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New AirPort looks show higher power, WD Caviar Green

updated 10:55 am EDT, Sat June 25, 2011

AirPort Extreme 2011 ups power, goes green

A pair of looks at the upgraded AirPort Extreme and Time Capsule has shown more upgrades and changes than first thought, including a slightly misleading view of the hard drive. One breakdown shared between AppleInsider and iFixit has shown that the new AirPort Extreme and presumably Time Capsule output about 2.8 times more power, at 392.64mW, than the previous version. A test wasn't immediately possible, but the potential existed for as much as a 60 percent range boost, though only in ideal conditions.

With the Time Capsule, however, a teardown has shown that the hard drive isn't quite what was claimed. Apple touts the hard drive as "server grade" but was found by MacBidouille to be using a Western Digital Caviar Green drive, an off-the-shelf disk meant for home computers and media servers. If Apple had gone directly to a server drive, it would have chosen the RE4-GP, a rough parallel in WD's lineup.

The Green is nonetheless more suited to the purposes of an always-on network storage drive with a dynamic spin speed meant to conserve power and keep the drive running at all times. Few functional differences also exist between the Caviar Green and the RE4-GP. Apple has most likely chosen the consumer drive to get the option of a 3TB disk where the RE4 line peaks at 2TB.

by MacNN Staff



  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Has anyone purchased one of these yet? I'd like to know if the increased power is due to a new antenna configuration that lets it support 450Mbps on 802.11n.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Price justification

    It's amazing that Apple can justify a $200 price difference between the 2tb and 3tb models. The cost of a 3tb Green drive is $140 at The 2tb drives are around $80, so the retail value difference between the two is about $60. A price of $299/$399 would make much more sense than $299/$499.

    I wonder if you could simply buy the 2tb model and open it and put in your own 3tb drive.

  1. KristerBister

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Add drive to TC

    No need to replace internal drive. Just add another one externally to your TC.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wow, I didn't know all along that...

    Server-grade drives were half the price of the _other_ type.

  1. facebook_Hero

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jun 2011


    Great drives!

    I am using these here in Nepal, as basically that's all there is. I initially thought these would be bad drives based on internet reviews, but based on actual use, they are totally silent, stay cool in the summer, and so far - knock on platters - reliable. They are also extremely lightweight compared to same size seagates, which I was using before.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re; Great drives

    They're not bad drives, but they are not suitable for start-up disks, in my experience. I had a green drive in my Mac and there were huge pauses at times, which turned out to be the disk spinning up.

    good for second drives, though, especially for holding media or doing backups.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Add drive to TC

    No need to replace internal drive. Just add another one externally to your TC.

    Yeah, nothing like ruining Apple's clean lines and styling by sticking an ugly external drive next to it, adding a boatload of cabling and power as well.

  1. BuzzMega

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Meaning of life

    Life in this case has to do with the meaning of the term "server-grade". As I understand it, this is an ever-shifting specification that is meant to suggest a performance capability over the life of the drive.

    When drives achieved a million-hour MTBF (mean time before failure) performance rating, the hard disks at that moment were comfortably "server-grade" meaning that they would just keep going, and going, and going... A million hours is 114 years.

    Today's Caviar Green drives appear to live up to this standard, but of course there are even better, potentially longer lasting drives in the Western Digital catalog. Ones that they deem to be "server-grade" by a more recent benchmark and/or standard. Okay, let's say the MTBF has doubled. Do I feel gypped when I get a drive that's "only" going to serve me for the next, say, five years with 2280% confidence, versus one with 4560% confidence?

    If the term "server-grade" is left up to the drive manufacturers, rather than being a rough approximation of the million hour benchmark, then every single new drive that bests previous products can be validly be denigrated as being "mere" consumer quality.

    I say let any drive with over a 0.5 million hour MTBF join the server-grade community. Or let us all agree to smash anybody who doesn't ship only the latest, greatest model and call them the goat.

  1. Jittery Jimmy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Server grade, yes. Server drive, no.

    Remember that server drives are designed to last a long time ... in a server. That means in a rack, in a data center, where the drive is never, ever moved. Where power is clean. And where the drive will likely never be spun down until it's retired.

    In contrast, the drive in an Airport has to have much better shock absorbing properties, and will likely see far more than one spin-down over its service life than any server drive.

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