REVIEW: Western Digital WD6401AALS Black Performance

Technology has taken the fast lane, even in the computing world -- more cores, more cache, more pinouts. But nothing seems to have changed much in the storage arena. And this is the bottleneck of performance. Today we test the Western Digital WD640AALS Caviar Black. It seems to be a beefed-up version of its sibling the WD6400AAKS Caviar Black.

While both are 640GB in usable size, platter areal density has improved -- the WD6400AAKS has 3 platters while the WD6401AALS has 2; and in terms of cache WD6401AALS has double that of WD6400AAKS at 32MB. On paper we see that the WD6401AALS has the advantages over the WD6400AAKS. But with those improvements, how much difference does it make? Or did we make a wrong presumption altogether?

Just like before, we ran HD Tune to test out the performance.

Western Digital WD6401AALS Black Performance

We were surprised by the results. The WD6401AALS results is slower than that of the WD6400AAKS. We didn't see the impact of added cache and increased areal density here.

Other variables could also play big factors here. The rig used to test the WD6401AALS is a quad-core Q9550, while on the WD6400AAKS its a dual-core E6600 Conroe. Also the versions of the software could be a factor. But still the lower results for the WD6401AALS came as a surprise.

A few questions come out of this test, is the 32MB cache equipped with slower memory chips? Is the PRO version of HD Tune benchmarking disks better than the free version? Does the cache memory chip speed influence hard drive speed that much? Is it the firmware perhaps? These questions we will find an answer for in future reviews.

I could no longer test the WD6401AALS with the old set-up as I gave that rig away after an upgrade a long time ago.. And I could no longer get my hands on another WD6400AAKS for a thorough comparison. Regardless of the outcome, I'd still recommend going for WD6401AALS. This drive will pimp your rig!

Acknowledgments, again, to my good friend Xavier Zulueta of OCXPH for testing the WD6401AALS for me.

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