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Western Digital Caviar 250GB

The Western Digital (WD) Caviar 250GB WD2500JD drive is the Serial ATA version of the WD2500JB drive that was introduced in the first half of 2003. The suffix on a WD model code is the key to understanding the specification of the drive, so a drive with a BB suffix is ATA100 and has 2MB cache, while a JB has 8MB cache and is often termed Special Edition. Now we have JD drives that have 8MB cache and a Serial ATA interface, but fundamentally these drives are very similar.

All the above drives operate at 7,200rpm and use a ball bearing motor but we can't claim that the WD2500JD we tested sounded any louder than its Fluid Dynamic Bearing (FDB) competition. Nevertheless, we understand that WD has plans to introduce PD suffix drives that will incorporate FDB bearings.

As the JD drive started life as an ATA100 drive WD has been obliged to incorporate a bridge chip to the Serial ATA connector and given the background to the drive it comes as little surprise to see that there are both types of power connectors on the back of the casing.

250GB is a sizeable capacity, yet WD manages to get away with only three platters and six heads, which equates to 83GB per platter. This areal density is fairly typical of the current state of the art and is a big step on from the 20GB per platter that WD was using in 2000 in its WD400BB model.

Although the WD2500JB is effectively a cobbled together Serial ATA drive, it has high areal density and a decent pedigree. These qualities show in our HD Tach tests where the read speed starts high and then dips very little. The line on the graph is notably flat and the drive scored a high average read speed. The write speed was less impressive, but it still managed to match the Maxtor DiamondMax 9 Plus, although the Seagate 7200.7 beat it comfortably.

No doubt the Random Access Time of 11.6ms was helping to keep this venerable hard drive in the hunt, but we were surprised by the results of our file copying test. The WD was slower than the Maxtor and Seagate in both the reading and writing tests, which is a divergence from the HD Tach results. The WD is only some ten seconds slower than we expected, but the gap in performance is clear to see.

WD charges a hefty premium for a Serial ATA drive, just like Maxtor, so the 250GB JB drive costs £205 while this JD drive is £240. That's a high price to pay for the privilege of using a slim connection cable and the 96p per GB cost makes this drive less desirable than the Maxtor or Seagate alternatives.
The WD2500JD is a good hard drive, but it could certainly do with the PD update and ideally a small price cut too.

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