WD released its WD Black PCIE SSD last year, which has a peak sequential read speed of 2050 MB/s. Despite the impressive performance, the WD Black PCIE SSD still falls behind quite a number of its competitors. This year, WD released the WD Black NVMe SSD, its latest high performance NVMe SSD.

The WD Black NVMe SSD comes available in 3 different capacity (250GB, 500GB and 1TB) and  capable of up to 3400 MB/s sequential read speed. We managed to get our hands on the 500GB model for this review, special thanks to WD Malaysia.


Specifications

Capacity 1000GB 500GB 250GB
Model Number WDS100T2X0C WDS500G2X0C WDS250G2X0C
Interface PCIe Gen3 8 GB/s, up to 4 lanes
Sequential Read MB/s 3,400 3,400 3,000
Sequential Write MB/s 2,800 2,500 1,600
Random Read 4KB IOPS 500,000 410,000 220,000
Random Write 4KB IOPS 400,000 330,000 170,000
Endurance (TBW) 600 300 200

Unboxing

WD Black NVMe SSD (1)

At the front of the box, you’ll find some pretty basic information such as the sequential read speed of the WD Black NVMe SSD, its capacity, 3D NAND flash and a 5-year warranty from WD. The picture of the SSD however, isn’t exactly the same as what you’ll find inside the box – it’s the older generation WD Black NVMe SSD to be exact.

WD Black NVMe SSD (2)

There’s nothing much you can find at the back of the box except for the ‘recommended’ setup for your PC, which is the usual SSD plus hard drive combination that has been done for years by most of the PC users.

The WD Black NVMe SSD 500GB

WD Black NVMe SSD (4)

As we’ve mentioned earlier, the WD Black NVMe SSD isn’t exactly the same as what has been portrayed on the box. Unlike the WDS512G1X0C aka WD Black PCIe SSD (2017) from last year, the new WD Black NVMe SSD now comes with a black colored PCB. This gives it a better looking presentation / aesthetics to match better with the color scheme of motherboards nowadays.

WD Black NVMe SSD (7)

While the label sticker does nothing for heat dissipation, it’s best to leave it as it.Tampering with the sticker will void the warranty for your SSD, so try not to do that. That aside, you’ll see WD’s in-house developed controller and the 64-layer BICS 3D NAND that’s powering the WD Black NVMe SSD here.

Software – Western Digital SSD Dashboard

Just like the WD Blue 1TB SSD, the WD Black NVMe SSD is compatible with the proprietary software. Although it doesn’t comes with any options like one-click optimization, it can still provide useful information for the users. For example, if the SSD aren’t installed correctly, you won’t be able to experience the full performance of the SSD itself. As you can see in the screenshot above, we’re able to see that the SSD only utilizes PCIe x1 instead of x4 when it’s not installed correctly.

There’s also useful features such as firmware update, secure erase, performance and status monitor are some of the features available and it keeps the maintenance and optimization work easy as breeze. The user interface hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed a SSD from WD, but there are features that has been removed i.e sanitize drive, email alert and TRIM.

Software: Acronis True Image WD Edition

Other than the SSD Dashboard, the WD Black NVMe SSD also comes with a free copy of Acronis True Image WD Edition. Just so you know, Acronis is known for its software for data protection including, backup, archive, access and recovery for Microsoft, OSX, iOS and Android operating systems.

Since the WD Black NVMe SSD comes with a rather premium price to own, the bundled software has to be good in order to match the price of the product. The Acronis True Image WD Edition provides you with the basic features for data backup and drive management, at no additional cost. Considering that you’ll have to pay at least $49.99 to own a legit copy of Acronis True Image.

There are of course features that doesn’t comes free, which can be seen in the screenshots above. If you really need these features for your personal use, you’ll have to purchase the full version of the Acronis True Image.

Installation

The installation is simple. You’ll have to make sure which M.2 slot is wired directly to your CPU’s PCIe lanes. In most cases, it’s the M.2 slot closest to your CPU.

Ticked the "turn off write-cache buffer" in Windows.

Once it’s in, we booted into Windows and ticked the option to turn off Windows write-cache buffer flushing. This is to make sure the NVMe SSD can perform at its top notch performance with minimal overheads and waiting operations.

Synthetic Benchmarks

AS SSD Benchmark

Widely used SSD benchmarking utility that uses incompressible data to simulate the worst possible scenario for an SSD and thus giving a much lower sequential read and write speed result than what has been stated by the manufacturer as result of the heavy workload.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The most frequently used benchmarking utility by many manufacturers for performance specification. As ATTO Disk Benchmark uses compressible data rather than compressible data, it results in higher benchmark scores.

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark is one of the most frequent used SSD Benchmark utility to measure SSD’s sequential read and write performance, developed by a Japanese coder that goes by the nickname Hiyohiyo.

File Copy Test

We’ve run several tests using several SSD and HDD with at least 40% capacity occupied with various commonly played games to simulate some of the real world scenarios.

HDD Test

WD Black NVME SSD copy from SATA HDD

For our HDD copy test, we’re pairing the WD Black NVMe SSD with a WD Black 6TB HDD. Both copy and write performance are basically the same – capped at around 210 MB/s. That’s basically the limitation for most HDD you’ll find in the market.

SATA SSD Test

A SATA SSD and NVMe SSD configuration will slightly benefit more with higher transfer speed. However, the speed are still capped at around 500 MB/s sequential read and 400 MB/s sequential write, which is the read and write speed of the SATA SSD itself.

NVMe SSD Test

Moving on to two NVMe SSD configuration, we can now see 800 MB/s to 1GB/s on the transfer speed, depending on the type of data being transferred. Still, the achieved result are still far away for the advertised 3400 MB/s sequential read performance.

Final Thoughts

Much to our surprise, WD’s in-house developed controller seems to be working really well. The highest temperature recorded during our test is at 68°C, which is a little warm compared to the Plextor M9Pe that is paired with it for the test, but we have yet to notice any thermal throttling throughout our test. There are some odd behavior on the write performance during some of the file copy test, but it didn’t causes any major issue that is significant enough to affect our test results.

Price wise, the WD Black NVMe SSD 500GB comes with MSRP of RM 799. It’s not the cheapest NVMe SSD with 500GB capacity around, but still competitive enough to go up against the highly acclaimed Samsung 970 Evo. The bundled software, especially the Acronis True Image WD Edition, is a good addition that makes the WD Black NVMe SSD 500GB worth to consider for.

Pros

  • Excellent out of the box performance
  • Impressive in-house developed controller
  • Small footprint
  • Good software bundle
  • Backed by 5-year warranty

Cons

  • Noticeable slower starting speed for write operation
  • Unusable paid features from Acronis True Image still get installed to your system

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