The two major internal hard drive manufacturers, Western Digital and Seagate, have traditionally been coy when it comes to solid state drives, particularly in the consumer space. Western Digital has finally fired its first salvo with the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue, which is available in 64GB, 128GB and 256GB capacities. While quick, it's incredibly expensive and is unlikely to be affordable for the average consumer anytime soon.
The Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue is only 9.5mm tall, which means it will easily replace your laptop's current hard drive. Western Digital uses multi-level cell (MLC) technology in the SiliconEdge Blue, which is common for consumer SSDs.
While cheaper than the alternative - single level cell (SLC) memory - MLC drives aren't as fast when it comes to the sustained throughput required of enterprise-level servers, and don't have the same lifespan. Consumers won't notice the performance disadvantage, though the drive is designed to have a five-year lifespan and is only covered by a three-year warranty.
The Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue consumes only 0.54 Watts when idle, and peaks at 2.6W when writing data. That means this SSD is slightly more power hungry than the Kingston SSDNow V+ but more power efficient than a conventional hard drive.
We conducted two file transfer tests with the SSD while connected to a testbed running a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor system drive. The first test consisted of 3GB worth of 1MB files, which simulates installing applications and backing up system files. In the second test we use a 20GB folder of 3-4GB files; this is more akin to dealing with high-definition movies.
Our tests show that the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue solid state drive is definitely fast. It had the fastest read and write speeds in our small file test, and the fastest read speeds by far when dealing with large files. As an overall performer, however, it still doesn't meet the benchmark set by Intel's consumer-targeted X25-M SSD, as it fell behind when performing simultaneous large file tasks.
Up against the lowly conventional hard drive, the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue performed well but our tests show that magnetic storage has some competitive edge, particularly when writing data. While this solid state drive isn't a leader of the pack, it will boost startup times and work well as a system drive in general.
Of course, that's if you can afford it. The 256GB drive provides 238GB of usable space which, at current prices, means a cost per formatted gigabyte of £2.85. Given that solid state drives can easily exceed £5 per GB, it's a reasonable cost. However even at this price it's hard to justify against the cost of an HDD.
Western Digital's first consumer-friendly SSD, the Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue is fast and reasonably priced when compared to the competition, but it is still too expensive as a hard drive replacement in most PCs.