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Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive Full Review - 120GB SSD + 1TB HDD in a single 2.5" package

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

SSD Tests - Performance Over Time and TRIM

For performance over time tests we fragment the SSD with heavy random writes and then perform two sequential HDTach passes to verify it can self-defragment:

First pass:

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Second pass:

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The JMicron controller was tested for correct reaction to TRIM commands. The same fragmentation operation was performed, but then we created and deleted a partition using Windows 7 disk management. The result:

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Note that the fragmentation above resulted in a reduced *read* speed. Writes just kept chugging along at the hard limit, which appears to be enforced by the controller. Overall a very solid and consistent result from the new JMicron controller.

November 25, 2013 | 08:29 AM - Posted by Robert

The only thing that would make this a perfect option for me is if the 1TB drive were 7200RPM or faster. Perhaps they will come out with one.

November 25, 2013 | 08:57 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

If you're using the 1TB for bulk storage, accessed sequentially, the 7200 RPM drive isn't going to get you much more of an advantage. The 1TB may be 5400 RPM, but it hits 140 MB/sec (at the start of the drive space) without issue.

November 25, 2013 | 08:44 PM - Posted by danwat1234 (not verified)

Instead of a 7200RPM drive I would like to see the mechanical drive having 16GB of flash memory itself, so it'll be a hybrid drive, along with the 120GB SSD.

My only concern with the device is that the controller is kind of unstable if you try to intensively access the mechanical and SSD drive simultaneously, storagereview found. WD will probably revise the firmware.

November 25, 2013 | 08:31 AM - Posted by Robert23655124 (not verified)

Holy crap my laptop has a new friend :)

November 25, 2013 | 09:06 AM - Posted by mAxius

toss it in a ps4

November 25, 2013 | 09:24 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Won't work as the PS4 won't be able to access the 1TB portion.  And I don't know if the PS4 can handle working on more than one drive that shows up internally. 

A lot of questions there...  :)

November 25, 2013 | 11:51 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Yeah from what we've seen of the PS4 partitioning scheme, it *might* work if the 1TB portion was already unlocked on a PC and then all partitions deleted prior to installing it into the PS4, but then you're stuck with not knowing where the PS4 puts its data. It's definitely not aware of this SSD / HDD layout, so it'd be a crap shoot as far as performance goes, and it may not like data spanning the logical crossover between the two physical devices.

November 25, 2013 | 10:15 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Isn't it better to go with a large 3 or 4 TB drive and pair that with a small SSD (like 60Gb) and just do intel SSD catching?

You end up with a huge "hybrid" drive that's pretty fast.

Your thoughts Allyn?

November 25, 2013 | 11:33 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Sure that would work great - in a desktop. This is meant for laptops with a single 2.5" bay. Even a laptop with dual bays would benefit from an SSD and HDD in separate bays, and be more cost effective as well.

November 25, 2013 | 06:31 PM - Posted by NightWinggl (not verified)

What about a situation where you could use an Msata SSD with a HDD in the 2.5" bay?

November 26, 2013 | 11:24 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It's still a bit of a coin toss, but if that same laptop is RST caching capable, you can get a better overall benefit by going with a fast 60GB mSATA caching a larger 2.5" HDD.

November 25, 2013 | 11:38 AM - Posted by PaulJ (not verified)

Aside from the lack of Linux/OSX support out of the box. I wonder if you provision it on a Windows box and then plug it onto a Linux or OSX machine... should be able to see both drives.

If this is the case, then this would make a great drive for ZFS NAS/SAN boxes.

November 25, 2013 | 11:57 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

It's possible, and this would be completely unsupported by WD, but you'd need to partition the SSD space under a PC, then let the WD driver unlock and partition the HDD space. Once this is done, you could reformat those two partition spaces to whichever file systems you wanted, but you'd need to maintain the *exact* offset and total sector figures for those two MBR entries or you risk seeing some odd performance from the SSD, HDD, or both.

You should be able to make multiple partitions within the SSD space (for power users who want to do custom multiple boot setups), but the HDD partition *must* start at the same offset that is created by the WD software.

January 8, 2015 | 05:49 AM - Posted by matthias (not verified)

Old thread, but maybe someone is looking for that information.

I did exactly the above procedure and use the WDblack2 with Linux. Works without a problem. Yet there is a little issue. When mounting the disc, it is spinning for a short time only and quickly goes to sleep (spinning down).
If you want to watch a movie it is spinning up, delivers the data and quickly spins down again. As soon as the mediaplayer wants to refill its buffer for the next movie section the disc has to spin up again. While it's spinning up the mediaplayer has to wait for the data. That behaviour is causing irritating regular delays. I think, an "Anti-spin-down"-Skript could help here.
For me this is ideal, because I use the disc for backed up data and the ssd part for the OS's. If I need a file from the disc, I mount it, get the file and unmount it. Even if I forget to unmount, I can be sure the disc is in sleep mode and I don't have to think about shocks or vibrations hurting the disc mechanics.

November 25, 2013 | 01:55 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

The main problem this disc has is the 9.5mm thickness. most drives that fit this disc will have a optical bay, which with a cheap 11$ adapter can become a new home for your 90$ ssd. the laptops that don't have an optical bay usually only fit a 7mm disc, most ultrabooks with 2.5" slots as an example.

People and reviewers should really know that this possibility exists and is VERY much cheaper than the approach WD has taken.

https://dx.com/p/designer-s-2-5-sata-to-sata-hdd-ssd-caddy-for-9-5mm-opt...

November 25, 2013 | 06:39 PM - Posted by NightWinggl (not verified)

Agreed. My Laptop (Thinkpad T430s) has Msata, the 2.5" Bay, and the Optical Bay and I got the Ultrabay adapter for about $11 on ebay. It just seems like I have a lot of way cheaper options to get the same amount of speed and storage. I realize I have more options than others.

If this WD drive was 7mm, it would be far more impressive in my mind though. The height really limits the machines it can go into.

November 25, 2013 | 08:49 PM - Posted by danwat1234 (not verified)

9.5mm has been industry standard for a long time now, it's just limiting in that some new thin laptops may be limited to 7mm drives.

November 25, 2013 | 03:28 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Nice concept, getting 2 drives onto one SATA port! I can not wait to see what the other drive manfactures will come up with to compete with this! Who would have thought that the thin hard drives ment for Ultrabook/thin and light laptops, also have opened up some intresting possabilities for regular form factor laptops! I hope they get the thin laptop hard drives even thinner, maybe someone will stack 2 thin 1 TB hard drives togather, and make a dual drive onto one laptop SATA port RAID drive, for regular form factor laptops! Maybe 2 thin hard drives In a RAID configuration with a larger than 8GB SLC SSD data Cache. I'll have to wait for the Linux drivers to become available for this drive!

November 25, 2013 | 06:41 PM - Posted by amadsilentthirst

This is great for a laptop. well done WD.

I'd like to see a 3.5" one for a desktop, some of us like small cases and only having "one" drive is quite an advantage.

Maybe something like a 250GB SSD with a 4TB green platter.

Thanks for the review Allyn (inappropriatecontext?)

December 9, 2013 | 08:18 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You've got much more room in a desktop, as well as more SATA ports and bays to work with, so it's far easier to just add an SSD to a large HDD. No need to pay the cost premuim for WD's technology-shrinking voodoo.

November 26, 2013 | 02:40 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Allyn, thanks for the review.

In the WD software, is there an option to use the SSD as a cache drive? I know there's third-party software to do this, but does WD support it in their software?

November 26, 2013 | 11:27 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

No such option, and no way to enable it in other ways (i.e. Intel RST would not work as the drive appears as a single combined physical volume).

November 26, 2013 | 05:37 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Most people considering this type of hardware for their laptop or PC wil look at a SSHD drive as well (SSHD = HDD Drive backed with SSD Cache).

In this review a comparison to such a drive type lacks as well as the comparison to a drive of another major vendor; Seagate. Comparing this drive just to SSD's and HDD's is not enough in my opinion.

November 26, 2013 | 11:29 AM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You seem to have overlooked this page of the review, where I compared the SSD and HDD portions, directly against both 500GB and 1TB versions of the exact Seagate SSHD you're referring to.

The SSHD models do not appear on the other tests because those tests can not be cached by the SSHD and therefore give inaccurate results.

November 26, 2013 | 02:16 PM - Posted by sixstringrick

Want it! Want it now! When and where can I get it.

December 9, 2013 | 08:16 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Amazon

November 29, 2013 | 10:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Hello
Can u secure erase the SSD part like other SSD on the market ?
I mean, i have a samsung 840 ssd at this time, and i can secure erase it (reset the nand, internal secure erase command) by parted magic, its way faster and quicker than secure erasing with multiple pass a HDD.

Since the device is in two part, one regular HDD and one SSD but pluged into one Sata port. Did this will work ?

December 9, 2013 | 08:14 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You can, but the HDD partition must be removed and it must be reverted back to SSD-only mode prior to doing so. Only the SSD portion will be secure erased. To securely wipe the HDD portion, you'd have to do it the old fashioned way, with a partition-based wipe tool.

December 1, 2013 | 03:23 AM - Posted by Neshi (not verified)

Allen,

Do you think there would have been a way for WD to have this drive show up as 2 independent drives in the system (does sata support 2 drives on the same link) if it does is there any benefit to doing it the way they currently are?

December 9, 2013 | 08:15 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

I would imagine they approached this as an initial design, but it would require port multiplication, which is very iffy as far as being supported by all of the various mobile chipsets.

December 2, 2013 | 11:52 PM - Posted by aselwyn1

i wonder if you can put this in a ps4?

December 9, 2013 | 08:13 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

Won't work properly in that config as the PS4 partitions the drive in a way that is not aware of the SSD / HDD border.

December 3, 2013 | 03:41 PM - Posted by Voiq (not verified)

Very interesting article and comment replies Allyn.
I have some questions.. 

My laptop is a Sony Vaio AW11Z/B with 2 x 320 GB 5400 RPM Serial ATA HDD.

I work with relatively large files (in Photoshop / Illustrator, etc) what do you recomend for speed improvement and storage space also, at an affordible price? 

How do I have to configure my OS, where should I install Windows, my aditional software (Photoshop / Illustrator) and where should I put the temporary files that the software uses (on what HDD or partition).

Do you recommend this WD Black2 Dual HDD? Should I wait for more variations? Should I wait for the SSD prices to drop? I can also make use or replace my second HDD.. What's your best solution also (non-affordable)?

Thank you.

December 9, 2013 | 08:12 PM - Posted by Allyn Malventano

You have a dual bay system. Are your drives currently in RAID?

For that particular setup, I'd either go single SSD and single HDD or if you really wanted it to scream, get a matched pair of SSDs and run them in RAID-0. That said, if you can live with a slightly smaller capacity, even a single 500GB SSD is going to run circles around the HDDs you're currently using, and be comparable in cost to the Black2. The catch is that you'd have half the capacity of the Black2, but given your current config, that may be liveable for you.

December 4, 2013 | 03:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

So...if you go black , you will go back.

February 20, 2014 | 11:59 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have issues with WD Black - disk driver takes extrta 2 GB of RAM after system startup. I have been dealing with Western Digital support for weeks now, with no effects so far.

I know that some people broke their WD Blacks when they tried to install system on SSD part (which should be disabled with special program, before system is installed). SSD in this hybrid is for caching purposes only, and has to be disabled before system installation, what is quite bizzare solution.

I cannot recommend WD Black.

March 2, 2014 | 10:39 AM - Posted by mae (not verified)

I accidentally deleted 2 partitions namely SSD and HDD. Now I have got one big “messy” partition in a size of 1.1 T+. But I would like to re-partition it back to two original partitions (SSD and HDD) as factory settings. Please help! And Thanks in advance!

April 12, 2014 | 02:04 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Got the same exact problem! One giant partition of 1043.4GB No idea how to install this or how to reset it...

May 21, 2014 | 06:22 PM - Posted by Weaver (not verified)

I have only had mine for a couple hours and ran into this problem. Has anyone figured out how to get the drive separate again or at least get the software to turn off the 1 tb for the computer can only see the ssd

May 21, 2014 | 06:23 PM - Posted by Weaver (not verified)

I have only had mine for a couple hours and ran into this problem. Has anyone figured out how to get the drive separate again or at least get the software to turn off the 1 tb for the computer can only see the ssd

May 20, 2014 | 08:41 PM - Posted by Raj (not verified)

Hi,
Is it possible i can use this in Macbook Pro Retina display ??
Please reply.

June 10, 2014 | 06:16 AM - Posted by clinton (not verified)

Hi Guys

Does anyone know if this is mac compatible. I have a 2011 17" MacBook Pro.

thanks

July 23, 2014 | 01:00 PM - Posted by spcarrozzo (not verified)

Manual indicates compatibility:

Windows 8.1/8/7/Vista
Windows XP(32-bit)

I think you could enable the second partition on windows, delete the partitions and repartition on a mac, just like it was described for a linux before. But not sure.

December 13, 2014 | 03:16 PM - Posted by Rob (not verified)

Wow, I may visit you more often. Hope ur still answering fan posts. This is an excellent review, but MORE so the tech discussions which cover the varied setups on laptops (my interest).

REQUEST FOR HELP - Compare Black2 with swapping current 750GB HDD into DVD-based caddy and add internal SSD.

Have Dell N5110, single 750GB HD, Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit. Even in sleep mode, takes like 3+ minutes to 'wake up' and connect to Internet. Restart even worse.

SCENARIOS

1. My present thought "was" get internal SSD, then put 750GB into DVD-based caddy. IT appears 256GB SSD safest in terms of OS "space" route, but then WHICH SSD (reliability, bang for buck)? Also, what caddy will work with my Dell N5110?

If I put the 750GB HDD in a caddy / DVD slot, THEN the POWER is always on, right? Thus the HEAT goes UP in the laptop? Does the Black2 produce MORE heat than the standard HDD?

2. Are YOU using the Black2 hybrid? It is one step easier to use the hybrid (no DVD bay mod), and I get even more storage. As I've never had SSD, even the "slower" Black2 write speed will seem like lightning compared to my present startup speed, I think.

Lastly, I'll note the Dell runs very well as is, ONCE up and running. Thus any purchase is convenience for me, not necessity. I'm often using it for browsing so keep comparing to spending money on a tablet (the new-wave of convenience).

December 13, 2014 | 03:33 PM - Posted by Rob (not verified)

Ok, after reading the full article, I'd say for my 'these days' passive laptop use, often sleep on/off like a tablet... BUT I still want my 750GB (current) storage...

The Black2 looks very attractive, and I've used their 5-year warranty long ago with no issues. It's hard to beat.

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