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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

Internals, Testing Methodology and System Setup

Internals:

I normally dive right in and field strip these devices as they arrive for testing. The Black2 is so precisely assembled that I opted to do the disassembly *after* all of the testing, out of fear for rendering it inoperable after the surgery. There is a dust-sealed HDD in there after all, and inadvertently breaking that seal would mean no test results for you fine folks. That said, I did manage to break it down while leaving the important bits intact.

First the belly:

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After warranty voidance step 1 we expose the drive electronics. These parts are mostly responsible for driving the HDD portion of this drive, with an added bridge to tack on the SSD controller:

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Now for the real goodies - the SSD portion. This part is extremely delicate as the PCB is razor thin and is very well attached to the HDD frame. Do not try this at home - seriously:

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As you can see from the plain-as-day label, the SSD board is in fact mounted straight to a right off the line WD 1TB Slim HDD chassis.

The SSD only takes up a small portion of the PCB. Looking at the thicknesses involved, it's possible to get more chips within the sandwich, but WD chose to keep everything mounted closer to the 'open' end of the HDD structure. Here's a detail shot of the SSD logic:

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Aah, finally, we get to see the new(ish) JMicron 667H (details / specs) in action. 

Here's what the 667H looks like, functionally:

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As SSD controllers go, this is a standard setup. We just hope the newer JMicron model performs better than previous generations from this manufacturer.

One last shot to show the difference between the drive logic and SSD PCB's:

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You can see just how thin WD needed to go in order to make this happen. The Slim is a 7mm chassis, meaning WD had only 1.5mm to work with for the entire SSD portion.

Testing Methodology

Our tests are a mix of synthetic and real-world benchmarks. PCMark, IOMeter, HDTach, HDTune, Yapt and our custom File Copy test round out the selection to cover just about all bases. If you have any questions about our tests just drop into the Storage Forum and we'll help you out! 

Test System Setup

We currently employ a pair of testbeds. Our trusty Z68 SandyBridge testbed sits along side a newer ASUS P8Z77-V Pro/Thunderbolt.Results between both boards have been +/- 2% of each other - well within the best data scatter of a typical benchmark.

PC Perspective would like to thank ASUS, Corsair, and Kingston for supplying some of the components of our test rigs. 

 
Hard Drive Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i5-2500K
Motherboard Asus P8Z68-V Pro
Memory Kingston HyperX 4GB DDR3-2133 CL9
Hard Drive G.Skill 32GB SLC SSD
Sound Card N/A
Video Card Intel® HD Graphics 3000
Video Drivers Intel
Power Supply Corsair CMPSU-650TX
DirectX Version DX9.0c
Operating System Windows 7 X64
  • PCMark05
  • Yapt
  • IOMeter
  • HDTach
  • HDTune
  • PCPer File Copy Test
  • Write Caching Test
December 9, 2013 | 05:13 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 | 12:41 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 | 05:12 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 | 12:27 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

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

February 20, 2014 | 08:59 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 | 07:39 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 | 11:04 AM - 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 | 03:22 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 | 03:23 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 | 05:41 PM - Posted by Raj (not verified)

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

June 10, 2014 | 03:16 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 | 10:00 AM - 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.

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