Three 7200 RPM Notebook Hard Drives For 2011

Western Digital Scorpio Black (500 GB, WD5000BEKT)

The WD5000BEKT (Scorpio Black) has been available for a while, but it is still Western Digital’s top model for the notebook segment. The firm also offers higher capacity drives, but these spin at 5400 RPM and fall into the Scorpio Blue line. Be advised that the highest capacity products come at a Z-height of 12.5 mm and three (instead of two) platters, making them too large for many notebook designs. Those drives were designed for other consumer devices in the first place. The Scorpio Black drive we're testing here does have another advantage, which may be important for some users: it comes with a five-year warranty, while the two other drives have three-year warranties.

The drive has similar tech specs compared to Samsung and Seagate: it uses two platters, and sports SATA 3 Gb/s and 16 MB cache memory. At a weight of 111 g, this is the lightest 2.5” performance hard drive. The operating temperature range also covers 0-60°C, like Seagate’s Momentus.

WD’s data sheet says 0.83 W idle power and 1.80 W for read/write operation. This is probably an average reading, as we measured 3.3 W at maximum streaming read, 1.1 W at HD video playback and 2.5 W at workstation I/O. However, we measured 0.8 W idle power as well, making this the drive with the lowest idle power requirements.

WD shows the quickest access time and it is very strong in our I/O tests, fighting a fierce battle against Seagate’s Momentus 7200.5 drive. These performance numbers also translate into PCMark Vantage, in which the Scorpio Black dominates. The only downside it the throughput, which is limited to 105 MB/s peak and 82 MB/s average. This is mainly because the drive has been on the market for a while, but as a system drive it may actually be the best choice due to high performance being available across almost all benchmarks.