WD Black 2 combo drive review

The Black 2 is a combination 128 SSD and 1TB HD drive that will fit in most laptops.

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The world eagerly awaits the creation of a drive that gives users the speed of a solid state device, but the storage and price of a traditional hard disk.

But until that day comes we’ll be stuck using one or the other.

Some manufacturers have introduced a SSHD, a solid state hard drive. This drive combines a traditional hard drive with a small SSD, and its software determines the files that should be placed on the SSD portion. High-use latency sensitive files, like those required to boot your computer, are placed on the SSD. The problem is, the SSD part of the drive is out of your reach and you can’t choose what files to install on the drive.

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WD’s Black2 looks to change that. With the Black2 the SSD and HD are separate mountable drives, so you can pick what to install on each. Gamers, for instance, may want to install game files on the SSD and leave the HD open for media content and documents. The Black2 offers a 128 GB SSD and a 1TB HDD that inside a 2.5-inch 9mm-thick case that will fit in most laptops.

Unfortunately the Black2 doesn’t yet offer Mac support. The reason being the drive needs special software installed to unlock the 1TB portion, otherwise the computer just detects it as a 2GB SSD.

Testing the Black2

Opening up the Black2 brings up what major caveat to WD’s storage claims. The SSD only has 120 GB of storage, not the advertised 128 GB. The drive uses the JMircon JMF667H controller and the Marvell 88S9642-NMD2, which allows for 6.0 Gb/s of bandwidth.

wd black dual drive 6 665x374 WD Black 2 combo drive reviewDuring testing with ATTO, the SSD was able to obtain a read speed of 441.3MB/s and a write speed of 149.2MB/s.

During testing the hard drive performed reasonably well, with the hard drive having a 121.6 MB/s read/write speed.

hdtune ssd WD Black 2 combo drive review

Is it worth it?

For laptop users needing a lot of hard disk space as well as the speed of an SSD, WD’s Black2 is the perfect combination. The downside, however, is the cost. At $299, it’s cheaper than going the pure SSD route, but still more expensive than a high-capacity hard drive.  Users who need the best of both HDD and SSD worlds will love the device, and for that it earns top marks.

8 51 WD Black 2 combo drive review

Pros:

  • The best of both SSD and HDD worlds for those who need it.
  • Speedy.
  • Works with almost every laptop. Instillation is painless.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Speedy, but could be faster.
Sam Reynolds is a Canadian technology journalist based in Taipei. His interest is the intersection between politics, business and technology.