West­ern Dig­i­tal Black 1TB

West­ern Dig­i­tal gets se­ri­ous.

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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

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