Giving SSD a run for its money: WD Scorpio Black 750GB HD review

SSDs are lovely little boxes for those who demand a solid platform of performance for the rest of their notebook but they’re still far too expensive for those of us with serious storage needs. Anything over 256GB requires a trust fund to purchase yet the step back to mechanical drives in the portable realm usually involves a leap back to prehistoric 5400rpm speeds. Not anymore! WD’s new Scorpio has a 7200rpm sting in its tail that bridges the gap between SSD and mechanical drives.

Like most of WD’s new drives the Scorpio packs the new Advanced Format sector formatting which utilises 4k sectors. While this is necessary for drives over 2TB in size it also improves the performance of the drive’s Error Correcting Code (ECC). The drive packs a 16MB cache and SATA 3Gbit/s interface all while spinning at a healthy 7200rpm. Yet despite the boost in specifications it only uses as much power as a standard 5400rpm drive.

Testing the drive in Crystal Mark gave us very impressive results. Sequential read and write speed posted at 132MB/s and 128MB/s respectively equalling that of desktop drives and exceeding many SSDs. As the files got smaller the speeds decreased with the 512k read/write test posting a read result of 48MB/s (about a fifth the speed of a decent SSD) while the write result of 65MB/s is around half that of most SSDs. At just $129 the Scorpio is one critter we wouldn’t mind finding in our sleeping bag. It’s fast affordable and uses hardly any power – perfect for the portable performance user.

Available from Western Digital retailing for $129.
APC rating: 9/10 (Editor’s Choice)