Whole-Drive Fill

This test starts with a freshly-erased drive and fills it with 128kB sequential writes at queue depth 32, recording the write speed for each 1GB segment. This test is not representative of any ordinary client/consumer usage pattern, but it does allow us to observe transitions in the drive's behavior as it fills up. This can allow us to estimate the size of any SLC write cache, and get a sense for how much performance remains on the rare occasions where real-world usage keeps writing data after filling the cache.

The WD Black SN750's behavior during a full drive write is quite similar to that of its predecessor, albeit with a 5% improvement in write speed after the SLC cache fills up. The cache fills after about 12GB of writes, but since performance after the drop is steady at around 1.5GB/s the small cache isn't really a problem.

Sustained 128kB Sequential Write (Power Efficiency)
Average Throughput for last 16 GB Overall Average Throughput

The WD Black SN750 offers best in class performance for long-duration sequential writes. After the SLC cache is full, the SN750 is about 5% faster than its predecessor for filling the rest of the drive. When looking at the total time to fill the drive, the SN750's advantage is slightly higher because its write speed to the SLC cache is also a bit faster.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018

BAPCo's SYSmark 2018 is an application-based benchmark that uses real-world applications to replay usage patterns of business users, with subscores for productivity, creativity and responsiveness. Scores represnt overall system performance and are calibrated against a reference system that is defined to score 1000 in each of the scenarios. A score of, say, 2000, would imply that the system under test is twice as fast as the reference system.

SYSmark scores are based on total application response time as seen by the user, including not only storage latency but time spent by the processor. This means there's a limit to how much a storage improvement could possibly increase scores, because the SSD is only in use for a small fraction of the total test duration. This is a significant difference from our ATSB tests where only the storage portion of the workload is replicated and disk idle times are cut short to a maximum of 25ms.

AnandTech SYSmark SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Core i5-7400
Motherboard ASUS PRIME Z270-A
Chipset Intel Z270
Memory 2x 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR4-2400 CL17
Case In Win C583
Power Supply Cooler Master G550M
OS Windows 10 64-bit, version 1803

Our SSD testing with SYSmark uses a different test system than the rest of our SSD tests. This machine is set up to measure total system power consumption rather than just the drive's power.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 - Creativity

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 - Productivity

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 - Responsiveness

The new WD Black SN750 regresses slightly in performance on SYSmark 2018, primarily on the responsiveness test, which is the subscore that's most sensitive to storage performance. The SN750 still clearly outperforms the WD Blue SATA SSD but even managed to fall behind the first-generation WD Black that used planar TLC and a third-party controller.

Energy Usage

The SYSmark energy usage scores measure total system power consumption, excluding the display. Our SYSmark test system idles at around 26 W and peaks at over 60 W measured at the wall during the benchmark run. SATA SSDs seldom exceed 5 W and idle at a fraction of a watt, and the SSDs spend most of the test idle. This means the energy usage scores will inevitably be very close. A typical notebook system will tend to be better optimized for power efficiency than this desktop system, so the SSD would account for a much larger portion of the total and the score difference between SSDs would be more noticeable.

BAPCo SYSmark 2018 - Energy Consumption

The WD Black SN750 turns in an excellent energy consumption score, lower than any drive in this bunch save for the WD Blue SATA SSD.

Introduction AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Micron was the manufacturer I was referring to.
    Other brands we've used which didn't exhibit the same poor endurance, ADATA, Kingston, Swissbit, Crucial

    Some of them probably even use Micron NAND. I bet the NAND is fine on the Micron model we were using, perhaps the hardware is good but the software (firmware) wasn't? Of course we haven't tested every brand/model as our requirements were very specific, so I am sure there are other Micron models that are totally fine (kind of why i'd love to see anandtech include some endurance results, to help weed out the outliers)
  • sdsdv10 - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Interesting you write that Micron has problems and Crucial doesn't, as Crucial is just a consumer brand name for Micron Technology Inc.
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Well they were different models. The crucial was an old model that we were replacing with something new, since the old crucial drives were no longer available. It would be interesting to compare a crucial equivalent model though, I wonder if they share firmware.
  • sovking - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Of course, these improvement will be welcomed, and I would like to see more in clear the steady state behaviour too.

    Regarding the endurance, we should take into account that most of these reviews are about consumer products. An NVME SSD for enterprise market has totally different performance: e.g regular steady state performance, higher endurance, higher reliability and so on. Sometimes, it's possible to find lightly used enterprise NVME drives at bargain price or at the cost of consumer drive: when this happens I prefer these drives.
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    I think the role of a "consumer" is not perfectly defined these days. Are they the same as a "power user?" It would seem that more and more consumers are starting to do more and more serious workloads on their PCs. Obviously this is anecdotal, but with all the processing power at our disposal these days ("consumer" CPU's having 16 threads). People probably don't even know what the applications or services that they are running on their PC are doing.

    For example, a lot of commonly used applications will be running with a database system as their backend, whether it be a more simple sqlite database, or something more serious, those can be very write heavy, and they're often configured by the application without the user even knowing it. I'll bet that a lot of users even have web services running on their PC's, without actually thinking about it, all these API's that allow you to connect to your mobile devices/streaming appliances.

    I'll bet a lot of people reading anandtech reviews even have their PC's running as a fileserver, or have a dedicated machine for such duties.

    A lot of this stuff is stuff is stuff would be considered "enterprise" computing of yester-years. Why does anandtech run transcoding, rendering and "destroyer" style tests in their "consumer" reviews? Because it's relevant to some portion of the purchasing community.
  • Oxford Guy - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    Considering how consumer parts have had endurance problems...

    Examples: OCZ Vertex 2 (with 64-bit NAND), Samsung 840 128 (terrible steady state performance, too), Samsung 840 and 840 EVO series (read speed loss), etc.

    Endurance isn't just a matter of whether or not the drive dies or it has a lot of cell death. It's also a matter of performance consistency over time.
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    I agree, I have bad memories of the early days of SSD's. I purchased a first generation intel SSD for $1000 (CND), the speeds were tested as being amazing compared to anything else on the market. But given the early learning curves with NAND controllers, and whatever the like, performance was terrible in the real world. I wasn't even able to upgrade the firmware since it was a first generation product, and only the subsequent versions supported the updates.

    Things have gotten better, but from my experience, it's been a rough road. Some manufacturers are a lot better than others for firmware development, and believe it or not a bug in the firmware can tank performance, or even tank your reliability, since the firmware is what controls wear leveling, and other new fangled features to give the maximum performance.

    There are MLC drives that work in SLC mode dynamically to aid in performance, and other drives that are MLC NAND running SLC mode which have a hybrid endurance between the two. Some older drives did driver level compression to reduce NAND writes, while theoretically great, can cause problems for reliability if there are any cases where the data doesn't get committed correctly, especially in poor power conditions. Firmware bugs are rarely talked about, but a firmware bug could cause garbage collection to occur too often, which will take your performance and reliability.
  • gglaw - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    With current gen 3D NAND, it would take an incredible amount of writes to test endurance and the regional wholeseller RMA data averaged over hundreds of thousands of SSD's sold is much more representative than AT testing endurance on 1 drive they receive as a sample. It appears most SSD RMA's are NOT from using up the endurance cycles so that would make a 1 sample test by AT even less meaningful. If they happen to get a dud when 99% of that same model has a very good reliability history based on the broader market it would just make thousands of AT readers base their purchasing decision based on a sample size of 1.
  • Billy Tallis - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    P/E ratings are highly dependent on what kind of error correction the NAND is used with. Even under pressure, the NAND manufacturers won't be able to give us more than just ballpark figures that would be tough to fairly compare between manufacturers.

    Last year (I think around when the first QLC drives showed up) I started recording SMART data before and after each phase of testing. I haven't written any code to parse and analyze that information yet, but it's on my to-do list.

    I don't think the usual consumer SSD test suite does enough total drive writes to move the SMART indicators enough to form meaningful projections about write endurance and drive lifetime. To do that, I would have to set up another system to do long-term endurance testing on several drives at once. That's also on our wishlist, but it's a relatively low priority given the extra equipment and time requirements.
  • joesiv - Friday, January 18, 2019 - link

    @gglaw, @Billy Tallis, you guys are right, it's hard to get firm reliability numbers based off a short, small sample test. But to be honest, its' better than nothing. And as I said, seeing one example of an outlier that performs badly on the bench for the test would validate it's usefulness.

    gglaw, you are totally right, there is more to reliability than PE Cycles, I gave the examples of a drive that under our testing failed, with a life expectancy under a year, the same test scenario (which was a heavy real world workload for our product) on other similar rated drives did not fail the test. But I didn't mention that we had huge realiability issues with our previous drives (Kingston), where they were no where near the end of their endurance ratings, but were failing for other causes. Kingston attributed a lot of the failures to firmware bugs that weren't traceable in SMART data, and in some cases pure hardware failure.

    Billy, yes in general you're right, it's hard to get meaningful projections for a short period of time, this is especially the case if you use percent life used as a metric (1-100). However, it's not too bad if you can get the PE Cycles, which typically are 3000 for MLC, and in some cases 2500 for 3D NAND, instead of waiting months for a single change in percent life change, we have seen drives go through 1 PE Cycle a day, which would give us around 8 years of product life (baring other failures), we were going through 5-6 PE Cycles a day on the Micron drive, which was a huge warning sign. That would be a great case for anandtech finding the poor endurance outliers.

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