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.

Comments closed
    • techguy
    • 2 years ago

    I hate to continue perpetuating the stereotype (honestly, I don’t work there!) but Micro Center has been selling the 960 Evo for less than the MSRP of this drive for several months now. I picked up a 500GB drive for $200 a couple months ago. I can’t see going with WD over Samsung in the same performance and capacity class for *more* money.

    • Kretschmer
    • 2 years ago

    At twice the expense per TB, I’ll stick to SATA drives. Better to have an imperceptibly slower large drive that holds all your stuff than a fast fast fast drive that causes you to keep things on spinning rust.

    • albundy
    • 2 years ago

    nah, i’ll skip. there’s better drives out there at that price point.

    • G8torbyte
    • 2 years ago

    I’ve been using the 3D NAND WD “Blue” versions (an M.2 and 2.5″ SSD) for a few months and both have been working well. Not quite as snappy as the Samsung 960 EVO since it does not use a proprietary driver. WD does provide a utility monitoring/updating software that is useful for their SSDs.

    • TwistedKestrel
    • 2 years ago

    How are we supposed to tell these generations apart at retailers? Is this only the second generation, or has there been more?

    Edit: The answer to the first question is apparently by capacity. 1st gen: 256/512, 2nd gen: 250/500

      • DPete27
      • 2 years ago

      Came here to say the same thing. However, they do have specific model numbers, ie WDS512G1X0C for the current-gen 512GB WD Black NVMe.
      One could argue that they could/should be more transparent in delineating given generations of drives (moreso than a different capacity and an afterthought SKU), but that’s probably the intent….

      • Pytho
      • 2 years ago

      Also, the first gen has a blue PCB, while the second gen has a black PCB.

      It would be nicer if there was an easier way tho….

        • cmrcmk
        • 2 years ago

        Well the first generations use magnets and spin at 7200 RPM. As for distinguishing the current and previous gens, any listed performance numbers are going to be way different. If you know enough to realize there are different generations, you should have no problem sorting them out. If you’re trying to guide your kid cousin in their first PC build in the next state over, get an EVO.

    • Wilko
    • 2 years ago

    That sticker makes me think of black and white cookies. Except they skimped on the black icing.

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