Noticeably missing from the Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD4000KD HDD's specifications is support for Native Command
Queuing (NCQ). The benefits of NCQ have been discussed previously, but in essence NCQ
allows the hard drive to retrieve data more efficiently off the disk. If you
would like to read about the benefits of NCQ, check out the Gigabyte GA-K8NXP-9 motherboard review
where we go into depth on the technique.
The official reason from Western Digital about the lack of NCQ support (even though most manufacturers have jumped on board already) is because none of Intel's Southbridge chipsets support this feature. Considering Intel systems make up the majority of the market, and NCQ offers no real world performance gain, I suppose including NCQ support is not totally necessary.
WD SecureConnect Serial ATA
The Caviar SE16 WD4000KD we received for testing
included the companies $9.99 beefy blue WD SecureConnect Serial ATA
cable. Anyone who has used a Serial ATA hard drive knows well how flimsy the connectors can be if bent at the socket. The SecureConnect cable (which is sold separately) is said to be 500% firmer than the average SATA cable. With the two large plastic inserts at the end of the cable, there is no way it can come lose from the drive accidentally.
The WD SecureConnect cable doesn't supply power to the hard drive, so remember to plug in
that molex power connector as well. We've been using them around the PCSTATS labs for
around half a year, they certainly feel a lot sturdier than regular Serial ATA
cables and are much less susceptible to damage, which is always nice.
|| Experts Tip: Updating IDE/Serial ATA Controller
The Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD4000K is a pretty fast drive by default, however if the Serial
ATA Hard Drive controller is using an older driver it could potentially be
costing a little in the way of performance. Updating to
the latest driver takes just a second, and can potentially
increase performance as well as work out compatibility problems between devices.
To find the right driver to download, you first need to know
what controller the HDD is connected to. Go to the Device manager (right click
on the My Computer icon and go to Properties, then select the Hardware tab
and click the Device Manager button), expand the "IDE ATA/ATPI
controllers" branch and double click on the controller the "Western Digital
WD4000K" is connected to. Once you know the name, go to the manufacturer's
website and download the appropriate driver for that controller. Then, go back to
the "Device Manager" and double click on the controller name. Click the
Driver tab and the "Update Driver..." button, follow the instructions and
you're set! If you are not sure how to update drivers, be sure to check
out the PCSTATS driver update guide .
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Western Digital Support and Software
When it comes to a device as complex as a hard drive, it
is not if it will fail, rather when. Like all the hard drive manufacturers, Western Digital has well developed easy to use service and support options. From accessible software to a completing an RMA process within five minutes, you can even give Western Digital a call if there are problems.
Having RMA'ed hard drives to every major manufacturer, I
can say that Western Digital's level of customer service is excellent. Incidently, if it comes time to RMA a hard drive and you have selected an 'advanced RMA,' Western Digital even goes to the trouble of including a return address sticker with the replacement drive. A couple of support emails are also sent with the latter informing users that the replacement drive has been received by WD.
Another handy bit of kit is the Lifeguard Tools CD, let's run through what does next.