A Terabyte For Notebooks: WD Scorpio Blue 1TB Drive

WD Scorpio Blue 1TB Hard Drive

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

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