WD Blue SSHD 4TB & 1TB Hybrid Drives

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WD Blue SSHD 4TB & 1TB Hybrid Drives

November 9, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

3.5" Solid State Hybrid Drive
2.5" Solid State Hybrid Drive
Western Digital
Street Price
US$170 US$90

The cost of solid-state storage has come down significantly since the first consumer SSDs appeared on the market but mechanical drives till offer a much superior value if you look at capacity alone. With SSDs becoming cheaper, the relevancy of SSHDs (solid-state hybrid drives) that combine affordable but slow spinning platters with nimble NAND Flash, diminishes. This is especially true for high-end systems as price is not an issue and physical space is less of a concern given the proliferation of mSATA and M.2 storage options which use a fraction of the room as an old fashioned hard drive. If there's potential for growth in the SSHD market, it's at the low-end which is perfect for WD's new Blue SSHD line.

Before I get to the SSHDs, the new Blue family needs some explanation. The WD Green was an incredibly popular drive line due to affordability, energy efficiency, and acoustic quality, but it never managed to shake off its reputation as being a slow drive, despite hiding its 5400 RPM rotational speed behind the term "IntelliPower" for years. Recently they folded the Green line into the Blue series of mainstream 7200 RPM desktop drives, perhaps in an attempt to shake off the old stigma. This move creates some confusion as now both 7200 and 5400 RPM drives are part of the same family, though to their credit, WD is at least upfront about it. For desktop drives, all Blue models with capacities of 1.5 TB or higher are 5400 RPM, while drives 1TB in size and lower are available in both speeds. All of the new 2.5-inch Blue models are 5400 RPM only just like before.

WD Blue SSHDs.


The Blue SSHD is an offshoot of this new reorganization, debuting with just two models, a 3.5-inch 4TB drive for desktops and a 2.5-inch 1TB (9.5 mm thick) drive for notebooks. Both are equipped with 64 MB of cache and 8GB of NAND Flash, and are currently selling for about US$170 and US$90 respectively. From a physical standpoint, the two drives are similar to their WD Red counterparts though obviously there is a lot more going on under the hood.

According to WD, the drives use algorithms that "track data usage, prioritizing frequently used data for fast access in the solid state portion of the device, adapting, learning and optimizing as new applications and command requests change over time." All of this sounds similar to how Seagate's SSHDs function, an intelligent process that works in the background to make best use of the limited amount of onboard NAND Flash.

Labels. Our samples came off the assembly line in May.

WD Blue SSHD: Specifications
(from the product data sheet)
Model Number WD40E31X WD10J31X
Interface SATA 6 Gb/s
Formatted Capacity 4 TB 1 TB
Form Factor 3.5-inch 2.5-inch
Max sustained data transfer rate (host to/from drive) 150 MB/s 100 MB/s
NAND Size 8 GB
Cache 64 MB
Average Power Requirements Read/Write: 6 W
Idle 4.75 W
Standby/Sleep: 0.57 W
Read/Write: 1.65 W
Idle 0.65 W
Standby/Sleep: 0.225 W
Acoustics Idle: 25 dBA
Seek (average): 26 dBA
Idle: 24 dBA
Seek (average): 25 dBA
Physical Dimensions (H x L x W) 25.4 x 147 x 101.6 mm 9.50 x 100.20 x 69.85 mm
Weight (± 10%) 0.45 kg 0.12 kg
Load/unload Cycles 300,000 600,000
Limited Warranty 3 years

According to the specifications, the 4TB model is considerably faster, which is typical when it comes to 3.5 vs. 2.5 inch drives. Both the quoted power and acoustic figures are right in line with their respective WD Red cousins. The specified 0.45 kg weight of the larger drive seems to be in error as our sample weighs 690 grams while the smaller drive tips the scales at 110 grams. Based on these measurements and other unofficial sources, the 4TB model sports four 1TB platters while the 1TB model is equipped with two 500GB platters — no changes in areal density.

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