Western Digital Black SN750 1TB
SOLID-STATE STORAGE isn’t exactly a recent innovation, but it has arguably taken some of the better-established names in general PC storage to get a grip on the SSD market. Take Western Digital. Long a leading maker of conventional magnetic hard drives, its early SSD output was patchy.
Its first effort at an NVMe drive, for instance, was underwhelming. Admittedly, a second-generation model appeared last year with much improved performance, but with this third-gen drive, can Western Digital go all the way to the top of the table? On paper, the new WD Black SN750 looks pretty promising.
Like last year’s update, the SN750 comes in M.2 format, has an in-house WD controller chipset, and utilizes 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. To that WD has added refined firmware and a model, tested here, aimed at enthusiasts and gamers, and fitted with a hefty heatsink. In terms of the claimed specifications, the 1TB model offers marginal increases in sequential performance. Reads are up from 3,400MB/s to 3,470MB/s, while writes step up a little more, from 2,800MB/s to 3,000MB/s.
Claimed 4K random performance is improved, too. Random reads increase from 500K IOPS to 515K, while writes increase from 400K to fully 560K. It’s also worth noting that this 1TB version is the fastest of the new WD Black models across the board, including the 2TB drive. That’s partly because the 2TB model uses 256Gb chips.
Of course, with the passage of time since the previous drive, known as the SN700, arguably the biggest change is pricing. Back in April last year, the 1TB model clocked in at around $450. The improved 1TB model slots in at around $225, while the newly introduced 2TB option is only $50 pricier than the previous 1TB model at $499, albeit those prices are for bare drives, rather than those with heatsinks (this 1TB model is $250 with the heatsink). Whatever, some say that Moore’s Law is dead, but they forgot to tell the SSD market, because drives keep getting cheaper. And dramatically so.
As for other tweaks, WD has cooked up a revised build of its SSD Dashboard app. Newly added is a Gaming Mode, which disables Autonomous Power State Transitions and, in turn, low-power idle states for more consistent response. The idea is to avoid the brief lag incurred in waking a drive up from sleep states, but at the cost of power consumption. Zerowatt power consumption has been a standout feature for the WD Black, but the marginal downsides of disabling lower power modes probably won’t bother most desktop users, especially gamers.
If that’s the speeds and feeds covered, how does the new SN750 actually perform? It’s always interesting to note how well a drive with multi-level NAND cells performs once you burn through whatever single-level cache the manufacturer has apportioned. In this case, the answer in terms of internal file copying is a hefty 1GB. It’ll keep on trucking at that speed for hundreds and hundreds of GB, which is impressive, so you can fill this drive to brimming in about 10 minutes. Not bad for a 1TB model.
As for more specific benchmark results, the SN750 puts in some very solid numbers. There are a few weak spots compared to the opposition, including QD1 random reads, but equally, there are some real highlights, such as QD1 random writes. Overall, WD’s latest definitely deserves comparison with the best NAND-based drives, even if Intel’s Optane SSDs retain a big advantage in terms of random access performance and latency, and it’s not a huge step forward over last year’s WD offerings. Then there’s the overall package, including a five-year warranty and well-established power efficiency. The latter makes it a good choice for laptop implementations. For everyone else, it’s just a solid allaround proposition.
Strong all-around performance and features; good warranty.Minus:
Not a huge step up from WD’s previous NVMe drive.Price:
Interface: PCIe x4
Control Protocol: NVMe
Controller: Western Digital
NAND: Type 64-layer TLC
Sequential Read: 3,400MB/s
Sequential Write: 3,000MB/s
Read: IOPS 515K
Write: IOPS 560K
Warranty: Five years