WD Black 3D NVMe SSD Review: WD Debuts Its New Controller

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AgentLozen

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It sounds like the controller that powers both the 960 EVO and the 960 Pro is built on a five-core ARM architecture. Also, Samsung has enterprise level solid state drives built on the same controller.

edit: In retrospect, I'm not sure if I interpreted your question correctly.
 
"The 960 EVO uses a five-core ARM design for the 960 Pro and various enterprise variants."

I guess that's been changed to this:
"WD chose a 28nm tri-core design to target the same market Samsung addresses with the 960 EVO. Samsung uses a five-core ARM design for the 960 Pro and various enterprise variants."
 

Ninjawithagun

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Your benchmarks are wrong. I own a Samsung EVO 960 and am using the latest firmware as well as the most current Samsung NVMe driver for Windows 10. My EVO 960 easily beats the WD Black NVMe in every single benchmark you ran. Something tells me that you did not update your test hardware properly.
 

CRamseyer

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The 960 EVO was updated and retested on December 9th, 2017 for the new burst test results. The results are accurate for the tests. If you use CrystalDisk Mark then your test parameters are different than mine.
 
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In other SSDs reviews you showed the HD Tune Pro test for sequential write. I find that information very interesting. Is there a chance you can add that test?
Thank you very much
 

mischon123

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Good review. So its basically a broken design with flawed firmware that cannot outperform a 6 year old Samsung product and WD cannot fix the flaws themselves and it took an external firm to tame some of the bugs in the sd design. Now your supposed to pay the same price as you would for a fully working Samsung SSD? Yeahhh, riiiighhht.
 

CRamseyer

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The cache on the 1TB drive is right around 20GB with 128KB blocks. In the future we will publish that data in a line chart. I'm just working on getting a few products retested.
 

Geef

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Does WD use write cache like the Samsung EVO does? Once the cache is used the performance drops off. The Samsung PRO doesn't use cache, its just faster overall. Its a big reason the price difference between the two.
 

HERETIC-1

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Was often suspicious that some of Toshiba's controllers were Phison-in disguise.
Hopefully that's not the case here....................................
 

Istarion

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I think this is one of the most pesimistic reviews I've ever read in tomshardware.

WD did a poor job with its previous "black ssd", with bad performance using a 3rd party controller and setting a high price tag and using the same label as their previous products as it was "fast" when it wasn't, I totally agree with that and was extremely disappointed too, but this is not that product...

In this case we have a product that:
-has 960evo-like performance (a bit better overall except for some odd results for some tests)
-matches 960evo price
-it's the FIRST CONTROLLER they have done which equates the performance of one of the best considered products in the market (samsung) that has been around wearing the performance crown FOR YEARS
-it's the first review and it's not even in the market, so these "odd results" may (or may not ofc!) get better when there's availability. In that case, it will outperform samsung 960evo.

For me the conclusion points are not objective and thus wrong:
-Some performance anomalies
-Expensive compared to emerging products
-Could use some additional firmware tuning

Whats the difference between point 1 and 3?? "Some performance anomalies" vs "Could use some additional firmware tuning", isn't that the same? If you fine-tune the firmware, you'll fix "odd results", which is the most critical issue (unless there's some other bug). And if you say that the software is "good", this confirms the previous statement I've just said.

But my favorite is the 2nd one "Expensive compared to emerging products". So you are saying incoming products will have better price. Seriously... You can add that to ALL the reviews!
I'd say "odd timing" maybe, but for me now this drive is a real alternative to samsung 960evo, at least for today. Ofc next products will outperform the drive! But that's so obvious it doesn't make sense to be part of a conclusion. It's like saying "wait for the incoming products because they will be better"...


@MISCHON123 I'm sorry but you're quite wrong, I think due to reading only some bits and pieces of the review:
1. This is a good design with great performance, which has some bugs in certain cases. I can agree to an extent to say "flawed firmware".
2. Samsung evo 960 is from the end of 2016 (it was announced around september and available around dec / jan of 2017), that is 1 and a half years, not 6.
3. I don't even understand what you mean with "WD cannot fix the flaws themselves and it took an external firm to tame some of the bugs in the sd design". It makes no sense. Its not what is happening here. You'd better reread the review, you are just wrong :\
4. I guess that a drive that has similar performance as another drive can have the same price. It has some up and downsides, and the downsides can outwin the upsides in your scenario, but it can be the other way around. I still understand they have some things to address so I could understand asking for a bit less than 960evo, but are we willing to pay more if they fix it? Because if they do, the peformance will be just better.

I'm extremely happy for WD to take seriously the SSD market and do that inhouse controller. This means more competition and better prices for everyone! Moreover, this is one of the good-old harddrive makers, with good reputation and, from my point of view, respectable engineers.
Maybe this comes at an odd time, I just hope they keep walking this road, and improve the following controllers. And obviously adjust the pricing when other products appear.

I can't stop thinking that their first controller just matched crown products performance, thats impressive!!!
 

CRamseyer

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When we say "software" we're talking about the Dashboard software and not the physical SSD.

"Emerging" in this case was less than 24 hours after the review went online. We knew the other product would hit Newegg/Amazon within days of our writing the review. We didn't know if it would be available before this review went online. It's not quite "wait for the incoming products because they will be better".

I agree with your closing remarks. In the long term the new architecture will increase competition, impact pricing and be a viable alternative to Samsung. All of those are very good things. WD/SD having a controller is good for performance as well.

Does that mean we have to recommend the Black 3D NVMe right now? The EX920 is available now, the SX8200 will be next week (reviewers have samples now). We already have an idea of what Samsung's next generation performance looks like from our review of the PM981. WD/SD targeted the 960 EVO in performance and price and that would have been fine for January 2018. If this was a CES launch then I would be cheering, leading the parade with a baton even. This is April and the 960 EVO has lost it's performance crown to a product (and many others very soon) that sell (and will sell) for quite a bit less.
 

Istarion

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Well that's true :) They're 1 generation late, they'll have to adjust pricing. To be fair, we only know the 1tb performance drive, right?
Let's hope they keep up the pace so we have more competition :3
 

HERETIC-1

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@ISTARION-Personally I think Chris was quite generous with this drive.
One of the most important measurements I look at is-QD1 4K Read-
Samsung has been hitting 10K IOPS on it's SATA drives for years-
I consider that POOR for NVMe.
Next look at PCMark 8 total bandwidth(what we actually use our drives for)
POOR results there-when the Intel 760 replaces the 600 the WD ends on the
bottom.
To top it all off-where I live they try to sell WD drives dearer than Samsung
when they have 80 to 90% of the performance..........................
 
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