Western Digital’s new drive promises to be every gamer’s dream SSD


Western Digital has its fingers in many storage pies, as it showed at its What’s Next Western Digital event today. Along with showcasing 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard drives for enterprise users, and an equally impressive 16TB eSSD for those lucky server types, it also announced a few consumer SSDs looking to improve the lot of us mere mortals.

Besides the DRAM-less WD_Black SN740, which looks a lot like the WD_Black SN770, he announced a new version of our favorite gaming SSD, the WD_Black SN850, called WD_Black SN850X. Because X’s are cool. Well, this one sure looks like it.

As you’d expect from any NVMe PCIe 4.0 drive released these days, it offers higher throughput than its predecessor, with reads up to 7300MB/s. That’s not the only thing which caught my attention, although I will never refuse more debit. No, it’s the triumvirate of technologies that makes it an exciting prospect for hardcore gamers. These are:

  • Minimized latency
  • Predictive loading
  • Adaptive thermal management

Low latency and predictive loading technologies use built-in intelligence to predict what you’re doing and prepare data as needed. It looks a bit like magic, but if they work, it could notably improve gaming performance. The original SN850 was already a fast reader in real-world tests, so it shouldn’t take much to reign over the perch.

The only issue I had with this drive’s predecessor was that it could get hot under load, although this never seemed to cause any issues in use. Still, even better thermal management should mean it’s an option for more cramped cases. The WD_Black SN850X will be available with and without a heatsink to help things along here.

These technologies all sound good, although we’ll have to see what difference they make when I have them in the lab. The only unknown at this point is still Microsoft’s DirectStorage, which was mentioned as part of the reader announcement, although few details were said.

The new WD_Black SN850X will be available from July, with higher capacities than its predecessor. It’s now available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB sizes. Pricing starts at $189.99, a bit more expensive than the original SN850, which can be had for around $150, but not ridiculously so if all these technologies do as promised.


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