The Western Digital WD Black SN750 SSD Review: Why Fix What Isn't Broken?by Billy Tallis on January 18, 2019 8:01 AM EST
The new WD Black SN750 changes little from last year's model. Since it uses the same controller and NAND flash memory as the previous WD Black, the SN750 had little room for improvement. With optimized firmware for WD's still relatively new in-house NVMe controller architecture, the SN750 manages to mostly avoid performance regressions and deliver fairly consistent performance and efficiency improvements of a few percent. For all practical purposes, the new WD Black SN750 can be regarded as more or less identical to its predecessor, except that the SN750 is launching at far better prices, and will soon be adding a 2TB model.
By 2018 standards, the new WD Black is still a very competitive high-end NVMe SSD, and probably the best overall SSD using Toshiba/SanDisk 3D NAND. But the WD Black SN750 is hardly the only new competitor in this space that we'll see in 2019. Drives using Silicon Motion's SM2262EN controller and Micron 64-layer 3D NAND started to hit the market by the end of 2018, and we'll have reviews of two of them soon (the ADATA SX8200 Pro and HP EX950). Some companies will also be introducing 96-layer 3D NAND—Samsung announced last fall that the 970 EVO would be replaced by a 970 EVO Plus that updates the NAND but keeps the same controller, and Plextor's M10Pe should land in the second half of the year.
Western Digital may come to regret their decision to make the SN750 such a minimal update over last year's model, because it doesn't appear that their competition will be sitting still. PCIe 4.0 will hit the consumer market later this year and Phison at least will be ready with a new controller. The transition to 96L 3D NAND will also be driving demand for a new generation of controllers, because the next-generation NAND supports higher IO speeds than many current controllers. We probably won't hear of any specific product announcements until Computex at the earliest, but by the end of 2019 there's a good chance we'll see several new SSDs that make all the major upgrades Western Digital avoided this time around.
Overall, WD's first in-house NVMe controller looks good to go for another year, but Western Digital will need a significant controller update for 2020 and they'll need to move to 96L by then. They were well positioned to get by with such a minor update to the WD Black, but now they are vulnerable to falling behind should any of their competitors execute well on a significant hardware upgrade sometime this year. The SN750 may not stay at the top for long.
|Western Digital WD Black SN750 (MSRP)||$79.99 (32¢/GB)||$129.99 (26¢/GB)||$249.99 (25¢/GB)||$499.99 (25¢/GB)|
|Western Digital WD Black (2018)||$79.99 (32¢/GB)||$119.99 (24¢/GB)||$226.99 (23¢/GB)|
|ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro||$74.99 (29¢/GB)||$114.99 (22¢/GB)||$199.95 (20¢/GB)|
|HP EX920||$57.99 (23¢/GB)||$89.99 (18¢/GB)||$174.99 (17¢/GB)|
|Mushkin Pilot||$59.99 (24¢/GB)||$99.99 (20¢/GB)||$189.99 (19¢/GB)||$399.99 (20¢/GB)|
|MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro||$54.99 (23¢/GB)||$99.99 (21¢/GB)|
|Corsair Force MP510||$74.19 (31¢/GB)||$113.99 (24¢/GB)||$209.99 (22¢/GB)||$386.99 (20¢/GB)|
|Samsung 970 EVO||$77.99 (31¢/GB)||$127.93 (26¢/GB)||$247.99 (25¢/GB)||$497.99 (25¢/GB)|
The initial MSRPs for the new WD Black are slightly higher than the current street prices for last year's model, but once the SN750 has been in stock for a little while it should get down to match those retail prices. That will still leave it at a premium relative to Silicon Motion based drives, even the ADATA SX8200 Pro that uses the SM2262EN controller compared to the older SM2262 used by the HP EX920 and Mushkin Pilot. The Phison E12-based MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro is very well-priced for the capacities that are actually in stock at the moment, and the similar Corsair MP510 has pretty good pricing on the larger models.
The WD Black SN750 will be hitting the market most closely priced to the Samsung 970 EVO. In those conditions, the SN750 will be the obvious choice for laptop usage due to its great power efficiency. For desktop usage, the Samsung 970 EVO may be the slightly better performer overall, but the smart pick would usually be one of the cheaper SM2262(EN) drives. Their performance pitfalls are a bit more severe than the corner cases of the 970 EVO or the WD Black, but those scenarios are seldom encountered during real-world usage.