Helium drives have arrived on the consumer market, in the form of an eight-terabyte drive from Western Digital.
Sealing mechanical hard drives with helium gas inside reduces air friction, which in turn reduces power consumption as well as wear to the drive. Western Digital subsidiary HGST has offered helium-sealed drives since 2013, but until now, consumer drives under the Western Digital label have not offered the technology.
That’s changed: You can get your hands on a helium drive right now, assuming you’re looking for an external drive. Helium 8TB drives are already included in the My Book line of external drives, and the My Cloud line of network-connected storage. Both are available now, with 8TB editions costing $300.
RAID versions of these externals are currently available for pre-order: the 16 TB network-attached My Cloud Mirror ($900) and the 16TB desktop enclosure My Book Duo ($550) both offer two 8TB drives with RAID capability for redundant backups.
Internal drives are coming as well: the WD Red 8TB, designated for use in NAS devices, and the WD Purple 8TB, designed for always-on security systems, are both coming soon. We couldn’t find a price for these drives, but considering an enclosed drive costs $300 we’d guess a price slightly lower than that. Edit: The 8TB WD Red is priced at $350
Western Digital is in the middle of a slow-paced merger of operations with HGST, a firm renowned for its long lasting, enterprise-grade hard drives. Observers have long wondered how long it would take for HGST’s innovations, including helium drives, to make it to Western Digital’s consumer lines.
Western Digital’s announcement comes just a few months after Seagate announced a helium-filed drive of its own, though without providing a lot of details. Seagate’s 10TB drives were expected to cost around $800, and are aimed at the enterprise market.