The newer products with SATA600 have proved to be generally faster than their counterparts with the older interface. On the other hand, we can't name an overall winner as all of the tested products have performed quite well. Unfortunately, we couldn't benchmark Barracuda XT and ES series drives for this review, which may provoke the false impression that Seagate is much worse than Western Digital, but the positioning of HDDs should also be taken into account.
The RE4 WD1003FBYX is very good. It hardly has any rivals under high loads but you have to pay for this. We mean, literally. It is twice as expensive as both the old and new Barracuda LP disks, for example. It is going to be the perfect choice as a high-capacity RAID disk which is fast but not necessarily as fast as SAS disks. This is the application it was developed for, after all. But when it comes to home computers, the RE4 WD1003FBYX doesn’t look optimal. It may fall behind other HDDs at medium and low loads typical of home applications while costing much more than them. By the way, if storage capacity is not a critical factor (e.g. you use a different disk to store your data files on), you may want to prefer an SSD which is going to be even more expensive but also much faster. What we're driving at is that if you don't know exactly why you need the RE4 WD1003FBYX of all the models available, you may want to find a more optimal disk for your particular system.
We’d recommend the Caviar Black WD1002FAEX as a very fast HDD. It is occasionally faster even than the RE4 WD1003FBYX but costs considerably less. It is clearly better than the older Caviar Black WD1001FALS in most of the tests, so we don’t think the latter is worth buying.
Comparing the Caviar Blue WD10EALS and the Caviar Blue WD10EALX, we’d prefer the newer HDD, too. The WD10EALX is as fast as the previous-generation model but features an excellent price/capacity ratio. It is a well-balanced product offering a rather high performance at a more or less affordable price. Take it if you just need a good HDD.
Well, we can say the same about the 7200.12 series from Seagate. Far from impressive in our tests, they are actually not much slower than the Caviar Black series in most of them. Moreover, they were much faster than their opponents in IOMeter’s multithreaded reading test which seems to be the closest to real-life loads (it is the same as reading several files scattered around the hard disk).
And if you need a passive storage device for your multimedia collection, the Barracuda LP is going to be a perfect choice. The ST1000DL002 model is quite impressive at low loads and, thanks to Smart Align technology, has very few, if any, problems because of its 4KB sectors. The Barracuda LP ST31000520AS, on its part, was the slowest but also the most economical disk in this review. Thus, it has lower cooling requirements.