Western Digital Launches New WD Black NVMe SSDs And Thunderbolt Dock

Today Western Digital is announcing a major expansion of their WD Black family of gaming-oriented storage products. In a digital event later today on Twitch, Western Digital will introduce their first PCIe Gen4 SSD, a new high-end PCIe Gen3 SSD, and their first Thunderbolt Dock.

WD Black SN850 PCIe Gen4 SSD

The new WD Black SN850 is Western Digital’s first PCIe 4 SSD and the successor to their WD Black SN750. The SN850 features Western Digital’s second generation in-house NVMe SSD controller and can hit speeds of 7GB/s (sequential) and 1M IOPS (random). The SN850 will initially be available as a standard M.2 NVMe SSD, suitable for gaming PCs and expected to work in the upcoming Sony PS5. Western Digital is also working on a version of the WD Black SN850 that will add a heatsink and RGB lighting. The plain M.2 version will be hitting the market later this fall with capacities from 500GB to 2TB, while the RGB+heatsink version likely will not be ready until next year.

WD Black SN850 Specifications
Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB
Form Factor M.2 2280 single-sided
optional heatsink
Interface PCIe 4 x4 NVMe
Controller Western Digital in-house, second generation
NAND Flash SanDisk 3D TLC
Sequential Read 7000 MB/s
Sequential Write 4100 MB/s 5300 MB/s 5100 MB/s
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 300 TB
0.3 DWPD
600 TB
0.3 DWPD
1200 TB
0.3 DWPD
MSRP
(No heatsink)
$149.99 $229.99 $449.99

WD Black AN1500 SSD: PCIe Gen4 Speeds for Gen3 Systems

For gamers on desktops that only support PCIe Gen3 speeds, Western Digital is introducing a new high-end SSD option. The WD Black AN1500 PCIe 3 x8 add-in card SSD puts two of their SN730 SSDs (OEM equivalents of the SN750) in a RAID-0 configuration for increased performance and capacity. The AN1500 uses the Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe RAID chip, which we reported on earlier this week as part of HPE’s new RAID1 card for server boot drives. Thanks to that hardware RAID capability, the AN1500 operates as a single drive with a PCIe 3.0 x8 uplink allowing for read speeds of 6.5GB/s and write speeds of 4.1GB/s. Since the AN1500 internally uses a pair of SN730/SN750 M.2 SSDs, the AN1500’s capacities are doubled: the smallest model is 1TB and the largest option is 4TB. The card is armored by a substantial aluminum heatsink and backplate that match the recent WD_BLACK design language, including customizable RGB lighting around the edge.

Single-chip NVMe SSD controllers supporting a PCIe 3 x8 interface do exist, but they’re only used in high-end enterprise SSDs. That means the WD Black AN1500 is the first consumer NVMe SSD capable of using an 8-lane interface, without the hassle of software RAID as used by competing NVMe RAID solutions. The AN1500 does not require PCIe port bifurcation support from the host system, and is also usable (with reduced performance) in PCIe slots that only provide four lanes of PCIe.

WD Black AN1500 Specifications
Capacity 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Form Factor PCIe add-in card
Interface PCIe 3 x8
Controller 2x WD in-house NVMe + Marvell 88NR2241 RAID-0
NAND Flash SanDisk 3D TLC
Sequential Read 6500 MB/s
Sequential Write 4100 MB/s
4kB Random Read IOPS 760k 780k 780k
4kB Random Write IOPS 690k 700k 710k
Power Read 15.7 W
Write 12.8 W
Idle 8.5 W
Warranty 5 years
MSRP $299.99 $549.99 $999.99

WD Black D50 Thunderbolt 3 Game Dock

The WD Black family of products for external storage is also getting a new member. The current lineup consists of the P10 portable hard drive, P50 portable SSD, and D10 desktop 3.5″ external hard drive. The obvious gap is a desktop-oriented external SSD, but the new Western Digital WD Black D50 goes a bit beyond that: rather than merely provide Thunderbolt-attached NVMe storage, the D50 is a full Thunderbolt 3 dock providing a variety of port expansion. The D50 Game Dock will be available with either 1TB or 2TB of NVMe storage, and in a dock-only version without built-in storage. None of the three models are intended to allow the user to upgrade the storage. Customizable RGB lighting is of course present.

The WD Black D50’s natural competition will be Seagate’s similar FireCuda Gaming Dock. Seagate’s dock comes with a 4TB hard drive and an empty M.2 PCIe slot for the user to install the SSD of their choice, and slightly more ports. The WD Black D50 Game Dock is smaller overall, provides power to a connected laptop, and is intended to be used in a vertical orientation—it has a weighted base to help keep it upright.

The WD Black D50 with no built-in storage has a MSRP of $319.99, the 1TB model is $499.99, and the 2TB model is $679.99.

As Western Digital continues moving their WD Black brand toward a focus specifically on gaming, the products have inevitably been infected with RGB lighting. Western Digital’s own WD_BLACK Dashboard software for Windows can control these lighting elements, but Western Digital is also working to integrate with other RGB control systems. They currently have support for Gigabyte RGB Fusion 2.0, MSI Mystic Light Sync and ASUS Aura, and support for Razer Chroma RGB will be ready soon.