WD Black has been the enthusiast and gaming brand for WD for the last decade. More recently, WD has lit a fire under the brand, releasing new products to the portfolio, namely the SN850, which out of nowhere, no hype involved, became the best drive you can buy without question.
Another part of that portfolio release was the AN1500 alongside the D50 Game Dock. The AN1500 is your traditional AIC (Add-in Card) sporting a PCIe 3.0 x8 interface offering increased throughput up to 6500 MB/s read and 4100 MB/s write with several capacity options including both 1TB and 2TB, along with a 4TB part at the high-end.
WD Dashboard has been expanded to control the 13 LED RGB lighting that has been placed around the edge of the AIC, allowing the AN1500 to blend with modern gaming PCs.
The MSRP of the 2TB WD Black AN1500 comes in at $549.99 with a five-year warranty.
Packaging follows what we have seen from other WD Black products. An image of the AIC centered, capacity bottom right along with performance.
The back goes into further detail with box contents, compatibility, and warranty.
Unboxing, the AN1500 physically shares the same aesthetic as the SN850 and P50, D50 external drives.
The backside finds a full cover backplate with model and regulatory information.
Removing the cover, we find an "Intelligent NVMe Switch" in the form of the 88NR2241 from Marvell. This allows WD to deploy two SN730 NVMe solutions over RAID 0.
Once installed, you can see above the RGB is legit.
Wd Dashboard allows you to control the drive, including performance and RGB.
The performance menu allows you to track the drive's performance over time in both read and write metrics. You can add temperature in there as well to detect any throttle condition that would come from increased heat.
Firmware updates are available in the Tools menu.
RGB functionality can be controlled with profiles and include a full range of effects or third-party sync with Chroma, Aura Sync, etc.
Starting performance testing, we run through CDM 7. With default settings, we see 6190 MB/s read and 4419 MB/s write. Q1 runs at 48 MB/s read and 200 MB/s write.
PCMark Full system test gives the AN1500 a score of 1963, bandwidth reaching 319 MB/s. This puts it for comparison just better than a Samsung 970 EVO Plus or Sabrent Rocket NVMe.
As a secondary drive, the AN1500 does quite well, scoring 2476 at 380 MB/s.
We prepared our thermal camera during all that testing to take an image as soon as we could shut down and pull the card. As you can see above, the heat can be seen on the desk below where we first placed the card. Looking at the heat sink, we see a peak of 51c across the entire heat sink showing proper functionality.
The AN1500 is an interesting flex from WD that I certainly didn't see coming. It's a solid turn-key solution for those wanting increased sequential performance from their storage solution. This will certainly be more beneficial to Intel Z490 users that haven't had the joy of PCIe 4.0 up to this point.
Performance came in just shy of marketing performance, but still, a solid 6100 MB/s read and 4400 MB/s write. This drive is bootable for those wanting to use it for that purpose. In that case, it's pretty similar to your mid-range NVMe solution with 48 MB/s read and 200 MB/s write in 4KQ1.
Overall, pricing, more than anything, will keep users from purchasing this drive. At $549.99 for the 2TB variant, it's significantly more expensive than Gen4 2TB solutions. Intel users can buy two SN750 and RAID them on their Z490 chipset with similar performance for far less. That said, this would make a fantastic turn-key game drive or secondary drive in a system where you, the end-user, don't want to play with motherboard RAID setups, etc.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Crosshair VIII Formula X570 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 3600 (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB 2x8GB DDR4 3600 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H60 (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Carbide 275R (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Corsair MP600 1TB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line
The WD Black AN1500 is a fantastic game drive for users wanting insane sequential performance or creators working with large video workflows, especially for those who want a solid, easy to use solution out of the box.