WD Black 4TB (WD4001FAEX)


If you need massive single-drive storage then there’s really no going higher than the 4TB capacity available right now. Sure, SSDs have taken the spotlight when it comes to storage solutions but they just can’t complete with the price-per-GB ratio that mechanical drive have and most if not all regular home users would opt for the comfort of larger storage than improved storage performance. Always in the front lines of consumer-class storage, Western Digital now rebranded WD Black series of hard drives balances large capacity with superior performance for uncompromising consumers. Having skipped the 3TB capacity in the Black series (available only in OEM), a lot of WD fans are hungry for the return of the Black series and now we have the 4TB WD Black in the bench for review. Let’s make this showy!

The WD Black 4TB shares the same number of 800GB platters as the WD RE which comes in at five platters. Right now there aren’t that much internal 4TB offerings making the WD Black 4TB quite the stand-out choice as it sits below the 4TB enterprise-solution WD RE and with the Hitachi Desktar now unavailable for retail. Seagate has yet to have their answer available locally but we’ll try and scoop that one up once it does.

Hard drives haven’t really changed in shape or form in recent times especially the desktop drive. As most mobile parts get slimmer, the desktop variant retains the classic 3.5″ form factor we’ve know for decades. The WD Black 4TB retains this form. The new WD label sites on the drives top casing to signify its classification.

WD places its PCB with the components facing the drive casing. Whilst making the drive look cleaner, the components are also cooled by the metal casing.

  • Product Specifications 
    • Interface             SATA 6 Gb/s
  • Performance Specifications       
    • Rotational Speed             7,200 RPM (nominal)
    • Buffer Size          64 MB
    • Average Latency              4.20 ms (nominal)
    • Load/unload Cycles         300,000 minimum
  • Transfer Rates
    • Buffer To Host (Serial ATA)          6 Gb/s (Max)
  • Physical Specifications 
    • Formatted Capacity        4,000,787 MB
    • Capacity               4 TB
    • User Sectors Per Drive   7,814,037,168
  • Physical Dimensions      Environmental Specifications
    • Height   26.1 mm
    • Depth   147 mm
    • Width    101.6 mm
    • Weight 0.78 kg
  • Shock
    • Operating Shock (Read)                30G, 2 ms
    • Non-operating Shock     300G, 2 ms
  • Acoustics
    • Idle Mode           29 dBA (average)
    • Seek Mode 0     34 dBA (average)
  • Temperature (Metric)
    • Operating            -0° C to 60° C
    • Non-operating  -40° C to 70° C
  • Electrical Specifications
    • Read/Write        10.40 Watts
    • Idle        8.10 Watts
    • Standby               1.20 Watts
    • Sleep     1.20 Watts
  • Operating System
    • Compatibility     Windows/Mac

 

PERFORMANCE

Test Setup

Processor: Intel Core i7 3770K 4.4Ghz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UP7
Memory: Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary Edition DDR3-2400
Storage: Plextor M5Pro Xtreme 256GB, WD Black 4TB
PSU: Seasonic X-760W
Cooling: Corsair H100 (Max)

ATTO Disk Benchmark benchmarks a drive’s read and write speeds with increasing file sizes and graphs them.

The drives peaks at around 156MB/s on both read and write duties. This isn’t anything spectacular in itself but looking at the ranges it goes over, we can see that the drive is capable of sustaining 150MB/s speeds starting at 8KB file sizes. What’s more interesting is this goes the same way for write speeds.

For potential write testing, HD Tune was used to measure the drive’s write performance. Again, we focus on the average results for real-world relevance.

The last desktop drives to have passed by our bench have all been from WD and from different target markets at that. Here we can see the top performing WD Velociraptor showing how much power mechanical disks can still attain, at 75% that speed but 300% the capacity the WD Caviar Black shows it can still hang with its bigger brothers particularly the equal-capacity WD RE which costs over 50% more.

Crystal Disk Mark is storage benchmarking software was developed by “hiyohiyo” of Japan, and is available for free. Crystal Disk Mark measures sequential, and random read/write speeds of storage devices.

This benchmark showcases that the Black series is no slouch putting itself on equal footing with the WD RE though still not enough to match it in terms of sequential performance.

We’ve taken our compression test files, a collection of images, documents and other files ranging from 1KB to 50MB amounting to 3,310 files for 3.34GB and a single 12GB movie file for our copy tests.

Now you might be wondering why we put an SSD in the mix. Well for starters, its for relative comparison and secondly its for this. That no matter how fast the SSD may be in benches, real-world tests still tell a different story. The single large file transfer shows a large gap between performance and this is expected but when served up with a ton of small files interspersed in a lot of folders along with large files, things get pretty even. The WD Black 4TB shows its got the right stuff to handle such loads.

To measure boot-up time we used BootRacer. BootRacer is a free program that measures Windows boot-up times.

A drive this large I really don’t picture as a boot drive but its the consumers’ call and in this case we can see Windows 7 SP1 booting up to desktop at 21 seconds.

We hook-up a meter to our SSD HDD see how much it pulls from the PSU during idle and simultaneous read/write load.

The WD Black series are not touted as energy-saving devices unlike their Green counterparts but hard drives in general don’t suck up that much power. In our charts, we see the enterprise WD Black needing only 8.8w in idle and goes up to 10.8w during load. This means the drive runs only 2w higher during load which isn’t that big an increase. Still, we’d have to see lower idle power draw.

CONCLUSION

Its pretty clear the WD Black 4TB sets itself apart, possessing equal balance of performance and extremely large capacity to provide an all-in-one storage solution for enthusiasts and power users looking for that vast amounts of digital realty. Let’s break down our score.

Performance. Having been matched against its much more able siblings, the WD Black 4TB proves its got what it takes to set to hold the performance crown of the consumer stack in WD’s port folio. At 150MB/s read/write speeds the drive tears through data on a consistent pace that even the most demanding power users will appreciate. The drive takes a perfect score on this one.

Build Quality. A tried and tested form factor coupled with signature assembly, WD maintains their level of quality in the WD Black. Excellent.

Functionality. With up to 4TB of digital space to chomp through, the drive has ample working space for storage and to leverage all that space is that speed that even modern games will have to try hard to max out.

Bundle. Comes in stand-alone. We’ll let it slide. Average.

Value. With a launch price of Php14,900, the WD Black 4TB is not a cheap proposition. But considering that you’re getting that space at Php3.75 per GB, its easier to swallow that price tag. Primarily aimed at digital media content fiends, P2P downloaders and anime hoarders who have a tendency to keep everything in a single drive divided into a wide array of organized partitions, the WD Black is a bit out of reach to those that do not require such massive storage.

Right now, the WD Black is at that premium position where only those that have the cash or are willing to save up because they need it will be able to find any real value in this 4TB HDD. Barring the price, the WD Black 4TB provides performance that puts it at the top of its pack and we just can’t wait to pit it against Seagate’s 4TB retaliation.

If you’re looking for class-leading capacity and need the performance to go along with it, there’s only the WD Black 4TB to go for. Capacities of 3TB and lower are available also. WD backs the WD Black series with a 5-year warranty which is the longest in the industry.

We give the WD Black 4TB our Silver and Performance Award.

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