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How To Choose The Best Drive For Your PC

How To Choose The Best Drive For Your PC

Western Digital colour-codes their hard disk drives not to make the drives look sexier, or to help sell more hard disk drives. They created the WD drive colours to help users understand the distinct advantages or use of each drive family. In this article, Western Digital will help us show you how to choose the best drive for your PC.

 

Every Drive Has A Purpose

There is no better person than Albert Chang, Senior Manager of Product Marketing at WD Asia Pacific, to explain why every drive has a purpose. He also points out a key point that users often forget to factor when consumers purchase a drive – the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

That’s right. The TCO is often overlooked, because that is ultimately the price you are paying over the lifetime of a drive. So make sure you don’t just buy the cheapest possible drive, because that may result in a high TCO… including the loss of priceless data.

 

Introducing The Five WD Drive Colours

Here is a quick primer on the five WD drive colours, and how they can help you determine the best drive for your PC.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each WD drive colour, and find out what advantages each drive colour boasts!

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WD Blue For Mainstream PCs

The WD Blue (Price Check) family are focused on offering highly-affordable drives with large storage capacities.

The WD Blue family does not just consist of hard disk drives. Western Digital also offers WD Blue SSHDs (solid state hybrid drives) and WD Blue SSDs (solid state drives).

For more information, you can read these WD Blue articles :

 

WD Black For High Performance PCs

The WD Black family (Price Check) is targeted at power users and gamers who want the fastest possible hard disk drives for their PCs.

The WD Black drives offer a much higher spindle speed, a very large cache, and a fast processor. For more information, you can read these WD Black articles :

 

WD Red For NAS Storage

The WD Red (Price Check) family of NAS drives is specifically designed for the “always on” environment of a NAS enclosure. They run cooler and vibrate less, greatly increasing their reliability and lifespan in NAS enclosures.

The WD Red drives are also optimised for NAS usage patterns (80% reads, 20% writes), so you will be able to access your files faster than with a regular hard disk drive.

For more information, you can read these WD Red articles :

 

WD Purple For Surveillance

WD Purple drives (Price Check) are designed to handle the high-temperature, “always-on” environment of the CCTV and DVR systems. Regular drives will fail quickly under such conditions.

They are also designed to handle multiple video streams without dropped frames, or gaps in recorded footage… and do this 24/7 without rest!

For more information on the WD Purple, and why it is the best drive for surveillance and CCTV systems, please read :

 

WD Gold For Datacenters

Qualified for nearline storage use in datacenters, datacenter hard disk drives like WD Gold (Price Check) are designed to offer high storage capacities at maximum performance and reliability while operating continuously 24 hours a day in large drive arrays.

So if you want nothing but the best drive to secure your company’s data, there can be no doubt that the WD Gold (Price Check) is the ultimate storage solution.

For more information, you can read these WD Gold articles :

 

What Is The Best Drive For YOU?

The WD drive colours make it extremely simple for you to choose the best drive for the job.

If you want the best hard disk drive for your gaming PC or laptop, the WD Black drives are your best options.

If you just need to store a large amount of data at very low cost, the WD Blue drives are your best bet.

If you have a NAS enclosure, you will not want to use any other drives but WD Red drives for better performance and reliability.

If you have a CCTV system, you will not want to use any other drives but WD Purple drives for stutter-free recording and a long lifespan.

If you are running a server, you will want the high performance and exceptional reliability of the WD Gold drives.

See? The WD drive colours make it extremely easy for you to find the best drive for the job!

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Disclosure

This post was sponsored by Western Digital.

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Mainstream Hard Disk Drives Keep Getting Better

Hard disk drives have become so commoditised that most users assume that one hard disk drive is no different from another. That’s not true, of course, because there are performance-grade drives, NAS-optimised drives, and even surveillance hard disk drives. Even mainstream hard disk drives have seen remarkable improvements in reliability and performance over the years.

 

Mainstream Hard Disk Drives In The Past

The hard disk drive industry is highly competitive, with many manufacturers competing for the same piece of pie. Hence, mainstream hard disk drives tend to be developed with cost in mind.

As a general rule, they tend to use older technologies, have lower storage capacities, lower performance, and shorter warranties.

 

Less Competition, But Better Drives

Over the years, hard disk drive manufacturers have fallen, merged, or been bought up by their rivals. Today, only three hard disk drive manufacturers remain – Western Digital, Seagate and Toshiba.

Paradoxically, the reduced competition was actually good for the consumer. There was less pressure to compete solely on price. This allowed better mainstream hard disk drives to be developed.

 

Mainstream Hard Disk Drives Today

Today, mainstream hard disk drives are at the forefront of hard disk drive technologies. Even the most basic models feature the latest interface, platter technology and come with large caches for higher performance.

The newer SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive) models integrate flash memory technology to offer SSD-like performance, with large storage capacities and much more affordable prices.

Mainstream hard disk drives are also more reliable, boasting the latest data protection features. That’s why manufacturers offer longer warranties today, with most offering 2 years warranty, instead of just 1 year.

 

WD Blue Mainstream Hard Disk Drives

The most popular mainstream hard disk drives in the market today are arguable the WD Blue hard disk drives from Western Digital. Designed for mainstream usage patterns, the WD Blue drives are highly affordable yet boast features like :

  • NoTouch Ramp Load Technology : The drive heads are kept off the disk surface when the drive is idle or not running, to prevent damage to the platters if the drive is dropped or knocked.
  • Data LifeGuard : Advanced algorithms in the firmware that monitor your drive continuously to alert you of any impending failures.
  • IntelliSeek : The drive automatically adjusts its optimum seek speeds to lower power consumption, noise and vibration.

Western Digital offers the WD Blue hard disk drives in a wide variety of storage capacities to suit every need and budget.

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For users who want a boost in performance without paying top dollar for a solid state drive, Western Digital even offers two WD Blue solid state hybrid drive (SSHD) models :

These WD Blue SSHDs are basically WD Blue hard disk drives enhanced with a flash memory cache :

  • NAND Flash Technology : WD Blue SSHDs come with 8 GB of NAND flash memory to perform up to 4-5X faster than traditional 5400 RPM hard disk drives.
  • Self-Learning Technology : Using an advanced set of algorithms, WD Blue SSHDs continuously track data usage to prioritise frequently-used data. It can adapt, learn and optimise itself as new applications and data requests change over time.

Thanks to the flash memory cache, the WD Blue SSHDs offer SSD-like performance, with a large storage capacity at much lower prices than solid state drives.

 

 

Disclosure

This post was sponsored by Western Digital.

 

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ARMD Emulation Type – BIOS Optimization Guide

ARMD Emulation Type

Common Options : Auto, Floppy, Hard Disk Drive

 

Quick Review

ARMD is actually short for ATAPI Removable Media Device. It refers to devices that use removable media. Examples include the LS-120, Magneto-Optical (MO) and Zip drives.

To boot up any operating system from these drives, it is essential for them to emulate a floppy drive or a hard disk drive. This is especially true for older operating systems like DOS.

This BIOS feature allows you to select the type of emulation used during the boot sequence.

When set to Auto, the BIOS automatically sets the emulation type used by ARMD drives.

When set to Floppy, ARMD drives will emulate a floppy drive at boot up.

When set to Hard Disk Drive, the ARMD will emulate a hard disk drive at boot up.

To be safe, this BIOS feature should be set to Floppy. It is the safest emulation type, and the one that most accurately describes ARMD drives. They are, after all, more like large-capacity floppy drives than hard disk drives.

 

Details

ARMD is actually short for ATAPI Removable Media Device. It refers to devices that use removable media. Examples include the LS-120, Magneto-Optical (MO) and Zip drives.

To boot up any operating system from these drives, it is essential for them to emulate a floppy drive or a hard disk drive. This is especially true for older operating systems like DOS.

This BIOS feature allows you to select the type of emulation used during the boot sequence.

When set to Auto, the BIOS automatically sets the emulation type used by ARMD drives.

When set to Floppy, ARMD drives will emulate a floppy drive at boot up.

When set to Hard Disk Drive, the ARMD will emulate a hard disk drive at boot up.

Emulating the hard disk drive may provide better performance, if the operating system supports a disk cache. However, that may introduce data synchronization problems should you eject the media before the disk cache has a chance to write to the media.

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Emulating a floppy drive does not normally present with this problem. Only reads from floppy drives are normally cached, thereby avoiding this problem. In addition, certain operating systems (e.g. Windows XP) will only load drivers from a floppy drive during the installation process.

If you desire better performance, you should set this BIOS feature to Hard Disk Drive. However, you must treat the device like a hard disk drive and refrain from ejecting the media unless you are sure the cached data has been written to it.

To be safe, this BIOS feature should be set to Floppy. It is the safest emulation type, and the one that most accurately describes ARMD drives. They are, after all, more like large-capacity floppy drives than hard disk drives.

Go Back To > The BIOS Optimization Guide | Home

 

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WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X) 1TB Review Rev. 2.0

WD Blue SSHD

Western Digital has finally moved into the Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) market with their new WD Blue SSHD drives.

The WD Blue family of mainstream 5400 RPM drives is designed for less strenous use at home and in the office. Like their now-discontinued WD Green family, the emphasis is on reduced power consumption , thermal output and cost, instead of high performance.

That changes with the SSHD variant, which pairs a regular WD Blue drive with an 8 GB SSD. These hybrid drives are able to offer pseudo-SSD performance with the storage capacity and lower cost of regular hard disk drives.

The Western Digital Blue SSHD models support the following features :

8 GB NAND flash for blazing performance – An optimal amount of built-in NAND flash SSD technology enables WD Blue SSHDs to perform at up to four to five times faster than traditional 5400 rpm HDDs, based on PCMark Vantage.

Self-learning technology – Utilizing an advanced set of algorithms, WD Blue SSHDs track SSHD data usage, prioritizing frequently used data for fast access in the solid state portion of the device, adapting, learning and optimizing as new applications and command requests change over time. These advanced algorithms reside in the SSHD firmware, enabling it to make intelligent determinations of which data to store in NAND flash memory, without any influence from the host or related storage device drivers. By pairing SSD-like performance with massive hard drive capacity, WD has created an intelligent hybrid drive that truly offers the best of both worlds.

Synergy delivers value – WD Blue SSHD is equipped with the optimal amount of NAND flash to deliver fast, SSD-like performance over high-capacity storage, significantly lowering the $/GB compared to the higher cost and lower capacity of standalone SSDs.

Simple installation with no special software required – The WD Blue SSHD hybrid drive is self-contained in a traditional HDD form factor, and installs as easily as any traditional hard drive without special drivers or downloads required. WD Blue SSHDs are compatible with most typical computer configurations, including PC and Mac.

Today, we will look at the 1 TB WD Blue (WD10J31X) SSHD, which is a 2.5″ drive for laptops. The other member of the WD Blue SSHD family, at this moment, is the 4 TB WD Blue (WD40E31X) SSHD (read our review here), which is a 3.5″ drive for desktops. Let’s see how well the 1 TB WD Blue (WD10J31X) SSHD performs against the main competitor – the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD, as well as other mobile and desktop HDDs!

 

Specification Comparison

The 1 TB WD Blue (WD10J31X) SSHD is a direct competitor of the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD, so let’s compare their specifications.

Specifications Western Digital Blue SSHD (1 TB) Seagate Laptop SSHD (1 TB)
Model • WD10J31X • ST1000UM000
Advanced Format (AF) • Yes, Emulation Mode • Yes, Emulation Mode
Formatted Capacity • 1,000,204 MB • 1,000,204 MB
Guaranteed Sectors • 1,953,525,168 • 1,953,525,168
Bytes Per Sector • 512 bytes (Emulated)
• 4,096 bytes (Physical)
• 512 bytes (Emulated)
• 4,096 bytes (Physical)
Platters • 2 Platters • 2 Platters
Read/Write Heads • 4 Read/Write Heads • 4 Read/Write Heads
Spindle Speed • 5,400 RPM • 5,400 RPM
SDRAM Cache • 64 MB SDRAM • 64 MB SDRAM
NAND Cache • 8 GB MLC • 8 GB MLC
Average
Seek
• NA • 12.0 ms
Track-to-Track Seek • NA • 2.0 ms (average)
Average Latency • NA • 5.6 ms
Drive Ready Time • NA • < 1.0 seconds (average)
Internal
Data Transfer Rate
(Sustained, Maximum)
• 100 MB/s • 100 MB/s
Maximum I/O
Transfer Rate
• 600
MB/s
• 600
MB/s
Interface • Serial ATA 6 Gb/s • Serial ATA 6 Gb/s
Supported SATA
Data Transfer Modes
• 6.0 Gbits/s
• 3.0 Gbits/s
• 1.5 Gbits/s
• 6.0 Gbits/s
• 3.0 Gbits/s
• 1.5 Gbits/s
SATA Hotplug
Capability
• Yes • Yes
Maximum Height • 9.5 mm
• 0.374 inches
• 9.5 mm
• 0.374 inches
Maximum Width • 69.85 mm
• 2.75 inches
• 69.85 mm
• 2.75 inches
Maximum Length • 100.2 mm
• 3.94 inches
• 100.35 mm
• 3.951 inches
Maximum Weight • 120 g
• 0.27 lb
• 115 g
• 0.254 lb
Power Requirements • +12V DC ± 10 %
• +5V DC ± 5 %
• +12V DC ± 10 %
• +5V DC ± 5 %
Power Consumption • 6.5 W (Spin-Up)
• 1.65 W (Read / Write)
• 0.65 W (Idle)
• 0.225 W (Standby / Sleep)
• 3.7 W (Write)
• 3.1 W (Read)
• 1.1 W (Idle)
• 0.53 W (Standby / Sleep)
Ambient Temperature • 0 °C to 60 °C
(Operating)
• -40 °C to 70 °C (Non-Operating)
• 0 °C to 60 °C
(Operating)
• -40 °C to 70 °C (Non-Operating)
Maximum Shock • 400 G @ 2 ms (Read)
• 1000 G @ 2 ms (Non-Operating)
• 350 G @ 2 ms (Read)
• 1000 G @ 1 ms (Non-Operating)
Drive Acoustics • 24 dBA average (Idle Mode)
• 25 dBA average (Performance Seek Mode)
• 22 dBA average (Idle Mode)
• 24 dBA average (Performance Seek Mode)
Non-Recoverable
Read Errors
• 1 error per 1014 bits read • < 1 error per 1015 bits read
Load/Unload Cycles • 600,000 (minimum) • 600,000 (minimum)
MTBF • NA • NA
Warranty • 3 Years Limited Warranty • 3 Years Limited Warranty
Lowest Price
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Packaging

The 1 TB WD Blue (WD10J31X) SSHD came in a sealed anti-static plastic packet, with a sachet of desiccants inside to keep it dry. To remove it, just tear off the top or cut it open, and slide out the drive.

Be sure to ground yourself before removing and handling the hard disk drive as static can damage it. In particular, you should try to avoid touching the exposed PCB located on the lower underside of the drive.

Next Page > A Closer Look At The WD Blue SSHD

 

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The WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X)

Despite having an SSD built-in, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD looks just like any other 2.5″ notebook hard disk drive. It has a label on the top plate and an uncovered PCB on the underside. The label has a lot of important information, like the hard drive model, storage capacity as well as its date and place of manufacture.

This particular drive was manufactured here in Malaysia on the 28th of May, 2015. Interestingly, Western Digital also added a QR code so you can scan it using your smartphone to learn more about the WD Blue SSHD.

 

SSHD Vs. Dual Drive

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SSHD is short for Solid State Hybrid Drive. It combines a small SSD with a regular hard disk drive. It is not the same thing as a dual drive, like the WD Black2, which is essentially an SSD with a HDD in a single enclosure.

The WD Blue SSHD comes with a much smaller SSD and uses it as a cache. This allows the drive to deliver pseudo-SSD performance at much lower price points. Its SSD component is not user-accessible, unlike the SSD component in a dual drive.

Unlike the WD Black2, there is no special requirement. It behaves just like any other hard disk drive, just with an SSD serving as a secondary cache.

 

Connectors & Jumpers

This is a Serial ATA hard drive, with native support for SATA 6 Gb/s. However, it is backward-compatible so you will have no problem using it with older SATA 3 Gb/s controllers.

The SATA 6 Gb/s interface is necessary for optimal performance since this Western Digital Blue SSHD boasts a maximum sustained internal (platter-to-buffer) transfer rate of 100 MB/s, and a large and fast DDR2 SDRAM cache.

Like all Serial ATA drives, it comes the standard SATA data (left) and power (right) connectors and is hot-pluggable. That means you can connect and disconnect this hard disk drive to your PC while it’s still running.

To the left of the SATA connectors is the jumper block. However, Western Digital does not provide any jumper with their drives. This is because the jumper block should only be used in exceptional cases.

According to Western Digital, jumpering pins 1 and 2 enables Spread Spectrum Clocking (SSC). Placing the jumper across pins 5 and 6 will force the drive to use the slower SATA 3Gbits/s transfer speed. This is only necessary for certain SATA controllers that do not properly implement the SATA 6 Gb/s speed negotiation.

 

Breather Holes

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD has a small breather hole on the top plate, just above the warning about not covering any drive holes. This hole must not be covered.

Breather holes allow condensation inside the hard disk drive to escape. They also equalize the hard disk drive’s internal pressure with the ambient air pressure. The hard disk drive needs them to function properly, so please make sure you do not occlude these holes.

Next Page > Peeking Under The WD Blue SSHD PCB

 

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What’s Under The PCB

Western Digital has a penchant for keeping all surface-mounted components on the reverse side of the PCB – to prevent static damage and to allow for better cooling. It’s protected by a thin foam cutout on the chassis side, with a thermal pad to help transfer heat from the HDD controller to the hard disk drive chassis.

The 1 TB WD Blue (WD10J31X) SSHD used the Marvell 88i9441 Soleil-H SSHD controller. It comes with two 600 MHz ARM Cortex-R4 processors and supports hardware 256-bit AES encryption, Native Command Queueing and a 6 Gb/s SATA interface.

To manage the integrated 8 GB flash memory, Western Digital used the JMicron JMF608 NAND flash controller. It supports up to 4 read/write channels at up to 300 Mbits/s (read) and 200 Mbits/s (write) per channel. That works out to a maximum throughput of 150 MB/s (read) and 100 MB/s (write).

The primary cache remains the 64 MB Winbond W9751G6KB-25 DDR2 SDRAM chip – the same memory chip used by the 6 TB Western Digital Red drive. This is is a newer version of the memory chip used in the 4 TB Western Digital RE (WD4000FYYZ), with an operating speed of 800 MHz, 4 memory banks and faster timings of 5-5-5. This gives it a peak transfer rate of 200 MB/s.

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To tie the SSD and HDD components together, Western Digital used the Marvell 88SE9171 PCI Express 2.0 x1 to SATA 6Gb/s switch. This is a 2-port SATA switch.

Unlike the 4 TB WD Blue SSHD (read our review here) which used the ST Microelectronics WDHC8TD motor drive controller, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD used used a proprietary WD Nautilus motor drive controller.

All of the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD‘s firmware was stored in a 4 Mbit (512 KB) Winbond 25X40CLVIG serial flash memory chip.

Finally, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD features a single shock sensor, just like the 4 TB Western Digital Blue SSHD (read our review here). The shock sensor allows the drive to detect shock events and automatically park the drive heads to avoid damage.

Next Page > Testing The WD Blue SSHD, Usable Capacity, Temperature

 

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The Testbed

Processors Intel Core i7-2600K
Motherboard Intel DP67BG
Memory Four Kingmax 2 GB DDR3-1333 modules
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570
Hard Disk Drives 1 TB WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X)
1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD (ST1000UM000)
1 TB WD Blue Slim (WD10SPCX)

1 TB WD Blue (WD10JPVT)
750 GB WD Scorpio Black (WD7500BPKT)
640 GB WD Scorpio Blue (WD6400BEVT)
500 GB WD Blue Slim (WD5000LPVT)

500 GB WD Scorpio Black (WD5000BEKT)
320 GB WD Scorpio Black (WD3200BEKT)
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 64-bit
Microsoft Windows Vista 32-bit

 

Testing Methodology

We tested in both Windows 7 and Windows Vista, with the latest updates. We chose to use IO Meter 2008 as well as our “old faithful”, WinBench 99 2.0, with the following tests :

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  • Platter Data Transfer Profile
  • Business Disk WinMark 99
  • High-End Disk WinMark 99
  • Disk Transfer Rate (Beginning)
  • Disk Transfer Rate (End)

Business Disk WinMark 99 is a real-world simulation based on three office application suites – Microsoft Office 97, Lotus SmartSuite and Corel WordPerfect Suite 8, as well as a web browser, Netscape Navigator. They are quite dated, but should still reflect the usage patterns of users in an office environment using such applications. The test runs through a script that keeps multiple applications open, while it performs tasks that switches between those applications and Netscape Navigator. The result is the average transfer rate during the script run.

High-End Disk WinMark 99 is a real-world simulation based on AVS/Express 3.4, FrontPage 98, MicroStation SE, Photoshop 4.0, Premiere 4.2, Sound Forge 4.0 and Visual C++ 5.0. However, it differs by running the applications serially, instead of simultaneously. There are individual results for each application but in this comparison, we will be looking only at the weighted average score, which is the average transfer rate during the tests.

Unfortunately, WinBench 99 is not fully compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, registering a SetFilePointer error in the Disk Access Time test. So, we were not able to obtain any Disk Access Time results.

In addition, it would keep crashing if the hard drive was tested with a single partition. This is likely due to a limit on the size of the partition that is supported by WinBench 99. We came up with a workaround by dividing the hard disk drive into 5 partitions of equal sizes. We then tested each partition individually and averaged the results.

 

Usable Capacity

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X) has an official formatted capacity of 1,000 GB. We checked that out by formatting it in NTFS using Microsoft Windows 7.

The actual formatted capacity was 1,000,202,039,296 bytes, which is 202 MB lower than the official storage capacity. With about 125 MB allocated to the NTFS file system, the actual usable capacity remained slightly above 1 TB.

 

Maximum Surface Temperature

We monitored the surface temperature of seven hard disk drives during their benchmarks. The following chart shows their operating temperature range, from idle to maximum load. Please note that instead of giving you the absolute numbers, we are showing the temperature delta, which is the difference between the actual temperature and the ambient room temperature.

Due to the extra chips and NAND flash memory, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD has a high idle temperature. It hit a peak case temperature of 23°C above ambient temperature. This can be a concern inside the confines of a laptop case. This drive is designed to run in relatively hot environments, with a peak ambient temperature of 60°C.

Next Page > Transfer Rate Range, Platter Profile, WinBench Test Results

 

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Transfer Rate Range

This chart shows you the range of platter-to-buffer transfer rates from the innermost track to the outermost track. In other words, it shows you the range of disk transfer rates of the hard disk drives (from minimum to maximum).

Western Digital rates the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD with a peak throughput of 100 MB/s, but our test shows that it will actually hit 113 MB/s. As you can see, it has exactly the same transfer rate range as the 1 TB WD Blue Slim (WD10SPCX), which is really the HDD component of this SSHD.

 

Platter Profile

The platter profile of the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD we received was very good. There were no noticeable dips in throughput that would signify a significant use of replacement sectors. Lots of them would point to poor platter quality.

We also compared its platter profile to that of the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD, its direct competitor. You can see that the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD starts off with a higher throughput but the Seagate Laptop SSHD is faster from around the 300 GB point onwards.

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Business Disk WinBench 99

The 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD remained the top SSHD in this comparison, delivering 55% better performance than the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD. Even so, you can see the benefit of adding just 8 GB of flash memory. The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD was 29% faster than the 750 GB WD Scorpio Black, which is a 7200 RPM hard disk drive.

Hard Disk Drive Model Capacity Business Disk
WinMark 99
Difference Useful Links
Seagate Laptop SSHD
(ST1000UM000)
1 TB 34.90 MB/s + 55.1% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue SSHD
(WD10J31X)
1 TB 22.50 MB/s Baseline Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD7500BPKT)
750 GB 16.00 MB/s – 28.9% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD5000BEKT)
500 GB 13.90 MB/s – 38.2% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD10SPCX)
1 TB 13.00 MB/s – 42.2% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD10JPVT)
1 TB 12.60 MB/s – 44.0% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD5000LPVT)
500 GB 11.60 MB/s – 48.4% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD3200BEKT)
320 GB 8.64 MB/s – 61.6% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD6400BEVT)
640 GB 7.49 MB/s – 66.7% Review Lowest Price!

 

High-End Disk WinBench 99

But when it came to the High-End test, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD smashed the competition. It was 16% faster than the 750 GB WD Scorpio Black, and 30% faster than the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD!

Hard Disk Drive Model Capacity High-End Disk
WinMark 99
Difference Useful Links
Western Digital Blue SSHD
(WD10J31X)
1 TB 103.0 MB/s Baseline Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD7500BPKT)
750 GB 86.7 MB/s – 15.8% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD5000BEKT)
500 GB 86.4 MB/s – 16.1% Review Lowest Price!
Seagate Laptop SSHD
(ST1000UM000)
1 TB 71.7 MB/s – 30.4% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD5000LPVT)
500 GB 68.5 MB/s – 33.5% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD10JPVT)
1 TB 65.8 MB/s – 36.1% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD10SPCX)
1 TB 61.9 MB/s – 39.9% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Scorpio Black
(WD3200BEKT)
320 GB 51.2 MB/s – 50.3% Review Lowest Price!
Western Digital Blue
(WD6400BEVT)
640 GB 32.8 MB/s – 68.2% Review Lowest Price!

Next Page > IO Meter Benchmark Results

 

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IO Meter

We compared the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD to the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHDFor more performance comparisons, please take a look at The Hard Disk Drive Performance Comparison Guide.

 

Random Throughput

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 18.48 MB/s 22.39 MB/s + 21.2%
512 KB Write 20.68 MB/s 31.48 MB/s + 52.2%
4 KB Read 0.22 MB/s 0.25 MB/s + 13.6%
4 KB Write 0.22 MB/s 0.25 MB/s + 13.6%

The small random reads and writes are the most important tests for applications that make a lot of random accesses, so those would be key performance indicators for drives that are used as boot or system drives, but not very important for NAS or media storage drives.

In this regard, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD would make a much better boot drive than the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD. It was almost 14% faster in small accesses and 52% faster in large random writes!

 

Random Access Time

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 23.41 ms 28.28 ms – 17.2%
512 KB Write 16.65 ms 25.52 ms – 34.7%
4 KB Read 16.17 ms 18.41 ms – 12.2%
4 KB Write 16.63 ms 19.23 ms – 13.5%

Since these results are based on the SSD cache of the two SSHDs, we can see that the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD is using a faster SSD than the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD.

 

Random CPU Utilization

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 0.78% 0.45% + 73.3%
512 KB Write 0.85% 0.23% + 269.6%
4 KB Read 0.40% 0.17% + 135.3%
4 KB Write 0.44% 0.31% + 41.9%

The downside though is higher CPU utilization by the drive. Despite the large difference in percentage, this is really minor due to the high performance CPUs we use today.

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Sequential Throughput

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 190.00 MB/s 108.31 MB/s + 75.4%
512 KB Write 102.77 MB/s 110.22 MB/s – 6.8%
4 KB Read 31.74 MB/s 52.48 MB/s – 39.5%
4 KB Write 32.12 MB/s 48.14 MB/s – 33.3%

These are the second most important tests for boot drives, and the most important tests for secondary storage drives. The large sequential transfer performance is particularly important because they are often used to store large game or media files, which are all practically larger than than 512 KB these days.

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD was phenomenal at large reads, delivering a throughput of 190 MB/s. On the other hand, it was slightly slower at large writes, and 30-40% slower at small reads and writes.

 

Sequential Access Time

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 2.76 ms 4.84 ms – 43.0%
512 KB Write 5.10 ms 4.76 ms + 7.2%
4 KB Read 0.13 ms 0.08 ms + 65.8%
4 KB Write 0.13 ms 0.08 ms + 50.1%

Since these results are based on the SSD cache of the two SSHDs, we can see that the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD is using a faster SSD than the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD.

 

Sequential CPU Utilization

Test 1 TB WD
Blue SSHD
1 TB Seagate
Laptop SSHD
Difference
512 KB Read 1.09% 0.50% + 118.0%
512 KB Write 1.50% 1.63% – 8.0%
4 KB Read 4.80% 8.56% – 43.9%
4 KB Write 5.89% 8.95% – 34.2%

Next Page > Our Verdict, Lowest Prices

 

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Our Verdict

Western Digital is very late to the Solid State Hybrid Drive (SSHD) market. Seagate launched the industry’s first SSHD, the Seagate Momentus PSD, back in 2007. It has taken Western Digital 8 years to dip their toes into SSHDs, but we are glad to see that they are off to a good start.

Like all other SSHDs, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X) uses a small 8 GB SSD as a fast secondary cache, in addition to the usual SDRAM cache.

This flash memory cache quickly stores all writes to drive, copying them over to the slower hard disk drive over time. Because it retains the written data, the data can be read from the much faster flash memory cache. This improves its read performance, albeit only for the data that is still stored in the cache.

Thanks to its flash memory cache, the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD was about 70% faster than the 1 TB WD Blue Slim (WD10SPCX) in the WinMark tests. This is the same hard disk drive the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD uses, so we can see the effect the small SSD cache has on its real world performance. It was also 20-40% faster than the 750 GB WD Scorpio Black, a high-performance mobile hard disk drive that features a much higher 7200 RPM spindle speed.

When we compared the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD to its direct competitor, the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD, it proved to be :

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  • 75% faster in large sequential reads
  • 52% faster in large random writes
  • 21% faster in large random reads,
  • 14% faster in small random reads and writes
  • 7% slower in large sequential writes
  • 33% slower in small sequential writes
  • 40% slower in small sequential reads

It’s a mixed bag of results, but the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD is faster than the 1 TB Seagate Laptop SSHD in the more important performance aspects. We would peg the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD as the better drive of the two.

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD could have performed better if Western Digital opted for a better flash controller than the JMF608. This is a 4-channel flash controller limited to 150 MB/s (read) and 100 MB/s (write). Western Digital would do well to use a faster flash controller if they want to maximise the performance of their future SSHDs.

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD (WD10J31X) is no SSD, but it offers pseudo-SSD performance in the performance aspect that the hard disk drive is weakest at – random accesses. That’s why it “feels” like you are using an SSD. Even though it’s not quite as fast as a real SSD, it comes with an enormous storage capacity and costs far less per GB.

The 1 TB WD Blue SSHD is best used as a boot drive, if you have a dual-spindle laptop that supports two drives. It is also a great upgrade option for older laptops – giving them a new lease of life, thanks to its significantly better performance and storage capacity.

We are very pleased with the 1 TB WD Blue SSHD‘s performance, and we think it deserves our Reviewer’s Choice Award. Congratulations, Western Digital!

 

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