AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer

Our AnandTech Storage Bench tests are traces (recordings) of real-world IO patterns that are replayed onto the drives under test. The Destroyer is the longest and most difficult phase of our consumer SSD test suite. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

ATSB The Destroyer
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

The WD Black SN850 starts off with very impressive performance on The Destroyer: only 7.5% slower overall than the Optane 905P and almost twice the overall performance of the Samsung 980 PRO, which is seriously underperforming on this test. The SN850 has great latency scores all around, including for 99th percentile latencies. The SN850 isn't as energy-efficient as Western Digital's PCIe 3.0 SSDs, but is substantially better than the 980 PRO or the Phison E16-based Silicon Power US70.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Heavy

The ATSB Heavy test is much shorter overall than The Destroyer, but is still fairly write-intensive. We run this test twice: first on a mostly-empty drive, and again on a completely full drive to show the worst-case performance.

ATSB Heavy
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

On the Heavy test, the WD Black SN850 again comes in second place for overall performance, behind the Optane 905P. Its lead over the other PCIe 4.0 drives is smaller and the 980 PRO surpasses it in some of the latency metrics, but overall the differences between the SN850 and the 980 PRO would seldom be noticeable to the end-user during this kind of heavy workload. The SN850 again has a clear energy efficiency lead over the other PCIe 4.0 drives.

AnandTech Storage Bench - Light

The ATSB Light test represents ordinary everyday usage that doesn't put much strain on a SSD. Low queue depths, short bursts of IO and a short overall test duration mean this should be easy for any SSD. But running it a second time on a full drive shows how even storage-light workloads can be affected by SSD performance degradation.

ATSB Light
Average Data Rate
Average Latency Average Read Latency Average Write Latency
99th Percentile Latency 99th Percentile Read Latency 99th Percentile Write Latency
Energy Usage

The WD Black SN850 is tied for first place when the Light test is run on an empty drive, but its full-drive performance is better than any of the other drives except the Optane SSD. The latency scores are all top-notch, though the 99th percentile read latency is a bit higher than the other PCIe 4.0 SSDs. As with the other ATSB tests, the SN850 uses less energy than the other PCIe 4.0 drives, but isn't as efficient as some of the good PCIe 3.0 SSDs.

PCMark 10 Storage Benchmarks

The PCMark 10 Storage benchmarks are IO trace based tests similar to our own ATSB tests. For more details, please see the overview of our 2021 Consumer SSD Benchmark Suite.

PCMark 10 Storage Traces
Full System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Quick System Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency
Data Drive Overall Score Average Bandwidth Average Latency

The WD Black SN850 has a clear lead over other flash-based SSDs in all three PCMark 10 Storage tests. It has a larger SLC cache than most 1TB drives, and it's just large enough to contain all the writes from these tests. The SN850 beats even the higher-capacity drives because its cache is faster than most in addition to being large. The SN850 comes closest to matching the Optane SSD's performance on the Data Drive test that focuses relatively more on sequential IO, where the SN850 offers twice the throughput of the Optane 905P.

The Western Digital WD Black SN850 Review Synthetic Tests: Basic IO Patterns
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  • Chaitanya - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    Very interesting drive. Reply
  • bernstein - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    great review! thanks @anandtech Reply
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    Somehow I think that I'll never be able to recover in the faster response times of this drive the time it would take me to swap it against the 980 Pro I currently have in my Ryzen 5800X workstation...

    Against any other with similar price and capacity, it would win. In absolute terms, I doubt it really matters for most, because the bottleneck will be somewhere else.
    Reply
  • abufrejoval - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    actually an MLC 970 pro... need edit Reply
  • XabanakFanatik - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    I was going to say.... Seems like this is a better performing drive than the 980 Pro. 970 pro, it's a close call. The upside is this ca be had in 2TB Reply
  • bji - Friday, March 19, 2021 - link

    If you swap it at a time when you otherwise would not be using the computer, then you effectively don't have to "recover" anything. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, March 19, 2021 - link

    No, but that's an odd way to look at it. There's no need to replace a perfectly good drive! Reply
  • Linustechtips12#6900xt - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    I think that this is. a decent drive after skimming threw the article but i definitely do wonder how far the M.2 standard will be in use obviously a while im not saying its obsolete but when U.3 exists. I think that 2.5in drives will make a come back because in all honesty you cant fit everything on a 2tb drive and capacity that high is EXPENSIVE so i think 2.5in U.3 is gonna be where its at and im gonna wait for it to, i wanna get something better than a hdd for my game storage but when sata is going out i dont wanna buy a sata ssd. Reply
  • eva02langley - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    The playstation 5 use NVMe, so it is going to be around for a while. SATA is definitely dead. Reply
  • futrtrubl - Thursday, March 18, 2021 - link

    Don't confuse NVMe and M.2. Reply

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