Western Digital Black 4TB Hard Drive Review

Author: AkG
Date: December 3, 2012
Product Name: Black Edition 4TB
Part Number: WD4001FAEX
Warranty: 5 Years
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Recently Western Digital was able to show that they were well on their way towards recovering from the disastrous flooding in Thailand. Their lineup was reinvigorated by the introduction of an ultra fast VelociRaptor and the new RE series which pushed capacities to the astounding 4TB mark. Throughout this year, Western Digital moved forward on a number of fronts but the popular consumer-oriented Black series remained untouched but that all changed about two weeks ago when the Black Edition 4TB was unveiled.

The Black Edition 4TB (which is sold under the WD4001FAEX moniker) is currently considered Western Digitalís flagship model despite there being more expensive and higher performing drives in their lineup. Simply put, the Blacks are supposed to be the optimal combination of performance and capacity for the enthusiast market and this new modelís price reflects this mentality. At $339 it may be only $40 more than the 3TB version and a bit less than two Black Edition 2TB drives but the Black 4TB still represents a substantial investment. However, the competition currently doesnít have anything that can compare in this capacity segment and the Black is still a good $120 less than the 4TB RE drive

In the past, consumers looking for such a large quantity of storage either had to make do with multiple drives in a RAID configuration or even live with the inherent limitations of Raid Edition models which arenít made for mass market consumption in the first place. Thankfully, those days are now over. Western Digital has not only created a 4TB drive with previously unheard of performance in the home user marketplace, but they have also included nearly all of the RE series features. The only Ďmissingí are the ultra long factory testing and the shortened TLER, two things most consumers will not miss as the Black still has an industry leading 5 year warranty.

As with the 4TB RE, Western Digital has once again foregone the use of 1TB platters for this behemoth. Rather than requiring 4 platters to hit the impressive 4TB mark, the 4TB Black uses five 800GB platters to reach its capacity. This does have the unfortunate consequence of making it a touch more power hungry that it otherwise could be but according to Western Digital, the 5-platter design optimizes longevity.

From the exterior there is very little to differentiate the Black and RE versions other than the label. Both use the same 3.5Ē standard form factor, both use silver with black highlights and both even use a similarly sized PCB.

Even from an architectural perspective, there are very few differences between the Black and RE series. Like the 4TB RE, Western Digital may not have bestowed 1TB platters upon this drive, but they have given it dual actuator technology, 64MB of cache, and a Marvell dual core controller. The 64MB of cache is present in the form of a single Winbond W9751G6JB-25, 64MB DDR2-800 IC which has 5-5-5 timings.

To some, a 4TB Black Edition may make the more expensive RE look like an overpriced option but that isnít necessarily the case. Western Digitalís goal is to continue a strict market to market segmentation so products from one area donít overlap those from another. With a 1.2 million hour MTBF rating, extended factory testing and numerous other features specifically target enterprise clients, the RE will remain the go-to option for datacenters and other mission critical environments. Meanwhile, the Black edition may have slightly more pedestrian runtime figures but it should still be the perfect option for capacity-starved enthusiasts.

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