Western Digital Black 1TB
Western Digital gets serious.
It took Western Digital a long time to enter the SSD marketplace, but thanks to its acquisition of Sandisk just over two years ago, WD finally had the resources and expertise to really attack the SSD market. While the WD Black 3D NVMe SSD is not the first from the company, it is the first to use its own in-house designed and built controller. This means WD joins a small club including Samsung and Intel that has the capabilities to design its own drives completely in house. So the WD black is a serious SSD, but can it go head to head with the likes of the Samsung 970 Evo?
WD BEGINS ITS REAL ATTACK
The debut of WD’s own controller is a big deal. SSD controllers usually have a long life and we can expect WD to use this controller for a few generations to come. New controllers usually leave some performance off the table, so that means we are likely to see firmware updates that could increase the performance of the WD Black. We hope so, at least!
The WD Black is exactly like the other drives in the test with its standard form factor NVMe M.2 2280 drive that makes use of a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. It uses SanDisk BiCS (Bit Cost Scaling) 64-layer 3D TLC NAND Flash memory, which WD claims is designed with density and scalability in mind, so it will be interesting to see where it heads in future generations.
The WD controller supports TRIM, garbage collection, and S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, but curiously it doesn’t support disk encryption. Though not really a big deal for the consumer market, this is something that professional uses will want to note. The 1TB WD Black comes with a 600 Terabytes Written endurance rating and a five-year warranty, putting it on par with the Samsung 970 Evo.
WD offers its Dashboard SSD software package that enables users to update the firmware, see S.M.A.R.T. reports, monitoring, and performance statistics. There’s also its own version of the Acronis True Image software that can be used to clone the drive as well as offering backup and secure erase functions.
WD joins a small club including Samsung & Intel that has the capabilities to design its own drives in house.
SO CLOSE BUT MISSING THE CHERRY ON TOP
The WD Black showed us glimpses of what it can do, but we think there’s still some way to go, performance wise. Sequential reads and writes are very competitive, but under heavy I/O load, the performance drops away a bit. We think this may be due to saturation of the SLC cache. Perhaps we’ll see that firmware update at some stage. Having said all that, the WD black is still plenty fast and if you can find one around the place on special, by all means it is far from being slow.
The WD Black 1TB SSD is an impressive first, completely in-house, effort from WD. It just trips over and can’t quite match the value of the 970 Evo, but it’s still a good drive that may get even better once the kinks of the new controller are ironed out. CHRIS SZEWCZYK