The release of Western Digital into the market of solid-state drives was held relatively recently. Earlier we already got acquainted with the solutions of the initial and middle level in the person of Green PC SSD 240GB and Blue PC SSD 250GB. Now it’s time to test a more advanced offer, aimed primarily at enthusiasts – WD Black PCIe SSD in a version of 256 GB.
Hard drives of Black series in due time have won fame of one of the fastest and most productive HDDs on the mass market of information storage systems. This imposes on the beginner a certain amount of expectations from buyers who similarly expect to get the fastest SSD for the sane amount of money.
On paper, the WD Black PCIe SSD feature set looks very attractive. We have an SSD with initial support for the prospective NVMe protocol and a PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection interface, the data transfer speed of which reaches 2050 MB / s for reading and 800 MB / s for writing. Pricing policy, as for such a class of devices, pleasantly pleases and the basic version of 256 GB in the United States can be purchased for $ 109. Somewhat alarming is the fact that TLC NAND circuits are used as flash memory, which means that we are dealing with a “pseudo-SLC” buffer, but about everything in order.
The drive is supplied in a medium-sized cardboard box. The spread contains information on the exact name of the model, the amount of available space, serial number, date and country of production. Through an uncomplicated scheme, Western Digital does not forget to remind that it is optimal to create a “perfect” PC using a combination of fast SSD and a reliable HDD, which can also be selected from a wide range of devices from the American brand.
The delivery set is not available as such. Inside the box, the user will find only the drive itself, fixed in a plastic blister to protect against damage during transportation.
The first thing that catches your eye after unpacking is the minimum size of the review hero. Being made in the form factor M.2 2280, its dimensions are 22x80x2.23 mm, and the weight is only 7.2 grams. Against the background of the classic 2.5-inch SSD, it looks just tiny.
For the speed response controller Marvell 88SS1093, which was developed specifically for working with PCI-E 3.0 and NVMe, and 15-nanometer TLC NAND memory production SanDisk, with a guaranteed recording capacity of 80 TB in the younger model. All the chips managed to be placed on one side, as a result of which the rear part remained completely empty.
Interestingly, if you delve into the list of technologies supported by WD Black PCIe SSD, then in addition to the usual garbage collection, you can also find mention of “complex algorithms for regulating thermal parameters and power management”. The fact is that among the fast drives in the M.2 format, the problem of strong heating during the load is quite common. She also did not pass our test copy. In the absence of additional blowing (standard tests in our case take place at an open stand), the WD Black PCIe SSD warmed up to 44 ° C in idle and up to 70 ° C during testing, which led to instability in the results obtained.
The installation of a 120-mm fan with a speed of 700 rpm allowed to normalize the temperature regime – the peak temperature during a long period of continuous recording was 41 ° C. Thus, anyone who thinks about buying an SSD in M.2 format, regardless of the brand, it is necessary to make sure that the used PC case is sufficiently ventilated.
As a system drive used solid-state drive ADATA SX900 256GB, which was connected to the chipset channel SATA 6Gb / s. The paging file and hibernation mode were disabled for the duration of the tests. The RAM worked in 2400 MHz mode with delays of 14-15-15-35-1T. On a solid state drive, the standard MS Windows 10 64-bit tools created a logical partition with the NTFS file system and standard cluster settings, occupying all available disk space. For WD Black PCIe SSD, the cleaning of the Windows record cache buffer was disabled. The following programs and methods were used to measure productivity:
Copy a set of 10 GB files.Since testing was conducted on a new system, the number of rivals this time was limited. We re-tested the WD Blue PC SSD and the WD Green PC SSD, as well as the fastest SSD that has been before in our lab – Kingston HyperX Predator SSD. In terms of price per gigabyte of available space, the review’s hero was cheaper than Kingston’s solution, although it outperforms it by most factory specifications. If we look at the US market, where the WD Black PCIE SSD is already available, its price is comparable to the top models of solid-state drives with a SATA 6Gb / s connection interface, such as, for example, Samsung 850 Pro.
As mentioned above, the use of TLC NAND memory means having a “pseudo-SLC” buffer, the volume of which in WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB is slightly more than three gigabytes. This is a bit by modern standards and in the market you can find a sufficient number of models with a more capacious buffer. After filling it, the recording speed drops from a maximum of 700 MB / s to a noticeably more modest 220 MB / s.
Even worse is when copying a large volume of real files. After a short time, the recording speed is limited to a range of 100 to 120 MB / s.
It remains not completely understandable the logic of engineers and marketers WD, who decided to equip the top solution in its line of SSD inexpensive TLC-memory. Installing a more productive MLC NAND memory would circumvent the aforementioned problems with sagging performance, increase the lifespan of the device, and not have a significant impact on its retail value. Especially considering the takeover of SanDisk, which Western Digital completed at the end of 2016.
In classic synthetic benchmarks, the WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB demonstrates high results, which correspond, and somewhere even exceed, the stated basic characteristics. The maximum linear speed recorded by the CrystalDiskMark utility was 2142 MB / s for reading and 715.2 MB / s for writing. The SSD also proved to be successful when working with 4K units, where data processing took place at a speed of 48.66 / 154.9 MB / s. Full disk loading information partially affects the reading results, reducing them to a mark of 1519 MB / s. The TRIM command is executed without any delay.
In comparison with the competitors, the WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB took the lead in six subtests of eight, bypassing only Kingston HyperX Predator SSD in terms of the maximum recording speed.
A similar situation was repeated in the ATTO Disk Benchmark. The gap between the “classic” SSD WD Blue PC SSD and WD Green PC SSD is 348%, which fully demonstrates the difference in bandwidth between the SATA 6 Gbps and PCIe Gen3 x4 connection interfaces.
In AS SSD Benchmark, the main battle took place between WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB and Kingston HyperX Predator SSD. It is noteworthy that the hero of the review failed to demonstrate the maximum speed in linear reading operations, as a result of which he lost the product from Kingston with a record of 1326 MB / s. The response time of the disk subsystem is at a good level and is 0.033 ms and 0.066 msec, respectively.
The number of IOPS varies considerably depending on the type of operation being performed. The result in 56117 I / O operations per second during recording was more than twice as fast as the declared level. The reason lies in the fact that WD has not yet released a separate NVM-driver for its devices, and the standard driver in Windows 10 uses FUA (Force Unit Access) commands that prohibit data buffering when they are written. To minimize this effect, we disabled the cleaning of the Windows record cache buffer, but in certain applications it is still possible to see a decrease in SSD performance.
The speed of copying of different types of files was from 457.2 MB / s for the smallest of the Game subtest, to an impressive 1132 MB / s for the whole ISO image.
The review hero copes well with both compressible and incompressible data, which is confirmed by the Anvil’s Storage Utilities test. Unlike Kingston HyperX Predator SSD, the results of the WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB proved to be very dense. Their total spread does not exceed 2%.
The presence of the “SLC buffer” nevertheless made itself felt in the simulation of the everyday tasks of the disk subsystem, which the Storage application from the Futuremark PCMark 8 test suite simulates. The WD Black PCIe SSD took second place in terms of average throughput. At the same time, the final figure of 331.58 MB / s exceeds the results of all SSD with the SATA 6Gb / s connection interface tested earlier in our laboratory. Maximum speed in this test was recorded in the drive Samsung SSD 850 Pro 256GB and was 275.42 MB / s. More affordable models, such as the WD Blue SSD 256GB, are limited to a much more modest 200 MB / s.
In most disciplines, a newbie from WD dominates the younger brethren and falls short of Kingston HyperX Predator SSD. Best of all, the disc has proved itself in Adobe Photoshop CC and Microsoft PowerPoint applications.
Completed the series of tests copying a test set of files. The structure of the set corresponds to the average statistical content stored on its drives by an ordinary user: video files – 4 GB; Audio files -1 GB; Photos in .raw and .jpeg formats – 2 GB; PDF, fb2, Microsoft Office package files – 3 GB.
The results are quite natural. The low copy speed outside the SLC buffer does not allow to compete fully with the models based on MLC NAND, even despite the support for the NVMe protocol and the presence of a faster connection interface for the WD Black PCIe SSD. The larger the volume of continuously copied data – the less difference there will be with most inexpensive 2.5-inch models of the middle and initial price segment.
Launching its fastest line of solid-state drives – Black, Western Digital Company equipped the novelty with an ultra-fast PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection interface and implemented support for the prospective access protocol NVMe. In total, this provided the WD Black PCIe SSD with a high level of performance, typical for the top models in the segment for enthusiasts. At the same time, the price of a beginner at the start of sales will be noticeably lower than popular competitive models such as Kingston HyperX Predator SSD, Samsung 960 Pro and Samsung 960 EVO.
At the same time, one can not help mentioning a “fly in the ointment”, which was the memory of the standard TLC NAND and the lack of a proprietary NVMe-driver at the time of product launch. The last developers of WD, most likely, will fix already in the near future.