Western Digital Blue Slim 1TB HDD Review
Western Digital’s Blue series had gone through a long and storied history and the new Slim edition brings its standards up to today’s expectations. With the recent proliferation of Intel’s ‘Ultrabook’ standard and other, similarly svelte personal computers, it is not all that surprising that storage manufactures would start thinking ‘small’ in a big way. Unlike the typical laptop or micro ATX form factor which can easily accept a ‘standard’ 9.5mm height storage device, thin and light notebooks and certain desktops have shaved every millimetre possible. As such, only thin, 7mm devices can fit inside, of which there are very few options to choose from.
For most consumers and system builders interested in a light weight design, SSDs are the de-facto standard but they tend to be expensive and don’t allow all that much storage space without getting into extreme price points. As such, they aren’t an acceptable option for entry level Ultrabooks. This is why 2.5”, 7mm hard drives were been created and continue to flourish.
Unfortunately, in past generations hard drive manufactures such as Western Digital were unable to offer much in the way of capacity if they hoped their creations would fit into the 7mmform factor. With the release of the all new, $139 Western Digital Blue Slim 1 TB drive, consumers looking for a high capacity, ultra small form factor drive need look no further as this is the “largest” 7mm option available this side of a budget busting Crucial M500 960GB SSD.
In order to fit a full one Terabyte of capacity inside such a small footprint, Western Digital has had to boost the aerial density over that of previous generations. While it does make use of two small 2.5” platters, each of them has an impressive 500GB of space. This increased aerial density certainly will not go to waste and may in fact help this power miser drive compete with some of last generation’s heavy hitters despite its relatively pedestrian 5400RPM speed.
Speaking of power consumption, it is one of the primary concerns for the segment Western Digital’s Slim finds itself in. Naturally, the low number of platters and 5400RPM spindle speed will increase overall efficiency but some additional features like on-the-fly input voltage control and a frugal controller.
If history is any indication, the Slim’s aerial density improvements should soon find their way inside a Black branded drive which should satisfy consumers’ cravings for performance above all else.
As you can see, 7mm worth of height doesn’t leave much room for anything besides the basics and this is reflected in the downright PCB. Even by 2.5” drive standards this is an extremely compact PCB which has had all components not absolutely crucial to the function of the drive removed.
Unfortunately while Western Digital has opted for a high performance Marvell 88i9446 controller, the Slim comes with a paltry 16MB of cache. While this should be more than enough for its intended audiences, this drive could have used every bit of help in the performance department due to its 5400RPM rotational speed.
Western Digital has included their dual stage actuators as well as their StableTrack technology. Dual state actuators can help increase precision and performance, while StableTrack augments reliability as the motor shaft has been secured at both ends. So while its components may have been cut down to the bare necessities, the Slim hasn’t skimped on the internal technology.
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