WD Blue 3D And SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD Review

Conclusion

Samsung's 850 EVO came to market in the shadow of the 850 Pro and SanDisk Extreme Pro three long years ago. The EVO was one of the first TLC SSDs, but TLC-based products from other companies were just coming to market, and their poor performance hurt the perception of the new NAND. The two Pro products went on to create a new hyper-class of high-performance products that have yet to be rivaled, but the 850 EVO became the mainstream standard. The EVO's performance was an obvious advantage, but Samsung spent the last three years adjusting its price based on competition. When companies lower their mainstream SSD pricing to gain market share, Samsung swoops in and adjusts EVO pricing to just a few dollars more. That makes it easy for users to splurge a little for the 850 EVO and leaves other SSD manufacturers frustrated.

The song and dance has played on for three years now. As an SSD reviewer, I've felt it was time to change the channel for quite some time. We don't have anything against Samsung or the EVO; it's just more fun to write about new products that leap over previous products every few months. 

The Western Digital Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D are the first products we've seen that put a real dent in the 850 EVO's dominance. The new drives are not quite as fast as the EVO, but they are very close. I think they are just a firmware update or two away. Neither company mentioned performance-boosting firmware updates, but companies are always turning knobs in the test lab to squeeze every drop of performance out of their designs. For now, the Blue 3D and Ultra 3D are close enough that we need to look past the raw performance to compare these products.


WD Blue 3D 2.5-Inch

Samsung 850 EVO

250GB

$99.99

$105

500GB

$164.99

$165

1TB

$279.99

$340

2TB

$549.99 (SanDisk Ultra 3D Presale)

$700

Pricing is our second level of comparison. Most products don't even make it to this stage due to performance related issues. The new BiCS SSDs have an advantage, but it's capacity dependent. We tested the new 1TB capacities. The WD Blue 3D retails for just $279.99, so there is a sizable difference between it and the $340 (or more, depending on the reseller) 850 EVO 1TB. B&H doesn't list the Blue 3D 2TB, but the retailer has a pre-sale price of $549.99 for the SanDisk Ultra 3D 2TB. That's also much lower than the $700 850 EVO 2TB.

We haven't tested the other Blue/Ultra capacities, but plan to in the future. For now, we can say we really like the 1TB models from Western Digital and SanDisk. We expect similar levels of performance with the usual performance reduction for lower capacities. The drives offer an excellent mix of sequential and random performance, but most of all they are not like 99% of the TLC-based products on the market. During heavy mixed sequential workloads in steady state, they don't perform like any other SATA SSD we've tested in the last three years.

When you put the two together, you have the best overall value going, at least as far as SATA SSDs are concerned. The Western Digital Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D 1TB are the new go-to drives for system builds. The 2TB models could be an even better value if performance is similar.

The Western Digital Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D are exactly what the market needs to see from next-generation 3D TLC technology. You can get an MLC user experience at a competitive price point without feeling like you made a compromise.

You will just have to search for the lowest price between the two products. Initial observations show the WD branded drives may cost less than the SanDisk models based on one large reseller's listings.

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16 comments
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  • Ne0Wolf7
    Perfect timing or me, my SSD has only 20GB left. I wonder if we'll see and price changes soon...
  • AgentLozen
    Great review. You guys must think pretty highly of these SSDs if you're giving them the Editor's Choice award.

    A SSD that's a close competitor to the 850 EVO has been a long time coming. It's good to see that it's coming from Western Digital. When the Blue SSDs first came around, i recall that their prices were waaaay to high. WD has gotten it sorted out since then. Great for competition. Great for buyers.
  • hannibal
    Yep... Good year!
    CPU competition is back because of AMD and ssd competition is coming back because of these and some other new SSDs!
    Intel is going to the right direction (at last have to say, by releasing more cores to customers) I am quite sure that Samsung also have to react, so quite soon we will see better products also from there!
  • Brian_R170
    I just bought an Acer Spin 3 last week for my wife on Aug 7. All reviews said the laptop was good, but disk performance was abysmal, and they were right. I swapped out the 1TB Seagate 5400 RPM mechanical drive with a 1TB WD Blue on Aug 10. The difference was huge, but no way to directly compare to other SSDs. I didn't know much about the drive before purchasing, but I got a really good price on it. I was hoping I didn't make a mistake. This article puts my mind at ease.
  • Randall_Lind
    I have two WD blues 512gb one not sure they are 3D ones for a Acer laptop and HP all-in-one. The acer one life is down to 98% brought it 2/23/16. The other one is 100% brought 3/9/17/. I know Why cry over 2% but this worries me about how long it will last. if I lose 2% a year seems like a lot to me. I am using the WD SSD dashboard software. This is how I know.
  • Brian_R170
    @RANDALL_LIND, I'm fairly certain WD/Sandisk wasn't shipping 3D NAND in Feb 2016
  • Sakkura
    2487549 said:
    I have two WD blues 512gb one not sure they are 3D ones for a Acer laptop and HP all-in-one. The acer one life is down to 98% brought it 2/23/16. The other one is 100% brought 3/9/17/. I know Why cry over 2% but this worries me about how long it will last. if I lose 2% a year seems like a lot to me. I am using the WD SSD dashboard software. This is how I know.


    If your SSD loses 2% of its rated write endurance over the course of 18 months, that means it has enough write endurance for around 75 years of use.

    Do you expect to be using your current SSDs well beyond the year 2090?
  • NinjaNerd56
    I use a WD SSD in my server farm; excellent results.

    My Christmas present to myself this year will be a 1TB or 2TB WD Blue for my game tower.

    Woo hoo!
  • wifiburger
    meh i passed on 3d ssd, i did get the wd black x4 pcie (2000 MB a sec )and wd blue ssd sata, good thing the ryzen mobo as two m.2 slots ?? less cables in my case
  • the nerd 389
    @RANDALL_LIND, 2% is nothing, really. I'd only start to be concerned at 10-15% per year. I edit videos. I can eat through 10% in a couple of months. This is not the drive for me.

    @Chris: Do you think you could present the variance/standard deviation for the performance consistency section? The 10%, 1%, and 0.1% transfer rates in steady state may also be useful, although perhaps not for this drive in particular.
  • tshinhar
    At long last ssd that is not junk next to the 850 evo
  • lucas_7_94
    Wow, great value!
  • Vesi
    OK we understand, Western Digital dropped some serious sponsorship money to Tom's, but in real life numbers don't add up. Even you said it, they still don't match EVO's performance. Possible future firmware tweaking, that has no other source than imagination is rather silly argument. And hey, here are the lowest prices for 2TB in Europe:
    1) WD Blue 3D = 620 eur.
    2) SanDisk Ultra 3D = 609 eur.
    3) 850 EVO = 571 eur.
  • Sakkura
    1878798 said:
    OK we understand, Western Digital dropped some serious sponsorship money to Tom's, but in real life numbers don't add up. Even you said it, they still don't match EVO's performance. Possible future firmware tweaking, that has no other source than imagination is rather silly argument. And hey, here are the lowest prices for 2TB in Europe: 1) WD Blue 3D = 620 eur. 2) SanDisk Ultra 3D = 609 eur. 3) 850 EVO = 571 eur.


    The performance does match up. If you look through the graphs, the WD/Sandisk drives frequently beat the 850 Evo, but also lose some. Overall they're about on par.

    As for pricing, you can usually expect the price to be a bit high at launch, then falling gradually over the following weeks.

    Because SSD prices change a lot over time, I generally think it's best to ignore the value for money conclusions in SSD reviews, because the conclusion would have to be updated daily to really remain relevant.
  • CRamseyer
    Two things....

    1. I don't check EU prices. I simply don't know where people shop across the pond. If you want to offer some suggestions please feel free to do so. Most of my writing takes place before the products hit the websites so for a majority of the reviews it wouldn't help.

    2. I don't know who pays TH. It's none of my business. I'm as far away from that end of the business as I can be. No one calls me to say, "Be cool to WD this week."

    Everyone that knows me also knows I would find a new site to write at if that happened. Please don't lob accusations that you can't back up.


    As far as future firmware updates. If you own a Sandisk Ultra, Ultra II, Extreme, Extreme Pro or any number of other products from this team then you have updated the firmware at some point with Dashboard and experienced a performance increase. There isn't an update guarantee but the historic record leads us to believe there is a good chance of it.
  • ron baker
    ?So how much are Samsung rinsing us if they can afford to drop their prices at will.. its good to see wd finally getting their act together wrt SSD's. Will hold back for all the old stock to be flushed out b4 possibly buying....