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Western Digital Black 2 Dual Drive 2.5inch Consumer HDD/SSD Review

Western Digital Black 2 Dual Drive 2.5inch Consumer HDD/SSD Review

WD launches the Black 2 Dual Drive, and we have it in house for testing. Let's take a look at this unique HDD / SSD product.

@TylerBernath
Published Mon, Nov 25 2013 7:00 AM CST   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:32 PM CDT
Rating: 92%Manufacturer: Western Digital

Introduction and Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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VIEW GALLERY - 33 IMAGES

If we look back over the last few years, we have seen quite a few HDD technologies emerge. From HGST, we have Helium drives on the horizon; Seagate is working very hard on SMR and WD with HAMR. Apart from those technologies, the per-platter densities of the existing HDD infrastructure have been rapidly increasing, giving us a top capacity of 4TB among today's drives.

One of the latest technologies gaining ground in the market has been the SSHD or Hybrid Drive. With hybrid drives, we typically see some sort of hot data caching algorithm coupled with NAND flash put together with a 5400RPM HDD, allowing quick access to the most frequently used files on your system.

Today, we have yet another milestone in the HDD market with the introduction of the WD Black 2 Dual Drive. The Black 2 offers on one drive what has always taken two drives or two slots in a system to accomplish. Underneath, we have a 1TB HDD with a second interconnect holding a 120GB SSD.

Specifications, Pricing and Availability

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The WD Black 2 uses a SATA III interface packaged in the 2.5" form factor. Internal performance for the SSD is set at 350 MB/s read and 140 MB/s write. Over on the platter side, we have 600,000 Load/Unload cycles and a non-recoverable error rate of 1 in 1014. On the power front, we have read/write requirements of 1.8 watts with idle and sleep both using 0.9 watts.

Pricing of the WD Black 2 Dual Drive is set at $299.99 with a five-year warranty.

WD Black 2 Dual Drive HDD

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The WD Black 2 Dual Drive shipped in its retail upgrade packaging.

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The WD Black 2 Dual Drive is marketed as an upgrade solution. Thus, we have the full kit to complete the operation. In the box, you will find the drive itself, along with an external adapter for connecting your old drive after installation. Additionally, you will find a hefty manual in several languages and the software on a USB key.

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The WD Black 2 carries an outward appearance similar to a solid state drive. Here we have a black PCB, with branding in gold lettering.

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The WD Black 2 uses standard SATA power and data connections.

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The bottom of the drive houses the model identification, and the platter PCB.

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Removing the solid state PCB revealed the WD Slim 1TB HDD underneath.

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Here we have our first look at the SSD itself, powered by a JMicron 667H controller and two NAND packages.

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Initially, the WD Black 2 only allows the OS to see the SSD. This is to insure there is no confusion when installing your operating system. After you have successfully installed the OS, you can then use the included USB Key to launch the software and unlock the HDD portion of the drive.

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After the software installs and unlocks the HDD, a prompt allows you to restart your PC.

Benchmarks - Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance

Desktop Test System

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ATTO Baseline Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34

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In ATTO read testing, we have the Black 2 SSD topping out at 450 MB/s with the Toshiba SSHD just short of 150 MB/s and the HDD portion of the Black 2 just over 120 MB/s.

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ATTO write had the Black 2 SSD topping 140 MB/s with the 1TB HDD portion just below 120 MB/s.

Benchmarks - 4K Random Performance

IOMeter - 4K Random Performance with QD

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4K random read had the Black 2 HDD topping out at around 325 IOPS at QD32, while the Toshiba SSHD tops out at around 200 IOPS.

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4K random write showed the Black 2 HDD with consistent performance across the entire queue depth range.

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Looking over the Black 2 SSD performance, we find the drive coming in just shy of 60,000 IOPS.

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4K write had the Black 2 SSD touching 35,000 IOPS.

Benchmarks - Sequential Performance

IOMeter - Sequential Performance with QD

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Sequential read results were strong for the Black 2 SSD. Here we have the drive topping out just over 450 MB/s. The HDD portion reached 120MB/s.

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Sequential write had the Black 2 SSD coming in around 150 MB/s with the HDD just under 120 MB/s.

Benchmarks - Power Consumption, Resume from S4 and BootRacer

Power Consumption, Resume from S4 and BootRacer

BootRacer

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BootRacer offered some insight into the drives' performance with an OS installed. Here we see the WD Black 2 Dual Drive came in at 23.5 seconds.

Resume from S4

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In our custom resume from S4 testing, the WD Black 2 Dual Drive came in at 5.97 seconds.

Power Consumption

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Our custom power testing samples each drive for a period of three minutes across each workload. In order to offer more granularity we sample the power in one-second intervals. To test the power consumption of the WD Black 2 Dual Drive, we used the three-stage approach. At the drives peak we measured a touch over five watts of power consumption during sequential write. On the HDD only, peak again came in sequential write and just under four watts. In SSD only testing, we saw steady power consumption throughout the workloads, the drive peaked at 2.5 watts.

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Idle power consumption for the WD Black 2 was a touch over 0.9 watts and remained there.

Benchmarks - PCMark 8 Hard Disk Tests

PCMark 8 - Hard Disk Tests

Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0

Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com

Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark8

PCMark 8 is the latest version in our popular series of PC benchmarking tools. Improving on previous releases, PCMark 8 includes battery life measurement tools and new tests using popular applications from Adobe and Microsoft. Whether you are looking for long battery life or maximum power, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance for your needs.

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The WoW trace had the Black 2 SSD coming in at 58.6 seconds, while the HDD touched 130 seconds.

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Battlefield 3 allowed the Black 2 SSD a score of 133.3 seconds. The HDD portion came in at 329.7 seconds.

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The Light Use Photoshop trace ended after 115.1 seconds.

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The Heavy Use scenario tightens the group up a little, with the WD Black 2 SSD coming in at 361 seconds and the HDD at 489 seconds.

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The Excel trace had the Black 2 SSD coming in at 9.2 seconds, while the HDD managed 23.1 seconds.

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PowerPoint shows more of the same, another 9.2-second score for the WD Black 2 SSD.

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The Microsoft Word trace had the Black 2 SSD at 28.3 seconds. The HDD came in at 47.6 seconds.

Final Thoughts

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The WD Black 2 Dual Drive is a rather unique device that takes mobile storage to the next level. Within one drive, we have both a 120GB SSD for the operating system and a 1TB HDD for additional data. Previously, this could only be achieved through the use of two drives, and in a mobile device such as a notebook that would mean, in most cases, removing the optical drive.

In our testing, the WD Black 2 did quite well on the SSD front. Of course, it's not the highest performing solid state solution, but it does offer quite a performance gain over traditional HDDs and even SSHDs.

The 120GB capacity of the SSD partition seems to be the sweet spot for OS installation, and should offer plenty of additional space for your most used applications. In addition to this, we have a full terabyte of storage space on the HDD portion of the drive, for you to use to your liking.

Personally, I think the WD Black 2 Dual Drive deserves solid consideration if you are in the market for a drive upgrade for your small form factor PCs.

Pricing of the WD Black 2 Dual Drive is set at $299.99 and includes a five-year warranty. This gives the WD Black 2 a 27 cent per GB market price, while HDDs are coming in at 12 to 15 cents per GB. Furthermore, the average price per GB for a typical 120GB SSD sits at 75 to 90 cents per GB.

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Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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