Hard disk drives (HDD) are still the most popular storage subsystem solution among computer users from different classes. That’s because a hard drive offers a high capacity for a cheap price compared to that of SSD. Moreover, a 1TB capacity hard drive offers a sufficient speed to most basic/mainstream users who don’t want more than that for the near future.
Finding the best 1TB hard disk drive (HDD) on the market
Western Digital’s Caviar Blue line sits between the company’s high-end Caviar Black and the slower value-oriented Caviar Green. The best mechanical hard drives are the ones a user must choose if they are serious about improving the overall speed of their systems. The problem with “general rules” in the hardware space is that they lead buyers to believe there’s a clear buying hierarchy without regard to use case scenarios. The best 1TB hard drive can be found from WD or Seagate or maybe Toshiba also. Western Digital’s Caviar Blue range of drives is the company’s mid-range brand and, consequently, there’s only a 16MB cache and none of the power-saving features that distinguish Caviar Green products.
WD’s general rule is Black > Blue > Green, but it’s not always that simple – there are different use case scenarios attributed to each color, and “best” is classified more by the usage than by the color of the label on the drive chassis. Using a 1TB hard drive is a good fit for many basic users worldwide that only need small capacity. The Blue drives have very similar performance to the Black drives on average, except they come with a three-year limited warranty instead of the Black’s five-year (best in class).
If the 1TB hard drive you are choosing has similar to these specifications, then you can rest assured it is a good hard drive for your basic computer tasks.
- Rotational Speed: 7200RPM
- Buffer Size: 32MB
- Transfer Rate (Buffer to Disk): 126MB/s (max)
- Formatted Capacity: 1,000,204MB
- Capacity: 1TB
- Interface: SATA 6.0Gb/s
- Height: 26.1mm
- Depth: 147mm
- Width: 101.6mm
- Weight: 0.69kg
- Acoustics: Idle: 28 dBA (average)
- Acoustics: Seek Mode: 33 dBA (average)
- Power: Read/Write: 6.80W
- Power: Idle: 6.10W
- Power: Standby: 0.70W
- Power: Sleep: 0.70W
What Advantages a 1TB HDD offers
The Black drives typically have a larger buffer as well; for example, the WD1002FAEX Black has a 64MB cache vs. the 32MB cache of our WD10EALX Blue. Compared to the Greens, the Blues have a higher rotational speed (7200RPM vs. ~5200RPM) which equates to better performance. Beating a 3TB drive in a benchmark like PCMark05 is impressive. That’s when you go for the best 1TB hard drive you’ll not have to worry about issues older hard drives underwent. It means WD has very intelligent firmware and very good NCQ algorithms in the drive. Keep in mind that larger drives of the same RPM and platter density have an innate speed advantage, because they physically seek less distance. In essence, the Blue is Western Digital’s bread-and-butter drive. The WD10EALX’s technical highlight is its 6Gb/s interface, which is the latest SATA III standard.
The capacity limitations
Hard drives may be overshadowed by solid state drives but they still hold a huge amount of significance. The back of the drive has SATA and power connections in addition to four jumper pins. The fastest 1TB hard drive brand on the market cannot beat, by any means, the speed of SSDs. Jumpers are almost never used in modern hard drives; Western Digital does not say anything about their functionality. It is possible they are used for advanced diagnostics at the factory. While hard drives don’t quite offer the performance as the average solid state drive they do currently offer significantly cheaper cost per gigabyte and are pretty appealing to the budget conscious buyer.
The WD Green HDDs have had a shaky history. As an internal hard drive, this drive cannot be used for portable purposes, or else you better go for the fastest external 1TB hard drive or just a 1TB USB SSD. In concept, WD Greens were an attempt at affordable archival storage with a variable RPM, theoretically allowing boosted speed during higher load times and an overall lower power consumption. Today we will be reviewing the Western Digital 1TB Blue hard drive model WD10EZEX.
Endurance and warranty
While 1TB drives may seem outdated in comparison to the many 2TB+ models they shouldn’t be put to one side. The RPM for WD Green drives isn’t advertised, but it is generally understood to rotate between 5400 – 5900 revolutions per minute. A 1TB drive still offers plenty of storage space even for the most hardcore media hoarder which makes them pretty appealing with there lower price. The Western Digital 1TB Blue hard drive is intended to be used in home and office desktop computers offering a blend of value, performance and capacity.
The 500GB Caviar Blue drive has the smallest platter capacity on show this month too – it’s constructed from three 166GB platters – which, as we expected, translated to disappointing levels of performance.
How much data a 1TB hard drive capacity can hold
Seeking 600GB in on the new 3TB 3-platter Seagates is only a seek across 20% of the platters, while it would be 60% across on this Blue – and yet somehow application benchmarks favour it. It has to be smarter rearranging of reads/writes. (NCQ) WD Firmware FTW. Certain hard drives offer a spin speed of 7,200RPM with 64MB of cache using SATA 3 technology. With a 1TB external hard drive you can do much more than just archiving your data. These specifications are not unusual for a modern 1TB desktop hard drive and are the minimum we would recommend for a boot or gaming drive in a new computer. The bottom of the drive has an inward-facing green circuit board. Even with the best external SSD there’s a chance that you can transfer data on a high-speed limit using USB 3.0 port. This is a common design characteristic of modern hard drives; the circuit board sits against the metal body of the hard drive and uses it as a heatsink. The 7,200RPM spin speed should offer good performance along with the 64MB of cache. SATA 3 technology is present on this hard drive as well as being backwards compatible with SATA 2.
Store as much data as you need
Earlier revs of the WD Green drive exhibited failure from header disconnects and seek errors, attributed to the variable RPM. But the question is, why to use the fastest usb flash drive while you can go for an SSD? These issues have been largely resolved with the newer WD Green drives. Average read and write results of 74.5MB/sec and 48.1MB/sec place the 500GB Caviar Blue near the bottom of our benchmark table, with several other 500GB drives – including Hitachi’s Deskstar and the eco-friendly Samsung EcoGreen – outpacing this disk. However, I would like to elaborate on the cons I listed. Also think about the largest SSD available, it hasn’t gone beyond 2TB yet. As the drive fills, the most recently added data will end up towards the end – if you install a new game and start playing it, it’s at the end of the filled part of the platter.
1TB internal hard drive or 120gb/128gb SSD
The hard drive looks pretty similar to any other desktop 3.5″ drive. The sticker gives it a splash of colour and makes it obvious what brand and model your hard drive is. If you ask be about the best 120gb or 128gb SSD I will not recommend a high-end brand. Another benefit is that the smooth bottom of the circuit board promotes superior airflow; this can be important in the confinement of a cramped desktop case, especially if it sits next to other hard drives. There is not much more to comment on in regards to the hard drive design, as it looks similar to most other 3.5″ desktop drives. The internal hard drive brands are getting less popular after the debut of SSD. Like other hard drives, the WD 1TB Blue has a power port and a SATA port on the back. WD’s most recent Blue HDDs use a single 1TB platter, which allows for higher speeds due to its higher data density. Due to the density of the disk, the travel requirement on the header is minimized (more data in a square inch, so less movement is required) and seek times are reduced.
The benefits of going for 1TB hard drive
The 500GB Caviar Blue can’t make up for its lacklustre performance with good value, either. At 9.4p/GB, it’s one of the more expensive drives on test this month. We suggest for the best 1TB HDD to visit our HDD guide that will take you through different capacities that will fit your needs. Meanwhile your OS will be at the very start. That means more LONG (slow) seeks. If you need a 500GB drive the Samsung EcoGreen is cheaper, faster and uses less power. One of the most important factors in a hard drive is the noise. Many users look for a quiet hard drive which can sit in their computer without disturbing them spinning up and seeking for data. The Western Digital Caviar Blue is very easy to take apart if you have a T-8 Torx screwdriver at the ready. Either 120gb SSD or 128gb SSD can be a good fit for mainstream users, and is strongly recommended to use in combination with hard drive. After removing four screws, the circuit board is easily removed, exposing the inward facing components, and a vibration isolating foam pad.
The benefits of going for 120gb/128gb SSD
Western Digital did a good job with this 1TB Blue drive as in our testing we found it hard to hear the drive during any activity. The only notable noise was when the hard drive would spin up from a cold boot or from turning on from standby mode. Going for a top-notch USB 3.0 SSD is a good idea if you have large files to often transfer and want a high speed transfer rate for this purpose. This increases raw speed beyond what is possible even on some of the WD Black drives. Higher data density also reduces cost, as a single 1TB platter has a cheaper BOM than multiple platters. Even though we could hear this, it was easily drowned out by system fans.
combine both in your desktop system
Interestingly, despite the muted seek performance the drive is so well optimized for workstation tasks that comparing it to a current revision of an Ultrastar 7K3000 3TB (which has fully optimized seek performance vs a Deskstar 7K3000) on PCMark saw the Ultrastar only beating it on 1 phase (virus scan) and scoring ~10% lower on these desktop style tasks.
Larger HDD capacities may be good also
The performance crown is taken by solid state drives though you shouldn’t let that paint an negative picture of hard drives. In general, SATA 3 hard drives perform very well and while not as quick as a solid state drive, Western Digital uses a Marvell 88i9045-TFJ2 controller on the Caviar Blue, which is also seen on the 600GB Velociraptor. Now if you think on going for a high-end 2TB hard drive, bear in mind that they cope just fine with normal computer usage. We ran a benchmark using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.3b to see what the performance was like on the Western Digital 1TB Blue (WD10EZEX). The Blue drives ship at a maximum capacity of 1TB (1 platter, unless it’s an older model) and are always 7200RPM. In the event an SSD isn’t present, we generally encourage 7200RPM HDDs as the baseline for primary and gaming drive usage.
2TB Hard Drive Capacity is recommended
Obviously the Ultrastar’s performance will hold up a lot better once it starts to fill up, but WD’s tuning of this drive with such low acoustics is certainly impressive. The read and write benchmarks are nothing special though very acceptable for a mechanical hard drive. With the largest portable hard drive out there you don’t have to worry about your data being loss due to your internal hard drive failure anymore. This PCMark score is better than the WD FAEX 1TB Blacks from rev Z3A0 (not 1TB/platter), which scored similarly to the Ultrastar and was the current rev code for quite a while up until very recently. Computer enthusiasts have been spoiled with the super fast read and writes given by a solid state drive which can make the results of a mechanical hard drive seem a bit dull.
Cache for a WD Blue HDD tends to be 64MB, which is more than enough for higher-speed bursted operations; consumer HDDs will generally never (or very rarely) utilize >64MB cache. Nevertheless, the WD Blue we are reviewing pulled some impressive results considering it’s a all round solution for home and office users. Paired up with this SATA 6.0Gbps controller is a 64MB Samsung K4H511638G chip, which contradicts the 32MB figure quoted on the WDC spec sheet.