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Updated 3/16/2009: Added LinkStation Live CHL in Performance Section

Western Digital MyBook World "White Bar"

At a Glance
Product Western Digital MyBook World "White Bar" (WDH1NC10000N)
Summary Much faster version of WD's best-selling single-drive NAS with media serving and more
Pros • 3 to 5 X faster than the original MBW
• Low Power consumption
• Very good performance vs. price
Cons • Only one USB port
• Problematic USB drive formatting
• Can't schedule USB backups

Spring is a time of rebirth and it seems that some NAS makers are taking the season to heart. I recently looked at Buffalo's successful revamping of its LinkStation Pro, which includes significantly improved performance. This time, it's Western Digital's popular MyBook World single-drive NAS.

The original MyBookWorld has always been a puzzle. It has been a top-seller—at least if Pricegrabber's "By Popularity" view can be trusted—but also one of the slowest NASes available. This seems to contradict my view (and that of many SmallNetBuilder readers) that high performance is an important NAS spec.

But despite WD's ability to sell a lot of pretty slow MBWs, there was someone in WD that believed that they needed to raise their game. Because, like the LinkStation Pro XHL, the new MBW features a 2 to 1 improvement in performance.

WD has not renamed the new MBW, since it has discontinued the original model that featured two concentric blue rings on its front panel. But the two new versions, which I'll refer to as "White Bar" (since that is the most identifiable feature) have been given new part numbers: WDH1NC10000 for the 1 TB version; and WDH1NC20000 for the 2 TB. WD sent the 1 TB version. (The old version part numbers all start with WDG1NC, so I suppose I could alternatively refer to the new models as the "H" series", but I think "White Bar" is snappier.)

The White Bar's glossy white enclosure is similar in size and design to the old model and it still has only a single USB 2.0 port on the rear panel (Figure 1). With the change from the blue rings to white bar, the power switch has been moved to the rear.

Rear panel

Figure 1: Rear panel

The XHL draws only 9 W when active and 5W when drive "standby" occurs after "two to seven minutes", according to the User Guide. You can only enable / disable the standby feature; you can't change the time. There is no fan, so the White Bar runs very quietly, with only occasional muted drive noise.

Internal Details

Getting the White Bar open was relatively easy once I discovered the two plastic tabs under the front two rubber feet. You need a bit of dexterity (and perhaps another pair of hands) to depress each tab and gently pry the case apart from the front edge.

Figure 2 shows the 1 TB WD Caviar "Green" (WD10EADS) drive, which is mounted on a sheet metal frame that is isolated from the plastic case by four rubber mounts. Since the Caviar "Green" also comes in a 2 TB flavor, I assume that's what is in the 2 TB version of the White Bar.

Inside view - drive side
Click to enlarge image

Figure 2: Inside view - drive side

Figure 3 shows the opposite side, revealing a spot for a fan that was apparently not needed and the board encased in a metal shield.

Inside view - board side
Click to enlarge image

Figure 3: Inside view - board side

Figure 4 shows the board after being detached from the drive (the SATA power / data connector is on the right) and removed from the shield. Instead of the Marvell "Kirkwood" processor used in the Buffalo XHL, WD has chosen to stay with Oxford Semiconductor (acquired by PLX Technology at the start of 2009).

WD MBW "white bar" board
Click to enlarge image

Figure 4: WD MBW "white bar" board

The Oxford OXE810DSE is a dual-channel version of the OXE810SE used in the Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive. Both Oxford devices include an 367 MHz ARM926EJ-S processor with 32 Kbyte caches & MMU and 128 Kbyte of on-chip SRAM. The only difference between them is that the 810DSE includes a second SATA port and a RAID controller supporting span, RAID 0 and 1.

This choice of the dual-port controller is a bit odd, given that the board has no room for a second SATA connector. But I'm sure WD must have a good reason, since I'm sure that the dual-port chip costs more than the single-port version.

Rounding our the design is only 128 MB of DDR2 RAM and an LSI ET1011C2 Gigabit Ethernet transceiver, which supports up to 9K jumbo frames. RAM size is significantly increased from the 32 MB in the original MBW and is also more than the 64 MB in the Iomega HMNHD. But it's half the 256 MB in the new Buffalo LinkStation Pro XHL. There is no flash on the board, so the OS must be on a drive partition.

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