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WD Black SN850 SSD looks to steal the PCIe 4.0 limelight from Samsung’s 980 Pro

WD Black SN850
(Image credit: Western Digital)

Western Digital has unleashed a new PCIe 4.0 SSD offering seriously speedy performance levels for gamers, along with an NVMe SSD add-in-card, plus a game dock.

The PCIe 4.0 drive is a WD Black series NVMe SSD which takes the baton from the SN750, ramping up speeds a long way. The WD Black SN850 makes use of what the firm describes as brand-new cache technology, and is rated for read speeds of up to 7,000 MB/s and writes of up to 5,300 MB/s.

That’s the claimed performance for the 1TB model, and there will also be a 2TB SSD, as well as a smaller 500GB drive. Western Digital further noted: “[The] SN850 NVMe SSD also delivers improved low queue-depth performance over its predecessor, allowing both gaming and everyday users to experience smoother loading of applications.”

The SN750 was well-liked and very competitively priced (it’s the drive we are currently saving this article on, incidentally), and the SN850 will be too, starting at $130 (£130) for the entry-level 500GB version (the SN750 was pitched at that same level).

Maintaining that compelling price-performance ratio, the SN850 will likely prove a potent challenger for Samsung’s 980 Pro when WD’s drive goes on sale before the end of October (a heatsink-equipped version of the SN850 will follow in Q1 2021, costing a bit more).

The SN850 offers theoretically slightly better performance than the 980 Pro – although we’ll have to test the claimed speeds, of course – for a little less cash (Samsung charges $149 for its 500GB drive).

Given that the Samsung 980 Pro already represents an excellent value proposition, as we concluded in our review, it’s easy to see why folks might be getting excited over the freshly revealed SN850.

WD Black AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-in-Card

(Image credit: Western Digital)

Add-in board

Western Digital also unveiled the WD Black AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-in-Card, which is a drive you can plug into a PCIe Gen3 x8 slot to still get blazing speeds. The board, which has two SSDs configured in RAID 0, boasts read speeds of up to 6,500 MB/s and writes of up to 4,100 MB/s (with the 2TB and 4TB versions). There’s also a 1TB add-in card and pricing starts at $300 (£229) with the AN1500 now on sale.

WD Black D50 Game Dock

(Image credit: Western Digital)

The final product aired was the WD Black D50 Game Dock, which gives you an integrated NVMe SSD and a load of connectors for accessories and monitors (including two Thunderbolt 3 ports and a DisplayPort). You can plug the D50 into a laptop via a Thunderbolt 3 port.

The Game Dock with a 1TB SSD costs $500 (£430), but it’s also available as just a straight dock with no additional storage for $320 (£280). The D50 is now available for pre-order.