Published under Category : Hard Disk Drives

WD Gold Vs UltraStar

Now when WD has 2 similary speced products, we are asked this question again and again - What is the difference between Gold and UltraStar.

Before we jump into how a Gold drive is different from ( or similar to ) an Ultrastar, Here is the chronology in which Gold demised and rose back to life from the proverbial Phoenix Ash.

October 2015 :
HGST stops operating autonomously , almost 7 years after the WD acquisition
October 2018 :
WD announces to Channel the transition from Gold to Ultrastar. Gold is Marked End of life
September 2019 :
WD announces that Gold will be Brought Back.

The New WD gold is based on the Ultrastar platform so we essentially have 2 similar ( or rather exact) products from WD. Ultrastar is the Legendary HGST platform that WD acquired and is targeted towards the enterprise market and for projects , while Gold is targeted towards channel as a stocking product.

WDs Decision to bring Gold back signifies the power of color - the brilliant marketing that WD always had. Gold as a color had somehow become a de-facto for the industry to rely on , drawing from rhetoric like 'Gold Standard' , Ultrastar just didn't have the marketing power that Gold had, despite being an arguably better product. WD realized that their was still a segment of Gold user which didn't migrate to Ultrastar as they anticipated, or worse they probably shifted to another brand. The easiest way to bring these customers back was to bring Gold back into channel and that's what WD did.

Now since both Gold and Ultrastar are the same platform , same drive, same specifications ; most of the difference is in the Positioning of the drives itself. Both are with 5 years warranty, both with similar MTBF and reliability. Little bit of difference between the two are

WD UltraStar WD Gold
Available in SATA and SAS Available only in SATA
Available with Various Encryptions and Formats ( 512e, 4Kn, 512n...) Only Available in 1 standard configuration
Multiple Part numbers under 1 capacity Single Part number per Capacity
Each Major Firmware or Technology change triggers a new part number. For Example 10TB Helium and 10TB air have both different part numbers. Silent Roll : New Technology, new firmware will also remain under the same part number
Stocking product for the Channel Enterprise product for System Integrators and large Projects
5 Year Limited Warranty 5 Year Limited Warranty

Which one should I buy UltraStar or Gold

  • if you are after a SAS drive, you have only UltraStar. There are no SAS Drives in Gold
  • if you are after a drive with specific byte per sector , Again Ultrastar is the only choice.
  • If you are looking for a SATA drive , take either Gold of UltraStar, they are the same great drive under the hood and it will be eventually down to pricing and availability to help you make a decision.


Isim @ Mon, Sep 04, 23

Row 5 of table is wrong.

Akash Jain @ Mon, Dec 19, 22

in reply to ericbox. Yes, they should work but the only problem is that if you had an earlier generation Gold and mix it with a new generation Ultrastar, they won’t be the same. Say if you had a Gold 10TB ( helium) and mix it with a new Ultrastar 10TB ( Air) they won’t be the same hardware platform.

Generally though, mixed drives work even even of different specifications ( other than mixing CMR with SMR). So different RPM, different cache etc all works.

ericbox @ Mon, Dec 19, 22

Thanks for the above piece explaining the two drives. So there shouldn’t be a problem mixing a Gold and Ultrastar in a NAS (same size)?

Brian Howard @ Mon, Sep 26, 22

Thanks you, great article. There seems no other article on the web that outlins all of this so succinctly so well done! Just one thing, I think you’ve place a spec on the wrong side in you comparo table: the “Stocking product for the channel” should be on the GOLD side, shouldn’t it? Same with the “Enterprise product for System Integrators and large Projects” – this one should be under ULTRASTAR by the look of things. Thanks again for the article, much appreciated.

Akash jain @ Mon, Sep 26, 22

@Brian. Thanks for your comment and pointing out the error in the comparison table. Yes, gold is for channel and ultrstar is for SIs. I will change it.

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About Author : Akash Jain

I have worked in Data Storage Industry since 1998. I loves Technology and write often about NAS, Hard drives, Tapes and Flash technologies

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