Western Digital has only released a handful of consumer SSDs, so we have limited historical data. All of WD's SSDs came from its acquisitions of other companies. The Green, Blue, and Black SSDs come from the SanDisk team. None of the three previously released models have been a success story with our readers, but the Black PCIe is the first to break NVMe ground, so WD branded it as a high-performance product.
The Black PCIe is not the high-performance product we expected. Instead of diving in with a drive designed to compete with the Samsung 960 Series, WD went for the low hanging fruit and targeted the Intel 600p and other entry-level NVMe SSDs. The Black PCIe is only a "high-performance" SSD compared to other WD products. WD apparently didn't take the rest of the industry into account during the branding process.
SanDisk and WD are convinced that TLC flash is the future of consumer SSDs. Maybe it's because the analysts keep telling us that, or maybe it's simply wishful thinking. There is certainly a tide pushing the market to TLC, but users have never asked for neutered high-performance products with an extra bit that disables the high-performance gene in the SSD DNA. The TLC mutation, at least without 3D NAND technology to improve performance and endurance, is more of a cancer than a cure. To think otherwise is shortsighted.
With a stubborn unwillingness to utilize MLC flash in consumer products, and an inability to deliver 3D in a cost-effective manner, Western Digital only has marketing spin and pricing to fall back on. In time, the company will deliver BiCS 3D at a competitive price point, but it will be the last of the NAND flash fabs to do it in meaningful quantities.
Planar TLC NVMe SSDs may have made sense when SanDisk designed and set the Black in motion, but times change quickly. At this stage, without 3D NAND, TLC NVMe SSDs are like flea market knockoffs. They have the right labels (NVMe and PCI Express logo), but just because the arm has an "O," it doesn't mean they are real Oakley’s.
The MyDigitalSSD BPX is the wrench in the gears because it uses MLC flash and actually retails for less than the Black PCIe. In a 600p/Black-only world, the Black looks good, but it still has lower endurance and a higher price than the 600p 3D TLC SSD. It may simply be too soon for products like these--MLC isn't dead just yet.
Notebooks are the one area where the WD Black PCIe outshines all other low-cost NVMe products. The drive delivers superior battery life compared to the low-cost NVMe TLC competition. Business users that require eDrive or TGC encryption are still left in the cold with older SSDs like the Samsung 950 Pro or M.2 SATA products.
There were a number of paths available for Western Digital to make the Black PCIe a much better product, but the path it chose was like a slot car track--follow the leader and don't deviate. WD's Black will sell based on brand and name recognition, but there are other options available.
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