Western Digital Caviar Blue 250 GB,Internal,7200 RPM,3.5" (WD2500JB) Hard Drive Reviews
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Western Digital Caviar Blue 250 GB,Internal,7200 RPM,3.5" (WD2500JB) Hard Drive

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Former Champion?

Jul 4, 2005
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Still fast for an old generation drive

Cons:Showing it's age - slightly slower than the new drives, louder, runs hot!

The Bottom Line: It does not offer anything better that a newer generation drive can offer.


Intro
After testing 3 enormous hard drives that are very modern, how does a year old Western Digital 250 GB that was once reigned king fair?

Again, to keep things fair, this old drive is being tested on the same platform. On my Windows Media Center-based computer, rests on an ATI RS300-based Shuttle ST61G4 miniPC, which is my actual permanent Media Center PC.

Because there are many drives I will be reviewing simultaneously, the review will have a similar format, but not exact, as I will input my thoughts with each one.

This review will be focused on the 1 year old Western Digital 250 GB hard drive model WD2500JB.

Here are the 3 new drives I mentioned above that this older generation drive is going to compete with:

Seagate's 300 GB ATA 8 MB cache hard drive
Seagate's 300 GB SATA 8 MB cache hard drive
Western Digital 320 GB ATA 8 MB cache hard drive

The WD2500JB drive was considered the "Special Edition" which contains the 8 MB cache, as opposed to the standard edition 2 MB cache. Of course, the new high standard is 16 MB of cache. This should even the playing ground a bit, as well as the fact that all the other drives including this one spins their platters at 7200 RPMs. Platter densities ar the only name in this game, which the 2500JB (being an older generation) lack in front of this newer crowd.

Installation
If you have installed any 3.5" internal hard drive, installing the Western Digital WD2500JB drive is just the same. Your computer's case enclosure will be the major factor in how simple or complex the installation will be.

Being a standard IDE drive, you will need to set the jumpers correctly to get the drive to work. The installation pamphlet was easy to follow for the first timer, though it is still recommended to let a tech to install it if you never done so, since how you handle and install the hard drive affect it's reliability.

Test Bench
Shuttle ST61G4 miniPC
-ATI RS300 chipset
-Built-in ATA100 controller from ATI RS300 chipset
-Silicon Image SATA RAID chipset
Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz
1 GB of DDR400 RAM
Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005
NEC 1320A DVD /RW recorder

Using HDTach 2.7 to benchmark performance.

Performance Benchmarks
I've used HDTach 2.7 because it gives more info about the maximum and minimum throughput, while version 3 does not even make mention of them and just gives an average throughput. And using a single platform to ensure that the test is even across the board between different hard drives. Also, the exact image of a freshly installed Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 was put on each of the testing hard drive to ensure similar testing environment.

That said, here are the performance numbers:

Max Throughput: 58.4 MB/sec
Min Throughput: 32.8 MB/sec
Avg Throughput: 49.6 MB/sec

Random Access: 14.2 ms
CPU Utilization: 17.4 %
Burst Speed: 66.5 MB/sec

Ouch! There is definately a generation gap! The performance gap is about 5 MB/sec away from the modern competition! Not a huge deal, no, but with everything else being the same, platter density does make a difference!

Noise and Temperature
If you are concerned with noise, this 7200 RPM drive will NOT suit you. The Seagate uses fluid bearings in their spindle motors instead of ball bearings, which decreases wear and tear, as well as noise. They also help with lower operating temperatures. This was apparent when the drive was actually warm to the touch, but not too hot to the touch. The new Western Digital 320 GB drive I tested earlier also uses this new technology, which allowed it to run cooler and quieter. I didn't know how cool and quiet, until I tested this older WD2500JB!

After intense data transfer that lasted 20 minutes (which is the same informal test I did for the other drives to test heat and noise), the drive was too hot to touch! I've informally used the WD1200BB (the non-special 2MB cache with 120 GB capacity version of the same drive), and the same high pitched whinning noise and the untouchable heat was appearent there as well!

Unfortunately, I am not a dedicated product review who have unlimited funds and test equipment to measure exact noise level and temperatures. I wish I did, but in the mean time, my informal testing shows that fluid bearings works! In fact, it works so well, when I pulled this drive for testing, I originally thought the drive was going bad! I ran WD's diagnostic tools downloaded from ther site to make sure. Of course, I was rest assured it was okay when I also heard my older 120 GB WD drive did the same thing.

Thanks for inventing fluid bearings, whoever you are!

Conclusion
This drive just can't compete as far as noise and temperature level goes. As for speed, newer drives are ramping up speed thanks to increases in platter density. However, it's not much slower! Surely the generation gap is getting wider, but not after a year.

If you have this drive, and the noise and temperature is not a problem with you (such as being in use in a standard ATX case, not an SFF one!), you won't reap any huge benefits going with today's slightly larger drives.

But if you are in the market for a new hard drive, or stuffing one in a small case (like a SFF case), then you better do your homework to find out if the drive you are buying lost the older ball bearings technology!


Recommend this product? No

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