Western Digital is a paragon in the storage world, having been one of the most well known brands of hard drive for some time. Except for maybe Maxtor, which is a bit defunct at the moment. They never quite made the decision to fully enter into the SSD market, having instead relied on their wide swathe of enterprise, datacenter and business offerings to help drive their organization. Platter-based hard-drives are fantastic for many reasons, and useful for many more. Times, however, are changing, and Western Digital is coming back into the SSD race with their Blue SSD we’re testing today.
But they did recently acquire SanDisk. And why put that tremendous, and far reaching, resource to waste. WD did have early attempts with a similarly attired SiliconDrive III in 2009, which was also the name of their compact flash line of products quite some time ago. After that, NAND only made it’s way into their products by way of wholly-owned subsidiaries or through their own hybrid drives. This new venture is only new, however, in what branding they put on the drives themselves.
WD Blue SSD, their newest attempt might be a winner
This drive, the WD Blue SSD is being positioned as a sort of mid-range offering, a drive that’s inexpensive enough while still offering the type of speed capable over the SATA III interface. They put in TLC NAND, a cost saving feature to be sure, though the endurance rating is still quite high at 400TBW at the top end. This indicates a substantial spare area. They suppose those who want a higher workload might consider their slightly less expensive drives over the competition, even over their own sister brand, SanDisk. As they so helpfully tell you on their website, Blue is for building, which isn’t a helpful adjective in describing what this particular drive is being marketed towards. But regardless, they have a TLC-based SSD that’s made for consumers at a very decent price. 1TB has a retail price of $299.99, though can be found for around $279.99 on Amazon and elsewhere.
Under the hood you’ll find a blue PCB with a Marvell controller, the Marvell 88SS1074, some Micron DRAM for the controller and SanDisk’s 15nm TLC in various arrangements. You’ll find these in either 2.5-inch SATA or M.2 2280 form factor. The full specs are below. Interestingly, this is actually based off of the SanDisk X400, just with a few firmware tweaks to make it, well, different. That’s great, because the X400 is a phenomenal SSD already.
To test we’ll use the same test system that we’ve been using for nearly everything. A tried and true configuration. For this, since this is our inaugural SSD test we’ll compare it to the drive we already have installed. The similar capacity SanDisk Extreme Pro at 960GB. In the future we’ll use SSDs of similar capacities for testing.