For years, we've been hoping for legitimate competition to challenge the supremacy of Samsung's mighty 850 series SATA III SSDs. To date, nothing powered by TLC flash has been to step up to the table. In-fact, really nothing that is MLC powered has been able to outperform Samsung's 850 EVO series, except for the 850 Pro and even then, it is questionable which is the faster drive. The closest we've come so far with a TLC powered SSD is Intel's 545s which is powered by Intel's second generation 64-layer 3D TLC flash.
Western Digital became the parent company of SanDisk after wholly acquiring SanDisk back in May of 2016. Western Digital wanted fab-level access to flash and acquiring SanDisk gives them that. Today, Western Digital is taking a stab at the SATA III performance crown with the release of their WD Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D 1TB SATA III SSDs. The Blue 3D and the Ultra 3D, like their names suggest, are both powered by 3D flash. These are the first 3D flash powered SSDs to hit retail channels from either company, or the same company depending on how you want to look at it.
The similarities run deep between the two SSDs we have on the bench today. In-fact the only difference between the two is the manufacturer's label. Both the Blue 3D and the Ultra 3D, are powered by the same BiCS 3 64-layer 3D flash. As the hardware goes, they are indeed identical. Same controller, same flash array, and the same performance specifications. Even the firmware seems to be identical. Both SSDs are powered by Marvell's hugely popular 88SS1074 4-channel controller.
The inherent properties of 3D flash, give these 3D-flash powered SSDs many advantages over their planar siblings - including higher sustained write performance, increased endurance, and lower power consumption. Western Digital states that both the Blue 3D and Ultra 3D SSDs feature 25% less active power draw than their planar-based predecessors. With less power used you're able to work longer before having to recharge your laptop or other portable devices.
The WD Blue 3D and the SanDisk Ultra 3D 1TB SSDs both have excellent performance specifications and excellent price points. They are both priced well below their 850 EVO equivalent. It seems Samsung has taken notice of this and responded by dropping the price of their 850 EVO series SSDs. However, as it stands currently, the 850 EVO 1TB will cost you about 10% more than a 1TB Blue 3D or Ultra 3D, according to Newegg pricing ($330 vs. $300).
As stated earlier, we have been waiting for years for a TLC-based contender to rise and challenge Samsung's venerable 850 EVO in terms of performance. Is that day finally upon us? Let's dive in and see for ourselves.
The two 1TB models we have on the bench today sport the following specifications:
- Sequential Read: up to 560 MB/s
- Sequential Write: up to 530 MB/s
- Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 95,000 IOPS
- Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 84,000 IOPS
- Endurance: 400TBW
- MTTF: 1.75 Million Hours
- Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty
- Avg. Active Power: 52-60mW
- DEVSLP 4.9-9.7mW
- Garbage Collection
- Software: SSD Toolbox, Acronis Migration Software
Availability: Currently selling at retail outlets.
Both the WD Blue 3D and the SanDisk Ultra 3D are available in capacities ranging from 250GB on up to 2TB. The WD Blue 3D is available in an M.2 x 2280 form factor as well as the conventional 2.5" x 7mm SATA III form factor. The SanDisk Ultra 3D is only available as a 2.5" form factor SSD. Looking at the spec sheet provided to us, we see that performance doesn't drop off by much at the smaller 250GB capacity point; which is encouraging to see.
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- Page 1 [Introduction, Specifications, Pricing & Availability]
- Page 2 [Drive Details]
- Page 3 [Test System Setup and Properties]
- Page 4 [Synthetic Benchmarks – ATTO & Anvil's]
- Page 5 [Synthetic Benchmarks – CDM & AS SSD]
- Page 6 [Benchmarks (OS) - Vantage, PCMark 7, PCMark 8 & SYSmark 2014 SE]
- Page 7 [Benchmarks (Secondary) – IOPS, Response & Transfers]
- Page 8 [Benchmarks – 70/30 Mixed Workload & Sustained Sequential Write]
- Page 9 [Maxed-Out Performance (MOP)]
- Page 10 [Final Thoughts]