Final Words

When it was first announced at the beginning of this year, the SanDisk X400 was a good value. It raised the bar for planar TLC performance and carried a reasonable mid-range price. The X400 offered OEMs a TCG Opal-compliant self encrypting drive option and was the first single-sided 1TB M.2 SSD.

The WD Blue follows in the footsteps of the SanDisk X400 and doesn't break any new ground. The hardware is essentially identical, but the firmware has been re-tuned. The WD Blue trades some capacity for an increased write endurance rating that is above average for a mainstream SATA SSD. The extra overprovisioning allows for improved sustained random write performance, one of the few benchmarks where the X400 was not the fastest planar TLC drive. Unfortunately, the WD Blue is slower than the X400 on most other tests and is not able to secure a claim to being the fastest budget SSD, though it does offer decent well-rounded performance with no major shortcomings. In spite of the increased endurance rating, the WD Blue only comes with a three year warranty compared to the five year warranty offered on the X400.

The WD Blue does manage to push the limits of planar TLC power efficiency, but only incrementally. In comparison to the radical improvement offered by Micron's 3D TLC in the Crucial MX300, the WD Blue's progress is insignificant.

SATA SSD Price Comparison
Capacity 240-256GB 480-512GB 960-1024GB
WD Blue (MSRP) $79.99 $139.99 $299.99
SanDisk X400 $79.99 $135.19 $248.99
Crucial MX300 $69.98 $119.99 $247.40
OCZ Trion 150 $65.74 $112.99 $226.00
OCZ VX500 $96.99 $154.99 $334.99
Samsung 850 EVO $99.99 $157.30 $306.07

The most important difference between the WD Blue and the SanDisk X400 is the fact that the WD Blue is launching into a very different market. Planar TLC NAND is no longer the only option for budget SSDs as Micron's 3D TLC is now shipping in volume and is substantially cheaper than Samsung's 3D TLC in the 850 EVO. The Crucial MX300 based on Micron's 3D TLC is faster and substantially more power efficient than planar TLC SSDs including both the SanDisk X400 and the WD Blue.

However the market doesn't seem to have fully adjusted to this situation. The SanDisk X400 is currently more expensive than the Crucial MX300 while only offering a longer warranty period to justify the premium. More entry-level TLC drives like the OCZ Trion 150 are barely cheaper than the MX300. To compete against the Crucial MX300 and other 3D TLC drives that are coming to market, the WD Blue will have to be priced far below its starting MSRP, which seems to have been set in consideration of only the planar TLC competition. Micron's 3D TLC is driving down prices and if Western Digital can't make the WD Blue even cheaper, it will not be able to secure a place in the crowded SSD market.  

ATTO, AS-SSD & Idle Power Consumption
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  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    it's an interesting drive, but why buy these when the likes of the mushkin reactor are $60 cheaper for the 1TB varient? sata III drives have peaked performance wise.

    OTOH, cant wait to see what the WD black SSDs look like. 4TB? M.2 PCIE?
    Reply
  • dave_the_nerd - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    The Reactor 1TB was a clone of the BX100... which outperformed the WD Blue in a lot of tests here. Getting harder to find them though.

    Hopefully the street price of this will be more in-line with the rest of the market, price/performance wise.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    the only thing this WD drive does better is write endurance. 400TB, or even 320TB for the sandisk version, is a heck of a lot better then the 144TB of the 1TB reactor drive. Reply
  • ammacdo - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    The thing I like most about this review is seeing how well my BX100 still holds up, and I paid the same MSRP this one is going for over a year ago. Reply
  • paulgj - Monday, October 31, 2016 - link

    I agree, I bought half a dozen BX100's when they went on sale. Excellent MLC SSDs. Reply
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    It depends on the consistency of performance and not the peak

    The concern I have is Sandisk consistency of performance which cannot be checked using a single test drive

    I have 3 of the Sandisk Extreme Pro thumbdrives that are Windows to Go compatible as they are "Fixed Disks"

    One of them is completely unusable after a week, one is so-so and one is very good (performance wise)

    The only thing that will return the speed to "Like-New" condition is using Killdisk over the entire drive

    The CrapCleaner Drive wipe utility does not return full performance, and the new Defraggler SSD Optimizer does not return full performance

    I have not found any method other than Killdisk to temporarily regain full disk performance

    Of course, not having Trim or Garbage collection exacerbates the problem which then accelerates the thermal throttling issue

    Mushkin also has a bad rep for thermal issues on their Win2Go compatible thumbdrives

    The new Corsair GTX beats them all hands down for Windows to go and since my test machine is an older Sandy Bridge for XP compatability, the corsair is actually faster on the USB3 port than my Samsung 850 Pro is on the SATA2 ports

    I hope Anandtech can address consistency between identical drives at some point
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    Corsair GTX Thumb drives seem VERY Consistent between drives as well Reply
  • Wwhat - Sunday, October 30, 2016 - link

    You seem to be a pretty unique case and not an average user in any way.
    But it's still an interesting comment I feel. Or I should say 'because of that' rather than 'still'.
    Reply
  • Bulat Ziganshin - Saturday, October 15, 2016 - link

    they can't build Black from air. sandisk best ssd is extreme pro, so Black will be updated version of it Reply
  • nathanddrews - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    Does this WD SSD come with software to clone/shrink your existing drive to the new SSD? I have an older SiliconEdge Blue 64GB SSD (still working well) and WD offers a utility on their website to do just that, but only if there is a WD drive attached to the machine. I assume this utility would work with this SSD? Not sure if you image your test drives using different tools or what.

    Samsung has another great utility that comes with a slick SATA-to-USB 3.0 dongle (free in the box) that will clone/shrink any drive to a target Samsung SSD. They go above and beyond the capabilities of Windows volume shrink by a lot.
    Reply

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