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WD Black 6TB Performance Hard Drive

The latest hard drive from WD offers both high performance and capacity in a single package. The WD Black 6TB is equipped with a 7200 RPM motor, 128MB of cache, and is backed by a five year warranty.

WD Black 6TB Performance Hard Drive

November 23, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
WD Black 6TB
3.5" Hard Drive
Manufacturer
Western Digital
Street Price
US$300

For the past 7 years, Western Digital has neatly delineated its consumer hard drives into different color-coded classes. Though the Green line was recently merged with the Blue series, this scheme remains intact, providing consumers with a relatively easy way to figure out which WD drive is right for their purposes — the lack of cumbersome new model names is just a bonus. At SPCR, the least discussed is probably Black, the color reserved for their highest performing models.

WD Blacks are typically speedy but loud and energy inefficient, making them ill-suited for quiet PCs, especially now that completely silent solid-state drives have become common place. However, for users who require vast amounts of fast storage, these drives are a way of life. SSDs are great if you have low storage requirements but if you require terabytes of capacity, it can be cost-prohibitive. Even the cheapest 1TB SSD is more expensive and offers 1/6th of the capacity of the drive we’re examining today.


WD Black 6TB.


Underside.

The WD Black 6TB is the newest and biggest member of the Black family (essentially their consumer version of an Enterprise class), which has models of various capacities down to 500 GB. The 6TB model is outfitted with a dual processor controller, a 7200 RPM motor, a sizable 128MB cache (64MB is standard for 4TB and lower models), and is backed by a lengthy five year warranty. Physically, it looks like previous Black models with the metal casing around the motor sitting almost flush with the circuit board. The drive weighs a substantial 730 grams as there are five 1.2TB platters inside.


Label. Our sample came off the assembly line in May.


WD Black 6TB: Specifications
(from the product data sheet)
InterfaceSATA 6 Gb/s
Formatted Capacity6 TB
Form Factor3.5-inch
Max sustained data transfer rate (host to/from drive)218 MB/s
Cache128 MB
Rotational Speed7200 RPM
Average Power RequirementsRead/Write: 10.6 W
Idle 7.6 W
Standby/Sleep: 1.6 W
AcousticsIdle: 31 dBA
Seek (average): 34 dBA
Physical Dimensions (H x L x W)26.1 x 147 x 101.6 mm
Weight (± 10%)0.72 kg ± 3%
Load/unload Cycles300,000
Limited Warranty5 years

According to the specifications, the 6TB model is fast, power hungry, and noisy, just as one would expect.

TESTING

Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology
. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting
most acoustics tests in our
own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber
, which results in more accurate, lower SPL
readings than before, especially with sub-20 dBA@1m devices.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
is mounted.

Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system
. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.

As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs. Synthetic tests are also run to better judge the performance across the entire span of the drive.

Summary of primary HDD testing tools:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 processor. LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP, set to 1.6 GHz to emphasize differences in the performance of storage devices.
  • Intel DP67BG ATX motherboard.
    P67 chipset.
  • Asus
    EAH3450 Silent
    graphics card.
  • OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 in dual channel.
  • Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL
    ATX power supply. 400W. Passively cooled.
  • Microsoft
    Windows 7 Ultimate
    operating system – 64-bit

Real World Performance Test Tools:

Real World Benchmark Details:

  • Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the time for an average SSD to get to the "loading Windows" screen, 12 seconds on our test system)
  • Call of Duty: World at War (COD5): Combined load time for the "Breaking Point" and "Black Cats" levels.
  • Far Cry 2: Load time for one level.
  • ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
  • TrueCrypt: Creating a 10GB encrypted file container.
  • 3DMark Vantage: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • PowerDVD 10: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
  • Small File Copy: Copy time for a variety of small HTML, JPEG, MP3, ZIP, and EXE files.
  • Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 AVI files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
    in size.

A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 20~23°C.

Synthetic Performance

We start off with synthetic tests results. They don’t tell the whole story of course, but it’s a quick and dirty way of gauging relative performance between drives, and of course, it’s easily reproducible by our readers at home.

HD Tune


HD Tune main benchmark results, read on the left, write on the right.

The results from HD Tune’s main benchmark portray the WD Black 6TB as a very fast and responsive mechanical hard drive. Sequential performance is top notch among 3.5-inch models and access times are relatively low.

CrystalDiskMark


CrystalDiskMark benchmark result, 4TB model on the left, 1TB model on the right.

According to CrystalDiskMark, the 6TB model’s random performance is more sobering, consistently trailing both the VelociRaptor 1TB and Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v4 6TB. The drive displays more of a bias towards large block sizes.

Real World Performance

Our real world performance testing begins with a Windows 7 image, loaded with our test suite, being cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive. The suite is run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (except for SSDs and hybrid drives) and reboot
between runs.
Average times were collected for comparison. For hybrid drives, we perform six runs with only the last three averaged to give them time to learn and cache frequently used files.

The WD Black 6TB is one of the slower models in our loading time comparison, only beating out the WD Se 4TB, a datacenter/enterprise drive, and the WD Red 6TB, a NAS drive with a 5400 RPM motor. It’s particularly poor at booting up because it takes about 8 seconds longer to spin-up than a typical SSD/HDD. Spin-down is arduous as well with the motor generating noise for about 10 seconds after the power is turned off.

The drive is better suited at application performance where it’s the fastest hard drive of the bunch, edging out the 10,000 RPM VelociRaptor. However, SSDs complete the ExactFile test in almost half of the WD Black 6TB’s time.

The WD Black 6TB fares well in our file copy test, trailing the Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v4 6TB by a small margin, and leaving the other hard drives behind in the dust.

Installing applications showed mixed results with the Black 6TB excelling with 3DMark but stumbling with PowerDVD.

To get a sense of the overall performance of the drives, each model has been assigned a proportional score in each real world benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation), with each set and each individual test within, equally weighted. The scale has been adjusted such that 100 points represents a perfectly average drive among those listed. This iteration of our performance chart includes modern SSDs and 3.5-inch hard drives only.

According to this metric, the WD Black 6TB scores 99.1, just edging out the Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v4 6TB to becomes the fastest 3.5-inch drive we’ve tested. However, overall, it lands at the midway point of the scale which places a one of the slower 3.5-inch drives at one end, and one of the fastest SSDs at the other. Most mainstream consumer SSDs are at least ~30% faster.

Power Consumption

Like most high performance hard drives, the Black 6TB draws much more power than the more popular and affordable "green" high capacity models, sucking down almost 10W when seeking and 8W sitting idle. The drive was also observed going into a powering saving mode following a quiet tick after a varying amount of idle time, about 15 seconds at the minimum. It probably isn’t true headparking as the sound it produces isn’t that strong but nevertheless, it does save about 0.5W in this state.

Acoustics

If you’re used to 5400 RPM high capacity drives, the WD Black 6TB is noticeably louder, measuring 19-20 dBA@1m at idle. Thankfully, it doesn’t sound particularly offensive in this state as it basically just emits a soft but prominent hissing. There’s no sugarcoating its acoustics during seek activity unfortunately. Its seeks are sharp, pronounced, and powerful enough to raise the SPL by 3~4 dB. This increase is the highest we’ve observed from a mechanical hard drive in some time aside from the VelociRaptor series.

Comparison Charts: Environmental Characteristics

3.5 INCH HARD DRIVES
Drive
Mfg date
firmware version
Vibration
1-10
(10 = no vibration)
Activity State

Airborne Acoustics
(dBA@1m)

Measured
Power

WD Caviar Green 2TB WD20EARS
August 2010
firmware 01.00A01
9
Idle
12~13
2.8 W
(2.4 W parked)
Seek
6.5 W
WD Red 1TB
WD10EFRX-68JCSN0
June 2012
firmware 01.01A01
8
Idle
12~13
2.9 W
Seek
4.1 W
Samsung EcoGreen F4 2TB HD204UI
August 2010
firmware 1AQ10001
7
Idle
13
4.0 W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Red 3TB
WD30EFRX-68AX9N0

June 2012
firmware 80.00A80
9
Idle
13~14
3.6 W
Seek
4.9 W
WD Caviar Green 3TB WD30EZRS
September 2010
firmware 01.00A01
8
Idle
14~15
4.1 W
(3.7 W parked)
Seek
7.5W
WD Red 4TB
WD40EFRX-68WT0N0

August 2013
firmware 80.00A80
8~9
Idle
15
4.0 W
(3.2 W parked)
Seek
15~16
6.2 W
Hitachi Deskstar 5K3000 2TB HDS5C3020ALA632
April 2011
firmware 580
7
Idle
14~15
4.1W
Seek
15
5.6 W
WD Blue SSHD 4TB WD40E31X-00HY4A0
May 2015
firmware 80.00A80
8
Idle
15
4.5 W
Seek
15~16
6.0 W
Seagate NAS HDD 4TB ST4000VN000-1H4168
September 2013
firmware SC43
7~9
Idle
15
4.8 W
(4.1 W parked)
Seek
16~17
5.5 W
Seagate Barracuda 3TB ST3000DM001-9YN166
November 2011
firmware CC47
8
Idle
16
6.4 W
(5.6 W after 30 secs)
(3.9 W after 50 secs)
Seek
16~17
9.9 W
WD Red 6TB
WD60EFRX-68MYMN1
July 2014
firmware 82.00A8
8
Idle
14~15
4.4 W
Seek
18
5.4 W
Seagate Desktop SSHD 2TB
ST2000DX001-1CM164
February 2014
firmware CC43
5~7
Idle
16
4.5
(4.0 W parked)
Seek
16~17
7.1 W
WD Se 4TB WD4000F9YZ-09N20L0
October 2013
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
16
8.1 W
Seek
18~19
9.7 W
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB HDS723020BLA642
August 2011
firmware MNGOA5C0
5
Idle
17
5.3 W
Seek
18
7.8 W
Seagate Enterprise Class 3.5 HDD v4 6TB ST6000NM0024-1HT17Z
May 2014
firmware SN02
3
Idle
19~20
7.5 W
Seek
20~21
9.2 W
WD Black 6TB WD6001FZWX-00ZHUA0
May 2015
firmware 01.01A01
7
Idle
19~20
7.8 W
(7.3 W after 15 secs)
Seek
23
9.9 W
WD VelociRaptor 1TB WD1000DHTZ-04N21V0
March 2012
firmware 04.06A00
7
[bare]
Idle
[16~17]
18
4.0 W
[bare]
Seek
[27]
32
5.3 W

The WD Black 6TB is one of the loudest hard drives we’ve tested in the modern era, equaling the Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v4 6TB in idle noise and exceeding it when seeking. However, like the WD Se 4TB, it has surprisingly low vibration for a high performance model. Under normal circumstances, i.e. hard-mounted in a case, it should be quieter than most 7200 RPM models, especially if multiple drives are deployed.

AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording
system inside SPCR’s own 11
dBA ambient anechoic chamber
, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s.
We’ve listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from
the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what
we heard during the review.

These recordings are intended to give you an idea of how the product sounds
in actual use — one meter is a reasonable typical distance between a computer
or computer component and your ear. The recording contains stretches of ambient
noise that you can use to judge the relative loudness of the subject. Be aware
that very quiet subjects may not be audible — if we couldn’t hear it from
one meter, chances are we couldn’t record it either!

The recordings start with 5 to 10 seconds of ambient noise, then 5 to 10 second
segments of the drive in the following states: idle and seek.

Desktop Hard Drive Comparatives:

FINAL THOUGHTS

The WD Black 6TB impressively offers a five year warranty, a sizable amount of capacity, and Enterprise-level performance in one neat package. While its mechanical nature prevents it from being as nimble as a SSD, it is the fastest hard drive we’ve tested, though as usual, this comes at a cost. As one would expect, its power consumption is at the higher end of the scale and it’s noisy by modern standards. Its relatively low vibration level was a pleasant surprise though and this will reduce its real world acoustic impact in most cases, especially in multi-drive configurations.

Given its physical properties and cost, it’s more of a niche product than it would have been in the pre-SSD era. A much faster small SSD for the operating system and programs combined with a slower 5400 RPM hard drive is a better fit for most. After all, many users that require this much capacity only need to archive data, only a fraction of which is accessed on a regular basis. A speedy mechanical drive like the WD Black 6TB is for people with big data that is opened and used frequently. The tagline on the WD Black’s product page is "create in black" as it’s an excellent choice for content creators, video editors, and photographers.

The WD Black 6TB is currently selling for approximately US$300, which is fairly expensive considering how much extra performance it offers a slower consumer drive like the WD Red 6TB. That being said, if you crave higher performance without going solid-state, the price-tag is not unreasonable.

Our thanks to Western Digital for the Black 6TB hard drive sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
WD Blue SSHD 4TB & 1TB Hybrid Drives
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB M.2/PCI-E SSD
Kingston HyperX Savage 480GB SSD
Samsung M9T 2TB (2.5-inch) & Seagate SSHD 2TB
Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs
Seagate Enterprise Class v4 6TB Hard Drive

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