If you’re looking to boost your console or PC storage, chances are you’re considering a speedy M.2 NVMe SSD and there are plenty to choose from. Currently, the fastest offer speeds up to around 7,000MB/sec and Western Digital (WD) has a new king of the hill in the form of the Black SN850X.
Equipped with or without a heatsink (you’ll need one as it can get toasty when under load and even the heatsink-equipped model hit 69°C under load) the latter model even has RGB lighting that’s configurable in WD’s Dashboard software. This also includes a Gaming Mode 2.0 option that’s meant to improve game loading time performance, which was enabled for the benchmarks below.
The Black SN850X is available in 1TB ($132), 2TB ($220) (reviewed) and 4TB ($630) capacities (without heatsink) so is at the upper end of current pricing for M.2 SSDs and uses WD’s in-house 20-82-20035-B1 controller. The heatsink-equipped size is small enough to fit inside most consoles including the PS5, but is likely too large for most laptops, where you’ll need to opt for the heatsink-less version so long as your laptop includes its own M.2 cooling.
You get a five year warranty and an endurance rating of 600 TBW, 1,200TBW and 2,400TBW for the 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models respectively with TBW meaning terabytes written. My test system included an AMD Ryzen 5900X and MSI MEG X570 Unify motherboard. Sequential and random access tests were done using CrystalDiskMark.
Performance discussion and conclusion
This is one fast SSD. It might not match the more expensive Samsung 990 Pro‘s peak sequential speeds but it matched or bettered it in the perhaps more important 4K random tests.
Even more impressive were its 3DMark game test results. It was faster than the Samsung SSD in the game load performance, offering nearly double the performance of slower SSDs in the results and had significantly lower latency than the Samsung 990 Pro too.
PCMark 10 favoured the raw throughput of the 990 Pro with higher average speed and score results, but ultimately, as an SSD for console or PC gamers, the WD SN850X is as good as it gets. Just make sure you get the heatsink-equipped model or have adequate cooling already.