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WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD Comparison

31 août 2022 à 01:16

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530

In all my years of covering the subject of storage here on the blog, there are a few brand rivalries that stand out more than any other – and when it comes to HDDs and SSDs it has always been Western Digital vs Seagate! These two brands are grown into the two biggest names in storage, recognizable both inside/outside of the industry as the go-to media makers! In the Hard Drive industry, these two brands dominate more than 2/3 of the industry, but when it comes to SSDs, things get a little more complex. You see, Seagate utilizes long-running partnerships with 3rd Party companies such as Phison, Micron and SK-Hynix, whereas WD develops their SSDs using in-house teams and acquired companies that are part of the Western Digital family, such as Sandisk and HGST. This means that although both brands are targeting the same areas of the solid-state storage industry, their results arrive with very different architecture that ends up prioritizing very different user needs. Today I want to compare the two fastest PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSDs that either company has ever commercially released (to date). The 2021 released Seagate Firecuda 530 and the Summer 2022 released WD Black SN850X (not to be confused with the 2020 released original WD Black SN850).

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $119.99, 1TB – $159.99, 2TB – $299.99, 4TB – $729.99

WD Black SN850X

1TB – $159, 2TB – $289, 4TB –$699

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 114L TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 4TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2 NVMe Controller
Warranty 5yr + 3yr Data Recovery (Rescue) 5yr
NASCompares Review
NASComapres YouTube Review
 

I want to look at these two SSDs and compare them on Price, Value, Architecture, Performance and Durability, in order to help you decide which of these two SSDs is best for your PC or PS5 Storage needs. Let’s begin.

WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

Now, the prices below for the Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850X SSD are from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk 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 Seagate Firecuda 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 Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 N/A
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T2X0E
Price in $ and $ $189 / £159 $159 / £159**
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T2X0E
Price in $ and $ $399 / £359 $289 / £309**
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 WDS400T2X0E
Price in $ and $ $799 / £769 $699 / £749**

Nevertheless, there is no avoiding the fact that the Seagate Firecuda 530 is almost always going to be the more expensive choice over the WD Black SN850X, wherever you are in the world. Now, it is worth remembering that Price is not everything, whereas as VALUE is much more significant – AKA what you GET for your money. In this area, it could be argued that the Seagate Firecuda 530 (despite it’s 10-15% higher price tag) gives you a tiny bit more. The higher layer density NAND of 176L, the higher durability (will touch on that later) and the inclusive forensic level data recovery services all add up to (in the eyes of many) justifying that increased spend. Now, it should be highlighted that only a small % of users will likely use/see the benefits in these and once you cost up the budget of your kit, chances are that this small price diff (particularly in bulk/RAID builds) is going to mount up, but it would be remiss to ignore it.

WD Black SN850X SSD = Best Price

Seagate Firecuda 530 = Best Value

*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 and then undated with Amazon pricing) seems a bit uneven. This will hopefully even out soon.


WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

Next, we should discuss the traditional sequential performance of the Seagate Firecuda 530 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 Seagate Firecuda 530 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, 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 Seagate Firecuda 530 in my 11th gen i5 + 16GB RAM setup.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB N/A
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 6300MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6600MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 WDS400T2X0E
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6600MB

Now, both drives here predominantly hit the reported maximum 7,300MB/s sequential read figure on the bulk Terabyte scale drives, which is very good indeed and largely saturates the maximum potential bandwidth of PCIe4 nicely. The write performance is a fraction different (as write performance typically has a pinch more work to do than read) and on that score, the Seagate Firecuda 530 takes a small lead, at 6900MB over 6600MB on the larger capacities. Alot of this advantage comes down too the NAND on the Seagate, in two very clear ways. 1) the NAND is 176L and of a higher density count and 2) the 2TB on the Seagate is double-sided (4x 512GB modules) and the spread is still better on the 4TB in memory chips and NAND as well. The WD Black SN850X is a tremendous leap in Write (and partially Read) over the WD Black SN850 released almost 2 years previously and the increased range of a 4TB option is great news, but when it comes to traditional transfer sequential performance, the Seagate Firecuda 530 wins on points.

Seagate Firecuda 530 = Best Sequential Performance


WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – 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 Seagate Firecuda 530 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 Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 N/A
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T2X0E
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 800,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 1,100,000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 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 ZP4000GM3A013 WDS400T2X0E
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

The WD Black SN850X has an almost clean sweep of the board here compared with the Seagate Firecuda 530, almost consistently living in the 1.1-1.2 Million IOPS reported mark. This is not a huge surprise and alot of this can be attributed to the in-house development of the hardware on board being much more fixed in its intended use. The Phison/Micron architecture of the Seagate Firecuda 530 is exceptionally good, but these components are used in several other branded SSDs in the market (Sabrent, Gigabyte, Kingston, MSI and PNY just to name a few) and that means they need to be a little more malleable. Much like the SN850 before it, the WD Black SN850X is extremely well geared to high volume and frequency operations and at 1.2 million ops per second is practically the highest in the PCIe4 M.2 NVMe sector right now commercially.

WD Black SN850X SSD = Highest IOPS Rating


WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – NASCompares Tests

Now, up to this point, we have been looking at the reported maximum performance of the WD Black SN850X and Seagate Firecuda 530 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:

Seagate Firecuda 530 ATTO 4GB Test R/W WD Black SN850X ATTO 4GB Test R/W

 

Seagate Firecuda 530 Crystal Disk 4GB Test R/W WD Black SN850X Crystal Disk 4GB Test R/W

 

Seagate Firecuda 530 AS SSD 5GB IOPS WD Black SN850X AS SSD 5GB IOPS

 

Seagate Firecuda 530 Temperature During Tests WD Black SN850X Temperature During Tests

Now, as you can see from the testing, there WAS an unfortunate hurdle of the Seagate Firecuda 530 being a 1TB and the WD Black SN850X being a 2TB! This was unfortunately unavailable, as I did not have comparable drives of capacity available from each bran’s SSD at the time, so these results need to have that VERY important piece of context taken into account and the write performance is too different to rely upon, because of how the NAND was distributed). However, in terms of Read performance in transfer rates and IOPS, we can still draw accurate comparisons. In all tests (with the exception of the Crystal Disk 4GB test and early parts of the ATTO tests), the WD Black SN850X was faster than the Seagate Firecuda 530 by a pinch in Seq Read and a noticeable jump higher in IOPS (even if you discount the capacity difference). In contrast, though, the Seagate Firecuda ran much lower in temp throughout all the testing (either though both were using quick large and highly proficient m.2 heatsinks).

WD Black SN850X SSD = Best Overall Performer in a Domestic PC

Seagate Firecuda 530 = Ran Much Lower Temp Throughout


WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Unlike the other points in this comparison of the Seagate Firecuda 530 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 2022/2023 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 Seagate Firecuda 530 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 Seagate Firecuda 530. 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 Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850X stand on this:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850X

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.7DWPD N/A
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 WDS400T2X0E
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB 2400TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
Note – Seagate Firecuda 530 includes 3yrs Data Recovery

This is pretty much a solid victory for the Seagate Firecuda 530 over the WD Black SN850X SSD. That higher quality NAND and higher quantity NAND distribution of modules on the PCB (and perhaps the running temperature too, but that is unconfirmed) with everything running for longer on the Seagate drive, as well as the inclusive data recovery services being thrown in too (either as a safety net or a guarantee of the quality – whose to say) means that the Seagate Firecuda 530, despite it’s slightly higher price point in most eShops, definitely being the more durable drive of the two.

WD Black SN850X vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

There is a good reason why the WD Black SN850X and Seagate Firecuda 850X still continue to be two of the most popular PCIe4 M.2 SSDs in the market – they are both such outstanding drives! So comparing them was never going to be easy. The WD Black SN850X is the better drive for mixed-use, PC gamers and post-production, thanks to it’s higher IOPS rating and excellent sustained performance ratings (though keep an eye on the heat in laptop usage). The Seagate Firecuda is the better choice for professional esports gamers, PS5 and use in large-scale databases, where an element of 24×7 use and high data recycle rates come into play. Both are excellent drives and deserve their places at the top of the food chain of consumer SSDs in 2022 and whichever one you choose, you will have an insanely capable SSD in your system for years to come!

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850X

Best Performance
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  
Best Extras  
Best Value  
Where To Buy

 

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WD Black SN850 SSD Review in 2022 – Still Worth it for your PS5 & PC?

25 mai 2022 à 01:13

WD Black SN850 SSD Heatsink Edition Review, Temperature & Benchmark

Whether you are considering buying a new super-fast PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid-state drive upgrade for your PC gaming rig or shiny new (ish) PS5 console, then there is an exceptionally high chance that one of the very first SSDs that you came across/considered was the WD Black SN850. Released in Autumn 2020, the SN850 was the latest drive to join the long-running gamer series of SSDs and HDDs from WD in their ‘WD Black’ labelled media, as well last being one of the fastest commercially available SSDs in the market when it’s launch (only really challenge by the Samsung 980 Pro released shortly before). However, that was close to 1.5yrs ago and in that time ALOT of other brands have taken the time to catch up and (in many cases) exceed the performance of the ‘OG’ WD Black SN850 in terms of 4K performance, speed and durability. That said, all that additional time in the market, along with being developed and produced ‘in-house’ at WD without 3rd party components, has resulted in the WD Black SN850 arriving noticeably lower in price than many of its competitors SSDs (such as the Seagate Firecuda 530 released in Summer 2021) and also having better global availability to boot. So, now in 2022, many buyers are wondering whether the WD Black SN850 SSD still deserves its place inside their gaming machine or has the shiny gone off this drive a bit and it’s better to buy a competitors wares (or wait for a new drive, such as a WD Black SN950 or SN850X perhaps)? Ultimately, does the WD Black SN850 still deserve your data in 2022? Let’s find out in our hardware review, PS5 testing and PC benchmarks.

Important – The WD Black SN850 SSD used for this review is supplied by WD, however, all opinions and judgements are purely my own. Additionally, the WD Black SN850 model used was the Heatsink equipped version running the latest firmware update as of Jan 2022. Finally, In the interests of perspective, throughout this review, I will be comparing the WD Black against numerous SSDs that have been released in the 1.5yrs since its original release, in order to put its abilities into perspective. However, hardware comparisons will largely be made against the Samsung 980 Pro as both brands have a shared ‘1st party’ build/design focus.

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

The WD Black SN850 SSD can certainly still hold its own against all the ‘young whippersnappers’ that have entered the PCIe 4 NVMe SSD market since it first arrived on the scene back in 2020, with some consistently solid 4K random performance that rarely drops, reliably high read performance across the board and an average price point worldwide that means if it ISN’T on special offer/seasonal sale in your usual eRetailer, it definitely will be somewhere – having arrived at this party early, it is now so fantastically ‘everywhere’ that many would consider it a no brainer to be your perfect SSD pick – and fair play, they are likely right. Right the way down to big names in the industry recommended its versatility (Mark Cerny, PS5 designer arriving louder than most), the WD black branding being a mainstay of professional gaming and the simple fact that the WD Black SN850 does exactly what it says it can do, no ifs, no buts, make it still a solid choice. All that said though, PCIe 4 NVMe SSD development has certainly moved forward and although the SN850 holds it’s own in some key benchmarks and build qualities, there are now more enduring SSDs in the market, with higher throughput drives available to buy and (possibly most crucially of all for some) the SN850 can get noticeably hotter than others in the market as more efficient SSD controllers were researched, developed and released in 2021. In pure gaming usage, the WD Black SN850 can still get the job done, but in mixed-use or content creation/production, there might well be better options out there for you. And lest we forget, WD Black might well have a PCIe5 in the works to pip everyone to the punch again – keep your eyes peeled!

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Packaging

The WD Black SN850 for our review was the heatsink equipped version (arriving at around 30-35 more than the bare version) and straight away, you can see the retail packaging on this SSD absolutely oozing with that oh so familiar WD Black branding.

The heatsink and almost immediately recognizable ‘WD’ design is clearly the bit show-off factor here, as well as the usual brand shouting of sequential read performance (all brands do it). Though I will say that there has been a heck of a trend recently for SSDs to arrive in white and black packaging – PS5 retail design synergy? Who knows (highlighted this in my Samsung 980 re-review recently) and I am pleased that WD has not caved in with a redesign to blag some console gamer attention, sticking with the existing design that’s largely unchanged since it’s original launch.

Opening the retail box of the WD Black SN850 SSD shows us the drive (with heatsink pre-applied – very important, as I will discuss later) encases in a plastic 2 piece shell frame, as well as a support, setup and instructions manual.

WD consumer and prosumer SSDs have always arrived like this, but I always want to highlight it regardless as way, WAY too many brands cut corners here (in the age of predominant eRetail, most consumers see the retail packaging AFTER buying, not before) and I like both the design of this presentation, as well as the protection this kind of kit provides. Not huge (as SSDs are nowhere near as fragile as a traditional platter and disc-based HDDs) but still a higher level of protection is afforded here than most.

Removing all of the packaging provides us with a particularly sleek and modern looking SSD+Heatsink combo indeed. You will typically find that SSDs targeted at gamers, content creators or those working in post-production fall into two aesthetical design choices. Either ‘eSports’ style that has a million LEDs and sharp edges/corners to give off an aggressive feel OR a ‘mature-professional’ look that is sleek, understated yet modernist in design. PNY chose eSports, Seagate and Samsung chose ‘mature professional,? The WD Black SN850 Pro box design is very much going for middle ground gamer design. But, let’s be honest, all of this is rather pointless in terms of how it all looks, as after Day 1 – an ideal M.2 NVMe SSD will NEVER be seen again (encased in a PC, Mac or PS5 for its use), so how does the WD Black SN850 heatsink design translate into cooling and temperature management?

First off, the solid-looking design-block design that the casual glance would provide is quickly revealed to be actually quite heavily ventilated in a number of ways. The middle part of the heatsink is ventilated throughout the entire length in its width, allowing air to pass through and assist in moving the heat/energy being dissipated from the WD Black SN850 controller, NAND, etc.

Additionally, the top of the WD Black SN850 heatsink is ridged in an effort to capture air passing over it, which will further assist dissipation. I think these will be tremendously useful in a PC environment, but I would be curious how the more restrictive M.2 expansion slot of the PS5 (with its much more limited airflow in this direction) would be able to take advantage of this.

Now, the WD Black SN850 doesn’t HAVE TO be purchased with that 1st party heatsink and in its absence, WD would still recommend that users purchased an m.2 2280 length heatsink and thermal pads when installing their drive in PC/PS5 systems (though never highlighting any specific brand/make/model aside from their own, which cannot be purchased separately). These typically range from as little as $5 to $20, depending on their complexity and active heat dissipation (some with copper piping, some with inbuilt fans). Here is how the WD Black SN850 SSD heatsink compares with a popular $10 PC designed heatsink, the Eluteng, in design and built:

Then there are physical design differences with another 1st party NVMe SSD heatsink from Seagate, with their Firecuda 530 series:

As you can see, the $10 also clearly tried to capitalize on active airflow, but a great deal more, substituting physical materials to draw the heat away from the SSD, in favour of allowing as much ventilation as possible to get rid of the heat as much as it can – a good design choice for an open-air and fan assisted PC, but less useful in the PS5 closed M.2 bay. Let’s open up the WD Black SN850 HEATSINK and take a look at the SSD. Inside is a fairly standard WD Black SN850 M.2 NVMe SSD, much like the un-heatsink equipped version. Though it is also worth mentioning that the later releases of this drive include the much more recent update to the SSD controller firmware, something that is considerably more difficult to update yourself without a PC + M.2 slot, as the PS5 does not include support for 3rd party SSD toolkits to be installed (and a firmware update on an m.2 SSD is not possible over USB, as a direct motherboard connection is required). Next, we removed the official heatsink from this SSD in order to see how it covers the SSD and its components.

The 1TB version of this SSD is single-sided (also known as single-rank or SR), so this means that heat generated on the base of the SSD is not really going to be a concern. Even in 2-sided SSDs (2TB/4TB typically), SSDs will have the NAND (where the data lives) and maybe half of the on-board DRAM/Memory, both of which are ok to get a ‘little warm’ to work their best. It is the controller on the top (the brains on the SSD that manages all the transmission of data, not unlike the CPU of your computer) that needs to stay as cool as possible.

So, let’s get some PS5 testing started first. I installed the WD Black SN850 into my PS5, with 2 temperature nodes in place. The first node was located underneath the heatsink and thermal pad, on top of the SSD controller (the WD NVMe In house designed controller) and the 2nd node was located outside of the PS5 M.2 SSD expansion bay, between the storage bay and the PS5 internal fan. This 2nd node was used to check the ambient system temperature as the SSD was being used to see if heat dissipated from the SSD and into the heatsink was impacting the PS5 ambient temperature.

Then I reapplied the M.2 SSD cover over the WD Black SN850 SSD and then placed the PS5 side plates. As counter-intuitive a it feels to cover the SSD up in this bay, this is something Sony recommend (which I will be looking into and comparing in a future video against running it WITHOUT the cover), so I went ahead with it.

During this temperature test of the PS5 with the WD Black SN850 SSD, I ran several tests. I performed a sustained write activity (moving several games from the internal PS5 SSD to the WD Black SN850), a gameplay session on GTA V (measuring the SSD controller temperature and the ambient temperature), repeated that test with Red Dead Redemption II, then performed a heavy read application (moving those games back to the PS5 internal SSD). These results were compared against the exact same test with a WD Black SN850 in the $10 Eluteng m.2 heatsink. Below, in the video, were the results and conclusion of that test.

Now, it should come as no surprise that the WD Black SN850 dissipated a greater degree of heat from the controller than the Eluteng $10 m.2 SSD heatsink, due to WD heatsink being designed around this single SSD and its components (therefore targeting whether the controller would be particularly well). However, what about when we compare the temperature testing of the WD Black SN850 against that of the Seagate Firecuda 530 with heatsink? Both of these are 1st Party heatsink equipped SSDs that have been designed around and applied at the factory level TOO their respective SSDs. Performing the same tests, with the same games/processes, here is how each SSD heatsink performed.

The WD Black SN850 SSD heatsink did perform better than the $10 SSD heatsink in terms of heat dissipation and temperature control, but not hugely better and I think a lot of that comes down to the PS5 having that closed M.2 slot. That said, when we performed the same tests with a more modern released SSD in the Seagate Firecuda 530 (released a year later and noticeably more expensive), the Seagate seemed to run cooler and/or the heatsink did a better job. We cannot ignore small factors such as ambient room temperatures and times or day, however even when you just look at the temp difference at the start and end of each test as a differential, Seagate seemingly kept things consistently cooler overall. So the big takeaway from that test for me was that the WD Black SN850 ran cooler in the PS5 than the bare SSD with a $10 heatsink, but the SSD still runs hotter than a few of its more modern released contemporaries. Next, let’s talk about the performance of the WD Black SN850 in PS5 gameplay, how it compares with the system’s own internal PS5 and how it fares against its competition.

So, What about the WD Black SN850 in PS5 deployment?

When I installed the WD Black SN850 into the PS5, the system immediately gave me a benchmark of 6,457MB/s, which is pretty impressive for the 1TB model. The PS5 uses a different test and benchmark algorithm than those of popular PC tools such as ATTO, CrystalDisk and IOMeter, focusing exclusively on read performance. There isn’t even a direct reference to whether this figure is based on sequential data or some PS5 game-data specific data size/frequency, so we very rarely see the 7,000MB/s sequential read figure that most SSD brands talk quite loudly of. Nevertheless, this 6,450MB/s+ figure is still very solid and repeated testing gave us 6222MB/s, 6455MB/s and 6551MB/s, so it was quite a consistent benchmark for PS5.

As you would hope, the WD Black SN850 immediately appears in the PS5 storage manager for us and there can be used in conjunction with the PS5’s own internal SSD (and USB drives).

Let’s see how the WD Black SN850 SSD compares with several PCIe4 SSDs that have been released in the almost year and a half since its release.

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – PS5 Benchmark

To put the WD Black SN850 SSD PS5 Performance Benchmark into a little perspective, here is how it compares against the Addlink A95, Adata XPG Gammix S70, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and Gigabyte Aorus 7000s – four SSDs that are all PS5 supported and VERY similar architecture very little difference between the others in this tier, it is a solid benchmark.

Addlink A95 PS5 Benchmark – 6556MB/s XPG GAMMIX S70 PS5 Benchmark – 6235MB/s
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus – 6557MB/s Gigabyte Aorus 7000s PS5 Benchmark6557MB/s

As you can see, the WD Black SN850’s PS5 benchmark is in a similar bracket to these other four SSDs, though they did seem to outpace it on repeated benchmark tests, back to back. A more recently published PS5 performance test over on our YouTube channel of the WD Black SN850 compared with the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Samsung 980 Pro using the Unreal 5 Tech engine demo showed us that the WD still works like an absolute charm even 6 months since the storage expansion feature was enabled:

Full PS5 Testing of this SSD is available as a playlist over on the NASCompares YouTube channel, with a total of 25 GAMES TESTED SO FAR! But for now, let’s carry on with looking at the hardware of the WD Black SN850, how it conventionally benchmarks and how it compares with currently favourite PS5 SSDs like the Samsung 980 Pro and Seagate Firecuda 530 in the numbers!

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Hardware Specifications

As you might expect from an M.2 NVMe SSD that boldly promises performance of over 7,000MB/s sequential read (ie BIG data), the hardware specifications and architecture of the WD Black SN850 are quite modern. Indeed, for all the big talk of the Seagate Firecuda 530 hardware (still currently the ‘score to beat’ PCIE Gen4 m.2 NVMe right now) being top tier, the WD Black SN850 is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet, despite releasing a year earlier! Though there are some key build differences that I will touch on later. Below is how it looks:

WD Black SN850

500GB – $139.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $409.99

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB
Controller WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr

I know a lot of the above will seem needlessly technical, so below we can bring the most important considerations into sharper focus.

Hardware Focus of the WD Black SN850 SSD Series

The WD Black SN850 SSD benefits from an almost completely ‘in-house’ architecture, which means that the NAND for storage and the controller is designed by WD themselves, without relying on 3rd parties such as Phison or Innogrit for its controller. This is WD’s PCIe Gen 4 chip called “WD Black G2 NVMe Controller.”.

 

It is produced on an 8 nm production process in WD’s factory. At its launch, it noticeably outpaced the Phison E16 in terms of design, but now has given way in many ways to the Phison E18 controller which arrived on the production scene around the time the WD Black SN850 was first released. Still a solid SSD controller never the less and backed by more in-house components. The WD Black SN850 also features their own DDR4 memory/flash chip which provides 1GB of fast DRAM storage for the controller to store the mapping tables, etc. As you would expect, this scales as the storage capacity scales.

The storage NAND of the WD Black SN850 is 96L WD TLC NAND, which has and is separated across 2x cells on the 1TB of a capacity of 512GB. (4x 512GB on the 2TB). This is one particularly interesting area that I don’t think gets enough credit. Right now, at the start of 2022, there is a very small handful of SSDs that are using NAND of a higher layer count than 96L (ones such as the Seagate Firecuda 530 at 176L), but this is a trend that we are starting to see change with even more affordable brands such as Addlink and ADATA embracing 176L Micron NAND as standard in their prosumer tiers. It’s a small factor but definitely worth highlighting and something that brands like Seagate and Samsung exceeded very early on.

Overall the build of the WD Black SN850 is still pretty strong compared with most SSDs in this performance tier and the inclusive heatsink certainly makes it be even more appealing for some. You really cannot fault the hardware inside/onboard the WD Black SN850, as it is still (even 16-18 months after release) higher performing in sequential Read than many other M.2 NVMe PCIe 4 SSDs released in that time. Before we go into the full testing, however, it is worth taking a moment to look closely at the reported performance benchmarks of the WD Black SN850, as although the performance seems stellar at sequential Read and 4K random IOPS numbers, there are areas such as write and endurance when compared with its main rivals that it perhaps falls a little short.

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Official Stats First

Right now at the start of 2022, the WD Black SN850 is continuously being compared by buyers with two other big-name SSDs, the Samsung 980 Pro and the Seagate Firecuda 530 (I am as guilty as anyone on that!). Both these SSD’s arrived with optional Heatsink versions (the Samsung only recently though), though the Samsung SSD was released much close to the WD Black SN850 drive (with the Seagate SSD arriving in Summer 2021). Below is how these three SSDs compare in the traditional hardware architecture and durability.

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

500GB – $139.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $409.99

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

Samsung 980 Pro

1TB – $179, 2TB – $299

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.3c
NAND BiCS4 96L TLC 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L Samsung 128L 3D TLC
Max Capacity 2TB 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller WD_BLACK G2 Phison E18-PS5018 Custom Elpis
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 ZP500GM3A013

MZ-V8P500BW

Price in $ and $ $139.99 $139 / £119 $119 / £109
1TB Model WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Price in $ and $ $249.99 $239 / £199 $209 / £179
2TB Model WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Price in $ and $ $409.99 $419 / £379 $390 / £369
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ N/A $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 ZP500GM3A013

MZ-V8P500BW

Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 300TB 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,750,000 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 600TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,750,000 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1200TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,750,000 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD N/A

Some differences are quite easy to understand, such as the NVMe revision, as the update between NVMe 1.3 and 1.4 happened around the time of the WD Black SN850 release. Then there is the pricing differences between these three SSDs, with the Seagate Firecuda arriving at a noticeably higher price point. The price difference here can be attributed to several factors, such as the longer time being available at retail and both the WD Black SN850 and WD Black 850 in-house component built. However, one of the other big reasons for that differing price is in the durability of the Seagate over the WD and WD SSD, with its terabytes written over its lifespan and drive writes per day arriving at more than double. What about random performance and sequential throughout?

Below is how the WD Black SN850, Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 compare in performance, based on maximum possible and directly from the brands:

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

500GB – $139.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $409.99

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

WD Black SN850 H/S

1TB – $179, 2TB – $299

500GB Model WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 ZP500GM3A013

MZ-V8P500BW

Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB 6900MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 4100MB 3000MB 5000MB
1TB Model WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5300MB 6000MB 5000MB
2TB Model WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5100MB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model   ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 6900MB N/A
Brand/Series WD Black SN850 Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850 H/S
500GB Model WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 ZP500GM3A013

MZ-V8P500BW

Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 400,000 800,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 680,000 700,000 1,000,000
1TB Model WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 800000 1000000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 720,000 1000000 1000000
2TB Model WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 710,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
4TB Model   ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A

Between all three SSDs, in terms of sequential Read and Write performance, the WD Black SN850 (for the most part) sits in third place here pretty consistently. That said, it is still very close to the WD Black in most cases. In terms of random 4K IOPS, things fare a little better for the WD Black SN850 and although still outpaced by the much later released Seagate Firecuda 530 in traditional Read and Write performance, it comes out consistently 1st place in IOPS overall. So, now that is the manufacturer supplied performance figures done, let’s do some of our own tests on a mid-range PCIe 4 M.2 enabled Windows PC for some benchmarks.

Testing the WD Black SN850 m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The WD Black SN850 was selected for this test and it was tested using multiple benchmark tools, from a cold boot, in the 2nd storage slot (i.e not the OS drive). Each test was conducted three times (full details of this are shown in the YouTube Review of the WD Black SN850 over on NASCompares):

Test Machine:

  • Windows 10 SN850 Desktop System
  • Intel i5 11400 Rocket Lake – 6-Core 2.6/4.4Ghz
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Intel B560M mATX Motherboard
  • OS Storage, Seagate Firecuda 120 SSD
  • Test SSD connected to Secondary PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Slot

Using CrystalDisk, we got a good measure of the drive and verified that this PCIe Gen 4 x4 SSD was indeed using the 4×4 lane. Additionally, the temp averaged out around 44C between each test being conducted. Much like the PS5 temperature testing, the WD Black SN850 was able to get rid of the heat it had gathered very quickly. Additionally (as the grahy below shows) in the more open air based PC environment, the temperatures of the WD Black SN850 and it’s heatsink were considerably better than inside the PS5 closed storage bay:

The first tests were conducted using the ATTO disk benchmark software. The first was a 256MB test file size and below is a breakdown of the transfer rates and IOPS. The 2nd Test was a 1GB test file and finally, the last test was with a 4GB test file. The system was given 1-minute cool downtime between tests, no screen recording software was used (remove overhead) and a heatsink was used throughout (no reboots)

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #1

256MB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.45GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 4.91GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.45GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 4.91GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.44GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 4.95GB/s

 


Next, although the ATTO tests were quite good, but not what I would have hoped from this SSD, so I moved on to the Crystal Disk Mark testing to see how well it would handle our lasts barrage of tests. The first test was the 1GB file testing, which measured both sequential and random, as well as the read and write IOPS. Test were conducted on a 1GB, 4GB and 16GB Test File. I also included a mixed 70/30 read and write task to give a little bit more of a realistic balanced workload. These tests were conducted with 1-minute cooling break in between

CRYSTALDISK MARK 1GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 4GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 16GB TEST

 

Next, I switched to AS SSD benchmark. A much more thorough test through, I used 1GB, 3GB and 5GB test files. Each test includes throughput benchmarks and IOPS that are respective to the larger file sizes (important, if you are reading this and trying to compare against the reported 4K IOPS from the manufacturer).

AS SSD Benchmark Test #1

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #2

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #3

 

Ordinarily, I would introduce tests like BlackMagic and AJA into the mix here, but even a short burst of testing on an NVMe like this would over saturate the cache memory on board. Nevertheless, in the short term we still could ascertain the reported performance on 1GB, 4GB and 16GB file testing was:

1GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5868MB/s Read & 5547MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 6001MB/s Read & 5530MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 6015MB/s Read & 5530MB/s Write

Overall, the WD Black SN850 was certainly able to provide some solid performance, as well as potentially exceed the test figures here on a more powerful machine. Given the reported Read and Write statistics that the brand has stated publically, I think there is enough evidence here to back up those claims. IOPs were a little lower than I expected, but again, we were testing very large file types, so this would have to be taken in context with the PC used and not the monster machine that most brands feature for their printed benchmarks (i.e 8-12 core Ryzens).

WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Conclusion

The WD Black SN850 SSD can certainly still hold its own against all the ‘young whippersnappers’ that have entered the PCIe 4 NVMe SSD market since it first arrived on the scene back in 2020, with some consistently solid 4K random performance that rarely drops, reliably high read performance across the board and an average price point worldwide that means if it ISN’T on special offer/seasonal sale in your usual eRetailer, it definitely will be somewhere – having arrived at this party early, it is now so fantastically ‘everywhere’ that many would consider it a no brainer to be your perfect SSD pick – and fair play, they are likely right. Right the way down to big names in the industry recommended its versatility (Mark Cerny, PS5 designer arriving louder than most), the WD black branding being a mainstay of professional gaming and the simple fact that the WD Black SN850 does exactly what it says it can do, no ifs, no buts, make it still a solid choice. All that said though, PCIe 4 NVMe SSD development has certainly moved forward and although the SN850 holds it’s own in some key benchmarks and build qualities, there are now more enduring SSDs in the market, with higher throughput drives available to buy and (possibly most crucially of all for some) the SN850 can get noticeably hotter than others in the market as more efficient SSD controllers were researched, developed and released in 2021. In pure gaming usage, the WD Black SN850 can still get the job done, but in mixed-use or content creation/production, there might well be better options out there for you. And lest we forget, WD Black might well have a PCIe5 in the works to pip everyone to the punch again – keep your eyes peeled!

PROs of the WD Black SN850 CONs of the WD Black SN850
High Availability Worldwide

One of the first PS5 Expansion Compatibility confirmed SSDs

Performance still stands up well in 2022 (almost 1.5yrs since original release)

Impressively dense NAND for one of the earliest gen PCIe 4 SSDs still

Still has some of the highest 4K Random IOPS in the market

Very Good Pricing Now

Regular Firmware updates

Heat dissipation in a PS5 environment was not as good as I hoped (PS5 closed bay design at fault really)

Traditional Write performance, even at 2TB, looks a little lacklustre against the competition in 2022

Still no 4TB version commercially available

 

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