Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
Western Digital WD1600AAJS
- Good performance, runs cool and quiet.
- Small capacity.
It's not the largest drive on the market, but its low noise and heat emissions make it a desirable choice for a media centre or a silent PC.
Price$ 95.00 (AUD)
At 160GB, this 3.5in internal Serial ATA hard drive doesn't hold much in terms of desktop drives, but it's aiming to be one of the quietest and coolest drives on the market. The key feature of this hard drive is its single disk platter design. Most hard drives generally spread their capacity over multiple double-sided disk platters and multiple sets of heads. This drive, however, contains only one double-sided platter, which spins at 7200rpm and has one set of heads. Its power requirement is lower because of this feature and the amount of noise and heat that is produced after long periods of operation is considerably lower than a conventional hard drive with multiple platters in it.
Not only that, Western Digital is aiming to make this one of the most reliable drives on the market by incorporating ramp load technology. This is a technology that is present in many mobile hard drives. Its purpose is to reduce the chances of the heads crashing onto the platter if the drive receives a hefty bump or experiences excessive vibration. Instead of being positioned over the platter during times when the drive is powered off, idling or spinning up, ramp load technology actually parks the heads on a ramp until they are needed to read or write data.
The data density has been increased in order for Western Digital to be able to fit 160GB on a single double-sided platter. This has been achieved without using perpendicular recording technology, a technology that stands the data bits up instead of laying them flat end to end, thereby allowing more bits to fit in the same space. This new platter capacity will also allow the company to produce more efficient high-end capacities by reducing the number of platters required to meet the storage target, such as a two platter 320GB drive, or a three platter 500GB drive.
For the moment, this 160GB drive, which features an 8MB cache and native command queuing (NCQ) remains an excellent choice for a media centre PC or even a silent PC. NCQ is a technology, which orders the data requests so that they are executed in an orderly fashion rather than out of sequence. As well as maximising the drive's efficiency, NCQ reduces the wear on the drive over time. With a formatted capacity of 149GB and a retail price of $95, its cost per gigabyte is around 63 cents.
In our tests, the drive proved to be a very quiet performer. It was hardly audible during our testing period, even during vigorous seek operations. We tested the Western Digital WD1600AAJS by copying large sets of files from one location on the drive to another. It was able to copy an average of 20.72MBps, which is just above the average for a typical 7200rpm hard drive and compares favourably against larger drives with multiple platters, such as Western Digital's 250GB Caviar, which recorded an average rate of 20.2MBps in the same test.
Using the HDTach 3 benchmarking program, the 160GB drive recorded an average read speed of 64.7MBps. This is a good result when compared against larger drives. The 250GB Caviar scored 52.3MBps in the same test.
As the tests indicate, the single platter in the 160GB is a good performer, in addition to being a cool and quiet runner. If you're in the market for a sub-$100 hard drive, this one is hard to go past.
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