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

Engineer working on a Western Digital hard drive.

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

Key Points

  • WD Red and WD Blue are two of Western Digital’s best-rated storage devices, with impressive specifications and reliability.
  • WD Red is primarily designed for NAS systems and has higher storage capacities, while WD Blue is tailored for desktop PCs and web applications.
  • WD Blue hard drives are often cheaper than WD Red hard drives, making them more affordable for a wider range of consumers.
  • WD Red provides fast and reliable storage with a transfer rate of 180 MB/second and a cache memory of 256MB, while WD Blue has faster data access speeds of up to 7200 RPM.
  • WD Red is ideal for NAS systems and supports RAID configurations, while WD Blue is a versatile hard drive for general computing and gaming.

As a rookie PC shopper, you may be overly concerned about a computer’s aesthetics, speakers, and video quality. One rookie mistake among first-time laptop and PC buyers is failing to enquire about the computer’s hard disk drive. It may seem like a non-issue, but these hard drives contribute to the computer’s speed. Nobody wants a lagging machine!

Western Digital (WD) has established itself as a formidable manufacturer of hard drives. And while it’s not a household name like Samsung, they have aggressively come into the market with some neat devices.

WD Red and WD Blue hard drives and SSDs are two of Western Digital’s best-rated storage devices. Thanks to their impressive specifications, they have cemented their place as two of the most reliable hard drives in the market. Both hard drives share several similarities, which is expected for hard drives manufactured by the same company. 

Luckily, in this article, we will break down the major differences between both hard drives to help you figure out what you should consider before buying. Let’s discuss it!

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

WD RedWD Blue
Capacity Sizes2, 3, 4, and 6TB500GB, 1, 2, 3. 4, 6, and 8TB  
Form Factor3.5 inches3.5 inches
Dimensions5.79” x 4” x 1.03”5.79” x 4” x 1.03”
Weight1.32 pounds0.99 pounds
Features– Suitable for workloads associated with idle time
– 180TB/yr workload rate
– Supports 8 bays
– Designed for everyday computing
– Good power management
Transfer Rate180 MB/s150 MB/s
Disk Speed5400 RPM7200, 5400, 5640 RPM  
Cache Size256MB32, 64, 128, 256MB  
PriceAround $60 for 2TBAround $55 for 2TB
Great for Home PCs and Small Businesses
Western Digital 4TB WD Red NAS Internal Hard Drive
$112.27
  • Speeds up to 5400 RPM
  • SATA 6 Gb/s
  • 256MB cache
  • 3.5-inch drive
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/24/2024 09:38 am GMT
Versatile Choice
WD Blue 1TB PC SSD
$104.99
  • 6 GB/s
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read speeds of up to 545MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 525MB/s.
  • 1.75M hours Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) and several error-correction technologies for lasting reliability
  • Available in 2.5”/7mm and M.2 2280 models to accommodate most PCs
  • WD FIT Lab certification for compatibility across a wide range of laptop and desktop computers
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/24/2024 02:51 am GMT

WD Red vs. Blue: What’s the Difference?

The tabulated specifications prove that both hard drives have some compelling similarities and significant differences. Unfortunately, you cannot determine which hard drive is better without dissecting these differences further.

Read on for a technical comparison of the WD Red and Blue hard drives.

Design

With a 3.5-inch form factor, the WD Red hard drive has the right configuration for a hard drive, especially with its 5.79” x 4” x 1.03” dimensions. It’s easily portable because it weighs 1.32 pounds, which is the standard weight of most hard drives.

The WD Blue tries hard to be dissimilar from its WD Red cousin, but it still rocks a 3.5-inch form factor. Were it not for Western Digital indicating both hard drives’ names on the front cover and using different colors, you could easily confuse them.

Like the WD Red, its Blue counterpart measures 5.79” x 4” x 1.03”. The only difference in design we could highlight is that the WD Blue is lighter, weighing 0.99 pounds. All in all, both hard drives are the same design-wise, and we consider this match-up a tie.

Capacities

Engineered to be used as a Network Attached Storage (NAS), it’s unsurprising that the WD Red hard drive has a storage range capacity of 2, 3, 4, and 6TB. Moreover, the technologies incorporated in this device vividly depict its hard drive capacity. For example, the WD Red performs considerably well, even when concurrently writing data from different sources. Also, with a 6TB storage capacity, you can easily store large files, including 4K videos, which may not fit in some hard drives.

On the other hand, WD Blue hard drives have limited storage capacities. However, you can still acquire an 8TB hard drive, offering more storage space than the largest WD Red available at 6TB. You will enjoy storage capacities of 500MB, 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8TB, which is a lot considering the WD Blue’s purpose.

As teased earlier, WD Red hard drives are primarily designed for NAS, so they commonly have a higher storage capacity. Conversely, WD Blue hard drives are tailored for desktop PCs and other web applications. This somewhat puts the hard drive in a better position storage-wise than other hard drives under the same umbrella.

Overall, WD Blue has a higher storage capacity, winning this battle.

Price

WD Blue hard drives are often cheaper than WD Red hard drives. One contributing factor is that WD Blue drives are available in smaller storage sizes. This was deliberate by Western Digital as they sought to make WD Blue affordable to a wider range of consumers.

For example, the average user can afford the 500MB WD Blue drive without bleeding their accounts, as the drive costs only $34.99. However, buying a 500MB storage drive may be wasteful. This is if you need to store large files like HD videos or backup game-generated data.

You can quickly tell the WD Red’s premium allure at first glance, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they cost north of $59.99 for a 2TB drive. Unfortunately, Western Digital doesn’t offer a 500MB WD Red drive, so this isn’t your device if you’re shopping on a small budget.

That said, we get a better comparison of these drives’ prices once we cross the 2TB mark. You can get a 6TB WD Blue storage drive for $104.99, which is quite affordable, considering the drive’s expected performance and expansive capacity. A 6TB WD Red hard drive costs $109.99, so there isn’t a huge price disparity when looking at both drives. Overall, the amount of storage you need determines the drive’s price, but ultimately, choose the one that satisfies your intended use.

Performance

Designed with NAS solutions in mind, the WD Red hard drive provides fast and reliable storage like nothing you’ve seen before. With all this power on your hands and in a single hard drive, it’s unsurprising that the WD Red has a transfer rate of 180 MB/second. Your system’s reading and writing commands will also kick up a notch, thanks to this hard drive’s 256MB cache memory. But the drive won’t access your data as fast as you would like due to its 5,400 RPM. In retrospect, WD Red’s RPM is relatively fast but not jaw-dropping.

We cannot discuss WD Red’s performance without mentioning its accompanying NASware 3.0 technology. This technology boosts WD Red’s performance and ensures robust data protection. It also supports seamless integrations with network storage systems. This means WD Red hard drives guarantee consistent performance even when handling heavy workloads. 

WD Blue hard drives hold up their own regarding performance. Besides the hard drive’s 150 MB/second transfer rate, these hard drives access data at mind-blowing speeds of up to 7200 RPM, faster than WD Red. Typically, WD Blue hard drives are the first choice under the WD dome if you’re looking for a hard drive to handle intensive gaming. However, they are also the cost-effective option when looking to buy a high-performance hard drive on a budget.

Unfortunately, most WD Blue hard drives have a 32MB or 64MB cache memory, which is underwhelming, considering the Red hard drive comes with a 256MB cache memory. But you can still get the 256MB cache memory if you upgrade to the 6TB Blue hard drive.

Generally, both hard drives don’t skimp on quality because they perform exceptionally and are reliable. So, we consider this match-up a tie, as both hard drives thrive in different environments.

Compatibility and Uses

As teased earlier, WD Red hard drives are mainly used for NAS systems, so they perform exceptionally when paired with other network storages. Western Digital claims to have tested these drives and ascertained their exceptional performance and versatility under various conditions and uses. Transcending this hard drive’s NAS compatibility is its support for RAID configurations. It allows WD Red hard drives to write data across different drives integrated within the same system.

Conversely, WD Blue shines the most as a general computing hard drive. You can depend on these drives for your all-purpose computing needs and they won’t let you down when you challenge them with advanced gaming.

Unfortunately, they aren’t perfect because they consume more power than WD Red hard drives. However, they are still more effective than other hard drives at the same price point. The WD Blue hard drives are the jumping-off point for budget-oriented customers.

Both hard drives are used differently, so choose the one that meets your needs.

Western Digital WD HDD hard disk drive
WD Red hard drives are mainly used for NAS systems while Blue drives are great for general computing.

History of WD Red Hard Drives

It is hard to imagine that Western Digital has enjoyed over a decade of reverence in the data storage sector through its WD Red hard drives. The road has been full of challenges since Western Digital released the first Red hard drives in 2012, though. The upside was that these hard drives were well-designed for the rigorous NAS devices, as seen from their fast transfer rates, multi-drive abilities, and efficiency when tasked with heavy workloads.

NAS devices have become popular over the years, prompting Western Digital to increase its Red hard drives’ capacity. It also added new models to the WD Red family by introducing the Red Pro and Red Plus hard drives. Beyond that, Western Digital later introduced the innovative NASware 3.0 technology, which took its Red hard drives to the next level.

Western Digital is already looking into the future, and with the increased demand for data storage, expect the company to release Red hard drives with astonishing capacities.

History of WD Blue Hard Drives

The inception of the WD Blue hard drives isn’t clear, but the most significant milestone in their history came in 2015 when Western Digital merged the Green and Blue hard drives. The move increased Western Digital’s profit margin by producing an all-purpose budget-friendly computing hard drive. Unfortunately, the move made it difficult for customers looking for an entry-level device.

Stand-alone hard drives have become increasingly popular since 2015, prompting Western Digital to increase the Blue hard drives’ speed. Today, you can get a Blue hard drive with a 150 MB/second transfer rate and a disk speed of 7200 RPM. Moreover, Western Digital hasn’t changed its tradition of manufacturing cheap Blue hard disks, as seen from their 500MB Blue hard disk, which has been part of the Blue family since its inception.

WD Red vs. Blue: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • WD Red hard drives are mainly used for NAS devices, while WD Blue hard drives are for general computing.
  • Both hard drives have low power consumption, but WD Red’s power consumption is better.
  • Determining which hard drive performs better is challenging, so choose one that suits your tasks.
  • WD Blue hard drives are more affordable than WD Red hard drives as they are available in smaller sizes of 500MB.
  • WD Red hard drives support RAID configurations, which is impressive.
Fast and Capable
Western Digital 2TB WD Red Pro NAS Internal Hard Drive HDD
$109.00
  • 2TB
  • 7,200 RPM
  • SATA 6 Gb/s
  • CMR
  • 64MB cache
  • 3.5 inches
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/23/2024 08:05 pm GMT
Versatile Choice
WD Blue 1TB PC SSD
$104.99
  • 6 GB/s
  • 1TB
  • Sequential read speeds of up to 545MB/s and sequential write speeds of up to 525MB/s.
  • 1.75M hours Mean Time To Failure (MTTF) and several error-correction technologies for lasting reliability
  • Available in 2.5”/7mm and M.2 2280 models to accommodate most PCs
  • WD FIT Lab certification for compatibility across a wide range of laptop and desktop computers
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
02/24/2024 02:51 am GMT

WD Red vs. Blue: Which One is Better for You?

There is no straightforward answer on the superior hard drive between the WD Red and Blue. The hard drive you choose depends on your intended use, as each drive is suited for different purposes.

While it’s difficult to pick a winner, the WD Red slightly edges the Blue hard drive when looking at both hard drives’ general performance. Besides having a better transfer rate, WD Red hard drives consume less power when handling more workload. However, WD Blue hard drives have a superior disk speed, which you should also consider.

All in all, choose a hard drive that is within your budget and offers the best value for your money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are WD Red hard drives better than Blue hard drives?

It’s difficult to say which hard drive is better, as they are intended for different uses. Looking at their general specs, WD Red hard drives are slightly better, as they support NAS integrations and offer superior transfer rates.

Which company manufactures WD hard drives?

Western Digital Corporation is the company behind WD hard drives. Founded in 1970, the company has become a powerhouse in the hard drive manufacturing industry.

What’s the primary use of WD Blue hard drives?

WD Blue hard drives are engineered for all-purpose computing. They are suitable for desktop PCs and can comfortably handle your everyday computing needs. 

Is the WD Red hard drive suitable for storage?

Offering maximum storage of 6TB, WD Red hard drives are perfect for storage, especially for someone looking for a hard drive that gives NAS solutions.

Which hard drive has a higher transfer rate between WD Red and Blue?

WD Red is faster than Blue. It has a transfer speed of 180 MB/second compared to WD Blue’s 150 MB/second transfer rate.

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