WD Black SN750 SSD Review: A Not so Fresh Refresh

Western Digital's new 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.

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.

Specifications

ProductWD Black SN750 250GBWD Black SN750 500GBWD Black SN750 1TBWD Black SN750 2TB
Pricing$79.99 $129.99 $249.99 $499.99
Capacity (User / Raw)250GB / 256GB500GB / 512GB1000GB / 1024GB2000GB / 2048GB
Form FactorM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-SidedM.2 2280 Single-Sided
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
ControllerWD NVMe ArchitectureWD NVMe ArchitectureWD NVMe ArchitectureWD NVMe Architecture
DRAMSK Hynix DDR4SK Hynix DDR4SK Hynix DDR4SK Hynix DDR4
MemorySanDisk 64-Layer TLCSanDisk 64-Layer TLCSanDisk 64-Layer TLCSanDisk 64-Layer TLC
Sequential Read3,100 MB/s3,470 MB/s3,470 MB/s3,400 MB/s
Sequential Write1,600 MB/s2,600 MB/s3,000 MB/s2,900 MB/s
Random Read220,000 IOPS420,000 IOPS515,000 IOPS480,000 IOPS
Random Write180,000 IOPS380,000 IOPS560,000 IOPS550,000 IOPS
EncryptionN/AN/AN/AN/A
Endurance200 TBW300 TBW600 TBW1,200 TBW
Part NumberHeatsink: WDS250G3XHC-00SJG, No Heatsink: WDS250G3X0C-00SJGHeatsink: WDS500G3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS500G3X0C-00SJGHeatsink: WDS100T3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS100T3X0C-00SJGHeatsink: WDS200T3XHC-00SJG; No Heatsink: WDS200T3X0C-00SJG
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years5-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 or hardware encryption. While many won’t use or even demand these features, that is a bit disappointing. Hardware-based encryption provides added security and performance benefits, while a secure erase feature allows you to quickly and safely remove all traces of personal data before reselling the drive.

Software

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

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.

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  • jstanleydodson
    So this drive beats the 1TB 970 Evo in performance, yet it is priced to high? I think it is priced perfectly given that it beats the Evo.
  • jimmysmitty
    Gaming mode on an SSD. Seems as useful as the turbo button on late 80s/early 90s PCs.
  • NinjaNerd56
    I bought one of these 2 years ago for a NUC server I was building.

    Yes, it ran 24 x 7 at 99% for 26 months but imagine my HAPPINESS when it went tits up at Xmas without warning.

    It’s golden brown, as in toast. The Samsung in another machine that’s 4.5 years old?

    Still kicking ass...

    YMMV, WAC, WSL......
  • vplatson
    Same crappy TLC NAND. Skip...
  • charleyed
    @VPLATSON What do you suggest we buy? What do you buy?
  • elbert
    WD manufactors their own Hard Drives and for those you can trust today. I would say reliability and over priced on the black edition. Pretty much all hard drives tho are over priced today. Now these SSD's aren't manufactured by WD and even if they were I would have a real worry of their reliability. Performances matters not when its low grade parts so I wouldn't pay nearly as much for those as say Samsung's or Crucial that have a proven track record in the SSD market.
  • modusoperandi00
    "...the handcrafted solid aluminum heatsink..."

    Artisinal SSDs?
  • poodie13
    Yes, I would agree "... handcrafted ..." is a ridiculous description of a mass production sub-component. Even for a "designer case" these days that would sound silly.
    And "...and an updated military-style font..."
    - Too much Marketing-Speak in this article but I it is just a trade announcement.
    : but we'll have to wait for it to pass through the lab to verify those claims :