WD 10TB Elements Desktop Review

Extend your PC or Mac with this high-capacity HDD

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4.2

WD 10TB Elements Desktop

WD Elements Desktop

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

What We Like
  • Large storage capacity

  • Plug-and-play with Windows

  • Relatively affordable for the capacity

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky build but topples over easily

  • Requires external power source

  • A little noisy

  • Reformatting required for macOS

  • Not USB-C-ready

The WD 10TB Elements Desktop external hard drive bundles a generous amount of space at a reasonable price for relatively fast and convenient file management, but it’s design is a bit bulky and requires careful handling.

4.2

WD 10TB Elements Desktop

WD Elements Desktop

Lifewire / Yoona Wagener

We purchased the WD 10TB Elements Desktop so our expert reviewer could thoroughly test and assess it. Keep reading for our full product review.

If you’re looking for a streamlined external hard drive solution for your desktop storage needs, consider the WD 10TB Elements Desktop. This hard drive could very well fill that space in your home office. It offers a hefty amount of storage, Windows plug-and-play ease of use, as well as speedier transfer speeds than your typical internal HDD. I used this external hard drive over the course of several days to transfer media files and test it as a gaming hard drive as well. Overall, I found it to be a strong performer with some minor drawbacks.

WD Elements Desktop
Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

Design: Low profile but a bit precarious

Assuming you’re okay with a device that’s not necessarily portable, and you’re not looking for an ultra-fast SSD, this HDD offers uncluttered appeal for a work desk. It doesn’t require much space at less than 2 inches thick and 6.5 inches tall and resembles a hardcover book. But just like a free-standing book, it lacks stability. I inadvertently, and with little effort, bumped this HDD several times and watched it topple over on my desk. Luckily, nothing happened to its ability to operate, but this didn’t instill a lot of confidence in the product—considering HDDs are known to be more fragile and prone to failure because of all of the physical parts at work. 

Another drawback to the design is that the smooth plastic casing is prone to smudging. It picked up fingerprints from the moment I first handled it out of the box and looked quite smudgy after just a few hours of use.

Performance: Pretty speedy

I couldn’t find any manufacturer-specific claims about the speed of this HDD, only the promise that this device offers “ultrafast data transfers.” My results using CystalDiskMark showed a maximum read speed of about 218 MB/s and write speed of 118 MB/s. I also formatted this HDD for my MacBook Pro as well and used Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, which showed write and read speeds of 180MB/s and 186MB/s, respectively.

This isn’t a gaming-specific drive, but I wanted to see how it could serve as a backup for storing a few game files. I transferred Asphalt 8 (2.37GB), which took about 5 minutes to move, and 20 seconds to load from the Elements Desktop. That’s slightly longer than the 13 seconds it took to load on a Lenovo Ideapad 130S, which isn’t a gaming-centric laptop itself either.

I transferred Asphalt 8 (2.37GB), which took about 5 minutes to move, and 20 seconds to load from the Elements Desktop.

When I put it to the bigger test of downloading the 98GB NBA2K game, it took about 1 hour and 7 minutes. That’s on par with, though slightly slower than, the time it took to perform that same task on the ADATA SD700 SSD—which took closer to a solid hour on the nose. The Elements Desktop did out-perform the WD Black P10 game drive with 5TB of storage by about 30 minutes. But the load time of the game was much slower than other devices I tested. It took nearly 49 seconds to load from the WD Elements Desktop, which is about twice as slow as the load time I saw from the gaming laptop hard drive I tested this game with (Acer Predator Triton 500).

Western Digital claims that a 2-hour HD movie is ready to view in just 3 minutes.

I didn’t have HD files on hand, but I can see this claim holding up. I transferred a few movie files that were between 1.5-1.6GB and those each took about 20 seconds to transfer. A larger batch of 5.2GB of movie files took a little over 1 minute 4 seconds. I also moved over RAW digital photo files, nearly 3000 in total and 60GB in volume, and that took nearly 24 minutes to complete.

While I wouldn’t say that data transfers are lightning-fast on the WD 10TB Elements Desktop, I did find the performance to be respectably speedy on both macOS and Windows devices.

WD Elements Desktop
 Lifewire / Yoona Wagener 

Ports: USB 3.0- and USB 2.0-compatible

There are just two ports on the Elements Desktop: a micro B to USB 3.0 port and an AC power jack. The USB cord is USB 2.0 backwards-compatible, which could be appealing if you plan to use this device with older machines. The limitation is that no USB-C-compatible cord is provided. So if you’re using a newer MacBook, this will be a bit of a hurdle you’ll need to clear with the help of an adapter. 

Setup Process: OS formatting required

The WD Elements Desktop is ready to go with your PC since it’s Windows NTFS- (New Technology File System) formatted. If you primarily use a MacBook or want the option of using this device with Windows and macOS, that’s simple enough to achieve. Formatting this device for dual-purpose exFAT flexibility is a very speedy process. It took just about 13 seconds to complete on my MacBook, and I experienced no issues moving back and forth between systems. Unfortunately, installing security utilities is not an option on either platform with this WD HDD. If password protection is valuable to you, you’ll want to look at another WD product or outside the brand.

Price: Relatively affordable, but lacks the latest features

The WD 10TB Elements Desktop retails for about $186. That’s not an insignificant amount of money for a product that offers a desirable amount of external storage capacity. But other devices with this kind of space fall well above $200 and sometimes over $300. Of course, you can find more updated and equally storage-capable external HDDs for about the same price or less—from the Western Digital brand even. 

Assuming you’re okay with a device that’s not necessarily portable, and you’re not looking for an ultra-fast SSD, this HDD offers uncluttered appeal for a work desk.

The WD 10TB My Book external hard drive costs about $3 more and comes preloaded with backup software for Windows and Mac. That means no time configuring this device for Apple Time Machine backups. There are a few other bells and whistles like WD Discovery software for cloud storage service integration with platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive and WD Security software is ready out of the box. But again, you’ll be limited on a MacBook if you’re operating an OS that’s more recent than High Sierra.

WD 10TB Elements vs. Seagate 10TB Expansion Desktop 

Seagate offers a similarly sized 10TB HDD. Like the Elements Desktop, the Seagate 10TB Expansion Desktop also requires formatting for macOS and doesn’t offer any type of security features either. The Seagate HDD has a list price of nearly $300, which is quite a jump from $186. Besides better affordability, the WD Elements Desktop also performs faster. Seagate lists a maximum read/write speed of 160MB/s, which is significantly slower than what I logged for the WD Elements. 

Beyond price and speed, if you’re limited on physical desk space, the Seagate is taller but not as long or thick as the WD Elements. Visually, the Seagate offers a bit more interest as well with a diamond-like pattern. But some users have commented on the same issue that I noticed with the Elements Desktop—a tendency to tip over very easily when upright. Since both products have that tendency, the advantage is with the WD 10TB Elements Desktop Hard Drive, which comes with 2 years of warranty protection—an additional year on the Seagate Expansion Desktop.

Final Verdict

A dependable desktop external hard drive for media galore.



The WD 10TB Elements Desktop offers an attractive amount of storage capacity for those looking to extend their desktop or MacBook or routinely back up their large media file library. While it’s big and not necessarily that attractive or stable, it’s reasonably priced for its purpose and requires little or no formatting to work with.

Specs

  • Product Name 10TB Elements Desktop
  • Product Brand Western Digital
  • Price $186
  • Weight 1.9 lbs.
  • Product Dimensions 5.31 x 1.89 x 6.53 in.
  • Color Black
  • Capacity 10TB
  • Ports Micro B to USB 3.0, 2.0, AC
  • Compatibility Windows 7, 8, 10.1, macOS