WD Red vs. Black: Key Differences to Know Before You Buy

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If you’re in the market for a new SATA hard drive or SSD, the WD Red and Black drives are fantastic choices to consider. Western Digital offers color-coded hard drives and M.2 SSDs for simple identification and separation amongst Blue, Green, Red, Black, Purple, White, and Gold products.

The WD Red and Blackhard drives are excellent places to begin. While both drives are manufactured by WD, they serve very different purposes when installed on your PC or NAS. Understanding the distinction between the two drives and picking the appropriate drive is critical to your success. In this post, we’ll look at the differences between the WD Red and Black hard drives to help you choose the right one for your needs. Let’s get started!

WD Red vs. Black: Side-by-Side Comparison

Red Black
Primary Use Network-attached storage (NAS) is used for file storage. An enterprise-grade solution for gamers, graphic designers, and other resource-heavy consumers.
Price $62.99 $109.99 $32 $387
Maximum Drive Bays 8 bays Not a server HD
Capacity 2 6 TB 500GB 8TB
Cache 64 256 MB 64 256 MB
Form Factor 3.5 inch 3.5 inch
Interface SATA SATA
Transfer Rate Up to 210MB/s Up to 227MB/s
Disk Speed 5,400RPM 7,200RPM
Warranty 3-year limited warranty 5-year limited warranty
Largest Gaming HDD

Western Digital 8TB WD Black Performance Internal Hard Drive HDD


  • Max RPM: 7200
  • Cache size: 256MB
  • Form factor: 3.5-inch internal HDD
  • Warranty: 5 years
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08/08/2023 10:54 pm GMT

WD Red vs. Black: What s the Difference?

The WD Red drive was intended by Western Digital for network-attached storage (NAS), file sharing, and RAID configurations. A network attached storage (NAS) device enables centralized data storage, file sharing, and computer backups. A NAS drive, on the other hand, is not a smart choice for a gaming hard drive.

The WD_Black is aimed at resource-intensive users. Thus, graphic artists, gamers, and video editors will find the WD_Black to be an excellent choice. There are various WD_Black setups, and we’ll go over each one.

Now that we have a basic understanding of the capacity and performance differences, let us look at the significant performance differences between WD Red and Black.


WD Red hard drives come in capacities of 2TB, 3TB, 4TB, and 6TB. The variety of sizes provides for customized storage requirements. There is no reason to buy a 6TB drive if you just require 3TB. The ability to choose the appropriate drive size for your project equals to extra money in your pocket.

WD_Black hard drives come in 6TB, 8TB, and 10TB capacities. The increased drive size is ideal for data-intensive projects. Furthermore, the WD_Black is available in a range of combinations.

WD_Black Configurations

WD_Black NVMe Game Drive Expansion Card
Capacity 1, 2, 4TB 5TB 1TB
In/Out Internal External External
Purpose Gaming Gaming, PC, PlayStation, Xbox Xbox X/S
Best for Desktop

WD_BLACK 2TB SN850X Internal SSD


  • Predictive Loading, Adaptive Thermal Management, and Overhead Balancing features
  • Up to 7,300MB/s
  • Game Mode 2.0
  • Features WD’s dashboard to monitor your SSD’s health and control your current RGB style.
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08/08/2023 10:59 pm GMT
Gaming Drive

WD_BLACK 5TB P10 Game Drive Portable External Hard Drive HDD


  • Able to hold as many as 125 games
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Features a sleek, metal form factor
  • Includes 18-inch USB-A to USB Micro-B cable (5Gb/s)
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08/08/2023 11:00 pm GMT
Best for Xbox X|S

WD_BLACK 1TB C50 Storage Expansion Card


  • Supports Quick resume and Plug-and-play
  • Comparable performance to the Xbox’ internal storage
  • Officially licensed by Xbox
  • Sleek aesthetic to match your Xbox
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08/08/2023 11:05 pm GMT

Disk Speed

Slower RPM hard drives transport data at a slower rate than faster spinning platter HDDs. The disk rotates faster to boost the rate of data transfer. The faster the disk (also known as platters) turns, the faster data bits can pass through the read/write head. As a result, quicker data transfers are possible with faster-spinning HDDs. RPMs in HDDs typically range between 5400 and 7200.

The disk speed of WD’s Red hard drive is 5,400RPM. The WD_Black, on the other hand, has an RPM of 7,200RPM. When compared to the WD Red, the greater RPM results in about 33% faster data transmission on the WD_Black. The WD Red’s slower disk performance makes it an excellent choice for data backup and sharing. The WD_Black’s higher disk speed makes it the preferable choice for applications that require more instant data access. A higher RPM (7,400) allows for speedier data storage and retrieval.

Power Efficiency

The higher RPM WD_Black consumes more power than the lower RPM WD Red, as expected.

WD Red WD Black
Read/Write 4.8W 9.1W
Idle 3.1W 5.8W
Standby and Sleep .6W 1.0W

The power consumption of the WD Red is lower than that of the WD_Black. lesser RPMs contribute to a lesser workload. Keep in mind that the best WD Red application is a 24-hour operation. The WD_Black’s practical use is occasional intense data transfer followed by power off. The WD_Black may use less total energy than the WD Red. Everything is dependent on how you use the WD drives.


The WD Red comes with a three-year limited warranty, while the WD_Black comes with a five-year warranty. The WD_Black’s extended warranty duration indicates a drive that isn’t churning through data read/write operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Noise Level

WD Red (dBA) WD_Black (dBA)
Idle 23 29
Seek (average) 27 36

The WD_Black is more audible than the WD_Red. 20dBA is comparable to the sound of wind whispering (softly) through tree branches. If two coworkers were whispering a few feet away, you’d have to strain to hear them. 40dBA sounds like a refrigerator hum.

The noise level of either WD drive is insufficient to cause worry. At idle, the WD Red is approximately 6dBA quieter than the WD_Black. The WD_Black is 9dBA louder than the WD Red when the HD seeks. It’s worth noting that 10dBA is the sound of breathing. You won’t notice much of a difference in noise level between the drives as long as neither has a death rattle.

The History of WD Red and Black

Since the 2010s, Western Digital has begun producing color-coded hard drives. The color indicates which hard drive to buy based on their computing needs.

The WD Blue is an excellent all-purpose standard desktop hard disk. WD Red is aimed at read-only NAS servers. WD Gold drives are aimed for enterprise-level hard drives. The WD Purple drives are great for videos that require writing. In 2015, WD Green drives developed from slower 5,400RPM drives to Blue Drives. The WD Green drives are now SSDs.

Hard disk color labeling has become extremely prevalent. Seagate and Toshiba (2018) have begun to color code their hard drives. Unfortunately, the color codes used by the three disk manufacturing companies do not match. A quick glance at the chart below reveals that each company’s drive configuration is represented by a distinct color.

Color Code WD Seagate Toshiba
Blue Standard desktop PCs video surveillance Video streaming
Black Gaming
Red NAS systems NAS systems Standard desktop PCs
Green Eco Friendly/ Light use Standard desktop PCs Video surveillance
Gold Enterprise NAS systems
Silver Gaming
Orange Gaming
Purple Video surveillance
White Datacenter

WD Red

Network Storage

Western Digital 2TB WD NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD


  • Max RPM: 5400
  • Cache size: 256MB
  • Form factor: 3.5-inch HDD
  • Supported workload rate (per year): 180TB
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08/08/2023 11:08 pm GMT

In 2012, Western Digital debuted their Red HD lineup. In 2019, the product line changed from conventional magnetic recording (CMR) to SMR (Shingled Magnetic Recording).


Data is arranged side by side on the drive surface when CMR is employed. To avoid data overlap, small gaps are put between the tracks. The usage of gaps affects the areal density (imagine GB per square inch). Less data storage means more gaps. Data can be overwritten if it does not affect nearby tracks. Random writing operations are easily handled by a CMR drive.


Shingled Magnetic Recordings create tracks that are broader than the read tracks. Data is successively written onto the track. The following data write partially overlaps with another data track. The data overlap produces a pattern akin to shingling a house’s roof. The SMR HDD offers increased data density capabilities since it lacks the gaps of a CMR HDD. SMR can only write to the HDD’s empty sectors. The SMR requires free time to restructure data and eliminate redundant portions. The SMR HDD will reach its full potential after some restructuring time.

Cleaning Up

In late 2019 and early 2020, consumers began to realize that their WD Reds (with SMR) were underperforming. With continuous NAS operations, there was no time for the WD Red to reorganize the HD. Performance dropped as a result. WD had taken steps to clear up the confusion by the middle of 2020. The fundamental Red platform is an SMR configuration. The CMR setup is used by the Red Plus.


The WD_Black SATA hard drives first appeared on the market in 2010. The drives are intended for use in gaming, high-end graphics, and high-performance computing. The WD_Black boasts faster search times, higher RPMs, and better read/write rates than other WD hard drives. This made it an instant hit with gamers, designers, and other people who needed a strong drive.

High-Speed HDD

Western Digital 4TB WD Black Performance Internal Hard Drive HDD


  • Max RPM: 7200
  • Cache size: 256MB
  • Form factor: 3.5-inch internal HDD
  • Warranty: 5 years
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08/08/2023 11:11 pm GMT

WD Red vs. Black: 7 Must-Know Facts

  • WD Red hard drives are ideal for data backup and file sharing.
  • WD Red is often used as a central data server with 24/7 data access.
  • WD Red uses CMR read/write technology, which may not suit 24/7 NAS operations. Consider a WD Red Pro.
  • WD_Black is a Western Digital high-end consumer hard drive. It has higher RPMs and shorter seek times than other WD HDD series.
  • WD_Black is primarily geared toward gamers, graphics editing, and video editing.
  • WD_Black HD also has an SDD configuration available. We re big fans of SDD over HDDs, so we suggest that you take a look at this option.
  • WD_Black carries a five-year limited warranty. We found some chatter that WD is honoring the warranty from the date of manufacturing, not the date of sale. However, we didn t find this accurate when viewing the WDs warranty support site.

WD Red vs. Black: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?

We recommend utilizing the WD Red for NAS storage if you have time to reorganize the disk every day. If you’ll be pounding the WD Red with data duties 24 hours a day, we recommend the WD Red Pro. Its performance is slightly slower than that of the WD_Black, however this is due to the fact that it serves a distinct purpose. NAS or RAID are ideal applications for the WD Red.

We recommend the WD_Black for hard drive-intensive projects such as gaming and video editing. The RPM of the WD_Black is higher than that of the WD Red. As a result, WD_Black read/write and seek times are faster than WD Red.

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