Western Digital offers 6 TB portable disk drives

Western Digital has upped the capacity of its legacy 2.5-inch external portable disk drives from 5 TB to 6 TB.

These drives come in a 2.5-inch format and provide cheaper capacity storage for portable and external gaming system drives than SSDs, which Western Digital also sells. The enterprise 2.5-inch format drives spin at 10,000 rpm and represent a legacy market niche as virtually all mission-critical storage needs are being met by SSDs these days. Consumer 2.5-inch drives are in a similar position, but there’s always a need for cheaper capacity. The drives spin at a slower 5,400 rpm and often employ shingling, as in Western Digital’s 2020-era MyPassport 5 TB drive, to cram more write tracks on a platter, increasing capacity at the cost of slower write speeds. This is because zones of tracks need to be written in bulk to accommodate changed data writes.

Nitin Kachhwaha, Western Digital
Nitin Kachhwaha

Nitin Kachhwaha, director of Product Management at Western Digital, said: “Expanding our portfolio with the world’s first 2.5-inch 6 TB portable hard drive is an incredible technological achievement, and it enables us to continue pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.

“Offering up to 6 TB in such a small form factor and accessible price point gives everyone – from students, gamers, professional videographers, and more – greater flexibility to create and keep even more of their essential content in one portable drive.”

There are three products using the new 6 TB disk: MyPassport portable HDD, BLACK P10 Game Drive, and SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE ArmorATF. Western Digital’s datasheet doesn’t reveal the spin speed, platter count, or say whether shingled magnetic recording or MAMR (microwave-assisted magnetic recording) is used.

Western Digital WD BLACK P10
WD BLACK P10 Game Drive enclosure

Our understanding is that, like the 5 TB BLACK drive, the 6 TB version spins at the same 5,400 rpm and employs shingled recording. There are 2, 4, 5, and 6 TB versions available, with the enclosure’s physical height dimension reflecting the internal platter count:

  • 2 TB – 0.57 inches/14.55 mm
  • 4/5 TB – 0.82 inches/20.8 mm
  • 6 TB – 0.591 inches/23.1 mm

Again, our understanding is that the 6 TB drive has an extra platter to provide the additional 1 TB of capacity over the 5 TB product. This is instead of using MAMR technology to increase the areal density of the prior five-platter version.

We note that internal fit 2.5-inch drive slot heights can reach 19 mm although many are limited to 15 mm. That means neither the 4, 5, or 6 TB versions of these WD BLACK drives would fit in standard internal bays.

The connector is USB 3.2, with a 5 Gbps maximum speed, and the maximum drive read speed is 130 MBps. No write speed has been provided by Western Digital. All the 6 TB drives come with a three-year warranty.

Western Digital supplied list pricing for its 6 TB portable disk drive products:

  • MyPassport Ultra, MyPassport Ultra for Mac: $199.99
  • MyPassport, MyPassport for Mac: $179.99
  • MyPassport , Works with USB-C: $184.99
  • BLACK P10 Game Drive: $184.99 
  • SanDisk Professional G-DRIVE ArmorATF: $229.99 and available at the end of May.

The 6 TB MyPassport and BLACK drives are available now.

For comparison, a 4 TB BLACK P50 GameDrive SSD will set you back $429.99 and there is no 6 TB capacity point with this product.