Review: WD_BLACK SN850X is its fastest SSD yet at 7,300 MB/s [Video]


When it comes to gaming, higher performance always makes the experience more enjoyable. We got our hands on two of the latest storage offerings from WD_BLACK – Western Digital’s gaming-focused brand. The SN850X is the fastest M.2 NVMe drive WD_BLACK has ever released, and the P40 game drive expands on the general use portable SSD lineup. Check out Justin’s review of the P40, or head below to see the new WD_BLACK SN850X in all of its high-speed glory. 

WD_BLACK SN850X: Options + pricing

The WD_BLACK SN850X internal NVMe SSD comes in a few different flavors. There is a 1TB for $159.99, a 2TB for $289.99, and a 4TB for $699.99. All of those drives are currently on sale, though, with the biggest savings on the 4TB model which is down to just $494.99 on Western Digital’s store

A heatsink can be added to the 1TB for $15 and to the 2TB for $20. 

WD_BLACK SN850X: Real-world performance

WD_Black claims transfer speeds up to 7,300 MB/s, and that is exactly what I saw with the drive installed. That does require PCIe Gen4 to reach those speeds but if you do, that means some crazy-fast transfer times. 

While Western Digital has a wide variety of storage options, for WD_Black, the emphasis is on gaming. Fast speeds should mean faster load times and overall better performance.

WD_BLACK SN850X: test bench

For reference, I tested the WD_BLACK SN850X on my PC with a Ryzen 7 3700X and a Gigabyte X570 UD motherboard. Other hardware will work fine, and you can even get by with PCIe Gen3 hardware. But to take full advantage of what the drive is capable of and reach those top speeds, make sure your computer can support PCIe Gen4. 

WD_BLACK SN850X: video

Game Mode 2.0

Another feature of the WD_BLACK SN850X is Game Mode 2.0 which is found in the Dashboard app on Western Digital’s website. This mode adds three main features – predictive loading, adaptive thermal management, and overhead balancing. 

All three of these are meant to prioritize the SSD for gaming. The predictive loading preemptively caches what is next in the game. Adaptive Thermal management aims to improve energy efficiency while maintaining high data throughput, and overhead balancing delivers improved latency by prioritizing reads over writes and modulating other background functions.

In practice, I didn’t really notice a huge difference when playing Battlefield 2042. Temperatures on the drive did hover around 52 C which is well within operating limits. Since the drive is so fast to begin with, I also didn’t really notice a huge performance boost with Game Mode 2.0. But, I don’t see the harm in leaving it set to auto for when I am gaming from the WD_BLACK SN850X. 

Other drives

Of course, WD_BLACK has plenty of other drives available as well. We’ve gone hands-on with the SN750 SE as well as some of its portable drives like the P40 and D30. 

There is also the previous SN850, which reaches speeds up to 7,000 MB/s. If budget is something of a concern, this is a great way to save a few bucks to go towards other computer components. 

9to5Toys’ Take

If you’re looking to max out the performance of a gaming machine, a high-speed drive like the SN850X will definitely help get you there. Load times are crazy fast when the drive is installed, and with all three capacities on sale, now is a great time to pick one up. 

Buy WD_BLACK SN850X 1/2TB on Amazon

4TB from Western Digital to save

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