WD Black 2 Dual-Drive SSD+HDD Hybrid Review

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Solid state drives continue to be all the rage, due to their durability, silence, and high performance versus traditional hard drives, with spinning magnetic media. And while SSD prices have dropped significantly this past year, they remain relatively expensive in terms of cost per gigabyte, and are still many times the price of a hard disk drive.

The price disparity between solid state and hard disk drives often forces mobile and small form factor users into the unenviable position of choosing performance over capacity. Provided they’ve got the budget, desktop users needn’t compromise, because their systems can accommodate multiple drives of different form factors without issue. But SFF and mobile systems are usually outfitted with only a single 2.5” drive bay, so if you want the performance of an SSD, but need a large capacity drive, you’ve got to shell out big bucks for a high-capacity SSD or settle for the lower performance of a hard drive.

WD recently released a totally new class of product that aims to resolve this conundrum, however. The new WD Black 2 Dual-Drive (SSD + HDD) pairs 120GB of solid state storage with a 1TB hard disk, in a single 2.5” drive. The WD Black 2 is not a caching solution, though, like some other hard drives outfitted with flash memory. Rather, the WD Black 2 operates as two independent drives—a fast SSD for your OS and most commonly used apps and a large hard drive for bulk storage.

The WD Black 2 SSD + HDD

WD Black 2
Specifications & Features

WD Black 2 - Currently $299 on Amazon

The WD Black 2’s full specifications are listed in the table above. As you can see, it’s a 2.5” drive (with a 9.5mm Z-Height) and it sports a SATA 6 Gb/s interface.

The SSD portion of the drive is rated for 350MB/s reads and 140MB/s writes, which are relatively low numbers by today’s standards for an SSD. They’re much higher than any hard drive, though, and of course access times on the SSD are simply in a different league versus an HDD. The SSD is built around a JMicron JMF667H controller and NAND is 20nm MLC. The 1TB hard drive’s specs aren’t listed, but as you’ll see a little later, it’s a rather speedy, single-platter 5400RPM drive, with 16MB of cache (average latency - 5.5ms), that regularly hits over 110MB/s.

To call the WD Black 2 a “dual-drive” as WD’s materials do, is somewhat if a misnomer. Yes, the drive has distinct solid state and magnetic media, but the WD Black 2 is actually recognized by a system as a single device. Out of the box, WD ships the Black 2 with the SSD portion already partitioned. This way, users know that their OS and apps are definitely installed on the fastest part of the drive. Users must run a utility which unlocks and reveals the 1TB portion of the drive. Contrary to what you may be thinking, there are no drivers or services that need to be run on the PC for the WD Black 2. Once that HDD partition is unlocked, it’s ready to go and can be manipulated as any other partition could. In fact, you could even manually repartition the WD Black 2 as one big drive, but you’ll see off behavior like this:

You see, once you travel across the solid state storage and into the magnetic media, performance drops off quite a bit. Should you accidentally screw up the partitions, users can also re-run the WD utility to hide the HDD portion of the WD Black 2 again, re-configure the SSD and start over.

The WD Black 2 and its Accessory Bundle

Included with the WD Black 2 is the drive itself, a USB to SATA adapter, a flash drive which will automatically direct users to the download the unlocking utility, a user’s guide and warranty papers.

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geforce912 one year ago

Unless you absolutely need more than 500gb for your OS and all the other stuff, a 500gb ssd would serve you better. Heck, i only paid $290 for a 500gb Samsung Evo on Newegg a month ago and that blows the doors of this drive. This drive should certainly be priced less than 200 considering most 128gb ssds hover around $80.

sevags one year ago

I read that this drive does not work on Nvidia chipsets and it is also not mac compatible, any chance either of these 2 things were tested?

Dave_HH one year ago

sevgas, no, these two setups weren't tested. NVIDIA chipset motherboards especially are a pretty long shot these days and old hardware. Mac on the other hand would make sense to look at but it is a PC-targeted product so I wouldn't be surprised if the drivers weren't there yet.

sevags one year ago

Thank you for the response Dave!

I know nvidia chipsets are rarer these days but I actually (and unfortunately) know several friends still running Athlon X2's lol.

As this is a mobile product and apple is more and more soldering it's mobile parts together making it impossible to add a drive yourself. I have an Air with an msata 256gb so it would be nice if apple would supppprt a product like this even if it has to permanently integrate it into the design.

realneil one year ago

I've had an inexpensive NVIDIA chipset (N68) in a pc here for years. It gave up the ghost a week ago (bad caps) and I replaced the motherboard with another cheap chipset in it. It's an ECS A960M-MV and it looks like a quality board. (solid Japanese caps) It was $22.98 Shipped from Newegg.

I couldn't believe that price.

BigKihd one year ago

Seems like a decent package although I am not a huge WD fan

CemDoan 10 months ago

Here is the result i Get ....

I buyed one during instalation of windows i got bluescreen!!!!!!!!!

Anyway i continued the instalation but after on it continued bluescreen..

So i went to my dealer after 2 week they sent me a new one¿¿¿

So far it doesnt have the performance they promissed....

(I have an Hp 1247et Notebook im sure a newer note or pc will have better performance but how much? i dont know)


* MB/s = 1,000,000 byte/s [SATA/300 = 300,000,000 byte/s]

Sequential Read : 234.506 MB/s

Sequential Write : 139.583 MB/s

Random Read 512KB : 226.474 MB/s

Random Write 512KB : 146.065 MB/s

Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 21.889 MB/s [ 5344.0 IOPS]

Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 44.043 MB/s [ 10752.8 IOPS]

Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 114.891 MB/s [ 28049.7 IOPS]

Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 50.157 MB/s [ 12245.4 IOPS]

Test : 100 MB [C: 44.1% (49.3/111.8 GB)] (x5)

Date : 2014/02/11 23:50:46

OS : Windows 7 Professional SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)


* MB/s = 1,000,000 byte/s [SATA/300 = 300,000,000 byte/s]

Sequential Read : 237.449 MB/s

Sequential Write : 142.103 MB/s

Random Read 512KB : 233.559 MB/s

Random Write 512KB : 134.673 MB/s

Random Read 4KB (QD=1) : 21.834 MB/s [ 5330.7 IOPS]

Random Write 4KB (QD=1) : 40.852 MB/s [ 9973.8 IOPS]

Random Read 4KB (QD=32) : 114.239 MB/s [ 27890.5 IOPS]

Random Write 4KB (QD=32) : 47.232 MB/s [ 11531.1 IOPS]

Test : 1000 MB [C: 44.3% (49.6/111.8 GB)] (x5)

Date : 2014/02/11 23:57:08

OS : Windows 7 Professional SP1 [6.1 Build 7601] (x64)

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