Today we are taking a look at some of Western Digital?s high end 4 TB drives: the WD4000FYYZ RE enterprise drive, the WD4001FAEX Black Series consumer drive, and the WD4003FZEX Black Series consumer drive. Each one of these drives is designed to provide excellent performance and speeds while still maintaining reliability.

The consumer drives are currently retailing for approximately $266 (FAEX at $266 and FZEX at $267), whereas the enterprise drive (FYYZ) is retailing for $390. The question becomes: is it worth spending extra for the enterprise drive to get better performance?

The drives will be referred to by their letters for the duration of this article: the FYYZ is the enterprise drive, the FAEX and FZEX are consumer drives, though the FZEX is a newer model.

The specifications for each are as follows:

WD4001FAEX:

  • Interface – SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Capacity – 4TB
  • RPM – 7200 RPM
  • Cache – 64MB
  • Average Latency – 4.2ms
  • Load/Unload Cycles – 300,000

WD4003FZEX:

  • Interface – SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Capacity – 4TB
  • RPM – 7200 RPM
  • Cache – 64MB
  • Load/Unload Cycles – 300,000

WD4001FYYZ:

  • Interface – SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Capacity – 4TB
  • RPM – 7200 RPM
  • Cache – 64MB
  • Load/Unload Cycles – 600,000

We?ll begin by taking a look at AIDA64?s Read Test suite.

We see the FAEX providing a top linear read of 150.4 MB/s, a random read of 140.1 MB/s, and buffered read of 340.2 MB/s. It has an average read access of 15.98 ms.

The FZEX provides a top linear read of 178.6 MB/s, a random read of 117.8 MB/s, and a buffered read of 351.6 MB/s. It has an average read access of 12.07 ms.

The FYYZ enterprise drive has a top linear read of 171.0 MB/s, a random read of 148.8 MB/s, and buffered read of 345.2 MB/s. It has an average read access of 12.19 ms.

The FYYZ clearly stomps the last gen FAEX, but the current gen FZEX proves to be more than a match for the enterprise drive, winning in all read tests except for random read, in which it came in 3rd place behind even the last gen FAEX.

Next we ran the drives through CrystalDiskMark, running them at the default settings of 5 passes and 1000 MB files.

The FAEX topped out with a sequential read of 152.0 MB/s and a sequential write of 152.9 MB/s.

The FZEX maxed out with a sequential read of 188.2 MB/s and a sequential write of 182.5 MB/s.

The FYYZ finished with a sequential read of 176.6 MB/s and a sequential write of 171.8 MB/s.

The results were consistent with what we saw in AIDA64, the FYYZ enterprise beat the FAEX consumer drive, but lost to the latest FZEX consumer drive in sequential reads and writes. However, the FYYZ took the top spot for 512K reads and writes, as well as 4K and 4K QD32 reads and writes.

In terms of performance, the latest gen consumer drive FZEX clearly could hold its own against the much pricier FYYZ enterprise drive. The FZEX dominated sequential reads and writes, but couldn?t quite match the FYYZ on small files and random reads and writes. The previous gen FAEX still had respectable numbers, but considering it currently retails for $1 less than the newer FZEX, it doesn?t seem worth it.

The other thing to keep in mind when choosing a drive is that Western Digital?s enterprise drives are meant to be constantly in use, 24/7. The consumer drives are rated for 300,000 load/unload cycles, whereas the enterprise drives are are rated for double that at 600,000 load/unload cycles. This means the enterprise drive is guaranteed to have a longer use-life than a consumer drive under identical conditions.

Ultimately, the consumer has to determine what their use is for the hard drive they will be purchasing. If they expect to be dealing with large files written and read sequentially, the new FZEX is the clear choice. If they plan on running the drive as part of a server or have lots of small files constantly being read and written all over the disk, then the FYYZ might be worth the difference in price. One thing is certain though, all of these drives perform well, and the consumer will end up with a solid, reliable, and quick product regardless of which one of these Western Digital drives they choose.