Western Digital and manufacturing partner Toshiba have talked about the benefits of 96-layer TLC (BiCS4) for some time now. Toshiba just announced its second product to use the new memory, BG4, while Western Digital has largely ignored the new media's availability.
The new WD Black SN750 SSD uses the same BiCS3 64-layer TLC memory as the previous generation Black SSD and the same in-house controller. The company updated the product name with a differentiator finally, that's where the SN750 comes from. The new Black NVMe SSD also received new programming, essentially a firmware update, and snazzy graphics that should appeal to the eSports and millennial generation.
It's easy to swallow Western Digital using the same controller on the 2019 flagship SSD. With full controller of the design, it's easy to make significant changes from one release to the next and still see performance improvements. Samsung has used the Phoenix controller for a few product generations now, and it's even under the heat sink on the Optane competitor, 983 ZET, one of the fastest enterprise SSDs shipping today.
The flash is what we're stuck on. BiCS3 carries a bus speed of 400 to 533 MT/s. BiCS4, AKA 96L, improves bandwidth to 667 to 800 MT/s, the same bus speeds as Micron's impressive 64L TLC that powers SN750's strongest competitors.
The new Black is the third NVMe SSD to carry the name from Western Digital. The company changed the names in small ways for the first two models but largely advertised as The WD Black, just like the hard disk drives. To get around the confusing name, WD added the SN750 model number to the name.
The new series ships in four capacities from 250GB to 2TB with the largest shipping in February. The Black SN750 will arrive in two versions, the one we're testing today with a single-sided design and an enhanced model with a heat sink designed by EK. The enhanced version will not ship in the 250GB size.
Western Digital gave us an impressive presentation for the new heat sink enhanced model, but we will need to save that for another review due to the rapidly approaching embargo lift. More on that model when the drive arrives for testing.
The Black SN750 uses WD's custom in-house controller with new programming. This is the same controller first used on the Black released in 2018 and a series of OEM drives released around the same time. As we mentioned, WD also chose to use proven BiCS3 TLC memory with this series, like the previous release.
The new programming bumps performance up to 3,470 MB/s sequential reads for the 1TB model we are testing today and 3,000 MB/s sequential writes. Random performance increases to a smashing 515,000 IOPS read and 560,000 IOPS write. These numbers come from enterprise-derived tests under optimal conditions for testing rather than consumer-focused real-world workloads.
Pricing, Warranty, and Endurance
WD's flagship NVMe SSD carries a premium price. The Black SN750 starts at $79.99 for the 250GB model, and that moves steadily to $499.99 for the 2TB drive. The 500GB is a more affordable $129.99 and the 1TB model we're testing today costs $249.99. All pricing came from WD in the form of manufacturers suggested pricing, so we expect to see these drives a little lower at Amazon and Newegg.
This series carries a premium 5-year warranty and a generous endurance rating. The 250GB model comes with a 200 TBW warranty, more than most 256GB class SSDs shipping today. The 500GB only increases the endurance to 300 TBW, but that doubles with each model after to 600 TBW and 1,200 TBW.
With this release, Western Digital updated the graphic interface of the aging SSD Dashboard software. The new SN750 gets a unique feature with Dashboard in the form of a virtual toggle switch. The switch controls a feature called Game Mode.
Game Mode disables the drive's reporting to the operating system for power states 3 and 4, the low-power modes. When enabled, the drive advertises support for only PS0. At the same time, Game Mode eliminates the entrance of device side low-power states.
When an SSD moves into a lower power state, it needs to wake up before processing data. The deeper the sleep state, the longer it takes to wake up the device. The difference in this case is like a soldier standing at the read with a weapon in his hand as opposed to one in the mess tent having lunch.
The WD Dashboard is one of the more useful software tools. It also features a unique real-time performance monitor that we've yet to see in any other Toolbox like software. The usual tools and features, such as firmware updating, drive status and monitoring round out the suite. Another unique feature is the advertisements that scroll on the right side of the utility. We could do without this feature.
A Closer Look
We love the new look of the WD Black series. It's a modern twist on a historic flagship series with a strong following.
Inside the package, we found our drive secure in the form fitted plastic case. A paper manual that details the warranty contact information is also included.
The drive under the microscope today uses a single-sided design with one controller, one DDR4 and two NAND packages. All four capacities use the same single-sided design so it will work on the Lenovo Yoga and a handful of other notebooks that will not accept components on both sides due to size restraints.
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