A Terabyte For Notebooks: WD Scorpio Blue 1TB Drive - HotHardware

A Terabyte For Notebooks: WD Scorpio Blue 1TB Drive

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Notebook hard drives have generally followed a similar track as other mobile components, in that they're much smaller, lighter and consume less power, but also offer lower performance, features and capacity versus their desktop counterparts. And though technology continues to evolve in notebook architectures, similarly, some may argue that evolution doesn't happen at the sometimes blinding pace that we see on the desktop.  

Regardless, we're sure you can remember a day when terabyte-sized desktop hard drives were ground breaking.  Fittingly, notebook hard drive capacities reaching a full terabyte are what we'd consider bleeding-edge currently.  Of course, a consumer's insatiable need for more data storage does not relent as well, whether at home or on the go. It seems like we never have enough space.  Sure, a 1TB notebook drive might be more targeted to the mobile workstation market but we're willing to bet there are more than a few pack rats in the mainstream as well.

Recently, Western Digital  stepped out and announced their new 1TB 9.5mm Scorpio Blue 2.5-inch notebook drive.  The announcement was significant in that it's the first drive of this capacity to squeeze that many bits into an industry standard 9.5mm, 2.5" SATA form-factor.  To do this, WD drove areal density per platter in their 2.5" platform to 500GB.  Here's a look at the new Scorpio Blue 1TB 2.5-inch SATA hard drive and its specifications.  Next we'll run down a quick performance comparison for you on this beefy mobile beast as well.
WD Scorpio Blue 1TB 2.5" SATA HD
Specifications & Features
Performance Specifications:

    Rotational Speed -  5,400 RPM (nominal)
    Cache Buffer Size - 8 MB
    Average Latency - 5.50 ms (nominal)

Transfer Rates
    Buffer To Host - (Serial ATA) 3 Gb/s (Max)

Physical Specifications:

    Formatted Capacity -    1,000,204 MB
    Capacity  -  1 TB
    Interface  - SATA 3 Gb/s
    User Sectors Per Drive -  1,953,525,168

Physical Dimensions:   
    Height - 0.374 Inches
    Depth - 3.94 Inches
    Width - 2.75 Inches
    Weight - 0.27 Pounds

So we're looking at a 5400RPM mainstream consumer-targeted drive here, versus WD's Scorpio "Black" series, which are 7200RPM performance drives for notebooks.  However, since areal density per platter has been increased with the 1TB Scorpio Blue, you'll see that, though its rotational speed is lower, its performance numbers are actually surprisingly good.

Here's our quick and dirty performance run-down...

Our Test Methodologies: Under each test condition, the drives we tested were installed as secondary volumes in our testbed, with a standard spinning hard disk for the OS and benchmark software installations. Drives were left blank without partitions wherever possible, unless a test required them to be partitioned and formatted, as was the case with our ATTO and CrystalDiskMark benchmark tests.  Windows firewall, automatic updates and screen savers were all disabled before testing. In all test runs, we rebooted the system and waited several minutes for drive activity to settle before invoking a test.

HotHardware Test System
Intel Core i7 and SSD Powered

Processor -
Motherboard -

Video Card -
Memory -
Audio -
Hard Drives -

Hardware Used:
Intel Core i7-970

Gigabyte GA-EX58 Extreme
(X58 Chipset)

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285
6144MB Kingston DDR3-1333
Integrated on board
WD Caviar Black 1TB (OS Drive)
WD Scorpio Blue 1TB
WD Scorpio Black 500GB
Seagate Momentus 640GB

OS -
Chipset Drivers -
DirectX -

Video Drivers

Relevant Software:
Windows 7 Ultimate x64
DirectX 11
NVIDIA GeForce 260.99
Benchmarks Used:
ATTO v2.46
CrystalDiskMark v3.01
SiSoftware Sandra 2011

SANDRA, CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
Synthetic HDD Benchmarking


SANDRA's sequential read and write average throughput tests shows the new WD Scorpio Blue is actually measurably faster than its 500GB, 7200RPM counterpart and about 35% faster than its closest 5400RPM large capacity Seagate competitor.

CrystalDiskMark confirms the same results, with an almost identical spread in performance between the three drives we tested, though the sequential test shows higher peak bandwidth for all drives tested.

The ATTO disk benchmark does a better job of representing a drive's performance across a wider swath of transfer sizes.  Let's take a look.

With ATTO we see a very similar spread in performance, in terms of read throughput.  The WD Scorpio Blue 1TB drive again out-performs even the 500GB, 7200RPM Scorpio Black notebook drive.  However, with respect to writes, the Scorpio Blue 1TB drive shows lack-luster performance with smaller 16 - 32K transfer sizes, only really kicking into gear at 64K-sized files and above.  Regardless, its write performance overall is more or less in line with the 7200RPM Scorpio Black drive.

So that wraps up our quick-take look at the new WD Scorpio Blue 1TB notebook hard drive.  Though hard drive performance and capacity for notebooks isn't going to intersect with desktop performance and capacity any time soon, it's good to see the investment in low cost, bulk mobile storage technology is still being prioritized at Western Digital.  For $99, you can't go wrong with the WD Scorpio Blue 1TB drive,  if you need the space.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue 1TB Notebook Hard Drive

Article Index:

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Well it's about time to upgrade that Western Digital Scorpio Blue 500GB drive sitting in my laptop now.

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"With dual drive bays becoming standard in 15 inch laptops and up, this hard drive is a great for storage and or replacing that low capacity , low performing hard drive that most people have. Nice price also."


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Yeah, this drive and an SSD in the first bay and you've got a nice mobile setup for speed and storage.

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I like how they're getting better (than the 7,200RPM Black) performance with a 5,400RPM drive.

Now, if they were to use the same methods on a 7,200RPM speed drive, what kind of performance would we see?

I wonder if this is in their plans to do?

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Yes, Neil. That's generally the way they roll out the technology actually.

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Yes, Neil. That's generally the way they roll out the technology actually.

There's a lot that they can still do with platter drives as I see it.

(at this point let me ask forgiveness for my upcoming "Old-Fart" technical expressions)

So,.....looking at the inside one of those platter drives,....they have those cute little 'fingers' that swing back and forth above and below the platters as they spin away so merrily, reading and writing like mad. what if they doubled the 'fingers' so that there were two per side, per platter? (each one reading and writing to either the inside or outside surface?)

Would that speed them up a little more?

Random crap running around in my head,.... must need the tin foil hat again,................Smile

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With msata becoming more wide spread and 6gbps msata drives coming this fall the speed of this drive will be perfect for the data drive in all notebooks soon.

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Why are you comparing the drive to old 500GB and 640GB models? Wouldn't the Samsung M8 1TB 2.5" 9mm drive (which actually came out a few weeks back - yep, WD wasn't the first) be a much more fitting partner for comparison? It's the competition, after all...

Also, since we're talking about laptops here:

Power consumption?



This isn't a review, it's an advertisement. :(

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SBroenner, while I don't appreciate the accusation that this story was some sort of an advertisement, I'll respond to your question.  First, the drives we tested along side the new 1TB WD drive just happened to be what we had on hand.  The 1TB WD Scorpio Blue is a 5400RPM drive, just like the Seagate 640GB drive we compared it to.  The Scorpio Black we tested is a 7200RPM drive so theoretically faster in general and for random access latency versus the new WD 1TB drive.  Regardless, as is typical, the reference test drives we use for comparison are just that, a reference point. 

Of course there are other drives on the market, including Samsung's, which again, we don't have here for testing.

And heat and noise on this 5400RPM drive we pretty much insignificant, so the reason for the lack of mention in our quick-take look at it.  It was a preview, not an extensive review like our in-depth multi-page evaluations we do.

Again, I appreciate your questions and input but I also would appreciate it if you could ease up on the insults.

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this looks awesome, but where to buy it?

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