When NVMe entered the scene, it changed storage like never before. A leap in transfer speeds greater than ever. Showing that we still have hope at achieving that technological utopia of tech we all dream of, within this lifetime. Then comes PCIe 4.0, and with it, even better NVMe performance. The WD_Black 500GB SN850 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is one of these new-gen NVMe options.
How do you make something that is already incredible and make it better? Double the incredibleness! Companies have indeed done just that with the PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives. Transfer speeds of up to 7,000 MBps show that we are ready to push technology to its limits without having to worry about capacity bottlenecking the process.
Assuming you have the motherboard to take advantage of it, of course. These drives will require a newer motherboard that offers PCIe 4.0. Without that, you will get the same speeds as the previous-gen models. Thankfully, this year, buying into a new system can potentially gain you multiple leaps into next-gen tech (PCIe 4.0, Thunderbolt 4/USB4, and you will likely start to see DDR5 roll out by the end of the year).
Western Digital has shown that it’s still one of the top brands out there with its WD_Black products. Given, the price tag on some of these can cause your heart to skip a beat or two. When it comes to NVMe, high-performance means a price that will have to be paid. This has always been the case for any tech, but NVMe is a special kind of inflation due to the amount of R&D that needs to be compensated for.
Thankfully, you can still get your hands on the 500GB model for a relatively decent price tag when you consider the performance it yields. The price grows quickly from there though. The WD_Black line is available in the following options.
- 500GB — $149.99 (MSRP) – 7,000 MBps (Read)/ 4,100 MBps (Write)
- 1TB — $229.99 (MSRP) – 7,000 MBps (Read)/ 5,300 MBps (Write)
- 2TB — $449.99 (MSRP) – 7,000 MBps (Read)/ 5,100 MBps (Write)
The model we have been tested out is the 500GB model and due to the promise of performance it has to offer, the first thing we did was put it neck to neck with some of the Samsung options out there that have always hovered the tops of our charts as a reigning champion.
Looking at the results of our comparisons, I’d normally say that we were a bit surprised, but this isn’t the case since the WD_Black series has continuously proven quite successful. So in this scenario, the drive performed neck-to-neck with the Samsung options, including Samsung’s latest 980 Pro. In some cases, falling slightly behind the 980 Pro in performance, and in some cases, sliding gently past it.
This is exciting to see such a product from WD, showing they are still proudly in the game and running with the best.
We had fun testing it out in various scenarios, including “older” (PCIe 3.0) systems and USB 3.1/3.2 or TB3 connections using an enclosure. The drive almost always maxed out these connections instantly, only wavering due to other bottlenecks of each given system (ie, resources, the other drives involved, etc).
There are some caveats that come with any drive of this kind of performance. Heat is one of these. You will want to make sure your motherboard has a heatsink solution for the M.2 slots. If not, then buy into the heatsink version of this drive. As long as you are rocking a heatsink that is doing its job, your temps will be fine. However, without a heatsink, this could get quite hot. So in order to preserve the lifespan of the drive, keep it cool by spreading that heat away.
WD has its Dashboard software (Windows OS environments only) that gives you a very complete picture of drive performance, stats, tools, and settings. You can easily update the drive’s firmware or control the RGB settings (if you bought the model that comes with the RGB heatsink). We actually found that this is one of our favorite dashboard applications for SSDs thus far. Samsung’s is nice, but WD really went above and beyond designing this one out.
Update 07/2021: The SN850 series have been labeled as PS5-compatible for expanding storage on the PlayStation 5 console.
The WD_Black SN850 series is a formidable opponent in the market, competing with the best of the best. It would make an amazing OS drive, and it would make an even better game drive if you are looking to compete against the latest consoles. Now, if only we can break barriers/physics (today) with CPUs like we can NVMe drives.
Even better, they have already been hitting sale pricing, allowing you to pick one up at a more competitive price. At the time of this story, some of the buttons below will yield prices as low as $119.99, making for a great deal.
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
- Capacity: 500 GB
- Interface: PCIe Gen4 x4
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 3.15″ x 0.87″ x 0.09″
- Sequential Read Performance: 7000MB/s
- Sequential Write Performance: 4100MB/s
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.
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