Solid State Drives (SSDs) continue to dominate the headlines and press releases, but for many users any leap to solid state is nothing more than a leap back. With most notebooks coming standard with 80 to 250GB drives, it is difficult for many to consider a 32 or 64GB SSD that costs anywhere from 100 to 800 USD. For most users capacity is still king and this is one area where solid state just doesn't hold data.
Western Digital has taken their Scorpio line in two directions, Scorpio Blue, a 5400 RPM drive and Scorpio Black, a desktop replacement 7200 RPM drive. The Scorpio Black has a feature set that rivals many of today's desktop drives and has the capacity to go with it.
Today we are going to look at the new Western Digital Scorpio Black and compare it to some of today's hottest 2.5 inch notebook drives.
Specifications, Availability and Pricing
The Western Digital Scorpio Black is designed for power users on the go. The drives 7200 RPM spindle speed and 16MB cache rivals many 3.5 inch desktop drives specifications. The Black is available in 80, 120, 160, 250 and 320 GBs, with and without a free fall sensor.
One area that SSDs claim to dominate is power consumption; this claim has been disputed both ways by many websites and manufacturers. Western Digital has introduced a new technology called IntelliSeek, a way of slowing the actuator arm to deliver just in time location while easing the typical vibrations and power consumption associated with 7200 RPM drives. You can see a demonstration of IntelliSeek here.
The Western Digital Scorpio Black is currently available at several e-tail locations. After searching with the TweakTown Shopping Network I found the drive at Newegg for less than 110 USD in 320GB form, the same as we are testing today. At this price the Scorpio Black is sure to have some reconsidering any move to solid state, as long as the performance is there to back up the claims.
Packaging and The Scorpio Black
Our sample Scorpio Black came to us in OEM packaging, just like the drives currently for sale on Newegg. Notebook drives really don't need accessories like cables and instructions for notebook removal as they are generally found on your notebook manufacturers website.
Here we see the drive from the top; not much special about it since all of the goodies are on the inside.
The back side has an exposed circuit board like many 2.5 inch drives.
Most notebook drives are thinner than their 2.5 inch enterprise SAS counterparts. One of the drives we will be comparing the performance to is the new Hitachi 7K500, a full size 2.5 inch drive designed for the notebook but with little support from current notebook models.
Test System Setup
Processors: AMD Opteron 2356 (2.3GHz Quad-Core) x2
Motherboard: Tyan S2915-E (Supplied by Tyan)
Memory: Kingston KVR667D2S4P5/2G x4 (Supplied by Kingston)
Graphics Card: XFX 8800 GTX (Supplied by XFX USA)
Enclosure: Lian Li V2000
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12DO (Supplied by Noctua)
SATA Controller: Areca ARC-1231ML (Supplied by Areca)
SAS Controller: Areca ARC-1680i (Supplied by Areca)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate X64
The new TweakTown Storage Test System is making its debut for this review. As you can see, the system is based on a typical workstation that you will find in many design studios.
I have selected a couple of products to compare the new Western Digital Scorpio Black to; they are as follows :-
Hitachi 7K100: The 7K100 is a 100GB notebook hard drive that was used by several notebook manufacturers. The drive came with my Lenovo T60.
Hitachi 7K500: The 7K500 is a 500GB drive that is considered the Scorpio Black's biggest challenger. The 7K500 is taller than most notebook hard drives and will not fit in more than a handful of notebooks.
G.Skill SLC SSD: The G.Skill SLC SSD is a rebadged Samsung drive with 64GB of capacity. The drive currently e-tails for more than 600 U.S.D., more than six times the amount of the Scorpio Black 320.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com/>
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
The Western Digital Scorpio Black outperforms both of the Hitachi drives and stays very close to the G.Skill SSD.
The Western Digital Scorpio Black has the fastest maximum transfer speed of all the drives tested, even higher than the G.Skill SSD. The drive runs a close second place in average and minimum transfer speeds.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com/ >
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Access time is a solid state drives cup of tea, so it is no surprise the platter based Scorpio Black is far behind in this area. Still, the Scorpio Black has a lower access time than the two Hitachi drives.
The Scorpio Black has the highest write access time of the group, which surprised me considering the read access times were so much lower than the other platter based drives.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage//
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. These tests are based on real world applications that many of us use daily.
HDD1 - Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 - Vista Startup
HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 - Windows Media Center
HDD7 - Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
The biggest surprise in this set of real world benchmarks comes from test six, Windows Media Center where the Scorpio Black actually outperformed the Samsung based G.Skill SSD.
In the other tests the Scorpio Black proved to outperform the Hitachi drives in all but one.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/
Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com/ >
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
Multi-user testing is generally not something that comes to mind when we think about notebook drives, but many of these tests mimic what you may see while multi-tasking. The Scorpio Black takes top honors in nearly all tests when compared to the other platter based drives.
Many enthusiasts are turning to notebooks for their portability and high performance. As prices drop on high performance models like my Lenovo T61p, more power users will look for a base model that can be easily upgraded with aftermarket parts. One of the easiest and most noticeable performance modifications to a notebook is installing a high performance hard drive.
The Western Digital Scorpio Black is one of the highest performing platter based notebook hard disks on the market today. It is difficult to believe that such a high performer comes with such a low cost. Western Digital has kept a firm grip on the high performance desktop sector with their Raptor Series and now they are making a similar play with notebooks.
The 110 Dollar price tag still has my head spinning for the 320GB Scorpio Black and I have made several trips back to Newegg to verify this is not a pricing error. How often can you get class leading performance for such a low cost?
Aside from the low cost and high speed, I find myself almost taking the extra space for granted. After 30 days of use I still have close to 90GB of space left. Normally I have dumped a couple of hundred gigabytes of data back to my home NAS server, but with 320GB of space you will not have to do that very often.
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