec's: http://www.westerndigital.com/products/drives/wd205bartl.html
Date Reviewed: March 18, 2000


First Impression:

Okay, like I said, I just got a new Western Digital hard drive today (even though I really don't need it) and I thought I would post some reviewage for everyone to ponder on. Given Western Digital's past history of recalls and not so hot quality I was pretty hesitant to make this purchase, but for $84 and a 3 year warranty, how could anyone pass up an offer like that?

Here's a quick comparison of the two HD's that I will be giving a benchmark of. Pretty similar spec's except the IBM has a couple more platters (cuz it's a bigger drive) so you think the performance would be the same, well read on to find out...

WD Expert 20.5GB Drive IBM 34GXP 34.2GB Drive
Size: 20.5GB
Transfer Mode:
Ultra ATA/66
Avg. Read Seek:
Avg. Full Stroke:
Avg. Latency:
2 MB
Warranty: 3 Years
Size: 34.2GB
Transfer Mode:
Ultra ATA/66
Avg. Read Seek:
Avg. Full Stroke:
Avg. Latency:
2 MB
Warranty: 3 Years


What's inside the box?

Well, to start out, it came in the typical generic Western Digital retail box. WD made sure to promote that the 7200 is 33% faster (spindle speed) than the 5400 with a nice graph on the back. The contents include:

1 - Box
1 - Western Digital 20.5GB hard drive
1 - 40-pin 80-conductor IDE Cable (A requirement if you are going to use it in ATA/66 Mode)
4 - Screws to mount the Hard Drive
1 - Extra Jumper (There even another extra in the back of the HD)
1 - Retail Installation Guide aka. User's Manual
1 - Quick Installation Guide aka. 8-step fold out roadmap
1 - Registration Card (U.S. Only)
1 - Data Lifeguard Tools Disk
1 - Extra jumper setting sheet (Sheesh, it's labeled on the HD & in the Manual how to set them!)

Click on each image for a close-up (about 800x600)


Installation & Benchmarks:

Installation is about as simple as installing any HD. Currently I only have 1 ATA/66 hard drive, and since I didn't want to chain them together, and WD gave me an extra ATA/66 cable, I just stuck it on my other ATA/66 channel. The test system is an Abit BP6 w/dual Celeron's (366 oc'ed to 550) with 256MB ECC PC133 IBM (Toshiba) SDRAM's running Windows NT 4.0 SP6a. It's actually my machine that I use daily. For comparison I benched my IBM Deskstar 34GXP 34.2GB 7200RPM ATA/66 hard drive.

Here are the results from Sisoft Sandra 99:

I took the UDMA scores that Sandra gives, and I benched my ZIP 250 (Internal IDE) just to give some comparison.

Drive Benchmark Score
WD 20.5 12,225
IBM 34.2 11,606
UDMA 8.4 7600
UDMA 6.4 6500
ZIP 250 1827



Okay, so I am impressed! My IBM drive is pretty cluttered with files (about half full) so that could of affected the benchmark. But still, I am very pleased with the performance of the Western Digital drive. Judging from my past experience and from friends experiences, only time will tell if this is truly a good quality drive, or if it is going to die in 6 months! I would think after all this time they would finally work out the glitches in their production and all. One nice thing that WD does include is the Data Lifeguard disk which can run diagnostics and tell you if your drive is defective, even before you begin to notice something is seriously wrong with your drive. 

It's not the cheapest 20.5GB drive out there. Just checking out pricescan.com and you can see that Maxtor, IBM, and Seagate equivalent's are sold for $20-$25 cheaper. Still, that price difference could be retail box vs. bare drive. WD does have a $30 rebate still going on till May 27,2000 for the retail boxes only! Most people stick with brands that they are used to and don't go switching drives just to save a few bucks. Me personally, I like IBM, Quantum, and Seagate drives the most. I just haven't had too much luck with Western Digital, Maxtor, and Fujitsu drives in the past, but every now and then I try to give them a second chance.

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