Western Digital Special Edition 8MB Cache Hard Drive

I originally passed on this one when I saw it on special with a rebate (I hate rebates, you have to fill in forms, sometimes they don’t like PO Boxes, you have to send in receipts....they’re a pain in kazoo) and instead bought the 60GB 2MB cache 7200 ATA drive which has an instant rebate. I had to go out and buy this one for the Pinnacle Studio Deluxe as the new 60GB drive was half the speed necessary to work with the Studio Deluxe (as it turns out the 80GB is still a few point short of making the grade in CPU mode).

For the price difference (the 60GB drive was around $130 while the 80GB drive is $190) and the feature differences I really regret not getting the 80GB drive to begin with (with the rebate it was $130, now the rebates are gone)!

This drive is three times as fast at reading and almost twice as fast in writing, based on the Pinnacle Studio Deluxe internal test parameters when using the system processor (CPU and mine is a P3 800 MHz, so a more modern 2 GB P4 should deliver even faster results) but only marginally better in DMA (or UDMA) mode -- which by-passes the CPU and takes data directly from the buss. Here the 8 MB drive did a respectable 24 Mbps while the 2MB drive did 22 Mbps. To get more throughput in DMA mode would probably require faster seek times and RPMs, with a 10,000 RPM drive delivering close to or above the 28 Mbps requires for HDTV data transfers.

Other critics hail it as being the fastest drive you can buy, some say it is faster than an SCSI drive, they’re probably correct. Again, as with the Pinnacle Studio Deluxe, your mother board can hinder the read/write speeds, you really need a more modern ATA100 complaint board to fully reach the potentials of this drive, but in the DMA mode this is a non-issue.

Most hard drives have a 2MB cache, this one (make sure it is the “Special Edition”) has 8MB which is unheard of and runs at 7200 RPM, which makes it great for video, audio, CD-R burning and photograph work.

If you are in need of a ultra fast hard drive this unit will give you all the bang you need for the buck as compared to lower priced unit, but in my tests I found the average application didn't even need the power offered by the 2 MB 7,200 RPM drives. So from a consumer point of view, even if you are doing video capture work if your computer can handle AT66 standards a 4,500 RPM 2 MB cache hard drive in UDMA mode should do the trick. For a direct, through the CPU transfer of video you would need the 8 MB 7,200 RPM drive in addition to a CPU running above 1 GB in speed. Anything less will hinder the throughput of this faster, high memory drive.

For my Studio Deluxe video this particular drive will allow 5 hours and 30 minutes of full motion video recording (they don’t recommending getting a larger drive at it tends to run slower), which is an hour and a half more than additional recording. That, plus at least twice the speed at only another $50 in price tends to make this Special Edition 80GB 8MB cache drive a nicely priced value, if your really need that extra speed in CPU mode. If you can find it at a discount price (I got mine for $160) get it! At the store they were pushing a 100 GB Western Digital with 2MB for only $120, but that drive will only perform as good as the 60GB I bought, if not worse. If speed is a requirement look no further than any of the 8MB Special Editions!


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