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WD Black 4TB Hard Drive Review
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by Rob Williams on January 2, 2013 in Hard Drives, Storage

WD’s Black 4TB is the sort of product that doesn’t need much of an introduction – it speaks for itself. We’re dealing with a standard-sized desktop hard drive that sports a market-leading 4TB of storage. That’s 4,000GB, for those not paying enough attention. It’s impressive on paper, so let’s see how it fares in our benchmarks.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate and real-world applicable as possible. We list most of the steps and processes involved in setting up and conducting our benchmarking process below, but in the interests of brevity we can’t mention every last detail. If there is any pertinent information that we’ve inadvertently omitted or you have any thoughts, suggestions, or critiques, then please feel free to email us or post directly in our forums. This site exists for readers like you and we value your input.

The table below lists the hardware used in our current storage-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing with the exception of the storage device. Each drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here. If the machine seems overkill for HDD testing – it is. It also doubles as our GPU testing rig.

Chassis

  Techgage Hard Drive Drive Test System
Processor Intel Core i7-3960X Extreme Edition – Six-Core @ 4.20GHz – 1.375v
Motherboard GIGABYTE G1. Assassin 2 – F4E BIOS (12/12/2011)
Memory Corsair Dominator GT 16GB DDR3-2133 9-11-12-27, 1.60v
Graphics GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Reference) – GeForce 301.42
Audio Onboard Creative X-Fi
Storage OS Drive:
Kingston HyperX 240GB SATA 6Gbit/s SSD
Testing Drives:
WD VelociRaptor 1TB (WD1000DHTZ, 64MB Cache, 10K RPM)
WD Black 4TB (WD4001FAEX, 64MB Cache, 7.2K RPM)
WD Black 2TB (WD2002FAEX, 64MB Cache, 7.2K RPM)
WD Green 2TB (WD20EARS, 64MB Cache, ~5.3K RPM)
WD Blue 1TB (WD10EALX, 32MB Cache, 7.2K RPM)
Power Supply Corsair AX1200 1200W
Cooling Corsair H70 Self-Contained Liquid Cooler
Et cetera Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit


Our Windows 7 Desktop for HDD Testing (Photo Credit)

When preparing our HDD testbed for benchmarking we follow these guidelines:

General Guidelines

  • Our CPU is frequency-locked to avoid potential performance variances.
  • No power-saving options are enabled in the motherboard’s EFI.
  • AHCI is enabled in the motherboard’s EFI for best performance.
  • Only the Intel 6Gbit/s port controller is used for test drives.
  • Only cold boots are utilized; for the purposes of our testing a boot is defined as the moment the power button is depressed to the moment the last systray icon and program has fully loaded after reaching the Windows 7 desktop. Auto-login is enabled.

Windows 7 Optimizations

  • User Account Control (UAC) is disabled.
  • The OS is kept clean; no scrap files are left in between runs.
  • The Windows Search daemon is disabled.
  • Windows Update and OS power-saving settings are disabled.

For our test suite, we’ve chosen a blend of both real-world and synthetic tests in order to get the best picture possible for overall drive performance. Although we value real-world performance higher than synthetic, synthetic tests are ideal because they give us the best case scenario of what a drive can do – and most often, the same tests can be run by you to be compared. Our synthetic benchmarks include Futuremark’s PCMark 7, which has become synonymous with storage benchmarking, and also HD Tune Pro 5.0, Iometer 1.1.0 and AIDA64 2.30.

For real-world testing, we perform both solid file and folder transfers, game level loading performance and also Windows 7 boot times.

Note: While the Windows boot time test implies that the OS is installed on the hard drive, all other tests are performed when the drive is the target. For our HD Tune, AIDA64 and Iometer tests, the drive is left unpartitioned.


  • http://techgage.com/ Brett Thomas

    I’ll still stick to my green 2TBs in my server arrays for now – RAID5 more than offsets the performance concerns. This drive would be a go-to if I needed the storage/space balance in such a large size, but who NEEDS their “working” drive to be 4TB? I’d rather have a 3-tier model for a full desktop – SSD for the OS, Raptor for a working drive, and a large and slow one for long-term storage.

    What are the warranty differences between the top brand WD black and the HGST drive? May account for the $20. WD’s warranty service has always been spectacular, I’m not sure about its subsidiaries.

    • http://www.facebook.com/deathspawner Rob Williams

      The HGST drive carries the same 5-year warranty. I can agree that most people won’t need a 4TB drive, but for those needing to maximize their storage potential, it’s a great option. A four-bay NAS that supports 4TB drives would offer 12TB of storage space – that’s pretty damn attractive. The fact that WD doesn’t really charge a premium for these beefy drives is what can make them a good investment. Though the HGST is an even better value on paper.

  • Danny Young Lim

    Western Digital Velociraptor 1TB has the lowest Access Time, compared to WD Black 2TB and 4TB model. Access Time is very important when it comes to loading data, saving information, for small files and big sequential files. Hence, WD Velociraptor 1TB is worth it to invest for better performance, better response time, as well as better power efficiency due to 2.5 Platter Density form factor.

  • Friday Wedding Photography

    I’m a huge fan of 4tb 7200rpm hard drives because I run them in my Drobo 5d and Drobo 5n and when you spend $600+ for your “enclosure”, and you lose 2 drives worth of space for “redundancy / protection”, your cost per tb of usable space is rather important.

    Example: You load your 5 bay with 3tb drives. 3×5=15tb of total space but drive 1&2 get substracted for your raid copy using Drobo’s software. Now you’re left with 3x3tb=9tb for usable space. Compare that with 5×4=20tb and 3x4tb=12tb of usable space.

    9tb of protected data = $150×5 (750) + $650(drobo) = $1400/9= $155 per tb of protected data (ouch!)
    12tb of protected data = $190 (950) + $650(drobo) = $1600/12= $133 per tb of protected data (14% increase in price for a 33% increase in usable storage space).

    The numbers get even better once they introduce the 5tb drives. Now, do you need that much storage space? Most people no. But if you do video production and produce a large amount of data from commercials or wedding videography projects, then you probably buy hard drives like they’re candy. Trying to manage that much data becomes a huge headache that can keep you up at night wondering “what happens if…” and “has my backup software been running?”

    Travis
    I run a Minneapolis based video production company.
    http://www.providfilms.com

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