Western Digital, or WD, has recently announced the world’s first true SSD+HDD Dual drive storage device – the WD Black2 dual drive. This unique storage device is basically a combination of a 120GB solid state drive and a 1TB hard disk drive, fused together into one 2.5-inch body. The concept may sound complicated, but it’s really simple once you understand it. Please continue reading below to find out what this WD Black2 Dual Drive is all about, its features, and I’m sure you’ll want to know its price as well.
Most mobile device (laptops, notebooks, Ultrabooks) or all-in-one machines have only 1 SATA slot. You can either upgrade its hard drive to a 1TB for a larger storage capacity, in the expense of speed since most 2.5-inch hard drive are only 54000RPM. Some are 7200 RPM but still not fast enough for heavy multimedia applications and even games. Most users would resort to a SSD, but the problem with SSD is that storage capacity is very limited. You can try to buy a 1TB Samsung 840 Evo SSD but it’s a very expensive drive, and not all could afford one. Don’t you wish sometimes that your laptop or AIO PC has two storage slots? Well this is exactly where he WD Black2 comes in.
The WD Black2, like I said earlier, is actually two storage drives (a 120GB SSD and 1TB HDD) fused into one physical drive that share the same SATA port, but they are different entities or physical drives. This dual drive is not to be confused with hybrid drives or SSHD, they are different. There are just HDD with an SSD cache to slightly speed things up. In the case of the WD Black2, when installed, Windows will detect and see them as two separate drives. Windows will see a 120GB and another 1TB physical partition.
If you look at the picture below, the WD Black2 is composed of 1x 120GB and 1x 1TB physical drives. But because both pieces are so thin, when connected to each other via a port, they look like one single 2.5-inch drive. According to WD, writes speeds of the 120GB can reach up to 140MB/s, while read speeds is up to 350MB/s.
Image credits TechReport
WD Black2 Benchmarks and Reviews
TechReport was able to grab a sample of the WD Black2 dual drive. The 120GB SSD portion uses JMicron’s JMF667H controller with 20-nm MLC NAND. And according to TechReport’s reviewer, the sequential read speeds can go up to 420MB/s, while writes speeds is around 127MB/s, via CrystalDiskMark tests, and goes a little bit higher with random 4KB tests. Not bad, considering that those speeds are faster than 54000RPM drives or even 72000RPM hard drives. However, it was mentioned that when both drives where accessed, the 120GB and 1TB, performance was decreased evidently. This might be due to the fact they both share the same connection.
Now how about its price? And what are the alternatives to this type of solution.
Price and Where to Buy
While the WD Black2 seems to be a really good solution specially for those mobile devices having only one SATA port, the Black2 comes with a hefty price tag of $299, that comes with a 5 year limited warranty. That could be a little bit expensive for most of the consumers. So let’s take a look at some options here for those mobile devices that don’t have a spare SATA port for storage.
UPDATE: The WD Black2 Drive is now available. You can grab one for $181 here.
Hybrid Drive or SSHD Storage Solution
Seagate 1TB ST1000LM014 – $114.95
Seagate 1TB STBD1000400 – $122.99
Definitely a cheaper solution for a bit faster performance compared to a pure 54000 RPM hard drive alone. Now how about if we get a 120GB SSD and a 1TB external drive instead?
120GB SSD + External 1TB HDD Solution
Getting a Samsung 840 Evo for $89.99 and pair it with a WD My Passport Ultra 1TB USB 3.0 Black for $69.99 would only cost you around $160 USD in total. Even if you get a SanDisk Ultra Plus 256GB for $164.18 and pair it with the My Passport, it would still be a cheaper solution. But then again you are already using an external drive and there are some cons that come with using and external drive.
For those Laptops or Ultrabooks and other mobile devices that comes with a spare mSATA port you can get a 1TB HGST Traverlstar 7200RPM 2.5-inch drive for $87.20 and a 128GB MyDigitalSSD mSATA SSD for only $97.95. This is a good solution only if your Laptop or Ultrabook has an mSATA port.
The WD Black2 is a great product solution, and kudos for WD. Honestly I’m a little bit biased when it comes to hard drives since I always put WD first into consideration. But if only WD could lower its price just a little bit, I’m sure this would be a great solution for mobile devices with only a single SATA port. Perhaps other storage manufacturers would produce their own SSD+HDD dual drives, then competition will start to rise, and prices will start to fall soon.