Western Digital Caviar review: Western Digital Caviar

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Comprehensive quick-install guide; three-year warranty; speedy and silent.

The Bad Jumper diagram on drive label contradicts documentation.

The Bottom Line It isn't cheap, but Western Digital's Caviar Special Edition 250GB is the complete kit, with loads of capacity, excellent performance, and sterling service and support.

CNET Editors' Choice Jul '03

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The Western Digital Caviar Special Edition 250GB internal hard drive is more than just a big disk. At nearly $400, the Caviar Special Edition commands a premium price per gigabyte, but you get what you pay for in this case.

The upgrade kit includes a parallel ATA/100 PCI controller card, a ribbon cable, and screws. The same upgrade kit is also available with 80GB, 120GB, 160GB, 180GB, and 200GB hard drives. Western Digital does not provide separate kits for Macs.

Two floppies hold drivers and installation/diagnostic utilities. Western Digital puts all of the essentials right under your eyes. The poster-size setup sheet, though not model specific, gracefully leads you through several possible installation scenarios, and an additional insert outlines the vagaries of the 137GB-drive size limit. The only glitch was that the jumper-setting diagram on our test drive contradicted the correct diagram on the install sheet.

Like the Maxtor Ultra 7200 series 200GB, the Caviar Special Edition scorched CNET Labs' hard drive benchmarks. It wasn't quite as fast off the mark as the Ultra 7200 series, but its record-setting sustained data transfer rates make it a sure bet for almost any common storage application.

eTesting Labs' WinBench 99 version 2.0  (Longer bars indicate better performance)
Business Disk WinMark  
High-End Disk WinMark  
Western Digital Caviar Special Edition 250GB
10,100 
38,500 
Maxtor Ultra 7200 series 200GB
9,810 
42,200 

Find out more about how we test hard drives.

In the unlikely event that something goes wrong with the drive, the Caviar Special Edition is backed by a three-year warranty, a throwback to the good old days of lengthier coverage. Toll-free support is available Monday through Saturday, but after 90 days, a $14.95-per-incident fee applies.

If you simply want the most gigabytes for the dollar, you'll be better off with another drive, such as the less costly Ultra 7200 series. But price considerations aside, the Western Digital Caviar Special Edition 250GB is the complete kit, with immense capacity, serious speed, silent operation, clear documentation, and solid support.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Feb. 1, 2003
  • Form Factor 3.5" x 1/3H
  • Capacity 120 GB
  • Average Seek Time 8.9 ms
  • Spindle Speed 7200 rpm
  • Buffer Size 8 MB
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Interface Type ATA-100
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