It's been some time since we last reviewed a SATA hard drive, in part because innovation in this segment has been almost at a standstill over the past year or so. Evidently, the rapid development of SSDs and the performance focus on that market has stolen our attention span as far as storage is concerned.
But as much as SSDs continue to become more attractive and affordable solutions, they still have some way to go before replacing hard drives. Price and storage capacity in today's HDDs make for an extremely low cost per gigabyte when compared to SSDs.
Even at $400 (Amazon is currently selling the 4TB Black for just $332), the WD Black 4TB comes at just 10c per gigabyte, whereas the Samsung SSD 840 Pro 512GB will set you back $1.17 per gig, making it 12x more expensive.
Comparing the performance of the Black 4TB to other hard drives it becomes clear Western Digital has developed a very speedy, high capacity drive. Unfortunately we don’t yet have a 4TB version of the WD RE, or more importantly, the Hitachi Deskstar 7K4000 4TB which can be had for ~$305.
With that kind of competition, pricing becomes a big factor to consider. The WD Black 4TB is selling upwards of the $350 mark at many retailers, Newegg included. Before posting this however Amazon was stocking the drive, honoring the $339 MSRP, while many other major online retailers didn’t carry any stock.
Given a little more time (the drive was announced a month ago) we expect pricing to stabilize and the WD Black 4TB should become more widely available at ~$330. This is a slight premium over the Hitachi competition. So is the WD Black worth the extra money?
Without the Hitachi drive on hand it is hard to say, that said, given our past experience with smaller Deskstar 7K4000 and WD Black hard drives, we tend to believe spending that little bit extra is worth it. In the past we have found the Black drives to be faster and more reliable, and looking at feedback online from owners of each drive, this also seems to be the general consensus.
Introduced some 4 years ago, the Black series (formerly Caviar Black) has been held in high regard by the enthusiast community and they have managed to further improve the reputation of this series with every new release. Western Digital has achieved this by filtering down technologies from the more expensive Velociraptor and RE series and we again see this with the WD Black 4TB which borrows many features from the RE 4TB.
Overall we feel the WD Black 4TB presents a great balance of performance and capacity, and if the MSRP is met, price as well. With a massive 4TB capacity, consistently strong performance, quiet operating volume and a 5-year warranty we strongly recommend the WD Black 4TB to anyone looking for a high capacity internal storage device.
Pros: Enormous capacity without sacrificing performance. Suggested price point is reasonable. Solid operation, quiet drive and a 5-year warranty to boot.
Cons: Price is a concern if sold above MSRP. Might be a bit slower than similar drives using 1TB platters.