WD Black NVMe SSDs deliver blazing performance at competitive prices

Modern NAND flash chips in a compact package can deliver stunning throughput once they're freed from the shackles of the legacy SATA interface. Many drives have demonstrated the truth in this statement, and WD is adding to the body of evidence supporting the case for SATA's obsolence. The company's latest-generation WD Black NVMe SSDs come in the now-ubiquitous M.2-2280 form factor and deliver up to 3400 MB/s of sequential read performance and as much as 2800 MB/s when writing. The drives come in the usual 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB sizes, and push data back-and-forth over four PCIe 3.0 lanes.

There's a lot of white on that sticker for a drive badged "Black."

WD says the new Black NVMe drives use the company's own controller. The 3D TLC NAND chips come from factories the company acquired as part of its 2015 SanDisk buyout. The manufacturer didn't say if the new drives have DRAM or an SLC cache, but Anandtech points out that the SSDs have a 2400 MT/s SK Hynix DDR4 chip onboard.

The 500-GB and 1-TB drives can read at up to 3400 MB/s, while the 250 GB unit is just a bit off the pace at "merely" 3000 MB/s. The drives show more variation when writing. Speeds top out at 1600 MB/s on the smallest drive, 2500 MB/s on the middle child, and the previously-mentioned 2800 MB/s on the largest-capacity model. Random read performance also varies substantially. The 250 GB should hit 220K IOPS, the 500 GB version slots in the middle 410K IOPS, and the 1-TB model tops out at 500K IOPS. The story remains the same for random writes, ranging from 170K IOPS on the smallest drive up to 500K IOPS on the largest.

The manufacturer claims the "virtually invincible" SSDs should go for a median 1.75 million hours before failing and that the 1-TB unit can withstand 600 TB of writes. The endurance increases with capacity, so the 500 GB model can handle 600 TBW and the 250 GB model should be good for 200 TB. This translates to about 0.3 drive writes per day (DWPD) for the two larger models and about 0.4 DWPD for the 250 GB unit. Amusingly, the largest drive could fill 40% of its capacity in about two minutes running at full tilt.  

The latest crop of Black NVMe SSDs is available for pre-order through the company's website right away. WD expects all three models to start shipping in the middle of this month and backs them with a five-year warranty. The 250-GB model sells for $120, the 500-GB version for $230, and the 1-TB unit for $450. We think these prices are quite aggressive for the level of claimed performance. As an added bonus, the drives come with a WD-only version of Acronis' True Image software for cloning or backing up an existing drive.

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