For this review of the WD_Black P10 Game Drive, we welcome another new face to the team. Peter Bower is a mixed bag of tricks. In former lives, he was a professional photographer and videographer, published writer, English academic, award winning poet, hater of soup, website manager, social media guy, ginger, and creature of the night. He is the founder and former editor-in-chief of SWAMP and VoTogs. He is still a ginger and now finds himself a government employee. When he’s not working, he is a semi-serious gamer and lover of live music, bad movies and action novels. His website is well out-of-date, as is his Facebook. But you can say hello to him on Twitter @OeterB.
Data requirements are growing every day. Laptops come with small internal drives and force alternative storage for photos, videos and even space for installing programs and games. Consoles come as default with a modest sized hard drive, too, and run out of room as our collections and the install-size of new games simultaneously grow.
So, what is the best way to expand our storage capabilities? In an ideal world, we would spend the $100s on Solid State Drives (SSDs). But, as few can justify that cost, we look to the world of 2.5” external hard disk drives which are available for less than a fifth of the price of the equivalent size SSD option.
Today, I look at a Western Digital offering purpose built for gaming. While not a Solid State Drive, the portable 2.5” hard disk WD_ Black P10 Game Drive is definitely a solid option.
Straight out the box, unlike any of my other external drives, this offering from Western Digital embodies style. The entire exterior of this external USB 3.2 Gen 1 drive is a sleek black metal casing with white stencilled print proudly announcing that it is a WD_ Black P10 Game Drive 2.5” HDD. With the techno-grunge vibe, this drive is as cool in appearance as it is icy to touch. And on this winter’s day, it IS icy to the touch. It is thin, with a height of just 12.8 millimetres, and weighs 140 grams, and will look great next to your console or computer. Unlike other external drives tucked away behind my Xbox One, this one will sit alongside of it on display.
Compared to other external drives I have bought, the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive just works. Plugging it into my computer for initial testing, there was no pop-ups, no software for automated backups, no clutter. For me, this is a big win. If I want backup software running, I have a NAS for that. With external drives, this is the first thing I remove.
Regardless, I performed a quick format of the drive prior to running a few ‘every day’ tests to get a feel for the drive. It is noted that each test in this review, where possible, was performed multiple times and an average taken.
For the last six months, I have been running Seagate Expansion Drives as expansion for my Xbox One and as storage for my PC. Today, I will compare the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive to the two six-month old Seagate Expansion 2TB Drives.
A Simple Transfer
Now, this drive is meant to be used as a ‘Game’ drive, for expanding storage for the purpose of installing games on your PC, Xbox or Playstation. But, I felt I needed to make a few simple comparisons.
Test One – Worth A Thousand Words
First, I copied a folder with 1000 Word documents, all 20.5kb, from my desktop to each drive.
2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 3.95 seconds.
2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 2.76 seconds. --- WINNER.
Something as simple as shifting the files over from my desktop to the drive to the other was noticeably quicker with the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive. A very clear winner on this one.
Test Two – The Bigger Fall Harder
The second test was equally as simple: a 5GB file was copied from my desktop to each drive.
2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 41.72 seconds.
2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 40.92 seconds. --- WINNER.
This test wasn’t quite as conclusive, but the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive again comes out a winner.
Overall, the first tests show the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive performing slightly better in a simple file transfer. But, really, that’s not why you buy this drive.
Next up, I ran two simple tests in relation to my PC gaming life. While, long term, this drive will be used with my Xbox One (tests on that coming soon), I thought I would see how it performed plugged into my PC via USB.
Test Three – Transferring the Undead
It’s an old game, but still a favourite: Left 4 Dead 2. A game I’ve spent too many hours playing. I set up a Steam Library on each drive and proceeded to transfer the game folders for Left 4 Dead 2. The folder is 12.5GB in size, with 665 folders containing 51,548 files of varying sizes (from large videos to small .txt files). The folder was copied from my internal SSD drive to each drive.
Copying to the 2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 12 minutes and 10.02 seconds.
Copying to the 2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 7 minutes and 52.77 seconds. --- WINNER.
The very clear winner here was the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive. The transfer seemed smoother with data transfers running at more consistent speeds on the Western Digital drive.
Test Four – PC Play Time
I timed the start-up of Left 4 Dead 2 multiple times and took an average. It’s a simple test. From hitting “Play” on Steam to the game hitting the menu, how long does it take?
2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 8.12 seconds
2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 7.81 seconds. --- WINNER
Again, it’s not a dramatic win on the play time, but the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive does come out on top with this test. If I were to try more modern games, I can’t help but envision the load time differences would be more significant.
Regardless, the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive ran quietly alongside my computer tower and performed well as I jumped in to shoot a few zombies. As zombies fell before me, the game felt smooth and seamless during game play, as though it were still running on my internal SSD.
Console Life: Xbox One
The WD_ Black P10 Game Drive will now reside next to my Xbox One. And it looks good sitting there.
Before I started, I tested some load times on two games stored on my second 2TB Seagate Expansion Drive --- Alien Isolation and Mortal Kombat. I then moved the data over to the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive and ran the same tests.
Test Five – Alien Isolation on Xbox One
From starting the game, watching the introduction videos (without skipping them) and to land on the game menu, the timing was as follows:
2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 46.51 seconds
2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 43.40 seconds. --- WINNER
Test Six – Mortal Kombat
Two timings were conducted here. First, I timed from initial load to the main menu. Then, after selecting a Single Player fight and fighters, I timed how long it took from selection of the Arena to load of the actual game.
2TB Seagate Expansion Drive: 30.28 seconds, then 10.25 seconds.
2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive: 27.45 seconds, then 9.32 seconds. --- WINNER
So, Test Five and Test Six above proved the load timing is fractionally better with the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive compared to my other best performing drives. But, that’s exactly what it is. FRACTIONALLY better.
Does a few seconds on load really make a drive like this worth it? If you just factor in the load time, would you notice a difference in the real world? Not particularly. However...
While the transfer times and load times are minutely better, the WD_Black P10 Game Drive performs better overall. As I proceeded to get kicked about the screen by the computer in Mortal Kombat, the game ran smoothly, videos loaded snappily between rounds, and overall it ran well.
However, this drive shines in one very noticeable area.
My Seagate Expansion Drives get quite warm. In particular, there’s always a spot in the centre of the case which is quite hot to the touch.
Remember earlier when I was guffing on about how slick the black metal case looked? That metal cover allows for passive cooling.
The 2TB WD_ Black P10 Game Drive disperses that heat across the whole case. It’s warm, yes, but not as warm as my other 2.5” portable drives. And, most importantly to me, there’s no hot spot.
On top of the significantly noticeable temperature difference between the two drives, while running games, the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive does not get as noisy as the Seagate Expansion Drive.
Both big win factors for me.
At this point, I will note that the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive does come at a very slight premium price compared to other 2.5” portable hard disk drives on the market. So, is it really worth it?
In my view: Yes.
The speeds comparisons over other 2.5” portable hard disk drives may be negligible to most. But the overall performance, less noise during operation and, especially, the better handling of heat through the all metal case lend me to recommend the WD_ Black P10 Game Drive for anyone looking to expand their storage space. If you’re a console gamer especially, don’t hesitate to pick up one of these to sit alongside your system and expand your games library without fear of a loss of performance.
The WD_Black P10 Game Drive can be yours for AUD$131.34 here. DRN will receive a small commission if you chose to purchase from this link.
DRN would like to thank WD for their on-going support.