The once exotic NVMe SSD is now fully mainstream. The average enthusiast has at least one, and OEMs are typically including them in their base products. When NVMe SSDs started to become affordable for the masses, the focus was all on sequential performance because showing off those big numbers to consumers is what sold drives.
With NVMe SSDs maturing in the marketplace and options galore, consumer focus is starting to veer away from expensive SSDs that deliver sequential eye candy. More and more, we are seeing consumers looking for value first and all-out performance secondarily. As we see it, value is not defined by price alone. A true value SSD must be low cost, have good endurance, and most importantly, provide an excellent user experience.
Our definition of user experience boiled down to its simplest form is latency under typical user states. This means those eye-popping sequential speeds we all see so boldly advertised mean very little in reality. Sequential performance rarely comes into play for the typical mainstream user. Things like booting, loading game levels, and typical consumer tasks are almost entirely dependent on low queue depth random performance.
An SSD that delivers exceptional user experience relative to its competition will always be an SSD that delivers low latency random performance at low queue depths. This is great news for those of us who are seeking exceptional value and uncompromising user experience. Now we can get both attributes from well-engineered value SSDs like Western Digital's newest offering, the WD Blue SN550.
An expensive 8-channel fire-breathing controller that serves up five gigabytes per second sequential speeds doesn't serve up random data at low queue depths any better than a well-engineered, cost-effective 4-channel controller. And now, even DRAM on the SSD is no longer required for exceptional user experience.
With these thoughts in mind, let's refocus on our test subject, the WD Blue SN550. We will go ahead and state upfront that we are of the opinion that WD's newest offering is the best overall value proposition currently available. As our testing will demonstrate, the SN550 1TB at 10 cents per gigabyte delivers a user experience that is better than many much more expensive SSDs.
The SN550 is the first SSD we've noticed that implements the newest NVMe 1.4 protocol. The new protocol may be some of the reason why this DRAMless SSD performs so exceptionally well with our 100GB transfer test.
The drive ships in familiar WD packaging. Unlike what we typically see, the WD Blue SN550 has very few components. Only a single flash package, controller, and a few SMC's on a single-sided design. Minimal components equate to minimal cost, usually at the sacrifice of performance, but not this time, as you will see.