Western digital black 500gb review: WD Black SN750 Review: A Not so Fresh Refresh — Tom’s Hardware

WD Black SN750 Review: A Not so Fresh Refresh — Tom’s Hardware

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

The highest capacity WD Black SN750 is a bit slower than the 1TB model, but like the 1TB model, it has some of the highest sustained write performance going. While it isn’t the fastest to respond in applications, it is a solid pick for those looking for a high capacity scratch disk or those constantly writing large files and folders.


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Updated June 26, 2020: We have updated this article with new testing for the 2TB Black SN750 SSD on page 2.

  • WD Black SN750 (1TB) (1TB Black) at Amazon for $139

Original Review published January 18, 2019:

Western Digital’s Black SN750 comes with the same hardware as the previous-gen model, but the company revamped the firmware to extract as much performance as possible.  Western Digital’s new Black SN750 NVMe SSD is ready to take on the fastest drives on the market with a new brand image, an updated SSD dashboard with a new gaming mode, and performance-boosting firmware tweaks to the existing hardware configuration.

The Black SN750 delivers peak speeds of up to 3,470/3,000MB/s read/write, better thermal and power efficiency, and if you can wait, models with a great looking EKWB heatsink. Aside from a slight premium for this high-performance drive, there isn’t much holding it back from getting our recommendation.

Western Digital Black SN750 (1TB)

WD’s decision to stick with the same hardware is part of a trend developing this year: Third-party SSD controller companies like Phison and Silicon Motion are still working to deliver their next-gen silicon with improved power efficiency and better performance while flash manufacturers are gearing up for production of faster, higher-density flash. That means there aren’t many breakthrough components available yet, so many new SSDs in early 2019 will only come with minor updates.

Western Digital’s Black SN750 uses the same 64L 3D NAND and custom NVMe controller as the previous-gen model. WD released the second-gen Black SSD last year and mentioned its new «NVMe Architecture» controller would be their go-to for future products as well, so sticking with the same configuration doesn’t come as a surprise.

WD designed the new drive to appeal to the booming gaming market and says the new WD Black is “Loot Box Strong.” The new SSD features military-like styling for the device, WD’s new SSD dashboard, and a new model that comes with an EKBW heatsink. Sadly, the heatsink-equipped model won’t be available during this launch, but it will arrive by the end of this quarter alongside a 2TB option.

For now, the WD Black SN750 is only available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities without the EKBW heatsink. WD says that the handcrafted solid aluminum heatsink helps maintain peak performance three times longer before the drive throttles, but we’ll have to wait for it to pass through the lab to verify those claims.


Swipe to scroll horizontally

Product WD Black SN750 250GB WD Black SN750 500GB WD Black SN750 1TB WD Black SN750 2TB
Pricing $79.99 $129.99 $249.99 $499.99
Capacity (User / Raw) 250GB / 256GB 500GB / 512GB 1000GB / 1024GB 2000GB / 2048GB
Form Factor M.2 2280 Single-Sided M.2 2280 Single-Sided M.2 2280 Single-Sided M.2 2280 Single-Sided
Interface / Protocol PCIe 3. 0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Controller WD NVMe Architecture WD NVMe Architecture WD NVMe Architecture WD NVMe Architecture
DRAM SK Hynix DDR4 SK Hynix DDR4 SK Hynix DDR4 SK Hynix DDR4
Memory SanDisk 64-Layer TLC SanDisk 64-Layer TLC SanDisk 64-Layer TLC SanDisk 64-Layer TLC
Sequential Read 3,100 MB/s 3,470 MB/s 3,470 MB/s 3,400 MB/s
Sequential Write 1,600 MB/s 2,600 MB/s 3,000 MB/s 2,900 MB/s
Random Read 220,000 IOPS 420,000 IOPS 515,000 IOPS 480,000 IOPS
Random Write 180,000 IOPS 380,000 IOPS 560,000 IOPS 550,000 IOPS
Encryption N/A N/A N/A N/A
Endurance 200 TBW 300 TBW 600 TBW 1,200 TBW
Part Number Heatsink: WDS250G3XHC-00SJG, No Heatsink: WDS250G3X0C-00SJG Heatsink: WDS500G3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS500G3X0C-00SJG Heatsink: WDS100T3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS100T3X0C-00SJG Heatsink: WDS200T3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS200T3X0C-00SJG
Warranty 5-Years 5-Years 5-Years 5-Years

WD hasn’t finalized pricing for the heatsink model yet, but the larger capacities weigh in at roughly $0. 25-0.26 per GB, while the lower capacity 250GB model is $0.32 per GB. That’s a bit pricey compared to SATA drives, but it is competitive with most high-end NVMe drives. The new Black costs a few dollars more than the older model, but there is a marked performance improvement. The SN750 is also cheaper than the Samsung 970 EVO at some capacity points.

The firmware improvements net the Black SN750 a few more MB/s in sequential workloads as well as a significant improvement in random performance at high queue depths. That equates to up to 3,470/3,000MB/s of sequential read/write throughput and 515,000/560,000 random read/write IOPS.

Like before, the Black comes with a five-year warranty and the same endurance ratings, but the new 2TB option boasts up to 1,200 terabytes written (TBW) of endurance. The Black’s endurance isn’t quite as robust as many of the new Phison E12-powered SSDs, but it is still more than enough for most users.

The drive comes with the same features as the model before it, like SMART and TRIM support, tiered SLC write cache, thermal throttling, and NAND management and error correction features. As before, the drive doesn’t support secure erase in Parted Magic (though it does work in the motherboard UEFI) or hardware encryption. While many won’t use or even demand the encryption feature, that is a bit disappointing. Hardware-based encryption provides added security and performance benefits.


The Black SN750 features a revamped WD Black SSD Dashboard designed specifically for the new models. Not only did it get a facelift, but WD also added a new gaming mode feature. This setting disables the low power modes through firmware hooks, which helps reduce latency and improve performance. You do need to restart the system after enabling game mode. It’s worth noting that the gaming mode disables the low-power settings at the device level, so the SSD will remain in that mode if you move it to another system.

WD also offers a free Acronis True Image download for cloning your existing data to your new drive, but the current version of it won’t be compatible with the new Black at launch. WD is working diligently to bring this cloning software to the new products and will announce when it is available.

A Closer Look

Image 1 of 7

The WD black carries over the same blacked-out design but now comes with a slightly changed sticker and an updated military-style font. The drive communicates over the PCIe 3.0 x4 interface using the NVMe 1.3 protocol. The new drives, including the 2TB model, come in an M.2 2280 single-sided form factor to provide better compatibility with mobile systems.

The Black comes equipped with two 64L 3D TLC NAND packages and one 1GB DRAM chip. The NAND on the 250GB-1TB models has a density of 256Gb per die. Our 1TB model features 16 dies per package and the 2TB model will feature a denser 512Gb die in the same 16-die configuration. Once formatted in Windows, the 1TB WD Black SN750 has 931.5GB of usable space.

WD Black SN750 (1TB): Price Comparison

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Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.

WD Black SN750 SE SSD Review: Cost-Effective Storage for Gamers

Tom’s Hardware Verdict

WD’s Black SN750 SE is a decent-performing gaming-oriented SSD. While it doesn’t deliver the best PCIe 4.0 performance, it competes well against many of the best PCIe 3.0 SSDs on the market and is listed at competitive prices.

  • +

    + Low-cost

  • +

    + Efficient and cool operation

  • +

    + Attractive design

  • +

    + Competitive endurance ratings and 5-year warranty

  • +

    + Sustained write speed in real-world use

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WD’s Black SN750 SE’ Special Edition’ delivers sequential speeds of up to 3,600/2,830 MBps read/write, but it is hardly faster than the best PCIe 3.0 SSDs, which is curious given its PCIe 4.0 connection. However, the SSD is priced to sell, making it a great option for value seekers on the hunt for one of the best SSDs for a gaming rig. 

Equipped with a Phison DRAM-less SSD controller and BiCS4 96-Layer TLC flash, the SN750 SE’s secret sauce is a mix of cost-efficient components, clever marketing, and low prices. While the DRAM-equipped SN750 excels in heavy workloads with its somewhat power-hungry eight-channel PCIe 3.0 controller, the DRAM-less SN750 SE is better optimized for low-budget gaming builds with its four-channel PCIe 4. 0 controller and newer flash, although it still holds its own quite well when pressured with requests.

The special edition naming might indicate that this drive is an impromptu stopgap solution between the older SN750 and not a true replacement. Either that or it could be part of the company’s attempt to optimally use up their last batches of BiCS4 TLC flash as it introduces newer BiCS5-equipped SSDs, like the Blue SN570 we recently reviewed.


Swipe to scroll horizontally

Product 250GB 500GB 1TB
Pricing $49.99 $59.99 $109.99
Capacity (User / Raw) 250GB / 256GB 500GB / 512GB 1000GB / 1024GB
Form Factor M. 2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280
Interface / Protocol PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4 PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4 PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
Controller Phison PS5019-E19T Phison PS5019-E19T Phison PS5019-E19T
Memory Kioxia BiCS4 96L TLC Kioxia BiCS4 96L TLC Kioxia BiCS4 96L TLC
Sequential Read 3,200 MBps 3,600 MBps 3,600 MBps
Sequential Write 1,000 MBps 2,000 MBps 2,830 MBps
Random Read 190,000 IOPS 360,000 IOPS 525,000 IOPS
Random Write 240,000 IOPS 480,000 IOPS 640,000 IOPS
Security N/A N/A N/A
Endurance (TBW) 200 TB 300 TB 600 TB
Part Number WDS250G1B0E WDS500G1B0E-00B3V0 WDS100T1B0E-00B3V0
Warranty 5-Years 5-Years 5-Years

The WD Black SN750 SE is available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities and is listed at very competitive prices ranging from $0. 11 to $0.20 per gigabyte. Although it communicates over a PCIe 4.0 x4 interface, the SN750 SE is only rated to deliver sequential speeds of up to 3,600/2,830 MBps read/write and sustain upwards of 525,000/640,000 random read/write IOPS at its highest capacity. The smaller capacities aren’t quite as performant.

WD backs the SN750 SE with a five-year warranty and endurance ratings similar to the standard WD Black SN750, equating to 600TB of write data for our 1 TB sample. Leveraging the Phison SSD controller, the SN750 SE features a fourth-gen LDPC engine, SmartECC, and end-to-end data path protection to ensure your data’s integrity from when it’s written until you retire the device. Similar to the SN750, it also lacks SED capability, but fortunately, that’s not a big deal for most gamers. Trim, secure erase support via the Format NVM command, and SMART data reporting also come standard.

Software and Accessories

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

Like Samsung Magician, WD’s SSD Dashboard is one of the best SSD toolbox softwares available. With it, you can monitor your SSD’s health and performance in real time, upgrade the firmware if applicable, and even enable gaming mode, which disables all lower power states so that the SSD is always ready to perform optimally. WD also provides Acronis True Image for Western Digital so you can clone over your existing data to your new SSD.

A Closer Look

Image 1 of 2

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The Black SN750 SE comes in a single-sided M.2 2280 form factor, so not only is it compatible with all desktop gaming systems, it’s also compatible with many of the best Ultrabooks, too.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

The Phison PS5019-E19T that powers the SN750 SE may lack DRAM, but it isn’t without some tricks to mitigate that. Instead of reading and updating directly on the flash itself, it utilizes Host Memory Buffer (HMB) tech that grants the SSD’s controller some of the host system’s DRAM for the task. This feature offers improved performance with accelerated access to the metadata while only taking 64MB away from the host.

The controller features an ARM Cortex-R5 primary processor and leverages Phison’s CoXProcessor Technology, which means it has an additional dual-core co-processor to handle some of the firmware workloads. The controller is produced on TSMC’s 28nm technology node. This isn’t the newer 12nm node that Phison uses in some of its products, but it still keeps fairly cool under load with features like power state management. Just in case it’s needed, thermal throttling will kick in if the SSD exceeds 84 degrees Celsius.

(Image credit: Tom’s Hardware)

A single NAND package on our 1TB sample is filled to the brim with older generation BiCS4 96-Layer TLC flash. While this dual-plane flash is responsive, it isn’t quite as fast as the quad-plane BiCS5 in newer drives. The controller supports transfer rates of up to 1,200 MTps per channel but likely runs at Toggle 3.0 speeds of up to 800 MTps, a limitation of the flash.


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Sean is a Contributing Editor at Tom’s Hardware US, covering storage hardware.

fantastic SSD that cannot be found / Drives

“The market has decided” — this phrase can often be heard from skeptics who believe that free competition in the absence of regulation inevitably leads to a deterioration in the quality of goods due to the desire of manufacturers to infinitely reduce production costs. This is certainly possible, but in the segment of low-cost PCIe 4.0 SSDs, events are developing in a completely different direction — here the market has directed progress in favor of consumers. Indeed, leading manufacturers have almost completely abandoned the use of QLC memory in such drives and are now reducing their cost not due to slow flash memory with a low resource, but by using four-channel controllers and introducing HMB technology instead of adding buffer SDRAM memory to drives. nine0003

Initially, this design also did not seem like a good option — until recently, bufferless NVMe drives did not look particularly attractive, offering obviously lower performance compared to their full-fledged counterparts. The only relatively bright spot in this segment was perhaps the Samsung 980, but even it could not compete with mid-range drives even from second- or third-tier companies, not to mention more thoroughbred products. But progress does not stand still, and more recently, market competition has given birth to the Innogrit IG5220 bufferless platform — a high-end budget solution. The first drive based on it that came to our laboratory, the Patriot P400, made a splash: as it turned out, the bufferless SSD has ceased to be a sentence, and in real workloads they are quite capable of offering performance close to the flagship. nine0003

It’s even more pleasant that the appearance of the Patriot P400 stirred up other manufacturers, who also began to produce similar or even better solutions in terms of consumer characteristics. So, quite recently, a no less attractive novelty appeared at Western Digital. Despite the fact that at the end of last year it already released the WD Black SN750 SE bufferless PCI 4. 0 drive based on the publicly available Phison E19T platform, now it has been replaced by a new, strengthened model on all fronts — WD Black SN770. And this is a direct result of the work of market mechanisms. nine0003

The WD Black SN750 SE obviously couldn’t compete with solutions like the Patriot P400, and Western Digital had to urgently redraw the lineup. And this time the company decided not to step on the same rake a second time and instead of choosing another public platform for an inexpensive PCIe 4.0 SSD, they made their own, which should be even better. And that’s how the new hero, the WD Black SN770, was born, which, while inspired by the Innogrit IG5220 platform, is made from start to finish by SanDisk’s in-house engineering team. nine0003

Judging by the passport figures, the WD Black SN770 offers about one and a half times better performance than the Black SN750 SE and falls into the same league with the Crucial P5 Plus, despite the fact that we are talking about a simple bufferless model. At the same time, the recommended price of the Black SN770 is on the same level with the price of the Black SN750 SE and almost does not differ from the recommended price of the Samsung 980, which causes great interest in the new product. And although Western Digital drives have ceased to be delivered to Russia through the official channel, there is hope that the Black SN770 will still reach domestic retail under the parallel import scheme. To prepare for this moment, we have conducted extensive testing of this SSD. nine0003

⇡# Exterior and internal arrangement

WD Black SN770 is designed as a single-sided M.2 2280 board with black textolite and without any pre-installed cooling means. One could say that it looks like a typical budget SSD, but there is one peculiarity — all its stuffing is densely packed in just two microcircuits.

One chip is a SanDisk proprietary controller marked 20-82-10081-A1. Western Digital does not disclose details about its developments, however, it is known that this chip is built on the same functional blocks as the 20-82-10034-A1 controller, which is used in the flagship WD Black SN850. But in this case, it is significantly simplified: the DRAM interface is removed from it, instead of which support for HMB technology is added, and the number of flash memory channels is reduced to four. However, there is also good news. Firstly, the WD Black SN770 controller still has full support for four PCIe 4.0 lanes. Secondly, it received compatibility with modern and fast 112-layer BiCS5 memory with an interface frequency of 1.2 GHz, which Western Digital has been producing since the beginning of last year. nine0003

Actually, the second chip on the WD Black SN770 just carries SanDisk BiCS5 memory chips. In this case, these are 512-Gb TLC 3D NAND devices in an amount corresponding to the capacity of the drive. As part of this review, we are considering a terabyte, and in it the flash memory array is assembled from 16 crystals, when accessed by a four-channel controller, it uses four interleaving.

Last time we saw BiCS5-memory in the WD Blue SN570, but this memory could not prove itself there due to the weakness of the controller. In the WD Black SN770, it should show its qualities more clearly — the 112-layer design of TLC 3D NAND chips promises not only a 40 percent improvement in density compared to BiCS4, but also a 50 percent improvement in performance. nine0003

The minimalist design of the WD Black SN770 can be traced not only in the minimum number of chips. Its signs are also in the label — in this case, it is half the usual size and does not cover the SSD components. However, the content did not suffer much. It fit not only the name, model number and capacity of the drive, but also the serial number, as well as the production date. Two QR codes, which occupy a fairly large area on the sticker, duplicate the serial number and PSID, which in this case is unlikely to ever be needed, since hardware encryption does not work in the WD Black SN770. nine0003

Western Digital traditionally uses «color differentiation» to categorize products by performance and intended use cases. The Black series was originally intended to be a high-end enthusiast- and gamer-oriented model, and it’s rather strange to see a minimalist drive without a DRAM buffer in this series. But it seems that Western Digital believes that storing the address translation table in the main memory of a PC, provided that the PCIe 4.0 x4 interface is used, does not undermine real performance too much, so the WD Black SN770 can be included in the same subgroup with the flagship Black SN850. However, HMB technology still cannot fully replace the dedicated DRAM buffer, if only because operating systems are ready to give no more than 64 MB of memory for SSD needs. But at the same time, the WD Black SN770 is clearly better than those available in the company’s Blue mass series of SSDs — it includes devices with simpler interfaces: PCIe 3.0 and SATA. nine0003


Like the previously discussed Innogrit IG5220 based Patriot P400, the WD Black SN770 promises 5 GB/s line speed. At the same time, the performance of small-block reads and writes also looks quite decent — according to these characteristics, the new Western Digital is comparable to drives based on the eight-channel Phison E16 controller. In other words, the specifications of the Black SN770 look promising.

nine0020 250 GB

Manufacturer Western Digital
Series WD Blue SN770
Model number WDS250G3X0E WDS500G3X0E WDS100T3X0E WDS200T3X0E
Form factor M.2 2280
Interface PCI Express 4.0 x4 — NVMe 1.4
Tank 500 GB 1000 GB 2000 GB
Flash memory: type, manufacturing process, manufacturer SanDisk 112-layer 512Gb TLC 3D NAND (BiCS5)
Controller SanDisk 20-82-01081-A1
Buffer: type, capacity No
Max. sustained sequential read speed, MB/s 4000 5000 5150 5150
Max. sustained sequential write speed, MB/s 2000 4000 4900 4850
Max. random read speed (4 KB blocks), IOPS 240 thousand 460 thousand 740 thousand 650 thousand
Max. random write speed (4 KB blocks), IOPS 470 thousand 800 thousand 800 thousand 800 thousand
Max. power consumption, W N/A
MTBF (mean time between failures), mln h N/A
Recording resource, TB 200 300 600 1200
Warranty period, years 5
Dimensions: L × H × D, mm 80 x 22 x 2. 38

The WD Black SN770 is available in four capacities from 250 GB to 2 TB. The fastest version is the terabyte version, which is the one featured in our testing. At the same time, the 2TB version is not far behind it. But smaller-capacity drives are already losing performance more noticeably, since they have a lower degree of parallelism of the flash memory array. nine0003

The CrystalDiskMark test, which we run to check the speeds declared by the manufacturer, confirms: The WD Black SN770 is an absolutely atypical bufferless SSD, which is one of the best representatives of this class. It really gives out the characteristics indicated in the specification, despite the four-channel flash memory array and the lack of a controller buffer.

Moreover, thanks to the use of BiCS5 memory, this SSD shows very good speed in non-pipelined 4K reads and does not succumb to mixed loads, which the repeatedly mentioned Patriot P400 does not do very well. In sum, all this means only one thing: the WD Black SN770 is a clear contender for the role of the best inexpensive SSD with PCIe 4.0 interface. nine0003

The advantages of the drive under consideration include a five-year warranty with quite typical conditions for flagship models, allowing 600-fold overwriting of the full capacity during its lifetime. But the WD Black SN770 becomes even more attractive when you find out about its price. The recommended cost of the terabyte version is only $110, that is, this SSD is positioned as a direct competitor to the Samsung 980, while promising both PCIe 4.0 support and significantly higher performance. nine0003


For its drives, Western Digital has developed and is developing the WD SSD Dashboard service utility, and this is one of the best programs of this kind. It has a clear and pleasant interface and is packed with all the necessary features. With its help, you can monitor the status, performance and health of the drive, update its firmware and perform maintenance operations on the flash memory array.

It also has a special switch for activating the «gaming» mode, which turns off the power-saving features and thus reduces the reaction time. However, this possibility should not be overestimated — it is more of an ideological nature, supporting the gaming role of the WD Black SN770, but not having a noticeable effect on real performance. nine0003

In addition to the WD SSD Dashboard, the drive in question also has a special branded version of Acronis True Image software, which can be used to clone data and transfer partitions from one storage medium to another.

⇡ # Description of the test system and testing methodology

WD Black SN770 is a very interesting and unusual solid state drive, which we will have to compare with two groups of rivals. The first group consists of bufferless drives similar to Black SN770 with four-channel controllers. It includes all the models mentioned above: Samsung 980, Patriot P400, WD Black SN750 SE and some others. The second group includes the most popular high-end PCIe 4. 0 SSDs: Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850 and Crucial P5 Plus.

Ultimately, eight SSDs took part in the test, information about them is given in the table.

nine0020 PCIe 3.0 x4

nine0020 WDS100T1X0E

Drive SKU Interface Controller DRAM buffer Flash memory


Crucial P5 Plus 1000GB CT1000P5PSSD8 PCIe 4.0 x4 Micron DM02A1 Yes TLC 3D NAND, Micron P7CR402
Patriot P400 1024GB P400P1TBM28H PCIe 4.0 x4 Innogrit IG5220 No TLC 3D NAND, Micron V1.1A
Samsung 980 1000GB MZ-V8V1T0BW Samsung Pablo No TLC 3D NAND, Samsung 2B4QFXO7
Samsung 980 PRO 1000GB MZ-V8P1T0BW PCIe 4. 0 x4 Samsung Elpis Yes TLC 3D NAND, Samsung 4B2QGXA7
Transcend SSD MTE240S 1000GB TS1TMTE240S PCIe 4.0 x4 SMI SM2267 No TLC 3D NAND, Micron 82A7U6NB
WD Black SN750 SE 1000GB WDS100T1B0E PCIe 4.0 x4 Phison PS5019-E19T No TLC 3D NAND, SanDisk 711250WD
WD Black SN770 1000GB WDS100T3X0E PCIe 4.0 x4 SanDisk 10034 No TLC 3D NAND, SanDisk 731030WD
WD Black SN850 1000GB PCIe 4.0 x4 SanDisk 10081 Yes TLC 3D NAND, SanDisk 613200WD

The test system configuration was as follows:

  • GHz, 25 MB L3).
  • CPU cooler: Noctua NH-D15.
  • Motherboard: ASUS ROG Strix Z690-F Gaming WiFi (LGA1700, Intel Z690). nine0409
  • Memory: 2 x 16 GB DDR5-4800 SDRAM, 38-38-38-70 (Kingston Fury Beast KF548C38BBK2-32).

Testing was performed on Microsoft Windows 11 Pro (21h3) Build 22000.282.0 operating system with KB5008353 installed, which fixes SSD performance during random write operations. The system used the Microsoft Standard NVMe Express Controller 10.0.18362.1 driver.

The test drives were installed in the M.2 slot, to which the PCI Express lines are connected directly from the processor. nine0003

⇡#SLC caching: writing, reading and deleting files

SLC caching is the most important algorithm that is responsible for speeding up write operations in modern drives. Its essence lies in the fact that information on an SSD with TLC or QLC memory is first written in a fast single-bit mode, and its compaction occurs later, during idle moments of the drive. This means that modern drives can demonstrate high speeds only on limited amounts of data, the size of which depends on the specific implementation of the SLC caching algorithm. nine0003

To find out how it works in practice and what are the speeds of a flash memory array of specific drives when operating in various modes, we conduct a test to continuously write files to an SSD until its capacity is completely exhausted while simultaneously measuring performance. This test uses standard Windows single-threaded file copy operations to the SSD being tested (from a RAM disk), and the test is carried out in three passes: for a completely blank SSD; for an SSD half full of data; and for the SSD, which is initially three-quarters full. nine0003

Write caching works dynamically in WD Black SN770. With a maximum speed of about 3.6 GB / s, it is possible to write about 130 GB non-stop to a terabyte SSD, then the performance decreases in steps, eventually falling to 440 MB / s. Also, the SLC cache can speed up writing even if the drive is partially occupied with data. When the SSD capacity is half filled, the cache size is about 55 GB, and if three-quarters of the space is occupied on the drive, then it is able to accept 48 GB of information at high speed. All this can be described as a fairly effective work of accelerating writes — the SLC cache does not play a nominal role, it really noticeably speeds up the SSD even when it already stores significant amounts of files. nine0003

At the same time, in terms of maximum write speed, which is achieved in the case of an empty SLC cache, WD Black SN770 looks no worse than flagship PCIe 4.0 drives, which means that when copying files to it, ordinary users will not be able to notice the difference with expensive Samsung 980 PRO or WD Black SN850.

But the minimum write speed observed in the WD Black SN770 does not inspire the same optimism. Still, we are talking about a bufferless drive, and therefore, under prolonged loads, for example, when continuously writing large amounts of data, the speed of this SSD can drop to very low values. However, long operations are a very specific case: it is unlikely that in real life someone will need to copy a terabyte of data to an SSD in one fell swoop. nine0003

The fact that the WD Black SN770 is far from the flagships can be seen if you look at the average speed of copying a terabyte of data to drives. In this case, its performance differs little from the speed of other bufferless SSDs with quad-channel flash memory arrays. Thus, a terabyte Black SN770 can be loaded with files to capacity in about half an hour, and, therefore, in this case, the high speed of BiCS5 memory does not help at all.

But when copying files from the WD Black SN770, the performance is very good. The SSD is capable of delivering data to the operating system at a rate of 2.5 GB/s, which is faster than most other flash drives in the test. Copy files faster only from the most expensive PCIe 4.0 SSD — Samsung 980 PRO or WD Black SN850.

Another type of operation where you can clearly see the budget essence of the WD Black SN770 is file deletion. Unbeknownst to the user, this drive is not able to carry out such operations. If you erase several large files from it (we deleted eight 8 GB files in the experiment), the SSD falls into a stupor for several seconds to process the TRIM command and the garbage collection procedure in the flash memory. The graph below clearly shows that the duration of such a freeze, when the SSD goes into itself and almost completely stops responding to external influences, reaches three seconds. nine0003

Summarizing the results presented in this section, we can outline the WD Black SN770 formula in general terms: in it, a powerful bufferless controller is adjacent to an array of fast flash memory, the performance of which is somewhat constrained by a four-channel architecture. It seems that new generation bufferless SSDs will be based on this construction principle, and it really transforms them, in some cases raising the performance by several steps.

⇡#Performance of complex file operations

When it comes to file operations inside the WD Black SN770 drive, it performs very well. The lack of complexities in handling multidirectional data streams and a large SLC cache allows this SSD to occupy the top positions in the charts. In fact, the Black SN770 does not lag behind even the flagships of the Samsung 980 PRO and WD Black SN850 level — the new BiCS5 memory, controlled by a powerful controller, allowed Western Digital to make an inexpensive drive that brilliantly plays the role of file storage.

⇡#Application performance

The WD Black SN770 gets a very high score in the SPECworkstation test, which simulates the behavior of the drive in resource-intensive workloads typical of productive work systems. For drives used in professional activities, the most important thing is the speed of small block reads and linear writes. Both of these operations do not cause any difficulties for the Black SN770. That is why in SPECworkstation it turns out to be even faster than SSDs built on full-fledged eight-channel controllers, which are not so well optimized for such operations. For example, the Black SN770 outperforms the higher-end Black SN850 in this test, which is no coincidence, but a natural result of the newer drive’s lower latency flash. nine0003

Characteristically, the high score of the WD Black SN770 can be seen in all scenarios included in SPECworkstation. In other words, we have a drive that can easily become the main SSD in a PC assembled for professional work.

SPECworkstation 3.1

⇡#Gaming performance

Western Digital’s Black series drives are primarily positioned as gaming solutions. And the WD Black SN770 fits perfectly into this concept — in the 3DMark Storage test, which simulates gaming scenarios of load on SSDs, it shares the first or second place with the Black SN850. nine0003

The WD Black SN770 has no problems with various game scenarios. He drops out of the group of leaders only in one case — when saving in-game.

3DMark Storage

⇡#Synthetic tests: linear operations

Synthetics, in contrast to the simulation of real scenarios, loads the SSD more intensively. Therefore, in this subgroup of tests, the WD Black SN770 is no longer at the top of the charts. But since this drive has a powerful controller at its disposal, it continues to produce decent results. In linear operations, the Black SN770 is second only to those drives that have a DRAM buffer and interact with the TLC 3D NADN array via eight channels. nine0003

⇡#Synthetic tests: small-block operations

Small-block operations are the main weak point of any SSD without a dedicated DRAM buffer. If during operation the controller has to provide access to a large amount of disparate data and constantly access the address translation table, the absence of this table at a minimum distance from the controller can cause noticeable negative consequences. This is exactly what is observed in the random read test — due to the need to constantly get into the PC’s memory via the PCIe bus using HMB technology, the WD Black SN770 in question shows a low result. Moreover, in this case, due to some nuances of the HMB implementation, it loses even to the obviously slower Black SN750 SE. nine0003

However, during random writes or mixed operations, where the load on the address translation table is lower, the WD Black SN770 restores the status quo and regains its position in the middle of the charts.


WD Black SN770 does not have any cooling as standard, and unlike Black SN850 it does not have any optional cooling radiators. It looks like Western Digital is banking on the relative simplicity of the controller and hoping the quad-channel bufferless SSD won’t run hot. nine0003

However, a practical test showed that the calculation for this was made recklessly and during intensive work the temperature of the WD Black SN770 can reach the limit value. According to the specification, it is 85 degrees, but in fact, the temperature throttling of this SSD is activated when the controller reaches a slightly higher temperature — 88 degrees.

During an experiment in which we loaded the drive with continuous read-dominated mixed linear operations, it warmed up to 88 degrees in a couple of minutes. But since in reality such long loads are rare in consumer PCs, you can not really worry about the Black SN770’s temperature regime. nine0003

Separately, it must be emphasized that Western Digital’s S.M.A.R.T. monitoring of the drive returns the true temperature of the controller without any distortion, and can be completely trusted. This is what the thermal image shows.

In general, we have to admit that modern bufferless SSDs have become quite hot, and the use of heatsinks with them will obviously not be superfluous. But this did not happen on its own, but along with a significant increase in productivity. In other words, the rule of thumb relating SSD heat to speed holds true here as well. High performance always entails an increase in heat dissipation. nine0003


The WD Black SN770 is yet another representative of a fundamentally new generation of fast bufferless NVMe drives, which we first encountered during the recent tests of the Patriot P400. Moreover, Western Digital’s solution turned out to be even more successful. By combining a proprietary controller with high-speed BiCS5 memory of its own production in a vertically integrated product, the company was able to achieve two important milestones at once. First, she managed to get linear speeds in a four-channel SSD that really require the bandwidth of the PCIe 4. 0 x4 interface. And secondly, such an SSD turned out to be devoid of the main generic drawback of bufferless models — low performance under mixed loads. nine0003

As a result, the performance of the WD Black SN770 in the usual consumer workloads turned out to be surprisingly good: such an SSD, which at first glance looks like an inexpensive compromise device, performs almost on an equal footing with the flagship PCIe 4.0 SSDs. In gaming and work scenarios, it is not only dramatically faster than the bufferless Samsung 980-class SSDs, but also bypasses, for example, the Crucial P5 Plus, a full-fledged drive with an eight-channel flash memory array. In other words, the WD Black SN770 does not require discounts for bufferless and four-channel capability — it deserves to be included among the best options for mass configurations without any reservations. nine0003

At the same time, the design of the WD Black SN770 allowed Western Digital to price it very aggressively — about 25% cheaper than the Samsung 980 PRO and WD Black SN850. This means that the performance-to-price ratio of the Black SN770 looks simply fantastic: it is an inexpensive and at the same time a very fast model.

Of course, the WD Black SN770 can be found flaws due to its design. Due to the lack of its own DRAM buffer, it gives in to protracted and large-scale loads. Its controller does not know how to process file deletion operations imperceptibly for the user. It does not provide hardware data encryption. And HMB technology requires support from the operating system, so the WD Black SN770 will not be able to perform as well as on a PC on the PlayStation 5. However, all such shortcomings are quite rare, and most users will most likely simply ignore them. nine0003

We therefore ultimately have every reason to give the WD Black SN770 Best Buy status, but with one important caveat. The acquisition of this drive in Russia is a rather difficult task. But if Western Digital solutions still reach our country through parallel imports and their prices are similar to those recommended, keep in mind: WD Black SN770 is super.

Test and review: Western Digital WD_Black SN770 — the new mid-range 9 drive0001

Western Digital has expanded its range with the WD_Black SN770 drive, which is not aimed at competing with the flagship SN850, but is a kind of bridge between the top Black line and the budget Blue one. Let’s see how the WD_Black SN770 performs in practice.

To distribute products to different markets, manufacturers come up with lines and choose beautiful names for them. Western Digital has decided to differentiate its drive lineup by color: red, purple, gold, blue and black. The last family has been producing flagship products for many years, at least for ordinary users and enthusiasts. Here we can note such SSDs as the popular WD_Black SN750 line, AN1500 in PCIe expansion card format and the new flagship WD_Black SN850. The latter with a PCIe4 interface still performs well in application tests, despite the past year and a half. nine0003

Below the Black line is the Blue family, which also made it to our test lab: first the SN500 and then the SN550. The drives were based on modern components, that is, Western Digital did not use outdated chips for budget families, unlike many other manufacturers. However, Blue drives still have to make do with fewer PCIe lanes or no DRAM cache, for example. Unfortunately, this is the fate of the Western Digital sample being tested today. nine0003

Before we get into the WD_Black SN770 drive, let’s first look at the manufacturer’s specifications. Western Digital is launching four SN770 models on the market, ranging in capacity from 250 GB to 2 TB. As is the case with almost all modern SSDs, options with different capacities differ in performance. Our 1TB sample is the fastest version of the WD_Black SN770 with a read throughput of 5.150MB/s and a write throughput of 4.900 MB/s.

The lack of a DRAM cache is rather suspicious as we didn’t expect such a move from a drive in the WD_Black line. But Western Digital here relies on a buffer in the memory of the host system, perhaps a small capacity of 64 MB. But the new SSD received the latest BiCS5 memory, which consists of 112 TLC layers. The density of the chips has increased significantly compared to the popular predecessor, which is good.

Subscribe to the Hardwareluxx VKontakte and Facebook groups, as well as to our Telegram channel (@hardwareluxxrussia). nine0529
500 GB WDS500G3X0E
2 TB WDS200T3X0E Serial read/write Up to 5.150 MB/s read (1 TB)
Until 4.900 MB/s recording (1 TB) Functions: Total Bytes Written (TBW) 250 GB: 200 TB
500 GB: 300 TB
1 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB: 600 TB TB: 1.2 PB MTBF 1.75 million hours Guarantee Five Years Price 135 euros (1 TB)

Western WD_BLACK SN770 in details, recently visited our test lab, the WD_Black SN770 does not use third party components such as Phison or SiliconMotion.

The reason is that Western Digital is not only a supplier, but also a designer and manufacturer of drives. The company independently developed the controller «SanDisk 20-82-10081-A1» in this SSD (SanDisk has been 100% owned by WD for many years), but there is very little specific information. The controller works with four channels of flash memory, it is optimized for TLC NAND without additional DRAM. The heating of the controller is negligible, since the PCB is not covered by a heatsink or a heat-conducting graphite/copper sticker. There are very few components on the PCB. nine0003

This Western Digital concept has worked well in practice, as you can see from the graph. Although the SSD got very hot (and we started the test already warmed up on which we first ran some benchmarks), we got only a very slight decrease in write throughput even after the 80°C bar. Compared to Phison E18 drives, which are very hot, this SSD can be installed in the most cramped systems without proper cooling. nine0003


DRAM in today’s SSDs is not used for data caching in order to provide maximum throughput. The task of DRAM is to store a table (mapping table), which describes the binding of data to memory chips, that is, their location. The advantage of a dedicated DRAM cache on an SSD is that it is much faster than NAND flash, for example. Which has a positive effect on delays. And it ensures that the SSD will not slow down due to a large number of simultaneous requests. nine0003

It’s hard to say whether the availability of dedicated DRAM can be called a critical criterion when choosing one or another modern SSD. This question has been hotly debated in the forums for many years. On the technical side, DRAM really gives TLC NAND-based consumer SSDs an edge over non-dedicated memory solutions. Another question is whether the user will feel it or not. The difference should be visible not only in benchmarks, it should subjectively affect the user’s feelings. The solution through the host-system memory («host memory buffer», HMB) has long been an alternative to dedicated DRAM, and in the case of the WD_Black SN770, this is exactly what is implemented. 64 MB of memory is allocated as a cache for storing the table. nine0003

Western Digital uses SLC cache to speed up write performance on the WD_Black SN770 despite the latest BiCS5 NAND. In our empty SSD stress test, we got the fastest write speed, but after about 80 seconds (after 350 GB!) it plummeted to typical SATA levels. But do not forget that at the end of the SSD was already a third full of data, so the performance is quite decent. nine0003

If we run the same test with an SSD 80% full, the picture changes. The WD_Black SN770 again showed a high write speed for a short time, but after 20 seconds (that is, after writing 85 GB), the performance dropped rapidly. Based on this test, we would not draw far-reaching conclusions about the performance of the new BiCS5 NAND, yet the SN770 is a budget SSD.

nine0002 Western Digital doesn’t show any weaknesses in the five-year warranty period, but the same can’t be said about the maximum TBW write load. Of course, you should not assume that after the exhaustion of TBW, the drive will fail, but the warranty will end. Western Digital continues its tradition, the TBW load is identical to the WD850 on BiCS4 NAND, despite using more modern memory. Yet other manufacturers give more.

Max. write load


9003 TB

900 TB 900 TB

400 TB 800 TB 1.6 PB 3.2 PB
TeamGroup T -Force Cardea A440 700 TB
Crucial MX500 100 TB 180 TB 360 TB 700 TB 1 PB
Seagate FireCuda 530 640 TB 1.275 TB 2, 55 PB 5.1 PB
Crucial P5 PLUS 300 TB 600 TB 1. 2 TB
Seagate Ironwolf Pro 125 SSD 435 TB

875 TB 1.75 PB 7 PB 700 TB 1,4 PB
Western Digital WD_Black SN850 300 TB 600 TB 1,2 PB
CORSAIR MP400 20020 TB 400 TB 800 TB — 1.6 PB
9002 90 TB
1,2 PB
Crucial P5 150 TB 300 TB 600 TB 1,2 PB
TeamGroup T-Force Cardea Zero Z340 380 TB 800 TB 1,66 PB
Samsung SSD 870 QVO 370 TB 720 TB  1, 44 — 2. 88 PB
Kioxia Exceria Plus 200 TB 400 TB 800 TB
Kioxia Exceria 100 TB 200 TB 400 TB
Intel Optane SSD 905p 8.76PB 17.52 PB 27.37 PB
Western Digital WD BLACK SN7500020 200 TB 300 TB 600 TB 1,2 PB
Samsung SSD 970 EVO PLUS 300 TB
Samsung 970 Pro 600 TB

1.2 PB

We recommend that we familiarize ourselves to the ssd. When choosing an SSD for a computer, you will have to deal with many technical subtleties: the specifications indicate the controller, interface, type of flash memory, reliability characteristics, and much more.