First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Western Digital Scorpio WD2500BEVS
- 250GB capacity, Good performer, Cool and quiet operation, Competitive price
- Unknown mean time between failure
Western Digital's 250GB Scorpio is currently the largest capacity notebook hard drive on the market. However, its large capacity and cool and quiet characteristics also make it an interesting proposition for a media centre PC.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
Western Digital's Scorpio WD2500BEVS makes it possible for notebook computers to pack a quarter of a terabyte of hard drive space on a single internal drive. It's the first 2.5in-sized drive we've seen with such a capacity and it's sure to be a hit not only in the notebook market, but also with the media centre and external storage crowds.
The 250GB Scorpio has a formatted capacity of 232GB. It makes use of perpendicular recording technology, which is an innovation that's allowed hard drive manufacturers to ramp up capacities significantly. On non-perpendicular drives, the data is stored end-to-end on the platter (think of a flat-lying domino), but on a perpendicular drive the data is stored standing up, perpendicular to the platter (think of a domino that's been stood up on its edge). This allows more data to be stored in the same physical area of the platter and this particular Scorpio is able to store 125GB of data on each of its two platters.
For the notebook market, the Scorpio will allow more capacity than ever to be installed, without sacrificing weight and portability. Its Serial ATA 1.5Gbps interface means it will only be installable on recent notebooks, but this interface also means that it can be easily installed on desktop systems and media centres.
Indeed, the Scorpio represents an interesting proposition for media centre PCs due to its small size, cooler temperatures and very quiet operation and its capacity is adequate for storing and recording digital TV shows. The only concerns are its performance and mean time between failure (MTBF), if it's to be used for prolonged periods of time as a system drive. Western Digital was unable to provide an MTBF figure, but we were able to conduct performance tests to get an indication of its speed.
The Scorpio has a spin speed of 5400rpm and a data buffer of 8MB, and these are solid specifications for a 2.5in-sized hard drive. A modern 3.5in-sized desktop hard drive can have a spin speed of 7200rpm and a data buffer of up to 32MB. The spin speed plays a part in how fast data can be retrieved and written to the platters; the faster it is, the sooner the required read or write location can be accessed. The buffer is the zone where data is stored before it's written to the hard drive, but it can also be used to speed up read times. Data arrives from the system to the hard drive at a much faster rate than it can be written, so a bigger buffer means more data can be stored and quickly accessed.
Plugged into an ASUS P5B Premium motherboard with an Intel Core 2 Extreme QX6700 CPU, 1GB of DDR 800MHz RAM and a 150GB Western Digital Raptor as a system drive, the Scorpio was able to read data at a rate of 34MBps and write it at rate of 27MBps. The Scorpio was able to copy data from one location on the drive to another at a rate of 16MBps. Our dataset was 12.8GB and consisted of thousands of files of varying size and type, as a worst-case scenario-type test, so these results mean it should be able to keep up with the demands of a typical media centre PC. As a comparison, the fastest desktop hard drives can copy data from one location on the drive to another at around 30MBps, while slower drives can perform the same task at between 18-21MBps.
Noise was barely audible while the drive was reading and writing data, and we had the drive exposed during our tests. If installed in a notebook, a media centre, or even an external drive enclosure, it will be practically silent. When used in a Vantec NexStar 3 2.5in external drive enclosure, the 250GB Scorpio becomes a convenient portable hard drive. Using the USB 2.0 interface of this enclosure, the Scorpio was able to copy data from one location to another at a rate of 10MBps, which is the maximum speed we've seen from most 2.5in external USB 2.0 drives.
For protection against platter damage, the Scorpio incorporates technology that parks the drive's heads away from the platters while the drive is spinning up and spinning down, and also while it's off. This technology mainly protects the platters and heads from accidental bumps while the drive is in a non-operational state. Of course, the drive won't be able to withstand harsh treatment at any time, especially while it's operating.
Western Digital supports this Scorpio with a 3-year warranty, which is generous for a mobile hard drive and its $299 price tag is very competitive. It works out to be $1.28 per gigabyte. It's suitable not only as an upgrade for a notebook computer, but also as a portable external hard drive and it can even be considered for a media centre PC.
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