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WD Black SN805X vs Samsung 980 Pro SSD Comparison

19 octobre 2022 à 18:00

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro

When the PCIe4 Generation of SSDs first launched in 2020, two brands that EASILY made the biggest impact at the time were WD and Samsung. Although neither was the first to commercially release an SSD into this new potential 8GB bandwidth tier of storage, they WERE the first to release 7GB/s SSDs (the world’s fastest at that time) in Autumn of that year – the Samsung 980 Pro and the WD Black SN850. Now, in the two years that have passed, a considerable number of SSD brands and media storage companies rose to this challenge and released their own M.2 NVMe SSDs to the market that matched (and in some cases exceeded) the performance of these first two 7GB/s SSDs – the price of setting the path first is always to inevitably leave the means for those to follow I guess. Both Samsung and WD continued to support these two drives, providing further improvements in their architecture and regular updates in their firmware that resulted in both of them still being very viable SSDs to choose in 2022. Samsung at the end of 2021 released a new heatsink-equipped and slightly tweaked version of the 980 Pro and Western Digital released a new version of their drive in the WD Black SN850X in Summer 2022. So, today I want to compare these two SSDs and see which one deserves your data. The Samsung and WD Black PCIe4 SSDs have very rarely left my ‘top 10 recommended SSDs’, but which one is best for you? Although both are 2280-length and PCIe 4×4, architecturally Samsung and WD develop their SSDs using in-house teams and acquired companies that are part of their respective tech family – so the finished products are very different to the rest of the SSD industry that is heavily reliant on 3rd arty brands such as Phison and SK-Hynix. Today I want to compare two of the fastest PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSDs that either company has ever commercially released (to date). Here is how the two drives compare in baseline architecture:

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

1TB – $179, 2TB – $299

WD Black SN850X

1TB – $159, 2TB – $289, 4TB –$699

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.3c NVMe 1.4
NAND Samsung in-house V-NAND TLC BiCS4 114L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB 4TB
Controller Samsung Elpis Controller WD_BLACK G2 NVMe Controller
Warranty 5yrs 5yr
NASCompares Review
NASComapres YouTube Review

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – Price & Capacity

Now, the prices below for the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X SSD are from / as of August 9th 2022 and do not take into account any promotions/deals. It is worth highlighting that due to a huge range of reasons (hardware shortages locally, cost of living rises affecting buy patterns, post-pandemic supply chain issues and a pain in the bum that was Chia crypto currency in 2021) the price and availability of SSDs have been particularly unstable. Still, even if we JUST look at this snapshot of the pricing of these drives, spread across the available capacities, we can definitely see that the prices for the WD Black SN850X are unusually mixed across the different currencies. Now, the Samsung 980 Pro has been in the market much longer now and has had time to spread itself out and have a more balanced pricing structure (much as the original SN850 did a couple of years ago).

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model MZ-V8P500BW N/A
Price in $ and $ $97 / £87 N/A
1TB Model MZ-V8P1T0BW WDS100T2X0E
Price in $ and $ $159 / £137 $159 / £159**
2TB Model MZ-V8P2T0BW WDS200T2X0E
Price in $ and $ $249 / £249 $289 / £309**
4TB Model N/A WDS400T2X0E
Price in $ and $ N/A $699 / £749**

Now the pricing shown for each of these drives is based on the NON-heatsink versions of each drive – in the case of either the WD or Samsung drive, the heatsink version increased the price around 10-12%. In their bare kit form, the Samsung 980 Pro (being in the market considerably longer) is much more affordable and is a regular feature of promotional deals (both sporadically and seasonal ones such as Black Friday and Prime Day). The WD Black SN850X, on the other hand, is much newer and has to find its pricing between the SN770 and SN850 in WD’s Black portfolio, so it cannot really stretch it’s price/profit margin too much. Additionally, when it comes to the available capacity, the Samsung 980 Pro arrives in the useful 500GB (and 250GB, although not shown) size for OS boot drives, server caching and post-production scratch disks, whereas the WD Black SN850X is available in up to 4TB (as well as the popular 1TB and 2TB model choices) – which is going to be tremendously appealing to pro gamers and 4K/8K editors! So, overall, the Samsung 980 Pro is the better-priced drive, but the WD Black SN850X is a much better value and gamer-focused choice.

WD Black SN850X SSD = Best Value

Samsung 980 Pro = Best Price

*TBC at the time of writing and will be addressed/confirmed later. The video below will break down the definitions and meaning of the terms used throughout this review and the comparison tables

** Pricing for the SN850X is quite varied online at launch and regardless of tax and currency exchange rates, the pricing here (taken from the official WD store) seems a bit uneven. This will hopefully even out soon.

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – Reported Read & Write Speed

Next, we should discuss the traditional sequential performance of the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X SSD, as this is by far the most common way drives have been compared (despite the rise in importance of IOPS and durability when it comes to SSDs, in the eyes of many the ‘MB/s’ and ‘GB/s’ figure will always reign supreme). As both of these drives are part of the m.2 PCIe 4 x4 NVMe generation of SSDs, that means that each drive has 8,000MB/s of PCIe bandwidth to attempt to saturate and, frankly, they do an incredible job of it! Now, it is important to keep things relative when you see performance stats, as the capacity of the drive plays a HUGE part in hitting higher speeds. The reason for this is because the actual storage on an SSD is the NAND, one or more modules on the PCB that scale in density and frequency depending on the scale of the drive total capacity. So, for example, a 1TB SSD will either be a single block of NAND at 1024GB or two blocks of NAND at 512GB. Two blocks mean that the drive can be read/written to twice as much and tends to increase performance in most cases. This same logic extends to higher capacities (e.g. 2TB = 1x 1TB or 4x 512GB) and depending on the quality of the NAND (e.g MLC vs TLC, or 96L vs 176L) and factors such as power use and heat, different SSD brands tend to pick their physical architecture differently. This is very much the case when it comes to the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X SSD, meaning that the scaling performance of each drive model as you jump between each capacity tier is quite pronounced. Note that sequential performance refers to big ‘blocks/blobs’ of data when data, is not hugely spread across the drive in small chunks (that is more accurately measurable in IOPS, which we will touch on in a bit). Another key point to remember is that these reported speeds are supplied by the brands themselves, in test scenarios running high high-end CPU+GPU combos (eg, 12-16 Core Xeon/Ryzen and 64GB Memory) that they represent to maximum performance possible, but domestic and mid-range commercial users are going to hit max performance thresholds a good 10-15% lower. Use the links at the top of the article to see the full testing and benchmarks of the WD Black SN850X and Samsung 980 Pro in my 11th gen i5 + 16GB RAM setup.

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model MZ-V8P500BW N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5000MB N/A
1TB Model MZ-V8P1T0BW WDS100T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5000MB 6300MB
2TB Model MZ-V8P2T0BW WDS200T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5100MB 6600MB
4TB Model N/A WDS400T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 6600MB

The WD Black SN850X has clearly made improvements in the baseline architecture of the drive over the SN850 version of two years ago and a noticeable improvement here is the traditional read and write sequential throughput. The Samsung 980 Pro SSD, on the other hand, has not made significant changes (aside from tweaks in firmware) since it’s original 2020 release and therefore the WD drive has many smaller gains in seq read and pretty huge gains on seq write of 25%. This is reflected in all capacities between each and unquestionable makes the WD SSD the better performer of the two here.

WD Black SN850X SSD = Best Seq Read/Write Performace

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – Reported IOPS

Now, unlike the traditional performance benchmarks of transfer speeds in sequential Read/Write, IOPS has a much more important place in modern SSD use – especially as we start to see the capabilities of CPU, Memory and GPUs to harness the bandwidth of PCIe NVMe (such as Microsoft Direct Storage and modern gen consoles). Because modern high-scale computer processes (databases, loading game sandboxes and AI engines) use incremental loading and in-world loading on the fly, the abilities of an SSD to load vast numbers of smaller assets into the memory (either directly towards the GPU or unpacked by the CPU first) is incredibly important. The IOPS figure presented by SSD manufacturers is presented as a 4K random IOPS operation in Read and Write (4K being an incredibly small packet size and random, meaning constantly accessing data locations across the NAND). Both the Samsung 980 Pro and the WD Black SN850X SSD score very, very high in IOPS (once again, based on high-end PC hardware and benchmarks by the brand themselves) and either one will do a fantastic job of loading/recording vast scales of low-volume/high-frequency data – but which one does it better?

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model MZ-V8P500BW N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A
1TB Model MZ-V8P1T0BW WDS100T2X0E
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 800,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 1,100,000
2TB Model MZ-V8P2T0BW WDS200T2X0E
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,200,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,100,000
4TB Model N/A WDS400T2X0E
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,200,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,100,000

In the area of random 4K IOPS, the WD Black SN850X once again pulls ahead of the Samsung 980 Pro SSD, though not quite so heavily as last time. The 1TB ties is something of a tie, with either SSD gaining a lead of 100-200K across read/write, but after that, the gains are largely in favour of the WD – with it hitting a market-leading 1.2 Million IOPS (20% higher than the Samsung drive).

WD Black SN850X SSD = Best IOPS Performance

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – NASCompares Tests

Now, up to this point, we have been looking at the reported maximum performance of the WD Black SN850X and Samsung 980 Pro that was benchmarked by the respective brands. Although these are tremendously useful figures in isolating the max read/write for them both, the systems that they are tested with do not really represent the average user. So, in my reviews and benchmark video/article for each SSD, I use a Windows 10 Pro machine, running on an Intel Core i5 6-Core 11th Gen Processor, 16GB of DDR4 2666Mhz Memory and the M.2 NVMe SSD for the review being accessed as an additional drive (not OS, but still on a PCIe Gen 4×4 m.2 bandwidth slot). These are some of the results of that testing in traditional performance and IOPS:

Samsung 980 Pro ATTO 4GB Test R/W WD Black SN850X ATTO 4GB Test R/W


Samsung 980 Pro Crystal Disk 4GB Test R/W WD Black SN850X Crystal Disk 4GB Test R/W


Samsung 980 Pro AS SSD 5GB IOPS WD Black SN850X AS SSD 5GB IOPS


Samsung 980 Pro Temperature During Tests WD Black SN850X Temperature During Tests

In my tests, it is worth highlighting that I only had the 1TB Samsung 980 Pro and 2TB WD Black SN850X SSD available, so I won’t the looking closely at my ‘write’ benchmarks, as there is a significant difference between the two drives at these cap levels. However, in terms of Read performance, IOPS and drive temp when in operation, we can make very clear and fairer comparisons. The WD Black SN850X certainly ran hotter throughout the testing, even with both drives using very competent heatsinks. Additionally, both drives performed very well in both Seq Read and Read IOPS in the ATTO, CrystalDisk and AS SSD tests. However, the WD Black SN850X still had the edge the whole time. Perhaps if I had access to equal capacity drives we could make a more precise call on this, but even casual indications here indicate that the SN850X was the overall winner.

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – Endurance & Durability

Unlike the other points in this comparison of the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X, the Endurance and Durability of an SSD is an area that is overlooked often enough that I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank you years from now! The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the WD Black SN850X and the Samsung 980 Pro. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

TBW = Terabytes Written, rated as the total number of terabytes that this SSD can have written to it in its warranty-covered lifespan. So if the TBW was 300TB and the warranty is 5 years of coverage, that would mean that the drive can receive on average (with deleting/overwriting data each repeatedly) 60 Terabytes per year (or 5TB a month). After this point, the manufacturer highlights that durability, endurance and performance will decline. Often highlighted as an alternative to warranty length when gauging the predicted lifespan of a SSD.

DWPD = Drive Writes Per Day / Data Writes Per Day, this is a decimalized figure that represents what proportion of the capacity of an SSD (where 1.0 = 100% capacity) can be filled, erased and/or rewritten on a daily basis. This is provided using the warranty period and TBW figure. So, for example, if a 500GB drive has a 0.3DWPD rating, that is approx 150GB of data per day

MTBF = Mean Time Between Failure, which is the interval between one failure of an SSD and the next. MTBF is expressed in hours and most industrial SSDs are rated in the Millions of Hours. MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) have largely become overlooked in recent years in favour of TBW and DWPD in SSDs, but are still stated on most Data Sheets.

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X stand on this:

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model MZ-V8P500BW N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 300TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,500,000 N/A
1TB Model MZ-V8P1T0BW WDS100T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 600TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,500,000 1,750,000
2TB Model MZ-V8P2T0BW WDS200T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1200TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,500,000 1,750,000
4TB Model N/A WDS400T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 2400TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,750,000

For the most part, there is very little difference between these two SSDs in terms of reported durability/Lifespan and aside from the SN850X having a slightly higher MTBF (something that only the most high-end enterprise flash user with a high data recycle rate should care about), these two were pretty much identical. Happy to call this one a tie!

WD Black SN850X SSD and Samsung 980 Pro = Equally Durable, a TIE

WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro – Conclusion

The Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850X SSDs are and comparable now in summer 2022 as they were in 2020 and although they still remain very similar, we have to acknowledge that WD is the brand here that has seemingly stepped on the gas and produced the faster drive. With these two brands kick-starting the commercial 7,000MB/s SSD generation, it is interesting to see what they have done in two years. WD clearly decided to flash out their PCIe4 NVMe portfolio and release two follow-up drives for this family, as the PCIe5 generation of SSDs (originally intended as an autumn ’22 launch across many brands) has stalled somewhat due to hardware shortages and post-pandemic supply chain issues taking longer to resolve than anticipated. Samsung on the other hand has seemingly doubled down on their PCIe4 entry (adding a heatsink version), releasing a PCIe3 version (Samsung 980) and making waves with reveals of their PCIe5 R&D at tradeshows, likely to try and repeat the early-doors entry into that storage their when it kicks off (likely in earnest in 2023). Both of these SSDs are great drives, but the WD Black SN850X just gives that little bit more in 2022.

Brand/Series Samsung 980 Pro H/S

WD Black SN850X

Best Performance
Best Endurance/Durability Draw  Draw
Best Price for TB
Best Extras  
Best Value ✓ 
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