To have a current generation solid state drive as your main system storage solution is a thing of beauty. They are fast beyond belief and make system startup and loading programs peppier than ever. But there is a trade off. Solid state hard drives are not cheap. Prices have come down, but they still exceed $1 per gigabyte. Large capacity and affordability do not go hand in hand. Even at 128gb, a solid state drive as a system drive will require regular monitoring and management to keep sufficient free space for smooth system operations. It is not surprising, many system builder use SSDs for storage, RAID arrays and dedicated video game drives.
Today we’re looking at the insanely large 4tb internal hard drive from Western Digital. The WD Black 4TB 7200rpm hard drive is designed for maximum performance and connects via SATA 6gb/s cable. It’s comes in a 3.5-inch form factor with a dynamic cache of 32-64mb. The drive ships “bare” and without a software bundle or SATA and power cables. Have those handy or get caught ill-prepared. Despite a dearth of included materials, there is little cause for pause. Let’s see why.
Installing the WD Black 4TB is child’s play. You will need a SATA 6gb/s cable and a STA power cable to connect the drive to your system’s powers supply. Screw the drive in to one of your available drive bays. Then connect the cables. Power your system and let Windows do the rest. I was prompted to restart upon successful driver installation. Ignoring this, I navigated my system to Disk Management where I quickly formatted the drive and separated it into two relatively equal partitions (2tb and 1.79tb). Easy enough.
We’re making this deep capacity drive our main system storage drive. Windows 8 installs in about 30-45min. But what if you want to clone your drive and don’t want to labor over a fresh install? Western Digital leaves you in a lurch on that end. For this we booted up our Acronis True Image HD hard drive utility. You can get a limited version when you buy a OCZ Vector drive. With it were able to clone our 1.5tb system drive to the WD Black 4TB in about 2hrs. Transfer went without a hitch and the 4TB boots flawlessly with all our system content.
One of the coolest features of the drive is one that plays a bit in the background and is not evident to the user. This is the dynamic cache. It purportedly improves performance in real time by optimizing cache allocation between read and write functions. Essentially, the drive will allocate more cache toward the dominating function (read or write). This may be why read speeds are almost equal to write speeds. In any event, you can see below in our ATTO benchmark, the Western Digital Black 4TB drives reaches just beyond its 150mb/s rated speeds.
The WD Black 4TB a fantastic drive. Really my only complaints are the lack of included materials and the price tag. It’s affordable relative the capacity and similar offerings but $300+ is never an easily digestible expense. I should mention, this drive is not recommended for RAID arrays. Despite WD advising against it, many are reporting very successful RAID use scenarios with speed reaching 250mb/s. That great news. The WD is also not ideal if lightening fast system startups are what you seek. I clocked Win 7 and Win 8 booting in about 35 seconds. Not the peppiest. But I found no stability issues and those read/write speeds are pretty good for a 7200rpm platter drive.
Bottom Line: The Western Digital Black 4TB is a industrial strength workhorse. It shows decent speeds for a platter spin drive. Couple this with the dynamic cache and deep pocketed storage capacity and you have a reliable and vast storage solution.
- Faster than advertised at 157mb/s
- Vast 4TB storage capacity
- Dynamic Cache
- Rare 7200rpm @ 4TB
- Bare with no cables, screws, mounting bracket or software bundle
The Western Digital WD Black 4TB SATA hard drive is available at Amazon for $315.93
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