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WD Black SN850 2TB NVMe M.2 SSD Review

How do you make the current NVMe M.2 SSD performance leader even better? By doubling the capacity is how. Let's take a look.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Mon, Nov 23 2020 7:50 AM CST
Rating: 100%Manufacturer: Western Digital (WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0)

Introduction & Drive Details

Having just crowned the WD Black SN850 1TB as the best performing flash-based SSD we've ever tested, we of course are hungry for more. As in more of that class-leading performance with more capacity, and that's what this review is all about. We feel WD is in a great position as it relates to gaming. Games these days are hungry for capacity, with some requiring as much as 250GB each, and they are only going to get larger as time goes on. This is why we feel strongly that 2TB capacity is the current sweet spot for fast NVMe storage.

We feel that WD is in a strong position related to gaming for a couple of reasons. This is the first time that WD has something to offer that one of their main competitors and industry giant Samsung currently does not, a Gen4 SSD at a 2TB capacity point. In times past, it has always been Samsung at the forefront of capacity and speed, not anymore. Now we believe that WD has the upper hand as it relates to gaming. There is some stiff competition related to capacity coming from the Phison camp. Still, to date, there is nothing that can match the SN850 in terms of capacity, gaming performance, and overall user experience. Not yet, anyway.

The 2TB WD Black SN850, like all major brands except Phison, is slightly slower than its 1TB sibling. However, the performance drop at 2TB is minuscule as we see it and more than offset by having double the capacity. Additionally, and related to some of its competition's flagship performance offerings, the 2TB WD Black SN850 is a highly desirable single-sided design. We love that because this 2TB monster will be able to go where double-sided SSDs cannot. Class-leading performance and high capacity is what the 2TB WD Black SN850 is all about.

Drive Details

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Like its smaller sibling, the 2TB model is black-themed and a single-sided design, which we prefer.

Jon's Test System Specifications

Buy at Amazon

WD Black SN850 2TB NVMe PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
CAD $593.03CAD $595.05CAD $618.48
* Prices last scanned on 1/26/2021 at 1:22 am CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Free SSD Software

WD Dashboard/Acronis for WD

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Click here to download WD Dashboard.

The WD dashboard is as good as it gets for an SSD Toolbox. It has everything, and we mean everything you could ever want from an end-user perspective. WD also offers free Acronis cloning software that you can get with just a click of the tools tab.

Take note of "Gaming Mode" because you will want that enabled for best performance. Additionally, be sure to enable write caching and, importantly, for all SSDs, disable write-cache buffer flushing for best performance.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils

CrystalDiskMark

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Like its smaller, slightly faster sibling, the 2TB WD Black SN850 will be spending most of its time at the top of our charts. We are treated sequential performance that matches factory specs despite our much more demanding user state of OS disk 50% full. Additionally, we observe class-leading random performance where it matters most, QD1.

Anvil's Storage Utilities

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Overall read performance is what we care about most around here, and other than Optane, nothing we've tested to this point is anywhere close to delivering what the WD Black SN850 is serving up. Impressive.

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The 2TB WD Black SN850 delivers roughly 200K more max random read IOPS than any other high capacity SSD we've tested to date, including Optane. This is where it matters, and this is where the WD Black delivers the goods.

Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO

AS SSD

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This is one of the few tests where the WD Black SN850 isn't setting a new lab record for a high capacity flash-based SSD. Phison powered SSDs love AS SSD's unique mix of data, and it shows. Nevertheless, a very impressive showing.

ATTO

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Another easy win for the WD Black in part because there is no real retail competition in the high capacity category yet.

Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming

Transfer Rates

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As expected, a new lab record for a high capacity SSD.

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Serving data is more important than programming it in the consumer space, and the 2TB SN850 delivers about 500 MB/s more performance than we've seen from other high capacity Gen4 offerings to this point.

Game Level Loading

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Like its smaller sibling, the 2TB SN850 is among the best gaming SSDs ever made.

Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests

PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.

The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.

PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark

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This is what we love about the WD Black SN850, unrivaled workload performance. We love it because it translates directly to what matters most, overall user experience.

PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark

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Another dominating performance provides more evidence that the WD Black SN850 is currently the best performing SSD on the market.

Final Thoughts

After testing the 1TB WD Black SN850 and witnessing its dominating performance, we were left wanting only one thing more, more of it. The 2TB model isn't quite as fast as the 1TB version, but the difference is minor, and we feel more than offset by its extra capacity. Like we stated earlier, we believe 2TB is the new sweet spot for consumers.

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WD advertises up to one million random read IOPS for the 2TB WD Black, and as you can see from the above benchmark, we have no problem hitting that amazingly high speed.

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Like its smaller, slightly faster sibling dominated our 1TB-class SSD category, the 2TB WD Black does the same with our high capacity category. It is by far the fastest flash-based high capacity retail SSD we've tested to date. Impressive.

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Western Digital's 2TB WD Black is high capacity flash-based storage done right. We love everything WD has done with it. The unparalleled performance. The sleek single-sided design - even the black PCB is what we prefer. Additionally, we love the WD Dashboard because it gives you everything you could need along with easy access to WD's tailored version of Acronis imaging software. And then there is gaming mode, which is the icing on the cake as we see it.

We will conclude this review by awarding the 2TB WD Black SN850 our highest award and a 100% TweakTown recommendation.

Pros

  • Capacity
  • User Experience
  • Gaming
  • 1,000,000 IOPS/7,000 MB/s

Cons

  • None
Buy at Amazon

Performance

100%

Quality

100%

Features

100%

Value

100%

Overall

100%

The Bottom Line

Truly superior performance and high capacity in one tiny package.

TweakTown award
100%

WD Black SN850 2TB NVMe PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
CAD $593.03CAD $595.05CAD $618.48
* Prices last scanned on 1/26/2021 at 1:22 am CST - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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