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WD Black SN850 PS5 SSD Expansion Test

8 août 2021 à 20:00

Testing the WD Black SN850 SSD on the PS5

Yes, it’s time for another PS5 SSD Expansion Test and this time it is the drive that received one of the most high profile recommendations so far (from Mark Cerny, designer and programmer, involved in the development of the PS5 itself), the WD Black SN850. Now that Sony has enabled the ability to expand the storage of the Playstation 5 in the latest software update (in beta at the time of writing), the range of potential PCIe M.2 SSDs that PS5 gamers are able to choose from is surprisingly vast. The minimum requirements of the M.2 update are 5,500MB/s sequential read (i.e big files), no longer than 22110 in length and PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Key interface in architecture. So, that narrows things down a little, but not by a vast amount. I made a master list of current compatible SSDs for PS5 HERE with help from Reddit users, but today I want to focus on the WD Black SN850, as it is one of the most available, well priced and high performing SSDs that are supported by PS5 right now. The WD Black SN850 is certainly supported by the Playstation 5 and in today’s test, I have opted for the smallest available capacity, as whatever results are achieved by this drive are only going to be amplified/better on the higher tiers and regardless I can imagine a number of buyers who choose this drive for its great architecture, will make a saving on the capacity. Let’s take a look.

IMPORTANT – In today’s article we will be testing 4 mid-range PS5 games. Bigger and more exhaustive titles (such as Spiderman Miles Morales, Rift Apart and Demon Souls) will be tested in a FULL comparison between the 6 BIGGEST/Most Popular M.2 NVMes that are compatible with the PS5 Expansion slot. Stay Subscribed for those later this same week!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 – Specifications

Western Digital and its ‘WD Black’ series has been around for years! Indeed, WD was one of the very first brands to take direct-to-gamer storage media seriously, adapting the WD Black range that was originally aimed at pro-PC users and photo/video editors and shape it more towards games players. The WD Black SN850 is the latest iteration of this in NVMe (though originally released right at the tail end of 2020, ahead of many others at this storage tier), though the WD black label is carried on a large number of other data storage solutions from docks, HDDs to external drives and high-end PCIe lane media. The specifications are particularly impressive, even at the 500GB smallest capacity (though sequential read is a tad underwhelming by comparison) and only get better as you scale into the larger 2TB level at the top. The specifications are below:

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

Model ID WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Capacity 500GB 1000GB 2000GB
Price in $ 500GB – $169.99 1TB – $249.99 2TB – $549.99
PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND BiCS4 96L TLC BiCS4 96L TLC BiCS4 96L TLC
Controller WD_BLACK G2 WD_BLACK G2 WD_BLACK G2
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 4100MB 5300MB 5100MB
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,750,000 1,750,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.3DWPD

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Test – Internal Speed Test

The first test is the easiest. When you boot the PS5 with the WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD inside the expansion slot, the system will immediately identify that it is installed and format the drive. Then the system makes a performance benchmark check in order to ascertain whether the drive is suitable for PS5 Game use. The WD Black SN850 SSD achieved 6,457MB/s Sequential Read on the PS5 internal system performance test. This is only a small dip from the reported maximum 7,000MB/s, but I hoped it would be a pinch higher. Throughout my testing of SSDs in the PS5 m.2 expansion slot, the highest speed I have seen has been around 6,650MB/s reported sequential read, even on drive rated as high as 7,300MB/s, so this would indicate that the full development and fine-tuning of what the PS5 hardware can do still leaves room for growth. This is not unusual (even in previous generations of PlayStation, it took 2-3years for both Sony and Games developers to learn how to fully optimise the system hardware to its fullest degree in the lifespan of the system).

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Test – Moving Games

Moving games from the internal console storage and onto the WD Black SN850 SSD is very straightforward and can be conducted from the Playstation main menu, then on from the settings>storage manager menu. I moved the four games that will be used later in the article for performance and loading tests from the PS5 internal SSD and onto the WD Black SN850:

Initiating the move of these files is very easy, however when files were being transferred (much like in my testing of the PS5 and other compatible SSDs) it was nowhere near the speed I was expecting and in fact it became very apparent that the PS5 system much performs some encryption, compression or bit-checks as the files are moved. The result is that moving games from the internal PS5 SSD and onto the expansion slot with the WD Black SN850 took much, MUCH longer than I expects. This is not the fault of the M.2 SSD and more regarding the clear internal handling protocol and security of the PS5 System.

They did move however and once the games were moved onto the WD Black SN850 M.2 SSD, the data used was clearly visible in the storage manager. Let’s get on with testing the games.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 1 – Destruction Allstars

The first game to test loading times WITH the WD Black SN850 SSD on the PS5 was Destruction Allstars. Again, I started the timer from the title screen and below is the results on how the internal SSD and m.2 SSD compared:

Both games ran as well as expected, but the WD Black SN850 was able to load the game the tiniest pinch faster (under 1 sec). A good start!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 2 – Control

Next was loading the game control directly from the PS5 player GUI and to test loading the game into a save and into direct gameplay would take, comparing the internal storage to the WD Black SN850 expansion SSD.

Interestingly, once again, the WD Black SN850 seemingly loaded the game a pinch faster at 16 seconds, 1.1 seconds faster than the PS5 internal SSD. Again, a small difference, but still noteworthy. As games become more advanced in the PS5 system lifespan and the speed of storage access grows in importance, knowing you have an SSD that can keep pace or even exceed the one inside the system at game loading is going to be reassuring.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 3 – Maneater

The third game to test on the PS5 and using the WD Black SN850 SSD was Maneater. Rather than loading from the main PlayStation user interface, I opted to load the games from their own title screens, as this allowed me to not factor in the publisher and studio logos at startup that is unskippable and therefore would just hamper the comparison. Here is how the game running from the internal PS5 SSD compared with running on the WD Black SN850:

This was slightly an area of contention, as although both games loaded into the game fat (with the WD Black SN850 doing ti 1.5secs faster), they did load into different locations and this might have played a part. Nevertheless, load times were very close, and as long as they run at the same pace, that is always going to be a plus!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 4 – Wreckfest

Next up was Wreckfest. I loaded this on the WD Black SN850 and PS5 internal SSD from the title screen and quickly skipped through the options and config menus. Only off-line play was selected, to remove any server/internet connectivity delays from the equation.

Once again, the WD Black SN850 was a clear second or more after, even with the slight differences in menu transition removed from the time difference. It’s once again worth highlighting that although these differences are very small, they are all still important, as later in the system’s life, you are going to want to know that this SSD can stand the test of time and greater demands from the PS5 hardware in future titles.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 5 – Innocence A Plague Tale

Finally was A Plagues Tale. I selected this larger world title as it has a lot of world assets that need drawing very early on. The game was loaded directly from the title screen and below is both the game running from the PS5 SSD and the WD Black SN850:

For me, this was the clearest win for the WD Black SN850 SSD over the internal SSD. Although it was barely 1 second faster, it was the one where there was little to no difference in their loading side-by-side and the WD Black was clearly the faster. It’s all relative, as we are talking an odd second here or there, but it’s still good to know that upgrading your PS5 with the WD Black SN850 will not present any kind of bottleneck.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 – Conclusion

The WD Black SN850 is unquestionable a great PS5 SSD choice! Even without heavy market recommendations, it breezed through the preliminary testing and was even seen to exceed the PS5 internal SSD at points from a 100% even start. Clearly, the performance you have will scale depending on the capacity you choose, but even the 500GB has read performance that is more than enough to run your top tier games from. As mentioned, endurance on the WD Blck SN850, although a pinch lower than a number of other PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSDs on the market right now (between 0.8 and 4.0 less DWPD), but is of little significance to anyone but the highest level professional gamers streamers (and even then if/when Sony open up the storage use to more than warm game storage). If you are looking for a great performing, best priced and highest recommended SSD for your PS5 SSD expansion upgrade, the WD Black is practically unbeatable!

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

Model ID WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Capacity 500GB 1000GB 2000GB
Price in $ 500GB – $169.99 1TB – $249.99 2TB – $549.99


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