If you’re planning to have a future-proof PC Build for gaming, Western Digital releases their high-performance SSD with PCIe® Gen 4 Technology in the market, this is the WD_BLACK™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD. The new flagship comes with two variants with a heatsink and a non-heatsink, it also comes in three capacities 500GB, 1TB and 2TB. The pricing for the Philippine retail store starts at PHP 7,900. However, the heatsink variant will be available in the 1st quarter of this year, 2021.
Table of Contents
- WD Black Dashboard
- Testing Methodology
- Backward Compatibility
- WD Black SN850 Specification
We are so honored to receive a copy of WD_BLACK™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD non-heatsink (500GB) from Western Digital for us to review their mighty SSD.
WD_BLACK™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD takes advantage of the PCIe® Gen 4 technology, where it provides much greater bandwidth speed in terms of storage performance. This is compatible with all models with PCIe® Gen4 support. With PCIe Gen 4 going full steam ahead this year that can be found on the next-gen console and PC gaming, the new technology is a preparation for the next-gen AAA titles.
Though regular SSD have no problem running current games today in PC, we have seen this leap in gaming way back in May 2019, where Sony held a demo for their exclusive game title Spiderman and tested out the performance of PS5 SSD (PCIe® Gen 4) against the PS4 Pro. The result shows significant improvements, less loading times and an instantaneous data streaming even moving around in an open-world rich environment, which means a true real-time loading of in-game assets. In the demo, it shows the building and texture assets loads in real-time with no noticeable loading delay while Spidey swing and move across the vast streets of New York. You can also watch the demo here of Epic Games showing their next-gen game engine which takes advantage of the leap performance of storage for gaming.
So, let’s jump into the review. As advertised, the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD has a sequential read speed of up to 7,000 MB/s and sequential write speed of up to 4,100 MB/s for 500GB, 5,300 MB/s for 1TB and 5,100 MB/s for 2TB. The form factor is M.2 2280 and the dimensions are 2.38mm X 22.15 X 80.15 (HxWxL) for non-heatsink variant.
Who doesn’t want to see or even preserve the packaging of the product they bought (except for Matteo Guidicelli)? Since we think this is an important little detail for some of our readers, as usual we will showcase how they packed their SSD in a small snackbox-like package. Covered with black-themed and dotted pattern at the front, WD wanted to show the speed advantage of WD Black SN850, its sequential read speed of SSD 7,000 MB/s and some important details are highlighted as well like the recommended interface for the device.
At the back where the sealed stickers are located, it shows more specification and specs of the SSD along with it is the IOPS (Input/Output operations per seconds) of up to 1 million. There is also a small rectangular hole at the back where the SSD is visible. In case you are planning to use it on a NAS or a server, it states at the back that it is not intended for that use.
Unboxing the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD shows the SSD in its clear plastic casing which we think is a shock proof in case you drop the unopened package accidentally. The manual was also placed at the back.
Since this is an M.2 SSD and has a form factor of 2280, it is very small, smaller than a one-peso coin. The WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD we got is the non-heatsink variant, instead of the military looking heatsink, the front is covered with a sticker.
At the back, there are no any components or any thermal sticker. It is covered with black paint and has a pattern appearance of the circuit board tracing.
WD Black Dashboard
To get more juice out of your WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD, you need to get its management software WD_BLACK™ Dashboard (Windows® only) where you’ll be able to keep the firmware up to date and to enable game mode where it overrides the default power saving mode of the SSD. However, even not turning on the game modes we still manage to get the peak speed, but we see improvements on average usage while using the WD Black Dashboard.
What’s more is WD_BLACK™ Dashboard allows you to customize and control your gaming experience even further!
So, let’s check if we can achieve those peak speeds in our benchmark. For the OS, we are using a fresh copy of Windows 10 with the latest graphics driver, OS updates and firmware installed. The power option was also set to High Performance to get its peak performance.
For the hardware system, we are using the following:
- AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
- 64GB of DDR4 2,400 MHz RAM
- GTX 1080 Ti
- TUF Gaming B550M-PLUS Wifi.
For benchmark software, we are using the following:
- CrystalMark v 7.0.0 and 8.0.0
- AS SSD 2.0
- Anvil’s Storage Utilities 1.1.0
- PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark 1.0
- Cyberpunk 2077
- Windows 10 OS Build 19042.685
Crystal Disk Mark Benchmark
For our first benchmark, we are using Crystal Disk Mark 7.0.0 (CDM) Benchmark in which the advertised speed was performed. Let’s see if we can get the same result on our system.
We managed to get a peak read sequential speed of 7,000.15 Mb/s and write sequential speed of 4,079.43 MB/s on Crystal Disk Mark Benchmark. However, we only get these results when the temperature of our SSD is below 65 degrees. To get the peak speed all of the time, we have to make sure our system has good airflow. Lesser temperature to the SSD means more consistent peak speed.
If your system is not well ventilated, the sequential read speed drops to 6,500 MB/s while the write speed remains the same at 4,077 MB/s (This happen when we didn’t attached the glass side cover of our CPU). We are curious if the other variant with a heatsink that cooldowns the temperature will have the consistent sequential read speed.
AS SSD 2.0 Benchmark
On the second benchmark, we are using the AS SSD 2.0, a popular benchmarking tool dedicated for SSD storage devices. However, we are expecting a lower result on this benchmark because AS SSD uses a different algorithm compared to the Crystal Disk Mark.
The result of AS SSD Benchmark shows the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD 500GB ssd obtained sequential read speed of 5,736 MB/s and sequential write speed of 3,815 MB/s with an overall total score of 7,255.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities Benchmark
On the third storage benchmark we are using is the Anvil’s Storage Utilities, a tool that is currently in beta. Though it is more flexible because you can customize your test according to your preferences.
As expected, WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD 500GB SSD scored at 20,203 in the standard test, breaking the 20k score mark. Read speed is at 4,853.08 MB/s and Write speed is at 3,849.62 MB/s.
PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark
For the last storage benchmark, we are using the PCMark 10 Storage Benchmark (https://benchmarks.ul.com/). It will test our SSD into relevant real-world operations from different type of applications and common tasks used repeatedly performed to get the benchmark score.
For the Full System Drive Benchmark, where WD_BLACK SN850 will be tested to wide-range sets of applications such as Adobe’s software, Microsoft office, Call of Duty Black Ops 4, Battlefield V, and other operations.
We obtained a score of 3,033. Overall bandwidth of 482.62 MB/s and Overall access time of
55 µs (microseconds).
For the Quick System Drive Benchmark, where it will be tested in a shorter test with lighter workloads like using Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop/Illustrator and some operations.
We got a score of 3,743, the overall bandwidth at 454.32 MB/s and Overall access time of 34 µs.
For the Data Drive Benchmark, where it will be tested for storing files rather than applications, mostly operations like copying 339 JPEG files (2.37 GB) and other read/write test.
We obtained a score of 5,210, Overall band with of 776.70 MB/s and overall access time of 30 µs.
Installing Windows 10 Benchmark
We are also doing a reformat benchmark where we install Windows 10 from scratch to the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD. Let’s see how many minutes it should take to complete the installation.
In the first test, this part is where the installation files of Windows were copied from the bootable USB then installed into the main drive (WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD).
The result is quite fast, it only takes 70 seconds to complete the first phase of Windows 10 installation.
The next test is the “This might take several minutes” test where the final installation setup is made. Prior to this, it takes us approximately 1-minute to complete the manual Basic, Network, Account and Services setup.
In the last test, it takes about 72 seconds to complete the final phase of Windows 10 installation. In total we have completed Windows 10 reformat in just 4 minutes and 36 seconds including reboot time.
Cyberpunk 2077 Loading Benchmark
For this benchmark, we can only do loading times for PC games as this game basically works fine on any type of SSD storage. What we can do is to measure the difference between the loading times. For this test, we use the Load Game function and load the portion where V can roam around the city right after he arrived in the apartment.
From the main menu to the game, it takes about 9.5 seconds for you to play the game immediately. While on a regular SATA SSD it takes about 14.8 seconds and on other M.2 NVMe SSD it takes 10.8 seconds.
The speed difference between SATA SSD and WD_BLACK SN850 is noticeable, but for other M.2 – the difference is almost the same.
The WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD is also backward compatible with the following PCIe interface: (Not in the list are not compatible like the PCIe Gen3 x4)
- PCIe Gen3 x2
- PCIe Gen3 x1
- PCIe Gen2 x4
- PCIe Gen2 x2
- PCIe Gen2 x1
Having a backward compatible for several PCIe Gen3 and Gen 2 interfaces is an advantage for SN850. But keep in mind that when you connect these SSD into a PCIe 3.0 or 2.0, the speed will be a bottleneck, theoretically at 3,500 MB/s for sequential read speed depending on your system.
The WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD has a rated endurance of 300 TBW (TeraBytes Written) for every 500GB of capacity, which means 300TBW for 500GB, 600TBW for 1TB and 1,200TBW for 2TB. It also comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
If you’re into building a future proof PC Build for gaming, getting the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD is one of the components that you should consider. With a peak sequential read speed of 7,000MB/s, this SSD is just fast enough that exceeds the maximum speed of the next-gen console that is currently running at 5,500MB/s. Making this SSD a future proof for PC gaming for the next 5 to 6 years.
Considering its price point, this SSD is worth a purchase if you’re planning to have a new setup for a long run.
WD Black SN850 Specification
Here are the full specifications with the WD_Black™ SN850 NVMe™ SSD without heatsink 500GB:
- Model name: WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
- Capacity: 500GB
- Interface: PCIe Gen 4.0 x 4
- Dimensions (L x W x H): 80mm x 22mm x 2.38mm
- Sequential Read Speed: 7,000 MB/s
- Sequential Write Speed: 4,100 MB/s
- Warranty: 5-year limited warranty