Western Digital Caviar SE review

Price when reviewed

The Caviar range is one of the longest surviving in the hard disk industry and, although the ‘SE’ suffix remains the same as the previous model, the disk you see here has an enhanced specification. You can tell these models by their all-black casing, but Western Digital assures us that none of the old models are in the shops any more. Allegedly, the new disk uses less power and runs cooler and quieter.

Western Digital Caviar SE review

Mechanical specifications are identical – seek time is still 8.9ms and the disk-to-buffer transfer rate remains 748Mb/sec. This 200GB version represents the best value in the range (which spans 40GB to 320GB) and features an 8MB buffer.

In our sound-pressure tests, the Caviar produced 31.6dBA searching for files. While we didn’t test it against the older model, this still isn’t what we’d call quiet – it’s considerably noisier than the Maxtor.

Performance was above average, but not by much. Average STR was 1MB/sec behind the Maxtor at 52.9MB/sec. Seek time was average at 9.13ms, but boot time was fairly quick at 28.8 seconds. Reading and writing large files was on a par with the Maxtor, but for small files the Caviar had problems. It could manage only 12.7MB/sec when reading and 6.4MB/sec when writing. In Photoshop, the Caviar took 130 seconds, making it fourth-fastest overall – only three seconds behind the Maxtor.

At this price, the Caviar is good value, but the noise and slightly poorer performance mean the Maxtor beats it.

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