WD has been the go-to brand when it comes to Hard Disk Drives with an excellent range of products that caters to the most casual of consumer to the most serious of enterprise users, having an WD Blue SSHD introduced to their range of products turned out to be quite a surprise, at least for me.
What is an SSHD?
Those familiar with the abbreviations HDD and SSD would’ve figured it out that SSHD seen in WD Blue SSHD is an abbreviation that’s a combo of both.
SSHD stands for Solid State Hybrid Drives – put it simple, the drive comes with NAND flash SSD technology and HDD storage capacity. It looks like any other HDD, check out the images below.
How Does It Work?
I think some of you might be a little excited over this subject and I can totally understand, the thought of having SSD speed and HDD capacity is just too good to be true, right? Well I’ll have to burst your bubble on this one because that’s not how it is.
Put it simple, WD Blue SSHD (as with any other SSHD) is a HDD with super large sized cache (8GB for this model) that’s using SSD technology. What you get is 8096MB (8GB) of cache, unlike HDD’s that often come with cache sizes less than 128MB.
NOTE – the key word here is CACHE, you DO NOT have access to that 8GB NAND Flash and there’s no way to control it either as what goes in there is decided by the firmware on the WD SSHD. The “Self-learning technology” tracks data usage and prioritizing the frequently used data by placing them on the NAND Flash (SSD) storage section.
Specs & Benchmarks
Let’s take a look at the specs (Taken from the official product page) and benchmarks for the WD Blue SSHD.
WD’s SSHD is available in 2 models, the 4TB 3.5″ model and the 1TB 2.5″ model.
Below is the benchmark for the 3.5″ model. I have the 2.5″ model with me and I didn’t see the need to benchmark it because you could pretty much gauge the performance based on the specs above.
Just to elaborate on the benchmark above, what you see is the typical read and write speed of a HDD. In fact since this drive is based on the WD Blue, a WD Black would still out perform it when it comes to pure read / write on the actual storage platter.
User Experience with additional benchmarks
The thing about the WD SSHD is that it’s quite difficult to bench since the NAND Flash advantage is decided by the firmware and the firmware doesn’t cache when the data isn’t repeated accessed. There are some benchmarks that could push the NAND Flash to perform but I’ve decided to go for a different approach and that is to put the drive to use instead of a benchmark suite.
I decided to test the drive with Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) as the game is huge and the benchmark tool loads a significant amount of data before it is run.
On a HDD like a WD Red, the game loading time is often above 60 seconds, with a few occasions hovering around high 40s of which I suspect due to the operating system’s cache.
On an SSD like the Intel 330 Series, the benchmark loads at around 40 seconds every single time.
For the WD SSHD, the results hover between both the HDD and SSD. On the first benchmark run the loading time was on the high 50 seconds, the loading time reached high 40 seconds on the second run and from the 3rd run onwards the loading time maintains at low 40 seconds which is pretty much the SSD’s speed.
Grand Theft Auto V – Benchmark Tool Loading Time Test
|Drive||Average Loading Time(seconds)|
|WD Blue SSHD||42|
|WD Red HDD||54|
|Intel 330 SSD||41|
Put it simple – the WD SSHD is able to provide SSD-Like performance but the performance gained is subjected to the software you use and how often you use it, in this case I did the benchmark repeatedly so the firmware took note and made the loading time faster, thanks to the 8GB NAND Flash cache.
*More details towards the end of the article*
The WD Blue SSHD 4TB (3.5″) retails at RM 808 while the 1TB (2.5″) model retails at RM 414. I think WD’s SSHDs are solid, no pun intended. 😀 However I’d like to shed a bit more light about this product, whether it will suit your needs.
If you performance that isn’t placed under the mercy of the “Self-learning Technology” then you have only 2 options –
a) WD Black that’s a very fast HDD with plenty of storage space.
b) get an SSD, even the most basic model outruns the WD SSHD by far.
If performance isn’t something you’d bother with then the standard WD Blue HDD would be more cost effective. Note that the WD Blue SSHD 4TB retails at RM 808 while the WD Blue HDD 4TB retails at only RM 604, and the WD Blue SSHD 1TB (2.5″) retails at RM 414 while the 1TB HDD model retails at RM 244.
Your frequently used software will certainly load faster once the system learns your usage pattern but how much gained is subjective, especially if the software is small.
From what I observed the WD SSHD would work great for gaming machines and I believe it’ll work quite well too if you are a graphic designer and work on the same large sized file(s) of the course of projects but I can’t say the same for content producers such as photographers or videographers because the content isn’t something you access that frequently.
So – is this drive for you? Good news, goldfries will be giving away a unit of WD Blue SSHD 4TB 3.5″ and WD Blue SSHD 1TB 2.5″ every week for the coming weeks.
Head over to goldfries’ page to participate.