Very fast, quirky support if you're not patched (Windows)
Dec 28, 2003
Review by stilettoone
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Fast, economical, fairly quiet seek, durable
Cons:Not especially quiet, faint whine, runs warm
The Bottom Line: I'd buy it. Big, speedy, durable, and not too expensive. Probably a bad idea for an HTPC.
Recommend this product?
The WD 160GB Caviar SE is one of the better gigabyte-to-dollar values out there; it's also one of the fastest hard drives in the consumer (IDE) segment. Comes with a three-year warranty.
The retail kit comes with a Promise ATA/100 controller card, which isn't entirely worthless, but is probably unnecessary if you have a post-1996 motherboard. See if your motherboard has 48-bit LBA support; if it does, then don't bother installing the controller unless you're out of drive spaces. (Do not chain it with an optical drive, unless you want it to run at about half speed.)
OS support for >128GiB (137GB in "marketing" gigabytes, which are 1,000,000,000B instead of 1,073,741,824B) in Windows is a bit flaky. With WinME and '98, I'm not sure that you can get all 160GB working. In Windows 2000, you'll need to install SP2 or later (I think); just get SP4, it's the newest one. Windows XP, you need SP1 or later. I'm not quite sure about Linux and MacOS side support; I know new Linux kernels can see big hard drives without any patches, but I'm not sure about MacOSes before X. OS X can see big drives natively.
If you're used to setting single drives to Cable Select or Master, don't. Take the jumper out entirely, or else you'll get flakiness. In the case of Windows, this usually manifests during installation as "This computer has no hard drive!". (Paraphrased, I don't remember what the actual "no hard disk" error is.) In two-drive-per-channel arrangements, it acts like any other hard driveuse a normal master/slave or cable select arrangement.
WD's drives in general are a bit louder than Maxtor's and Seagate's offerings, but they're faster. Seek noises don't raise the noise level much above idle, though. My only real gripe with mine is a barely-audible high-pitched whine/buzz, which isn't actually noticeable if I'm making any noise of my own. You might not be able to hear itI have pretty good ears, so I hear it but roommate can't.
Also, keep in mind that the drive runs kind of hot. Don't stack these drives tightly unless you have a fan in front, and be careful using these in tight/cramped cases. If you have room for an intake fan somewhere, use it.
The controller card is worth probably ~$25 retail; hold onto it or sell it to someone gullible for more than it's worth, if you don't need it. ATA/133, by the way, offers approximately zero performance advantage over ATA/100; don't trust salesmen. The drives themselves are pretty tough, seeing as that I've dropped one onto a concrete floor (about five feet up) before and it worked fine afterwards.
If you find one for much more than $130, don't buy it.
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