Western Digital rolls out new 2.5-inch HDDs for the first time in seven years: is 6TB the swan song for 2.5-inch hard drives?

Western Digital
(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital this week introduced a series of 6TB external hard drives based on 2.5-inch HDDs, which highlights the first new capacity point for this hard disk drive form factor in about seven years. There is a catch, though: the HDD is slow and will unlikely fit into any mobile PCs, so it looks like it will exclusively serve portable and specialized storage products.

Western Digital's 6TB 2.5-inch HDD is currently used for the latest versions of the company's My Passport, Black P10, and G-Drive ArmorATD external storage devices and is not available separately. All of these drives (excluding the already very thick G-Drive ArmorATD) are thicker than their 5 TB predecessors, which may suggest that in a bid to increase the HDD's capacity, the manufacturer simply installed another platter and made the whole drive thicker instead of developing new platters with a higher areal density.

While this is a legitimate way to expand the capacity of a hard drive, it is necessary to note that 5TB 2.5-inch HDDs already feature a 15-mm z-height, which is the highest standard z-height for 2.5-inch form-factor storage devices. As a result, these 6TB 2.5-inch drives will unlikely fit into any desktop PC.

When it comes to specifications of the latest My Passport, Black P10, and G-Drive ArmorATD external HDDs, Western Digital only discloses that they offer up to 130 MB/s read speed (just like their predecessors), feature a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (up to 5 GT/s) interface using either a modern USB Type-C or Micro USB Type-B connector and do not require an external power adapter.

Western Digital does not disclose whether its 6TB My Passport, Black P10, and G-Drive ArmorATD external HDDs rely on shingled magnetic recording (SMR), like predecessors, or conventional magnetic recording (CMR), but we suppose that we are dealing with SMR drives. Their read performance and increased thickness suggest that the manufacturer added another platter with a similar areal density as that on lower-capacity HDDs, which may be more evidence that we are dealing with SMR. That said, expect particularly low performance when re-writing the data on such drives.

Western Digital

(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital said that the new drives are now available for retail purchase. The WD My Passport Ultra and WD My Passport Ultra for Mac with USB-C are priced at $199.99 each, and the WD My Passport and WD My Passport for Mac are available for $179.99

The WD My Passport Works With USB-C is $184.99, while the gaming-oriented WD_Black P10 Game Drive is also $184.99. The SanDisk Professional G-Drive ArmorATD retails for $229.99. All of Western Digital's external storage drives come with a three-year limited warranty.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • Notton
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't WD tend to use a native USB PCB, rather than going through a SATA to USB adapter for their 2.5" drives?
    Reply
  • dharris
    "these 6TB 2.5-inch drives will unlikely fit into any desktop PC." Did you mean laptop? Why would they not fit a desktop?
    Reply
  • Avro Arrow
    As long as there's a market for hard drives, there will be a market for these.
    Reply
  • Avro Arrow
    dharris said:
    "these 6TB 2.5-inch drives will unlikely fit into any desktop PC." Did you mean laptop? Why would they not fit a desktop?
    Who would put one of these in a craptop? It would cripple performance and increase power use significantly.
    Reply
  • NedSmelly
    A 1TB capacity bump is underwhelming; better than nothing I suppose. But the roughly $50-100 USD premium over the 5TB portables negates this somewhat.

    These drives have been SMR since forever. I very much doubt any chance of it being CMR.
    Reply