WD Black2 Dual Drive Review

By on December 4, 2013, 1:12 AM

It's no secret that hard drives -- with or without RAID -- have long been the weakest link of an enthusiast PC but until somewhat recently flash-based alternatives weren't affordable enough for the masses. Granted, the price gap isn't as extreme as it once was, but many folks are still stuck with the limitations of one technology or the other. Laptop users, for instance, are often forced to pick between a snappier experience with less storage or a slower one with more. About $100 can buy a 120GB SSD or a 1TB HDD, but we're still dreaming about flash drives that match the price and capacity of conventional storage.

In the meantime, WD has come up with a solution for laptop users who have a single 2.5" bay (which is the vast majority of them). The company has developed a notebook drive that sports both a 120GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, though it's not a hybrid configuration such as Seagate's Momentus XT drives, which combine ample magnetic storage with a little NAND memory to cache frequently used data. The Black2 crams both technologies into one drive too, but it simply does what desktop users have been doing for years by making the flash portion a primary boot drive with the disks serving as bulk storage. The difference is that the Black2 only uses a single slot.

Read the complete review.




User Comments: 40

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cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Were any of the other drives in this comparison hybrids?

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Can you comment on subjective use? As in something like snappiness while using windows...?

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Were any of the other drives in this comparison hybrids?

There are no other hybrid drives like the Black2, unless you mean SSHD like the Seagate Momentus XT in which case the answer is no.

, post: 1363858, member: 169488"]Can you comment on subjective use? As in something like snappiness while using windows...?

The Black2 is very snappy when the OS is installed on the SSD portion of the drive, runs much like many of today's high speed SSDs thanks to the high read speed. However some tasks such as uncompressing large 3GB+ archives is much slower on the Black2 due to its poor write performance.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There are no other hybrid drives like the Black2, unless you mean SSHD like the Seagate Momentus XT in which case the answer is no.
Explain to me how a hybrid drive is more like non-hybrid drives than other hybrid drives? I'm perplexed at how you could even make such a statement. Both HDD and SSD are compared but yet the only other drives that are considered hybrid drives are not included in a hybrid review for comparison.

Am I mistaken in thinking this drive can also be manually configured as an SSHD?

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Explain to me how a hybrid drive is more like non-hybrid drives than other hybrid drives? I'm perplexed at how you could even make such a statement. Both HDD and SSD are compared but yet the only other drives that are considered hybrid drives are not included in a hybrid review for comparison.

Am I mistaken in thinking this drive can also be manually configured as an SSHD?

Yes you are mistaken that is not the case.

ikesmasher said:

Am I missing something?

This is a hard drive with a SSD and a HDD in it and both are read separately.

Other hybrid drives use the SDD part as some sort of cache for the HDD and is not a separate drive.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

Am I missing something?

This is a hard drive with a SSD and a HDD in it and both are read separately.

Other hybrid drives use the SDD part as some sort of cache for the HDD and is not a separate drive.

Correct, you must have read the review

Technically its just a drive with an SSD and a HDD in it but I get what you mean. Both of which can be accessed individually and appear in Windows as if they were two separate drives.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

it should not be marketed as a hybrid drive since a hybrid drive 'traditionally' uses the ssd portion as cache.

it is a two-in-one device, you have two fully functioning and separate drives in one neat package: ssd and hdd.

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

After reading the review (Which is a good one as usual), this drive seems to be very mediocre in terms of performance overall. I mean the 5400RPM drive is just for data so of course I wont shake a fist at that performance, but the SSD is the problem in my opinion. It seems that the SSD was a very poor performer compared to almost all other SSD's. Even though you can say its less than 27cents a gigabyte, I feel that the only advantage of this drive is the form factor (Which is the point of this drive so its got me there). I would have just hoped that this drive could have performed a little bit better on the SSD side to say this is an excellent deal, but as it is right now unless your crammed for space and don't want to spend the extra 50-100 bucks on a Samsung 500gb SSD or need more space than that, I don't see much of a point to this drive.

Guest said:

No mention of the fact that this is a Windows-only drive at the moment. Maybe some people might like to see that mentioned in the "Cons" section or at least somehwere in the review (1st page?)

Guest said:

A very good concept. Western digital is already making good conventional hard disks, I just hope they use a good SSD Controller and keep the firmware updated. This could get very competitive everywhere.

Guest said:

I know the review puts it way behind other SSD's and the HDD portion is under part, but put together I think I like this. The OS and apps would not be taking up disk time and heavy disk action would not be effecting OS action, I think it sounds like it would be a benefit to me.

Guest said:

I seen this the other day, it is a great idea although not completely new but pushing the existing concept further than anybody else.

It is just priced too high for it to get any traction I believe.

Guest said:

Yep it's about the same price as lower end 500GB SSD made by companies like ADATA and such.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

it should not be marketed as a hybrid drive since a hybrid drive 'traditionally' uses the ssd portion as cache.

it is a two-in-one device, you have two fully functioning and separate drives in one neat package: ssd and hdd.

I agree!

This is no hybrid drive, if it can not be configured to cache the SSD. It is only a combo drive. With that said; I'd rather have a drive like this, or the option to configure a hybrid drive this way.

If this drive is going to be labeled as a hybrid, it should also be compared to other hybrids. There are reasons why people purchase SSD and HDD in one package. These reasons should not be forgotten in comparison test.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

This is no hybrid drive, if it can not be configured to cache the SSD. It is only a combo drive. With that said; I'd rather have a drive like this, or the option to configure a hybrid drive this way.

Just for the record WD doesn't call this a hybrid drive, they call it a dual drive. The editor added hybrid drive to the title of this review but we later fixed it.

If this drive is going to be labeled as a hybrid, it should also be compared to other hybrids. There are reasons why people purchase SSD and HDD in one package. These reasons should not be forgotten in comparison test.

Those reasons were discussed and were the main focus of this review.

What does the term hybrid mean anyway?

Any car that uses a fossil fuel engine with an electric motor is classified as a hybrid, despite how the setup works.

Technically this is a hybrid drive as it does combine an SSD and HDD in the one package. It just doesn't work like a traditional hybrid which uses the SSD as a cache, a method which offers poor performance in my opinion and should be avoided.

Guest said:

I have a similar setup in my laptop (a 13" Vaio from 2010). 2x64GB SSD's in RAID0 coupled with a 1TB Hitachi drive for bulk storage. Really nice to use, you get the power and speed benefits of an SSD with a lot of storage when you need it. Solutions like this drive are excellent for people who don't have the space to house more than one disk. Sounds a lot more interesting than hybrid drives!

1 person liked this | DKRON said:

Slow, but still perfect for ultrabooks and notebooks which only have small HDD space. Just have to wait for a price drop

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Slow, but still perfect for ultrabooks and notebooks which only have small HDD space.
Which should be a huge factor in Hybrid comparisons.

Just for the record WD doesn't call this a hybrid drive, they call it a dual drive. The editor added hybrid drive to the title of this review but we later fixed it.
OK, my point is now void.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is a great drive for a laptop. I wonder why they called it a Black drive though. The platter speed is slow. It should the Blue^2. The Black^2 should have a 7200RPM platter. I guess that isnt possible yet.

DKRON said:

This is a great drive for a laptop. I wonder why they called it a Black drive though. The platter speed is slow. It should the Blue^2. The Black^2 should have a 7200RPM platter. I guess that isnt possible yet.

Very true, I was expecting more performance from a black

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

It's on sale at newegg today for $299

[link]

MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

This drive is a huge piece of shit for $159... just my honest opinion.

if cost per GB is your main concern just stick to 1TB drives in your server rack of a tower. If you want the performance of an SSD, go get one. This pos drive is going to die in 3-4 years just like every other physical drive out there.

Hybrid drives lack the throughput of an SSD, they are not even close. 140mb/s VS 550mb/s - how can you look at those figures and not realize what a waste of money this is.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

MonsterZero you obviously didn't read a single word of the review as its clear you have no idea what this product is intended for or what it even does. Read the review and if you still think your comments make sense I will be surprised

MonsterZero MonsterZero said:

MonsterZero you obviously didn?t read a single word of the review as its clear you have no idea what this product is intended for or what it even does. Read the review and if you still think your comments make sense I will be surprised

Steve, its a great review by the way, by all means this is my opinion, please take it with a grain of salt.

Main points of your article

- Merged SSD+HDD in one drive (my opinion - point of failure in the HDD)

- The Black2's flash drive has sluggish write performance compared to modern SSDs

- 350MB/s and a write speed of 140MB/s.

- the benchmarks show low access/seek/write/read levels compared to other SSDs

For $300 I just cant justify purchasing one.

Staff
Steve Steve said:

MonsterZero the problem with all of your points is that you have completely missed the point of this product. You are certainly entitled to your opinion and we even appreciate you discussing your thoughts with us. That said I do feel you have missed the point of this product and I will now try and explain why...

You first said "If cost per GB is your main concern just stick to 1TB drives in your server rack of a tower. If you want the performance of an SSD, go get one." That statement right there shows you have missed the point of this product.

From the first paragraph of the conclusion...

"The WD Black2 is designed specifically as an upgrade for laptops with a single drive bay and it's somewhat pointless in any situation where separate SSDs and HDDs can be used in tandem. People who fit the usage case ultimately have a choice between one storage tech or another, and this is where the Black2 presents itself as a viable option -- the only option, in fact, as no other product offers what it does."

So as you can see this product is not designed for a server rack or a tower PC, it is designed for laptop users limited to one drive bay slot. In other words it's for users that can't simply install a hard drive and an SSD separately.

You also said "Hybrid drives lack the throughput of an SSD, they are not even close. 140mb/s VS 550mb/s - how can you look at those figures and not realize what a waste of money this is." This is not a hybrid drive, it's an SSD and a HDD in the one package. Yes the SSD is slow compared to modern high-end solutions but it is still worlds faster than the fastest HDD's out there and that is kind of the point.

No idea why you are questioning reliability. No one knows how these will perform over time but if WD's track record is anything to go by the Black2 will offer excellent reliability.

Finally if you think the Black2 is a waste of money at $159 ... well I don't even know what to say really. At that price it would be a must have item for all laptop users and even some desktop users.

Guest said:

This product is a joke right? savvy consumers have been hoping for just this kind of device since SSDs first became viable. WD is the one who doesn't understand the target market. Slapping together the crappiest components they could dredge up and calling it a WD Black product? Garbage controller, cheap memory chips, the lowest end platters they could find in the warehouse. Don't they have a single 1TB platter in 5400RPM at least. You know, so it will fit in all the high end ultralites. Only geeks will understand and be willing to pay for this and they are not going to be fooled by this shiny boxed POS. Please tell me what Black product has less than 7200RPM. Way to trash your own brand WD. Techspot's reputation is not looking too good either for not taking them to task. This could have been so good. Too bad the bean counters won out in the end.:'(

Staff
Steve Steve said:

@ random guest rant: Are there any 1TB 7200 RPM drives that are just 7mm thick? The answer is no so why would you expect the Black2 to break new ground here. There is nothing cheap or crappy about the hardware used. You could argue that the SSD controller is slow and we would agree...

"It's not like the Black2 is cheap by any means. At $300, you're paying a premium to have the SSD and HDD merged into a single drive. A 1TB notebook drive only costs about $130 and a decent 120GB SSD can be had for less than $100. WD's combo offering isn't particularly fast, either. The Black2's flash drive has sluggish write performance compared to modern SSDs, even mainstream-oriented series like the Evo 840."

Right from the review that you claim hurts Techspot's reputation :S (massive eye roll).

Anyway funny rant.

Guest said:

"You could argue that the SSD controller is slow and we would agree..."

Is there a slower controller they could have used? In what is named as a premium device. Would a single 5400RPM platter have made it possible to get to 7mm? You think it's acceptable to call it a Black drive with the performance it provides?"Sluggish", I'd say dismal. Call it a rant all you want but IMO you went way to easy on them. You still haven't answered my question, what black product is less than 7200RPM. If you reread my comment you'll see I never said there was a 7mm 7200RPM drive. There's nothing wrong with the product, except perhaps price. Calling it a Black is WRONG.

PS Since when is to much to ask for one of the largest hard drive makers in the world to break new ground. They've got hundreds of design wins in their history.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Steve Steve said:

What constitutes as a "Black" product anyway? Is it just a 7200 RPM spindle speed? I hope not or there will never be a black SSD.

"Would a single 5400RPM platter have made it possible to get to 7mm?"

I am not quite sure what you are asking there. There are two platters in the Black2 and the issue likely isn't space but rather heat.

"You think it's acceptable to call it a Black drive with the performance it provides?"

Based on that criteria alone yes I do, it's technically the fastest Black drive to ever exist so I am not sure what your issue is.

"Sluggish, I'd say dismal."

It's worlds faster than a 2.5" HDD of any description and that's the point.

"Call it a rant all you want but IMO you went way to easy on them."

It is a rant, all feelings and no facts. Our job isn't to go easy or hard on them, it is to present the facts and discuss them and we did that.

"You still haven'tanswered my question, what black product is less than 7200RPM."

Didn't realize there was a question in that text block sorry. The answer is a black product with an SSD :S

"There's nothing wrong with the product, except perhaps price."

And the dismal performance don't forget.

"Calling it a Black is WRONG."

Which color/shade would you like?

"PS Since when is to much to ask for one of the largest hard drive makers in the world to break new ground."

Umm ... they just did LOL

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Damn @Steve, I'm glad you didn't dissect my comment like that. +1 for tolerating all us id-iots.

1 person liked this |
Staff
Steve Steve said:

Damn @Steve, I'm glad you didn't dissect my comment like that. +1 for tolerating all us id-iots.

I have to take some of the blame since we mislead you into thinking WD were marketing this as a hybrid drive

Guest said:

"What constitutes as a "Black" product anyway? Is it just a 7200 RPM spindle speed? I hope not or there will never be a black SSD."

WD states:

WD has redefined the PC with the next big thing in ultra-fast performance storage.

and

WD BlackČ is built by fusing two world-class storage devices together

Is the SSD world class? Is the HDD world class?No. And there is a Black SSD, this is it and it's not up to the best of class standard there previous black products were.

"I am not quite sure what you are asking there. There are two platters in the Black2 and the issue likely isn't space but rather heat."

I thought the question was quite simple. One platter takes up less space than Two. This would make it possible to use a smaller enclosure with the same thermals. The single platter would also provide better performance.

"Based on that criteria alone yes I do, it's technically the fastest Black drive to ever exist so I am not sure what your issue is."

The bar is low considering the worst SSD is way faster than any HDD. The question is how does WD's best compare in the marketplace. There SSD implementation clearly does not.

"It is a rant, all feelings and no facts. Our job isn't to go easy or hard on them, it is to present the facts and discuss them and we did that."

Your job, when you present a conclusion, is to interpret the facts and come up with a value proposition. Which is what I did. I pointed out that WD did not used the premium components they could have and it resulted in a lacklustre product.

"Didn't realize there was a question in that text block sorry. The answer is a black product with an SSD :S"

Blaming my paragraph structure for your comprehension deficiencies is childish. I use these ??? when I'm asking a question.

"And the dismal performance don't forget."

The bad performance can be acceptable if the price is low enough.

"Which color/shade would you like?"

I've got better things to do than explain branding to you. I think you know better.

"Umm ... they just did LOL"

Your the one who said "The answer is no so why would you expect the Black2 to break new ground here."

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Is the SSD world class? Is the HDD world class?No. And there is a Black SSD, this is it and it's not up to the best of class standard there previous black products were.
How naive people are in thinking two world class products can be merged using the same space without compromise. This drive is a world class product even though there were compromises made through the merger. The "Black" labeling of this product, should only be compared to other dual drive solutions.

Your the one who said "The answer is no so why would you expect the Black2 to break new ground here."
You must love taking comments out of context. Breaking new ground was in reference to a 2.5 inch 1TB 7200 RPM drive. But yet they are breaking new ground by making a drive dual, which combines the SSD and HDD. The dual drive is new ground!

Staff
Steve Steve said:

</end rant>

He has told his story and everyone else can see it.

Guest said:

I never said a drive of this nature would not require compromises. What I have been pointing out is that it looks like WD made compromises that were not necessary and then proceeded to market it as a premium product. From their website "We took the challenge and made it our mission to design a storage solution that delivers the ultimate experience."

This product can and should be compared to any other 2.5inch drive. The black nameplate has always represented best in class or close to it. Their top tier consumer equipment.

Breaking new ground was in reference to a 7mm high 2.5 inch 1TB 7200 RPM drive with ONE platter and I never said one existed. They have those drives, apparently just not in 7mm.

I said "Don't they have a single 1TB platter in 5400RPM at least. You know, so it will fit in all the high end ultralites."

I still have no answer to this question.

Guest said:

It appears that WD, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi have all failed the produce a single platter 1TB 5400RPM hard drive at this stage of the game.

Thanks for the answer. /s

Jack Nathan Jack Nathan said:

It appears that WD, Seagate, Samsung and Hitachi have all failed the produce a single platter 1TB 5400RPM hard drive at this stage of the game.

Thanks for the answer. /s

You have just convince me not to buy this product :)

I will stick to the regular SSDs for now.

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I will stick to the regular SSDs for now.
Those who choose this product would likely be those who wouldn't have a choice. That is if they wanted both, SSD and HDD in a single space. If you choose otherwise, then obviously you didn't need this product.

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