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Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive review

Alan Lu
10 Mar 2015
Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
238
inc VAT

The Western Digital Black2 is a clever combination of a hard disk and SSD all in a single 2.5in form factor

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Specifications

120GB + 1TB sata solid-state disk

At first glance, the Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive looks like a standard 2.5in hard disk. However, it’s actually two disks in one, with both a 1TB hard disk and 120GB SSD in the same shell. Unlike some other hybrid drives, the Black2 doesn’t use the SSD as a cache; it's just two drives in a case with one SATA3 interface. The idea is that you install Windows and your programs on the fast SSD, and save the larger, slower drive for all your documents and media files. It’s for this reason Western Digital labels the Black2 as a “dual drive” rather than a hybrid drive.

Conveniently, the Black2 comes with a couple of extras to help you install the drive in your computer. A USB3-to-SATA adaptor and a downloadable edition of Acronis True Image that only works with the Black2 can be used to clone your PC’s existing Windows installation to the SSD. This is a generous pack which will make upgrading a PC or laptop much easier. At 9.5mm, the drive is deeper than most SSDs or laptop hard disks, so if you planning on fitting it in a laptop check your drive bay is big enough.

You don’t need Acronis True Image if you simply reinstall Windows from scratch, but the software driver is essential, as without it only the 120GB SSD part of the Black2 will be visible to Windows. The driver is compatible with Windows 8.1 and Windows versions as old as XP. The drivers are included on a small USB flash drive.

Initially the Black2 launched without driver support for Mac OSX but the necessary software has since been released. You’ll need to update the Black2’s firmware (available from support.wdc.com) to make it work. The entire process is reasonably complicated on a Mac, and setting the drive up for Windows use is certainly simpler.

Western Digital Black2 Dual Drive

The Black2’s SSD uses 20nm NAND flash and a JMicron JMF667H controller. The 1TB hard disk has a spindle speed of 5,400RPM and 64MB of cache. As the drives are completely separate, we ran each through our file transfer benchmarks. In our large files test, the 120GB SSD wrote files at 216.2MB/s and read them at 394.9MB/s, for an overall 305.6MB/s. These are very slow speeds for a modern SSD. Small-file performance was also quite average at 93.3MB/s write and 79.2MB/s read. The 1TB hard disk had more impressive performance for a mechanical disk, with a large file read speed of 196.6MB/s and write of 112.3MB/s, which is great for a 2.5in hard disk, but a small-file write speed of 37.9MB/s is very poor. If you're using your disk to mainly store media files, however, this shouldn't be a problem; small-file performance is more important for program and operating system loading.

Since it originally launched, the price of the Black2 has dropped to the point where it costs around £0.14/GB with the capacities of both drives combined, which isn’t cheap. However, if you want the speed of an SSD for your software and operating system, 120GB should be just enough space. You’re then left with a generous 1TB for your media, making the Black2 a good upgrade for a laptop’s storage capacity. You’ll just need to make sure its 9.5mm height will fit in your computer. 

Basic Specifications

Rating****

Storage

Capacity120GB + 1TB
Formatted capacity111.6GB + 931GB
Price per gigabyte£0.20
InterfaceSATA3
Power connectorSATA
Spindle speed5,400rpm
Platters2
Heads4
Bearing technologyfluid dynamic
Noise (in normal use)21

Buying Information

Price£238
Warrantyfive years RTB
Supplierhttp://www.lambda-tek.com/componentshop
Detailswww.wdc.com