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Western Digital Black & SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB M.2 Review (Page 1)

Western Digital Black & SanDisk Extreme Pro 1TB M.2 Review

Built from the ground up, Western Digital's newest NVMe SSDs are set to challenge for the consumer NAND storage performance crown.

By Jon Coulter from Apr 5, 2018 @ 7:00 CDT
TweakTown Rating: 99%Manufacturer: Western Digital



After seeing the writing on the wall, Western Digital made the decision to go all-in with the NAND revolution by acquiring SanDisk and the fab access that comes with it. Western Digital still leads the world in mechanical storage and plan to continue forward with mechanical storage, but now the world's largest storage company is getting serious about NAND-based storage devices.

To this point, Western Digital has released some excellent SATA-based SSDs but fallen horribly short on the consumer NVMe front. Case-in-point would be their first generation Black Series NVMe SSD. That is an SSD that never should have been taken to market. But, as of today that's old news because Western Digital is launching their second generation WD Black NVMe SSD Series and the SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe SSD Series. As you will see, these SSDs do not disappoint.


The WD Black and the SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe are identical pieces of hardware. They perform identically, even the firmware is the same. The only difference is between the two is branding. The WD Black NVMe will be geared toward gamers, the Extreme Pro NVMe toward professionals.

For the past two years, Western Digital has been working behind the scenes to develop their own NVMe controller.


Western Digital's NVMe architecture is developed in-house from controller to NAND. Western Digital's new modular NVMe ASIC (controller) is designed with scalable future-ready features in mind, making it fast and easy to implement new storage features as they come down the pipeline.

The next-gen WD Black and Extreme Pro NVMe SSDs are designed with power and thermal efficiency in mind.


After much research, Western Digital's engineering team decided that the most efficient location for their ASIC was near the center of the PCB instead of right next to the edge connector like we typically see. This provides for better thermal efficiency and at the same time more efficient trace paths to the NAND packages. Additionally, the new NVMe SSDs from Western Digital are fully NVMe 1.3 compliant providing for class-leading power efficiency.

Western Digital NVMe Architecture for consumers is designed from the ground up for Gaming and for Creative Professionals with the following features:


Hardware accelerated architecture that reduces CPU cycles by relying on more on hardware features and less on firmware. nCache 3.0 providing up to 500K random 4K read IOPS. Multi-Geared LDPC and hardware ECC providing full SRAM and DRAM bit correction. M.2 single-sided design for high host-platform compatibility.

Western Digital's Hardware Accelerated Architecture enables low power and low command latency for maximum efficiency.


Hardware automated sequencers maximize hardware acceleration and minimize CPU processing providing a more efficient data path for fast data streaming. The NVMe hardware module provides fast command processing. The firmware executes non-performance critical tasks including Admin command processing. The Flash Translation Layer handles algorithm and hard exceptions handling.

Western Digital Tiered Caching improves performance and burst access:


Western Digital's Tiered caching first writes to dedicated SLC (nCache 3.0) blocks. If the dedicated SLC layer becomes full, the host writes directly to the TLC portion of the NAND array. To maintain high availability of SLC blocks, WD employs an aggressive SLC block evacuation policy of 50ms.

Western Digital ECC Architecture improves performance and read access:


Western Digital's multi-gear LDPC is built on in-house LDPC IP expertise. The multi-gear hardware LDPC engine consists of three "gears" that shift whenever required. Gear 1 provides high throughput and lower power consumption than BCH ECC. Gears 2 and 3 provide stronger error correction capabilities and are only used for high bit-error pages. Additional data protection is provided by hardware DSP, soft decode and XOR multi-page data recovery.

The WD Black NVMe SSD is available in 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB capacities on a single-sided M.2 2280 form factor. The SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe SSD is available in 500GB and 1TB capacities. Both the WD Black and the SanDisk Extreme Pro provide leading-edge performance with sequential read/write speeds of up to 3,400 MB/s and 2,800 MB/s.

Western Digital's NVMe SSDs pair WD's in-house NVMe controller with Western Digital's own BiCS 3 64-layer 3D flash. DDR3 DRAM is used in a 1MB to 1GB of flash ratio for table caching and ECC functions. Will Western Digital's newest offerings be able to challenge Samsung's mighty 960 Pro for flash-based performance supremacy? Let's find out.


WD Black NVMe & SanDisk Extreme Pro NVMe 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD

  • Sequential Read: up to 3,400 MB/s
  • Sequential Write: up to 2,800 MB/s
  • Max 4K Random Read Speed: up to 500,000 IOPS
  • Max 4K Random Write Speed: up to 400,000 IOPS
  • Endurance: up to 600 TBW
  • MTBF: 1.75 Million Hours
  • Warranty: 5-Year Limited Warranty
  • Software: SSD Dashboard, Acronis True Image


250GB (WD Black only) $119.99

500GB (both brands) $229.99

1TB (both brands) $449.99

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