Western Digital Scorpio Blue 640GB Review

by Reads (21,746)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Features
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 7.00
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Large capacity
    • Cool and quiet
    • Good battery life
  • Cons

    • Performance is only average, even for a 5400rpm drive

Quick Take

With a low cost per Gigabyte, the Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard drives are a great value.


For many people a hard drive can never be large enough. That’s why hard drive manufacturers keep developing notebook hard drives in larger capacities.  Today we’re going to have a look at the 640GB Scorpio Blue from Western Digital. How fast is it and how will it compare to the 500GB Scorpio Black? Read on to find out.

The WD6400BEVT packs two 320GB platters in a standard 2.5” hard drive with 9.5 mm height. The Scorpio Blue line has a rotational speed of 5400 revolutions per minute. For those who might not be familiar with Western Digital hard drives, WD offers laptop drives in the Scorpio Black category (which emphasizes speed over capacity and price) and Scorpio Blue (which emphasizes higher storage capacity and lower price over speed).

In the case of the WD6400BEVT, this 640GB hard drive has a MSRP of just $109.99 and a street price around $85. On the other hand, a lower capacity 500GB WD Scorpio Black hard drive (WD5000BEKT) has a MSRP of $99.99 and a street price of $80.

First let’s look at the synthetic benchmarks and then we’ll see how the WD6400BEVT performs in real life.

Synthetic perfomance
HDTune is a classic benchmarking tool that measures throughput and access times.

At the beginning of the drive the WD reads at a speed of 88,8 Megabytes per second,  which is quite a good score considering it’s a 5400rpm drive. Access times of 17.2 ms on average are very reasonable too.  So far so good.

Crystal Disk Mark shows numbers that are reasonable considering it’s a 5400 rpm hard drive.

Installation performance
First I installed the WD6400BEVT into the HP DM3 test laptop and gave it a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium. After that I installed a number of commonly used applications like Avast antivirus, an office suite and imaging software.  The chart shows the time it took to install Windows 7, Microsoft Office 2007 and Adobe Photoshop CS4 together.

The installation performance of the 640GB Blue is somewhat disappointing, coming in last even after the Fujitsu MHZ2320BH-G2 320GB which has a much lower areal density.

Boot & Launch performance
Next we measured how fast these drives boot Windows 7 with the utility ‘Boot Timer’.

Booting Windows 7 is somewhat faster than the Fujitsu 5400rpm hard drive, but again performance isn’t impressive.

File copy performance
To get an accurate indication of the file copy performance I copied and pasted two folders on to the same partition. The first folder had a large number of random files and images. The second folder had a couple of large high definition video files. In total 11GB of files were copied. The chart shows the average time of both actions.

File copy performance of the WD Blue is quite good, being helped by the relatively high average throughput. Next we opened up a large TIFF image without having started Photoshop yet. So the time measured includes both opening the image and launching Photoshop.

The WD Scorpio Blue does quite well here, coming in only 6 seconds after the Scorpio Black.

For our final test I placed four applications in the startup folder and lastly a shortcut to a 720p video file that was opened in MPC-HC.  The reboot time was measured from pressing ‘restart’ until all applications have launched. Let’s see how the Scorpio Blue does here.

This is a heavy test that clearly shows the drawbacks of 5400rpm hard drives. The Scorpio Blue is no exception here.

Multitasking performance
Performing multiple tasks at once is becoming more and more common these days. When a virus scanner is running in the background, one wants to be able to use their notebook without sacrificing performance. As you will see the type of hard drive can have a big influence on this.

Our first multi task test consisted of scanning a large folder of files with Avast Virus scanner, while at the same time copying a folder and decompressing a zip file with 7zip. For the second multi task test I opened a large image and Photoshop while a background virus scan was already running. The time it took to open the image and Photoshop was measured. The times of both multi task tests were added and are shown in the table.

The multitasking performance of the WD Blue is not bad considering it’s a 5400rpm hard drive.

Battery life
The type of storage you select for your notebook can have a noticeable impact on battery life, especially when it’s a smaller power efficient notebook like the HP DM3 used for this review. To get an accurate indication of battery life I used Batterybar 3.4.1 and browsed the web for more than one hour with wireless on and brightness at 50%. Windows was set to Power Saver profile.

The Scorpio Blue does quite well here, delivering 25 minutes more battery life than the Scorpio Black. It’s not as good as SSD drives, but for a hard drive it’s very good.

Noise and vibration
This is one of the strong points of the WD 640GB Blue. The drive was cool and quiet at all times and left no noticeable amounts of vibration in the notebook.

Conclusion
The WD6400BEVT is a reasonable performer. People looking for maximum performance should look at other drives such as a 7200 rpm or, if your budget allows, SSDs or hybrid drives. For people who want the lowest cost per Gigabyte and can live with slower overall performance the WD Scorpio Blue is a solid choice. The capacity offers lots of space for movie and music fans. The drive is quiet, stays cool and it’s backed up by Western Digital’s three year warranty.

Pros:

  • Large capacity
  • Cool and quiet
  • Good battery life

Cons:

  • Performance is only average, even for a 5400rpm drive


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