The Western Digital Black line of products has been around for years and it has always been reserved for WDs fastest consumer products. So two years ago they introduced their first NVMe drive and then last year WD refreshed that same model to an even faster design. The refresh caused some confusion though because the model name didn’t change so you will find that labeled as the WD Black NVMe 2018. Well, they haven’t been leaving things alone. WD has a new NVMe drive but this time to prevent confusion they have added a model number. So the new drive is called the WD Black SN750. This is also going along with a new push for the Black line to be their gaming lineup, so today I’m going to check out the new drive and see what is different and how it performs. Last years model was already fast, so it will be interesting to see if they managed to improve on that at all.
Product Name: WD Black SN750
Review Sample Provided by: Western Digital
Written by: Wes Compton
Pictures by: Wes Compton
Amazon Affiliate Link: HERE
Photos and Features
Right off the bat, you can see that the WD Black SN750 has a new look for the packaging. This is part of the push for the Black line to be more gaming focused. The box is all black and then in the background, they have WD Black in a gloss black then on top of that is a large photo of the all black M.2 drive. In other words, the box is more an example of how to use different finishes while sticking with the Johnny Cash all black look. They did put the estimated read speed here and they have the drive capacity up in the top corner. Our sample is a 1TB model just like the previous WD Black. Around on the back of the box, there is a lot more… black. There is another picture of the drive and mostly just the same stuff that you could see on the front. They do mention the 5-year warranty back here and that the drive uses 3D NAND. There is also a window that gives us a look at the drive itself in the box so the serial number can be seen and scanned.
Inside the box, the drive comes in a clear plastic tray with another tray over top of it. Then for documentation, they did include a bundle of papers tapped together. This includes a list of support contact numbers and more information on the warranty in multiple languages.
aesthetics for M.2 drives can be extremely limited. They aren’t like SATA SSDs where you could change the casing design. The basic drive here still has to fit the same form factor and when it comes to laptops that includes thickness so even adding a headspreader or heatsink isn’t always an option. But WD is actually going that direction for the SN750 in the near future. They have a heatsinked design of this exact drive coming this spring and they worked with EKWB on the design. But for now, the non-heatsink design basically has two things that can be done for aesthetics. You can change the PCB color which WD has already gone with black on this and previous M.2 black drives for obvious reasons. The other option is the sticker that goes on top. The previous WD Black’s sticker was similar to the old box with a mostly black design but with white trim. They changed things up here with an all black sticker as well as the new WD_BLACK logo. It still has all of the other info you need like the model and serial number barcodes as well as the model name and capacity. But it is all toned down in a grey with just a few things in the brighter white.
The WD Black SN750 is a single sided drive so the back of the drive has nothing at all going on other than the flat black PCB.
Let's pull that sticker off and have a look under it to see what all the SN750 has going on. The layout is exactly the same as the 2018 WD Black. You have the NAND chips on both ends. Then the smaller chip 2nd from the left DRAM and the controller is to the right of that. In fact, I pulled up a picture of the last years model and I couldn’t find anything different with the PCB as well, other than the U16 label is moved and the U1 label is missing altogether. There are a few resisters at the controller that are moved a hair closer to the controller as well.
But let's take a closer look at the chips to see what WD went with. The DRAM is the same SK Hynix DDR4 running at 2400MHz H5AN8G6NAFR is there to handle the address translation table. The controller looks to be the same SanDisk 20-82-007011 controller that is made in house that was used last year. Then for the NAND, it has SanDisk branding with a model number of 06560 or 8456DVGNQ0Q3. The 06560 is the same designation as the previous WD Black. The NAND on our 1TB sample has the same 512GB capacity per chip as well. Now the WD Black SN750 does have a 2TB model coming out and that specific model has 1TB NAND chips to keep the drive a single-sided design.
Test Rig and Procedures
Test System (with affiliate links)
Motherboard: MSI MPG Z390 Gaming Plus
CPU: Intel i9-9900K
Cooling: Noctua NH-U12S for cooling
Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Paste
Storage: Kingston A1000 960GB M.2 SSD
Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti
Power Supply: Corsair TX750M
Case: Dimastech Test Bench
Before jumping into testing, I did want to address the different models of the WD Black SN750 that are available. The SN750 is going to be available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. Today for launch the 2TB model is not available, it is estimated to be coming out in February. Then on top of that, there are all of those same capacities that will be available with a heatsink as well once that comes out, right now they just have that listed as Spring. Today I am testing the 1TB model. Keep in mind that the capacity does play a role in the speeds. For example on read speeds, the 500GB and 1TB both have the same read speed listed (in sequential performance not random), but the 1TB has a faster write speed and both are faster than the 250GB and 2TB models. I’ve also got a copy of the CrystalDiskInfo below to document the firmware version that I tested with.
To start off the testing I went with what everyone loves to see, sequential read and write performance. For this, I went with CrystalDiskMark. The read results put the SN750 basically tied with last years model. The results for the 2018 model are a little higher than they advertised and at 3435MB/s the SN750 is just a touch below the 3475 that they estimated. Both are normal, but go to show you that there is some variation in testing as well as in drives themselves and the gap between last year and this year's drives is very close. That is to be expected though considering they both use the same controller and NAND with firmware updates being the main source of improvements. As for the write performance, well they did manage to improve things here going from 2800MB/s up to 3017MB/s, a nice jump on what was already good performance.
Rather than retest the same thing again in AS SSD, I really like the copy benchmark in AS SSD which copies three different file types and times them. I’ve combined all three results together to get a more overall picture of performance. You can see that both of the WD drives are very fast but the SN750 gained a little in game file transfer times to be just slightly faster.
Next in Passmark’s Performance Test 9 I ran a few different tests. Using their advanced disk benchmark I ran a few business use simulations which try to replicate the file types you might see in business use. Both Web Server and File Server tests showed a big jump over the WD Black 2018 but all four results showed a similar results, those two just look more impressive when compared next to the others. I also tested using their built-in Disk Mark test which tests sequential read and writes as well as random seek and rewrite performance to put together an overall score. Given the big jump, we saw before in sequential writes it wasn’t a surprise that the SN750 model jumped up well ahead of last years model and faster than the other drives tested.
For random read and write performance, I did two tests. I took a look at the results in Anvil’s Storage Utility with both read and write at a queue depth of 16. The WD Black SN750 performed similarly to the 2018 WD Black in read IOPS here but its write IOPS really jumped up from 398,829 to 450,060. But I also added in another test for random IOPS performance. I went back to CrystalDiskMark and took a look at random IOPS with their 8 queue depth in 8 threads test. This is similar to the Anvil test but with 8 tests run at the same time to. Here you can see that the random read IOPS jump up significantly over the other test. The WD Black SN750 is a little faster here on reads and much faster on writes.
My last benchmarks were back in Anvil’s Storage Utility where I wanted to look at random read and write transfer rates at different queue depth levels. Here I started at 1 and doubled up the queue depth over and over. For read performance, all of the drives start in the same range and both of the WD Black drives are lower at the start but catch up at a queue depth of 2 and then really get rolling from there. Both WD Drives stick with each other up until the last test at a queue depth of 128 where the new WD Black SN750 pulls ahead. With writes, things are a little different. For starters, the Intel 750 series is much faster at the low queue depths here. Both WD Black drives are slower once again early on but you can see at a queue depth of 8 they jump away from the other drives. We can also see where WD made improvements with the write performance. Both drivers were closer in performance until the higher queue depths were the SN750 pulled ahead and the 2018 model actually drops in performance slightly.
While testing I couldn’t ignore thermals. I ran the AIDA64 Stress Test on the SSD and got the thermal camera out to take a look. It wasn’t a big surprise that the controller was what was creating most of the heat. There was a little from the NAND and some on the DRAM but the controller was running 144.6F when under that load for a while. I wouldn’t consider this extremely hot, but it will be interesting to see how the heatsink model changes things.
Beyond all of the normal performance aspects, WD like a lot of the big names in SSDs does have software for their drive. With the new WD Black launch, WD has also updated their software to also reflect the new “gaming” focused look. In other words, their software now will recognize that you have the WD Black and switch to a black theme. So I wanted to take a quick look at their dashboard software and see what all it does.
So as you can see it does have that black with grey and more grey look. The landing page is the status tab and this lists off a lot of good info right out of the hole. You can see your capacity, in our case the drive was empty when I did this. It also lists the volumes and shows how full those are. That is different than your capacity btw. Capacity is the total drive, but volumes means partitions, in this case, I had just the one. They have a life meter bar that gives you an idea of how the drive life is and next to that they show the current temperature. Then next to that you can see the current connection as well as what the drive is capable of. This is huge in my opinion because some M.2 drives only have x2 PCIe lanes and this will let you know if you are connected slower than what the drive needs.
The next tab is a performance monitor that just shows transfer speeds and IOPS in real time. You can also use a link to open up windows performance monitor. That have similar shortcuts on the right on every page for other useful tools. Speaking of things that are on every page. Up top, you have the model name and a photo of the drive. With that, they show you any notifications and your firmware version. Then there is an orange Gaming Mode switch. Gaming mode turns off the low power state (PS4). The idea behind this is games which might not pull anything from the drive for a while won’t need as much time when they suddenly need to load another level or a new part of the map.
The tools tab has a few different options over on the left. The first one is the firmware update tab where you can check for them or using the drop down option to upload your own. There is a drive erase tool if you need to clear off the entire drive. Then from there, you can dive into the S.M.A.R.T information and other drive details. Most of which is what you would find using CrystalDiskMark, but all bundled into their one program.
The last tab other than help which is self-explanatory is the settings page. This is where you can click to check for an update to the dashboard software. You can also get into the options to let the program know if you want it to boot when windows starts.
Overall and Final Verdict
I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I heard about the WD Black SN750. They are obviously looking to set the WD Black brand more into the gaming market. Thankfully that didn’t mean throwing the word gaming on the drive or doing anything flashy like RGB lighting. In fact, Wester Digital did more of what they have done in the past. If the past Black drives are for gaming, the best way to go more gaming is more black right? I don’t know that it makes sense, but I love the idea and look that WD went with. The WD Black SN750 is all black and it looks great. Even cooler is the upcoming heatsinked version. Obviously, most laptop users won’t be able to use it, but pairing up with EKWB it is an amazing looking drive with the heatsink on it. Check it out!
But that drive is to be taken a look at this spring, for now, we have to focus on the WD Black SN750 1TB that we have in front of us. As far as performance goes, well it didn’t jump out ahead of the previous WD Black all that much. That is because it is basically the same hardware. WD made their improvements from what I can tell in the firmware. This did help especially on the write performance. High queue depth testing there showed a drop off last year but this year it kept going up. So while they may not be setting new records, the WD Black 2018 was fast and the WD Black SN750 is at its worst on par but was in most tests at least an improvement. I also can’t ignore the new naming as well. For the last drive, one of my complaints was that the drive naming was confusing, at the time they replaced the WD Black with the WD Black, the 2017 and 2018 designations weren’t added until later and only online not on the packaging. They fixed that this time by including a model number as well with the SN750 designation.
I actually only took a look at the WD Black 2018 7 months ago, but even then its pricing wasn’t that bad at the time. It was on par with the 970 Evo at the 1TB capacity and offered a nice value at 250 gigs. The first thing I noticed when WD gave the presentation on the SN750 was it was now priced at $249.99 where the same capacity was $399.99 just 7 months ago. So I was curious how it compared now. Well the Samsung 970 EVO and the WD Black SN750 go toe to toe on every single capacity this time around. Sadly the Amazon pricing for the SN750 hasn’t dropped down to their suggested pricing just yet. But once available it will depend completely on which brand you prefer. Like before, that 250GB drive which should now be $79.99 (eventually) will be a great way to get a fast NVMe drive into a budget build.
Live Pricing: HERE