Overall and Final Verdict
Now that I have taken a look at the WD Blue SN550 and have run it through our benchmark suite we have learned a few things about Western Digital's newest drive. In a lot of ways, the SN550 is very similar to the SN500, especially aesthetically. The blue PCB goes great with the WD Blue theme and the only big change for looks was them moving the NAND down to the end of the drive to keep it away from the heat generated by the controller. As far as styling goes, both of the WD Blue drives have to be the best looking drive that doesn’t have a crazy looking heatsink on top and they did it without sticking a big sticker on over everything.
As for performance with the SN550 now running over a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface over the x2 that the SN500 had performance improved significantly, edging up close to the high-end PCIe 3.0 drives, especially in simpler tests like pure sequential transfer speed. There were a few tests where the older SN500 was still faster, but most had that big performance jump. Being a DRAM-Less design, like with the SN500, was the main thing holding the SN550 back. The addition of a 1TB option was huge, the SN500 was limited in capacity and I think the 1TB capacity is important for a mid-range drive, making this a good option for storing game installs or for a scratch drive when doing video or photo production. The higher capacity means you can use it for video storage as well, but the budget pricing and high transfer speeds make it ideal for a scratch drive as well.
Or course the pricing will make or break the WD Blue SN550 and here is the breakdown. The 1TB SN550 has an MSRP of $99.99, the 500GB is $64.99, and the 250GB is $54.99. The drives aren’t available on Amazon or Newegg yet so I can only go off of the pricing on the Western Digital website. But right now on Newegg when looking at other M.2 drives at 1TB in capacity and that are PCIe x4 there is only one drive at a similar price and it isn’t from a name you would know. The same goes for the 500GB model, though there is an XPG model at $70 on sale right now that would make me consider spending more. But the 250GB model is priced high. There are a lot of drives that are cheaper with similar or better performance including even an RGB model and some of them even include a DRAM buffer. This means my recommendation of the WD Blue SN550 as a good value only applies to the two higher capacity models.
Live Pricing: HERE