Western Digital Black SN850 NVMe SSD Review

Western Digital’s NVMe SSD with PCI Express 4.0 support designed for PC and console gamers WD Black SN850 is an SSD containing a 96-layer TLC 3D NAND flash chip using the four-lane PCI Express 4.0 interface. The design of the SSD in the M.2 2280 standard (80mm long, 22mm wide) is referred to as a “stick” by some users. Using the NVMe 1.4 protocol, the product comes with Western Digital’s self-developed WD G2 (SanDisk 20-82-10035-A1) controller.

The SN850 can be purchased in two variants, with or without a cooler. There was a heatsink on the model that came to the test. In this context, we removed our motherboard’s own SSD cooler while mounting it.

So why are there two different versions? Actually, the reason is simple. If you are going to choose SSD for desktop and PS5, you should choose models with cooler, but if you are going to buy for laptop, you need to choose models without cooler because it is not possible for the SSD to fit under the laptop cover with its cooler.

The SN850’s industrial cooler is very sleek and has a relatively low profile. So is it compatible with PlayStation 5? Previously, we installed an SSD on the PS5 whose cooler did not comply with the standard announced by Sony. The WD Black SN850, on the other hand, with its lower profile cooler, does not prevent the cover on the PS5 SSD slot from being reattached. So the product is fully compatible with PlayStation 5.

Let’s be clear though: You don’t have to put the cover back on, and that’s not a problem for the console. Note that the console’s M.2 slot allows for up to 11.25mm of total headroom, and the heatsink of WD’s solid-state drive is also about 8.8mm high.

Western Digital Dashboard is an application that helps Western Digital drives maintain peak performance on Windows operating systems with a user-friendly graphical interface. The software includes tools for disk analysis (including disk model, capacity, Firmware version and SMART) and Firmware updates.

WD SSD Dashboard
The Western Digital Dashboard application takes on a different interface for the Black series.

We also always do Firmware updates of SSDs before starting our tests. A Firmware update was also available for the WDBlack SN850 and we did it easily via software. The SN850 also has RGB lighting, which you can also control with the WD Dashboard.

Western Digital SSD Guncelleme
SSD Firmware update can be done easily with Western Digital Dashboard.
Capacity Price TBW Value Max. Speed ​​(Read/Write)
500GB $169.99 300 7,000MBps / 4,100MBps
1TB $249.99 600 7,000MBps / 5,300MBps
2TB $449.99 1200 7,000MBps / 5,100MBps
without refrigerant
500GB $129.99 300 7,000MBps / 4,100MBps
1TB $189.99 600 7,000MBps / 5,300MBps
2TB $389.99 1200 7,000MBps / 5,100MBps

The SN850’s list price is close to the upper limit when compared to other high-performance PCI Express 4 drives equipped with heatsinks. The MSI Spatium M480 charges 23 cents per gigabyte for 1 TB and 22 cents for 2 TB, while the ADATA Gammix S70 charges 20 cents per GB for both 1 TB and 2 TB capacities. The ADATA Gammix S70 Blade offers the best F/P ratio on paper at 16 cents per gigabyte for both the 1TB and 2TB versions. The TeamGroup T-Force Cardea Zero Z44Q, on the other hand, costs just 13 cents per GB (2TB), but as a drive with QLC-based memory it has low endurance and moderate speed.

The terabyte (TBW) endurance ratings written for the WD Black SN850 are average for a TLC-based drive. The Crucial P5 Plus offers 600 TBW for the 1 TB model and 1,200 TBW for the 2 TB drive. The 1TB Samsung SSD 980 Pro is also rated at 600TBW. The Kingston KC3000 has a slightly higher rating of 800 TBW for the 1 TB version and 1,600 TBW for the 2 TB.

Few PCIe 4.0 drives offer even higher endurance rates; The Corsair Force MP600 Series and Silicon Power US70 are rated at 1,800 TBW for 1 TB and 3,600 TBW for 2 TB. QLC-based drives like the Mushkin Delta and Sabrent Rocket Q4 promise only 200 TBW for 1TB, 400TBW for 2TB, and 800TBW for 4TB.

The “terabytes written” specification is a manufacturer’s estimate of how much data can be written to a drive before some cells begin to fail and become out of service. (TBW tends to scale 1:1 with capacity, as does the SN850.) WD’s warranty, whichever comes first: Five years or until the drive reaches its rated TBW on data writing. On the other hand, in our tests, we have seen that SSDs easily exceed these values ​​by 10 times. Of course, there were models that broke down in three months.

We tested the SN850 in both synthetic and real-world conditions. In our first test, CrystalDiskMark, the SN850 achieved a massive 6903 MB/s sequential read and 5300 MB/s sequential write.

WD Black SN850 CrystalDiskMark
The SN850 comes close to the 7000 MB/s it claims in the CrystalDiskMark test.

We achieved 5980 MB/s sequential read and 5467 MB/s sequential write on AS SSD. The SSD revealed 0.016ms access time in this test.

If you are going to do I/O-heavy tasks, the SN850 achieved 726,335 read and 721,603 write IO values ​​in the 4KB 64 Thread test, which we can say is pretty good.

Copying ISO, Programs and Games

For more realistic results, ISO, program and game copy tests are available in AS SSD. Here are the results in order:

  • ISO: 1847MB/s
  • Program: 510MB/s
  • Game: 1398 MB/s

When we tested it with the ATTO Disk Benchmark, we saw 4.83 GB writes and 6.58 GB reads per second.

Content producers are among the users who may prefer the SN850. Today, RAW video files of cameras take up huge dimensions. High-speed SSDs are also required to work with them. We use AJA System Test to test the performance of SSDs when working with video files. In the first test, we look at the working speed with 10 Bit YUV video at 5K resolution and we get 5361 MB/s writing and 6201 MB/s reading.

SN850 AJA System Test
With the AJA System Test, it is possible to see the performance of the SSD in video files.

In the next test we make the file size 64GB. Again, we choose 5K resolution but ProRes 4444 (XQ) codec. In this test, we get 5464 MB/s writing and 6030 MB/s reading.

So how long can the WD Black SN850 sustain these values? That’s the real question. To test this, we put the SSD in a test marathon that lasts more than 10 minutes. At the end of the test, we get 2000 MB/s write and 3000 MB/s read values. At this time, the SSD temperature reaches 84 degrees. 84 is obviously a high value. In this context, if you are going to use the SSD under constant load, make sure that there is better air circulation in the area where it is installed. On the other hand, this situation does not occur in normal use. The SSD dropped to 61 degrees after a while. Although this is a relatively high temperature, it is not a problem.

SN850 Sicakliki
With continuous operation, SSD space can reach 84 degrees in the mounting system.

We also did real-world copy testing on the SSD. Here, too, we copied the 120 GB RDR2 from the 970 EVO Plus SSD to the SN850. During the 53-second process, the SSD managed to deliver a stable write speed of over 2 GB/s.

Contrary to hard drives, there are products in the SSD market, which we can unfortunately even call under the stairs. It is possible to find models without firmware updates on the market, but when it comes to data, trust becomes one of the most important factors.

There is a Corsair MP600 Core model with PCIe 4.0 support on the market, but it should be noted that that SSD uses a shorter-lived QLC NAND. The SN850 mostly competes with models such as the 980 PRO in the upper segment, where we come across the 980 PRO. Although the cooler 980 PRO is sold for 2940 TL, it does not come close to the SN850, which offers 6903 MB / s and 5300 MB / s in reading and writing. On the other hand, MSI’s Spatium M480 model, which we reviewed before, can offer higher speeds for 450 TL cheaper. Of course, it is debatable how experienced MSI is in SSD. More importantly, MSI does not have an SSD checking software available.

Another alternative is the Gigabyte Aorus 7000S GP-AG70S1TB model. This SSD can be found for 3050 TL, but the sequential read IOPS value and the AS SSD can fall behind the SN 850 in the sequential write test.

In conclusion, if you really need high speeds and IO performance, the WD SN850 Black with cooler sold for around 3250 TL can be a good choice.

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