Xmas Gear: WD Black²

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So often we look to RAM or graphics card for a way to increase the performance of our computer, but what about the hard drive? WD has been at work designing a dual drive, the WD Black², and tossed us one to try out. We think it’s going to set the world on fire.

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Specifications

The WD Black² is a 2.5″ laptop size hard disk drive (HDD), making it the perfect size no matter what type of computer you have. It interfaces with a super speedy SATA connection running at 6 Gb/s matching any decent drive currently on the market. However, what separates the WD Black² from its competition is its amazing hybrid design which pairs a high quality 120Gb solid-state drive (SSD) with a slim 1Tb normal 5400 rpm storage disk. This allows for both high performance and storage space, all in one bay, which is a world first apparently. The drive uses 20nm architecture with quad channel NAND processing to give brutal speed and performance, plus WD has customised the controller to increase the efficiency of its data management. The results are amazing.

Installation

Everything you need

Everything you need

WD is kind enough to provide you with all of the tools you need to move your life onto your new drive. Just plug in the provided USB and you will be sent straight to the WD website for links to the imaging software and drivers needed. It is very important you keep this page open and use the provided video tutorials as the manual has little to no actual information on how to set up the drive. In fact this is one of my only gripes about the WD Black² , the frustration which comes with the data transfer.

The provided imaging software cannot just move your files over. Users must first get the size down to under 120 GB as the 1TB HDD is not available until the installation is complete after the drive is imaged. After failing to get this to work on one of my laptops (for whatever reason) I changed my machine and, after a few more frustrating attempts, I managed to get the installation to stick. The program is only capable of one task and has most of the useful options cut out of the special WD version of this software. This took several days of tinkering for me to get working, but after it was done the rest was smooth sailing. Once installed into the HDD bay, the old HDD can be attached via the provided cable and then it is simply a matter of installing the WD drivers. Then your 1Tb storage drive is ready to make room for the rest of your digital life.

Performance

After set up this drive is a noticeable improvement in every way. The computer will boot to the operating system in seconds. Files open quicker, making general navigation of your PC more enjoyable, programs will run more smoothly and of course, games play better. In all the games I tested I noticed a decent jump in performance, the frame rate increased, games were running at higher settings and loading times were much quicker. This was a great bonus for me as the machine I was using has had the RAM upgraded as far as it can go and the graphics card is beginning to dip a little below the more recent required game specifications. The WD Black² turned it from the guest computer to my go to gaming PC.

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The WD Black² is the a major leap forward in hard drive technology, especially for laptop users. Combining the speed and power of a solid-state drive with a full 1Tb storage drive offers the user the best of both worlds. The drive may not be cheap (retailing at around AUS$399) but it is a long term investment for those who want to squeeze a bit more juice out of their current machine or boost an already powerful gaming system. If you consider the combined price of a SDD and a 1TB drive, the WD Black²  isn’t as ludicrously priced as you might think. Make a wise investment choice and start saving for this puppy.

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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  • adin75

    Hmm, I was going to say that I just found the drive I’m getting when I upgrade the one in the PS4. Then I seen the price, OUCH!

  • Chad Wheeler

    I have been meaning to upgrade to a SSD for a while now, but I might just wait a bit longer for this kind of thing to have a chance to take off (read: go down in price) a little more.

  • Northy179

    If I run BF4 from my 2tb storage drive, it takes 11 to 20 minutes to load a multiplayer map, If I run it from an SSD it takes about 35 seconds.

    Gaming from standard HDDs is well and truly dead. Most modern HD games are an absolutely nightmare on anything other than a SSD.