Solid state storage as we know it today is certainly the way forward and this is proven by the fact that it is the storage medium of choice for any enthusiast or performance user. Whilst the speeds are fantastic, there is still a slight cause for concern to be seen when it comes to the amount of storage that these pioneering drives have to offer. Whilst flash storage is considerably cheaper than it was a few years ago, a typical 240GB SSD will set you back around £160-180 (~$260-295 US) and if you want to go any higher than this with a 480GB or even a 960GB drive then you really are starting to look at some serious money. On the flip side, the price of traditional mechanical storage is more affordable than ever and with 4TB drives available for as little as ~£133 (~$216 US) it really is a case of prioritising what is the greater need – is it going to be performance or capacity?
In a desktop system, this dilemma is typically not a problem, as the space is available to accommodate both solid state and mechanical drives and this is what we see many users opting for in the market today. When we move over to notebooks and ultra books however, the story couldn’t be any more different. Speaking for the vast majority of laptops that are out on the market today, storage is very limited and typically we find space for just one 2.5″ drive and no more. For a number of people, this is not really a real issue, as there is of course external hard drives and flash drives that can be used to extend your storage capacity, but when we look at it, this is not necessarily a practical option – especially for those of us who are on the go all the time. One option would be to remove the optical drive and install a 2.5″ drive adaptor in its place and this is good, but not every laptop has an optical drive, so this leads us back round to square one – do you choose performance or capacity?
One option that is available to you is to get a hybrid drive that offers up hard drive capacity but with the read performance of flash storage. The catch is that this isn’t really what we would call a proper solid state and hard drive combo as the flash portion of the drive is there purely to cache the commonly used data, making it quicker to access whilst the remainder of the data is still held on the spinning platters. What we really want is to have a drive that is effectively two in one and that is just what Western Digital have to offer with the Black² Dual Drive – to separate storage mediums, but in one single 2.5″ form factor – what we once thought to be a dream is now a strong reality.