Introduction & Drive Details
We thought we had found the best overall value in solid-state storage in the just reviewed Western Digital WD Blue SN570 1TB, but Western Digital's latest has us reconsidering our position on exactly what is currently the best overall value proposition in solid-state storage. Once we got into testing the 4TB WD Red SN700 that is the subject of this review and took a close look at the drive's factory specs, we realized we had an even better value proposition on our hands for a few compelling reasons.
The first and most compelling reason the SN700 4TB is the best value in solid-state storage is its TLC flash array for 12 cents per gigabyte. This drive actually costs less than 4TB QLC SSDs. Amazing. Secondly, is the endurance rating of this capacious SSD. This baby sports a whopping 5.1 petabytes of endurance, or more than 5x better than we see from 4TB QLC SSDs. And because it is TLC, it inherently performs better in almost all real-world use case scenarios. Finally, because this drive has onboard DRAM, it doesn't suffer nearly the same sustained write penalty incurred with DRAMless or QLC SSDs, for that matter.
Anytime we get into M.2 NVMe SSDs at 4TB capacities, there is a premium to be paid based on capacity alone. Not so with the WD Red SN700. For the first time, as far as we can remember, a 4TB model costs LESS than double the price of a 2TB of the same model. Groundbreaking value. Now, 4TB SSDs are a special breed as we see it because with that much capacity on tap, typical gamers/consumers can likely hold ALL of their most often used data and games on a single solid-state device. This is the great appeal of 4TB SSDs.
However, until now, the cheapest we've seen a 4TB TLC NVMe SSD go for is $700. We believe the 4TB SN700's $480 price tag brings 4TB of quality TLC flash within reach of far more DIY PC enthusiasts than ever before, many for the first time. This is the appeal of Western Digital's latest.
Okay, let's dive into this and take a look at its performance by the numbers.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII HERO - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900KF - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: XPG DDR4 D50 Xtreme 5000MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: Zotac 2080Ti AMP Edition - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 1000W 80+ Gold Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit Buy from Amazon
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO
CDM verifies the claimed sequential speeds of 3,400/3,100 to be spot on. Random reads are a bit lower than we are used to seeing. We will see how this translates in our real-world testing scenarios.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Performance equivalent to the 4TB Rocket NVMe, but for roughly $220 less. Outstanding.
Right in there with the best of the Gen3 SSDs when programming 128K sequential data. Sequential 128K read comes in at the bottom of our chart.
Real-World Testing: Transfers, Gaming, PCM10
This is real-world, and this is outstanding for a Gen3 SSD. As a matter of fact, this is the best we've seen from a Gen SSD. Excellent.
Consumer tasks are mostly read, and as such, this is where we need to see great performance for a drive to make the cut. This is very good performance for a Gen 3 SSD. The WD Red SN700 is essentially tied with Samsung's 970 Pro, and only 100 MB/s or so separates it from the top Gen3 performer.
Game Level Loading
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. This is one of the reasons we find the WD Red SN700 so appealing. It demonstrates it can load game levels very fast. Look at the drives it is beating, then look at the drives it is within a tenth or two-tenths of a second of. Less than two-tenths of a second from the 980 Pro? Impressive.
PCM10 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 mainstream user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
Although taking up residence at the lower-end of our chart, this is actually a good showing for a Gen3 SSD. It's beating the 970 Pro and even some Gen4 SSDs.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
We would like to see a little more here, but again it is beating the 970 Pro, so in reality, it's acceptable for a value SSD.
As we see it, the Western Digital WD Red SN700 4TB, although not the best performer by the numbers, does still deliver a nice user experience. It felt snappy as we used it, and we would be hard-pressed to tell the difference between it and more powerful SSDs. So, the performance is plenty good for all but the extreme enthusiast.
It demonstrated that it could load game levels surprisingly well, even better than many Gen4 SSDs, so for gamers, this drive is actually a great choice and is one of the few SSDs that can hold an entire steam library. And then there is endurance. Massive endurance is why Western Digital is marketing the WD Red as a NAS SSD.
We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage tests. We want to see a minimum of 4,000 here for a value drive. The SN700 delivers 4,248, again making it respectable for a value SSD.
We aren't sure how Western Digital can offer so much for such a low price point, but this is what they are doing. As we stated up front, we believe that the WD Red SN700 4TB is currently the best value proposition in solid-state storage, and as such, it has earned TweakTown's value award with flying colors.
- Game Level Loading
- Light Workloads
The Bottom Line
Capacious, enduring, and fast. We believe the 4TB WD Red SN700 represents today's best overall value in solid state storage.