Western Digital RE2 (WD7500AYYS)
- Five-year warranty, very good write performance, solid transfer rate during our tests, quiet operation
- Higher cost per gigabyte than a typical desktop hard drive
It's more expensive than a typical desktop drive of the same capacity, but the RE2's target market isn't for a typical desktop user. Users of workstation PCs and gaming machines, and especially users looking to employ a RAID array, will appreciate its speed and five-year warranty, as well as its quiet operation during the execution of seek and write commands.
Price$ 429.00 (AUD)
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While Western Digital's 750GB RE2 drive is classed as an enterprise drive, gaming and multimedia enthusiasts who constantly leave their machines running 24/7 might also be interested in slotting one into their rigs.
RE stands for RAID Edition, and the drive is indeed optimised to run in a RAID configuration. Specifically, it has been designed to handle errors in a more efficient way than a desktop drive, by allowing it to respond to the RAID controller even while it's dealing with any errors, so that the RAID controller doesn't kick it off the RAID array for being non-responsive.
Nevertheless, it's a good performer as a single drive, too; it runs very quietly, but most importantly, it has been designed for use in server environments. That means it has a higher mean time between failure (MTBF) rating than a typical desktop hard drive (1.2 million hours as opposed to around 600,000 hours), which means the drive has a lower rated chance of failing over a longer period of time than Western Digital's Caviar-branded desktop drives. The lower chance of failure is backed up by a five-year warranty, which is two more years than what is offered for the Caviar. Having a server drive in a powerful desktop rig isn't such a bad idea. The RE2 does share similar specifications to a desktop drive, such as the Caviar -- it has a 16MB cache size and a spin speed of 7200rpm -- but it's the lower chance of failure that makes it an attractive proposition for a video editing machine or home-theatre PC, where long, continuous seek and write commands may be the order of the day.
In our tests, the RE2 proved to be very quick. We set it up as a data drive on an NVIDIA n680i SLI chipset-based motherboard's SATA controller and used a Hitachi Deskstar (1TB) and Samsung SpinPoint (500GB) drive for reference. The RE2 wrote our test data at a rate of 73.04MBps and read it back at a rate of 69.12MBps. These speeds are competitive against the 1TB Deskstar, which wrote the same amount of data at a rate of 72.50MBps and read it back at 69.59MBps. In our file transfer test, where we copy chunks of data from one location on the drive to another, the RE2 averaged 30.56MBps, which is slightly faster than the Hitachi (29.34), but not faster than the 500GB SpinPoint (33.55).
As with all hard drives, when performing continuous seek and write commands over a long period of time, the RE2 does get hot (its surface temperature rises above 50 degrees Celsius), so it will need to be adequately cooled, and the case it's in will need to have plenty of ventilation.
The heat is generated by four platters, which each hold 188GB of data. The multiple platters and heads add to the weight of the drive, even making it slightly heavier than Hitachi's 1TB Dekstar drive, for example, (675 grams, as opposed to 650 grams). Data is packed onto the platters using perpendicular recording technology, which is how Western Digital has been able to cram 750GB into this drive
Formatted, the drive has a total capacity of 698GB, which translates to a cost of 61 cents per gigabyte when using its $429 retail price tag (at the time of writing). That's higher than the cost per gigabyte of a typical desktop hard drive, which can be as low as 42 cents, but then, this isn't a typical drive.
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First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.