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WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review: Initial Overview and Benchmarks

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Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Western Digital

WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital today is launching the latest version of its Black-series NVMe SSDs. Like its predecessor, the WD Black SN750 is targeted at gamers, introducing a new "Gaming Mode" that tunes the drive to favor performance over power efficiency.

The drive will be available in two variants — one including a heatsink and one without — in capacities up to 2TB. Western Digital worked with cooling experts EK to design the heatsink.

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We had a brief time to review the 1TB non-heatsink model and have some initial performance results to share.

Read on for our review of the WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD.

Specifications

We were supplied only with the 1TB model for this review, so we're focusing on evaluating how the 1TB SN750 compares to other drives in the same capacity class. The drive will be available in additional capacities as detailed below.

Western Digital Black SN750 250GB 500GB 1TB 2TB
Form Factor M.2 2280, Single-Sided
Interface PCIe Gen3 x4
Controller WD In-House: SanDisk 20-82-007011
NAND SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC
DRAM SK Hynix DDR4
Sequential Read (Q32T1) 3,100 MB/s 3,470 MB/s 3,470 MB/s 3,400 MB/s
Sequential Write (Q32T1) 1,600 MB/s 2,600 MB/s 3,000 MB/s 2,900 MB/s
Random Read 4K IOPS (Q32T1) 220,000 420,000 515,000 480,000
Random Write 4K IOPS (Q32T8) 180,000 380,000 560,000 550,000
Endurance (TBW) 200 300 600 1,200
Peak Power (10µs) 9.24W
PS3 Idle Power 70mW 100mW
PS4 Idle Power 2.5mW
Warranty 5 years
MSRP $79.99 $129.99 $249.99 $499.99

Benchmarks: Testbed & Comparisons

All drives referenced in the benchmarks were tested on the following platform:

CPU: Intel Core i7-7700K
Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus IX Code Z270
Memory: 2x8GB Team Group T-Force Xcalibur RGB DDR4 @ 2400MHz
Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 630
OS: Windows 10 x64 version 1809

For this initial testing, we sought to compare the WD Black SN750 to other 1TB-class drives. The list includes:

Prior to testing, each drive was filled to approximately 50 percent capacity with 478GB of assorted data containing movies, game installations, photos, and documents. Our testbed's BIOS was configured to disable C-States and Windows was configured to operate in High Power mode. The drives were tested in an open-air testbed.

Gaming Mode

The Western Digital Black SN750 ships alongside an update to the company's SSD Dashboard software for Windows. For recent WD SSDs, the Dashboard provides information on capacities and wear life, temperature, interface speed, performance monitoring, and access to firmware updates and S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics.

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New with the SN750, however, is "Gaming Mode," which prevents the drive from entering a low-power state. Since modern SSDs automatically and rapidly shift into low-power states as needed to improve energy efficiency and thermals, latency can be impacted when an event triggers the drive to return to full power. By keeping the drive in its full power mode at all times, gamers or professionals who seek the absolute best performance can avoid any hits to drive responsiveness.

The result, of course, is that energy usage and temperatures will be higher when Gaming Mode is enabled. This is likely acceptable to desktop users with adequate component cooling but those looking to install the SN750 in their laptop may not want to take the hit to battery life. For those interested in the feature, Gaming Mode is enabled or disabled via a toggle in the main interface of the latest version of the WD SSD Dashboard. A reboot is required whenever the mode is changed.

We performed the following benchmarks with Gaming Mode both enabled and disabled on the SN750.

Benchmarks: CrystalDiskMark

We ran CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2 to evaluate the transfer rate (measured in megabytes per second) and IOPS as reported by the utility. The following charts contain sequential and random performance as indicated in each chart's title.

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Based on the CrystalDiskMark tests, the WD Black SN750 holds its own against Samsung, even leading in pure sequential and single-threaded random performance. Random performance at higher queue depths sees the SN750 fall behind a bit, but not badly considering its price.

Benchmarks: AS SSD Benchmark

We used AS SSD Benchmark version 2.0.6821.41776 to measure sequential transfer speeds and random IOPS. This benchmark also calculates proprietary "scores" for each drive, consisting of scores for read, write, and overall performance.

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The WD Black SN750 is bested by Samsung's latest drives in sequential performance, but leads the pack in terms of 4K 64T random write IOPS. Looking at the AS SSD Benchmark Scores, the SN750 is right up there with Samsung's EVO and PRO offerings.

Benchmarks: Sustained Write

As the NVMe SSD market matures, manufacturers are constantly looking at ways to increase capacity and reduce cost. This has led to features like tiered caching, where drives, sometimes dynamically, allocate data between flash cell types. The result is drives that use caching to provide an initial burst of speed, but then slow down, sometimes significantly, for longer write operations. Most "average" users may never experience or notice a write operation outside of a drive's cache, but if you try to write a very large file, the magnitude of the performance hit will be felt.

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This is what a sustained write test seeks to determine; once you've exhausted your drive's cache, how severe is the performance hit? To test this, we created a single 120GB file and copied it to each drive. We ignore the performance of the first 60 seconds of the transfer and then take the average write speed from 60 seconds on to the completion of the transfer. These speeds can fluctuate a bit up and down for the faster drives so we rounded the results to a fair average.

Samsung's PRO-series advantage is evident in this test, as both the 960 and 970 PRO maintain very high write performance throughout the transfer. Also of note is the Crucial P1, which as a budget drive has absolutely awful performance once you've exhausted its cache. As for the WD Black SN750, it bests its predecessor and comes in at a respectable third place, also beating Samsung's well-reviewed EVO parts.

Again, a test like this looks at a scenario that many users may never encounter, but it gives a good indication of the flexibility of a drive to perform well in many different use cases.

Conclusion

Like most SSDs, the value of the WD Black SN750 comes down to performance for the price. Since this drive is just hitting the market we don’t yet know how street prices will settle, but taking the MSRP into consideration the SN750 is right in line with its performance compared to Samsung. The BPX Pro is still a great value if you're willing to trade just a bit of random and sustained write performance.

WD Black SN750 1TB: $249.99
Samsung 970 EVO 1TB: $299.99 ($247.99 street)
Samsung 970 PRO 1TB: $349.99 ($347.99 street)
MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro 960GB: $349.99 ($189.99 street)

Since we had relatively little time with SN750, this has been just an initial overview of its performance. We will continue to evaluate this drive over the coming weeks as the heatsink-equipped models hit the market and Western Digital's competitors launch their 2019 updates.

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The Western Digital Black SN750 is shipping now in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities. The 2TB capacity and models with the heatsink will be available in February.

Review Terms and Disclosure
All Information as of the Date of Publication
How Product Was Obtained: The product is on loan from Western Digital for the purpose of this review.
What Happens to Product After Review: The product remains the property of Western Digital but is on extended loan to PC Perspective for the purpose of future testing and comparisons.
Company Involvement: Western Digital had no control over the content of the review and was not consulted prior to publication.
PC Perspective Compensation: Neither PC Perspective nor any of its staff were paid or compensated in any way by Western Digital for this review.
Advertising Disclosure: Western Digital has not purchased advertising at PC Perspective during the past twelve months.
Affiliate Links: This article contains affiliate links to online retailers. PC Perspective may receive compensation for purchases through those links.

January 18, 2019 | 08:31 AM - Posted by Synonymous (not verified)

RIP detailed storage reviews on PCPER. What does this site have left that sets it apart from dime-a-dozen press release regurgitators? That one guy who spams walls of text in the comments whenever AMD is mentioned?

January 18, 2019 | 09:25 AM - Posted by FE (not verified)

That and the early 2000s web design.

January 18, 2019 | 01:16 PM - Posted by Jeremy Hellstrom

Hey now, we were aiming for the 90's.

January 18, 2019 | 08:54 AM - Posted by WhiteZero

I'm guessing Allyn didn't pass down his storage testing methodology?

January 18, 2019 | 09:42 AM - Posted by Anonymouse (not verified)

Here's a thought - take the time to do a more thorough review rather than rush to get it out. It's not as if storage is a particularly time sensitive topic.

January 18, 2019 | 10:12 AM - Posted by Tekman (not verified)

Guys you have to read carefully the title. It's an initial overview and benchmarks.

January 18, 2019 | 10:31 AM - Posted by mouf

Did anyone actual read the article or just come to the comments to complain?? Here is a direct quote from the article.

Since we had relatively little time with SN750, this has been just an initial overview of its performance. We will continue to evaluate this drive over the coming weeks as the heatsink-equipped models hit the market and Western Digital's competitors launch their 2019 updates.

January 18, 2019 | 09:14 PM - Posted by HeadCow (not verified)

Allyns storage reviews were fantastic, but I must admit I always jumped straight to the conclusion. For the home enthusiast, storage is pretty much a solved problem until we get some real innovation with Xpoint etc replacing RAM.

And as much as I like the guy, I can't say I'm going to miss Allyns 40 minute podcast storage monologues with QD4 this and latency that.

Keep up the good work.

January 19, 2019 | 12:32 AM - Posted by eview (not verified)

Where did Allan? samsung?

January 20, 2019 | 09:22 PM - Posted by Philbert579

Intel with Ryan and Ken

January 21, 2019 | 06:03 AM - Posted by AnonymousHeyHo (not verified)

I was surprised by the video, liked it alot. Professional presentation and voice, said quite a bit in a short time. When the graphs came I did think "hmm, ...ok, this is different" as I was used to the seriously detailed graphs of Allyn, but this is still good! It's data I can relate to. It's different. And I liked it!

Allyns graphs did show the weak parts of drives in a way I didn't realize until seing them, then "Oh, that's why the drive slows down regardless of its huge cache on small IOs".

Keep up the good work folks, PCPer is changing and I'm liking what I see!

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