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Lifewire / Zach Sweat
Super affordable for size
Ok performance for price
Huge capacity options
Slow 5,400 RPM
Only 2-year warranty
Decreased cache vs. Black series
If you’re looking to get the most storage space for the lowest cost, the Blue series of HDDs from WD makes a compelling option.
Western Digital is quite a well-known name in the hard drive world, having been in the game for five decades. Because of this longevity, the manufacturer is a frequent choice for those looking to add some extra storage to their computer. Because the Blue series are so common, let’s take an in-depth look at them and compare it against the more expensive Black series to determine which is the best choice for you. We’ll specifically be taking a look at the WD Blue 3.5-inch version with 4TB of storage and 64MB cache (also at 5,400 RPM). There are a ton of variations out there, but all the SATA-based hard drives within the Blue series will be comparable in terms of specs and performance.
Hard drives like this are going to be placed inside a computer where you’ll never really see them for the most part, so the bare-bones style and design of the Blue series isn’t a real shocker. It's got a small label on the top with info for your specific HDD, a metal enclosure, and the SATA 3 plug located on the base for connection.
As we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of variations of the drive, and since we’re looking at the 3.5-inch, this format is best for a desktop computer due to its bulk. Now, you could place it into an external enclosure for use with a laptop or even a gaming console, but 3.5-inch drives require a lot of juice to operate, meaning you’ll have to plug it directly into the wall (in addition to the USB connection). The 2.5-inch version is much more suited to notebooks and laptops with its smaller form factor. Also, because it can be powered by just the USB, it makes a better choice for a portable hard drive enclosure.
Blue series HDDs are not marketed as any sort of “performance” hard drive solution, so don’t expect it to be very impressive.
The WD Blue series of HDDs are probably best suited to backing up large files or storing media, rather than something like gaming. This is due to their slower RPM and speeds, which will definitely hinder load times.
Getting a new hard drive like this up and running is fairly easy, but it might seem a bit complicated at first. This process will vary based on your hard drive’s version and how you plan to use it, but let’s walk through the two most common scenarios. If you do have a specific need for setup, a quick search online using keywords will get you more tailored results. We’ll be covering how to set up this HDD inside a desktop PC and an external enclosure.
Start by unpacking your hard drive, and then prep your computer by shutting it down and unplugging the power cable. Attach brackets or supports to the sides of the drive so it can sit in the bay if your setup requires them. Now, take the hard drive and install it into the bay, plugging in both the power supply and the SATA data connector, making sure they are fully engaged and snug. Do your cable management as you see fit, then close it all back up.
This Blue series 4 TB HDD is not marketed as any sort of performance hard drive, so don’t expect it to be particularly impressive. That said, it is very affordably priced and you can get massive sizes for a fraction of the cost compared to other storage options. Because this isn’t a “performance” drive, the Blue HDDs will be quieter, run cooler, and use a bit less power when compared to the Black series from WD.
Because this isn’t a “performance” drive, the Blue HDDs will be quieter, run cooler, and use a bit less power when compared to the Black series from WD.
Here we’ve listed Western Digital’s claims for the Blue 3.5-inch HDD and put them up against our test results running CrystalDiskMark. You can also use WD’s included software (Acronis True Image) to test the drive, monitor its health and help with data migration at no additional cost. Acronis is pretty handy, so it’s a nice free perk included with the purchase.
WD’s specs for the Blue HDD:
Using CrystalDiskMark on an Intel CPU, we recorded the following results (there can be variations on these results depending on the CPU model and manufacturer):
Taking a look at these results, WD’s specs are indeed accurate, so you can expect similar results depending on your setup. While these kinds of benchmarks are not quite as accurate as real-world use, they are still worth looking at for comparison.
Typical hard disk drives within the same class as the WD Blue will average about 80MB/s and 150MB/s, making the Blue series a bit of a step up in terms of performance over some inferior competitors. Alas, SATA 3 SSDs, by comparison, will usually record speeds around 200MB/s to 400MB/s, so while pricier, they are much, much quicker.
As we’ve mentioned earlier in this review, the Blue series HDDs are a particularly good bang for your buck hard drive option if you want a ton of storage capacity. Because they lack a lot of the performance and extras more expensive options include, they may be slower, but that may also not matter if you’re just using them to store photos, videos, or programs you don’t access all that often. The price will differ between sizes, so let’s look at each.
Here’s a breakdown of each taken from WD’s website:
WD Blue 2.5-inch
WD Black 3.5-inch
Because these prices can fluctuate based on where you purchase your HDD, you might even be able to score a better deal. But these numbers are pulled directly from WD’s site and should give you a solid estimate. Picking up a massive 6TB of storage for about $150 definitely makes the Blue HDDs immensely affordable. If you were to compare that to an SSD, you might get only a quarter of the size for the same money.
While the value of the Blue is hard to argue against, we’d recommend ponying up for the Black to ensure your precious data is safer.
The Blue and Black series from Western Digital are some of the most common HDDs around, so pitting them against each other will help determine which is the right option for you. These two HDDs each come in a range of storage sizes and formats, but both have a few key differences you should look into.
The Blue series is cheaper by about 50 to 60 percent versus the Black. This is because the Blue series is slower, but also take a considerable hit in reliability. While the Black HDDs come with an excellent 5-year warranty from WD, the Blue include a meager 2 years and has been known to fail more frequently. Given the somewhat high failure rate of HDDs, this key difference might be the biggest consideration when choosing between the two series. While the value of the Blue is hard to argue against, we’d recommend ponying up for the Black to ensure your precious data is safer.
A solid low-cost option for big storage space.
If you want the absolute maximum storage space in an HDD while keeping costs rock bottom, the Blue series from Western Digital is a decent option, just don’t expect it to be anything close to speedy.