WD Black SN850 SSD Review – Performance is King!

Western Digital’s WD Black PCIe SSDs had not just been on the market yesterday. With the SN850, the new flagship was recently presented, which should really put pressure on using PCIe 4.0. I looked at what’s on there using the 500GB model.

The important thing about the SN850 is, first of all, which model you choose, because, like its predecessor, it is available with or without a passive cooler. The model without a heat sink can be used more universally because an extra cooler’s installation height can, of course, disturb here and there. At the moment, it is still difficult to get a model with a cooler at all.

In terms of performance, however, it should hardly make a difference. I tested the model without a heat sink, and the performance is already extremely high. Since there is not much to say about the scope of delivery and the quality, we also go straight to performance.

WD advertises here with up to 7000MB / s reading and 5100MB / s writing. A prerequisite for this is, of course, a PCIe 4.0 slot, as PCIe 3.0 cannot achieve these data rates. Our AMD system is therefore used as a test system:

WD Black SN850 SSD Review

 WD Black SN850 SSD Review 2021

MainboardAsus X570 ROG Strix I-Gaming
CPUAMD Ryzen 3950X (16 x 3.5 GHZ, 4.7GHZ single-core boost)
R.A.M.HyperX Predator RGB Black 16GB Kit (2x8GB) DDR4-3200 CL16
GPUINNO3D GeForce RTX 2080 Super Twin X2
System driveCorsair MP600 500GB Force Series SSD M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4

In practice, the data rates specified by WD are not quite achieved, but this may also be due to our system. Here we are in regions where even the RAM and other components can slow down. It would help if you also kept in mind that the 1TB and 2TB models are probably even faster – at least according to other tests. The reason is that more memory modules also mean more parallel accesses.

Ultimately, however, we achieve top values. The CrystalDisc Mark reaches around 6500MB / s reading and 4200MB / s writing. AS SSD benchmark is traditionally a bit lower with almost 5800MB / s reading and 4000MB / s writing. For the older readers: that’s almost a whole DVD per second

WD Black SN850 SSD Review

But the results of the random read benchmarks are more interesting. Because these random access requests are what games, programs, and the operating system above all do. And here we are moving with 64kb block size on average somewhere around 2200MB / s, with a few drops to around 570MB / s. They are completely normal and do not matter. With larger files, the data rate then increases again immediately. In the QD1 benchmark, the WD Black SN850 is right at the top of all SSDs we tested. The only even faster drive in this discipline: The Intel Optane 905p SSD, which was in our Intel NUC Extreme test device. But here we are in a completely different area in terms of price.

WD Black SN850 SSD graph

There is no draft in our test system to cool the WD Black SN850, but that didn’t really bother it. It also put up with longer benchmarks without throttling. In idle, it was around 45-50 ° C, which is not exactly cool, and under load, the temperature rose to around 80 ° C. If you put it on and run extreme test scenarios, it can even crack the 90 ° C mark and then throttle – in practice, however, this should not happen if the WD Black SN850 is not used in a data center. With airflow in the case and possibly a heat sink, the temperatures shouldn’t be a problem even under extreme load.

Compared to our previous front-runner, the Corsair MP600 Force, WD has raised the bar very high here. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to test Samsung’s latest model, the SSD 980 PRO – from the tests known so far. However, it should be at least on par with the WD Black SN850.

WD Black SN850 SSD Review 2021

As a small bonus, WD also offers the WD Black Dashboard. A small tool that can be used to monitor the status of the SSD and activate Game Mode. Nice addition, but not really necessary either. As with its predecessor, Game Mode primarily affects that automatic standby is deactivated. This increases energy consumption but reduces the switch-on latency of the SSD in the event of sporadic access. In games, however, I couldn’t find any difference between activated and deactivated game mode. However, the advertising on the right is still a bit irritating.

Conclusion: WD Black SN850 SSD Review 2021

The price is on the same level as the competition. My test’s 500GB version currently costs around 130 €, which is not little for 500GB. In return, however, you also get what is currently technically possible. The Corsair MP600 Force is now a bit cheaper, but also slower – you can get the 500GB model for around 110 euros or even the 1TB version for 170 euros.

Compared to the predecessor, the increase in performance is hardly noticeable in everyday life. Games and large programs load slightly faster, but if you don’t have a direct comparison, you won’t notice this difference either. So if you prefer to be a little more economical, you can also use the WD Black SN750 without hesitation. But if you are looking for the ultimate in performance, the WD Black SN850 is the SSD of your choice.

WD Black SN850 SSD Review

Currently, it is, on average, the fastest SSD that we had in the test, so you can’t go wrong with it. Only if money really doesn’t matter will you find faster models. But I doubt whether they make a big difference in everyday life.

Overall, WD delivers well, and the WD Black SN850 can keep the promises made. There are no real weak points. The way: With its performance values, it should also be perfect as an internal extension for a PS5. As soon as the update has been released, we will, of course, test it immediately.

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