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Western Digital Special Edition Caviar Hard Disk Drives ATA/100, 7,200 RPM, 8 MByte Buffer
Last updated: 12/2/02

One often thinks in the terms of a motherboard, processor, or memory upgrade to boost the performance of a not so old computer. Western Digital has added another and perhaps more significant element to the equation: the eight MByte buffer in the Special Edition Caviar ATA/100 Hard Disk Drives. While increasing the buffer size to boost the performance of the hard disk subsystem of a computer is not a new idea, Western Digital has done in a big way by quadrupling the two MByte buffer employed by most 7,200 RPM drives.

In the box. The retail version of the drive is packaged in an attractive box with heavy-duty plastic restraints to reduce the possibility of damage during transport. The drive comes with everything but the Philips head screwdriver needed for installation in most computers:

  • Cable
  • Data Lifeguard floppy disk with...
  • EZ-Install

  • Diagnostics

  • BIOS Check

  • Ultra ATA/100 Management
  • Quick Install poster
  • Installation Guide
  • 80-conductor IDE Interface Cable
  • Even the screws and an extra jumper

Documentation and Software.  The documentation accompanying the retail version of the drives is really excellent.  One side of the amply illustrated Quick Install poster shows one how to do the hardware installation step-by-step.  The other side handles partitioning and formatting the drive with EZ-Install on the Data Lifeguard floppy.  The software will format the drive for FAT32 or FAT16, but not NTFS.  However, the Windows XP and 2000 Setups have the capability to convert FAT32 to NTFS formatted partitions.

Installation.  We had no problems with the physical installation of the 80 GByte WD800JB drive used for this review.  See our how to build your own computer articles for details.  We did have a problem installing an operating system on the drives.  This problem was not caused by the drive itself, but with shortcoming in Microsoft's fdisk program on a Windows 98 Startup floppy that we used to partition the drives; fdisk does not support hard disk drives with a capacity greater than 64 GBytes.  The solution was to use Free fdisk which supports drives up to 128 GBytes.  Or, use EZ-Install.  Once we got the drives partitioned and formatted correctly, installation of Windows 98, Me, 2000, and XP went without a hitch.  See our How to's and FAQs for details.  If you have problems visit the tech support section of Western Digital's web site which has an extensive set of FAQs and a comprehensive Knowledge Base.

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