Finally you can set up your laptop's storage the way you do your desktop, thanks to the Black 2 Dual Drive that WD unveiled today.
On a desktop, the best way to have both great performance and large data storage capacity is to use a small solid-state drive (SSD) as the main drive that hosts the operating system, and a regular hard drive (HDD) as a secondary drive for data. You generally haven't been able to do this on a laptop due to space constraints.
The WD Black 2 Dual Drive is the first of its type to have two internal drives -- a 120 SSD and a 1TB HDD -- inside one single 2.5-inch, 9mm-thick standard laptop drive. This means on the outside it still looks just like a regular laptop hard drive and will fit anyplace a regular hard drive of its standard is used. For the first time, with just one physical drive, you can have two physical volumes for your computer.
Not a hybrid drive, or is it?
The reason the WD Black 2 is not called a solid-state hybrid drive (SSHD) is that the two drives on the inside are never merged together. They remain two separate volumes, just as you use two drives in a system -- at least this is the way WD recommends that it be used.
In my quick trial, I was able to merge the two into one single partition of 1.2TB. However, according to WD, in this case the system doesn't know where the SSD part starts and ends, making it not optimized for performance. In other words, if you wanted to you could use the WD Black 2 Dual as a hybrid drive, but there's no benefit to this, at least for now.
Software required for setup, no Mac support
Out of the box, when installed in a computer, the WD Black 2 will appear as a 120GB SSD, just like any standard SSD. You can use it to install the operating system (or clone an existing system to it as long as the old drive has significantly less than 120GB of data on it.) After that you need to install the WD Black 2 installation software. This software will unlock the HDD portion of the drive and format it into a new partition. After a restart, your computer will now have another volume that is the 1TB hard drive.
The software's only job is to unlock and format the HDD portion, and it doesn't run each time your computer starts. It works only with Windows computers; currently, WD says, the new drive doesn't support Macs.
As it seems, the biggest benefit of the new WD Black 2 Dual Drive is offering laptop users the option in a relatively affordable product to have both fast performance and large storage space. The new drive is slated to cost $299, which is much less than an SSD of half its capacity would cost. Compared with getting a separate 120GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive, however, it's still significantly higher.
Check for the upcoming full review to see if the new WD Black 2 Dual Drive is worth the investment.