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Overview of the Solid State Drive WD Black PCIe SSD 256 GB

The release of Western Digital solid-state drives has taken place not so long ago, so now it's time to view over an advanced offer aimed primarily at enthusiasts – WD Black PCIe SSD in a 256 GB version.

Hard drives of the Black series have won fame of the fastest and most productive HDDs in the mass market of information storage systems. This imposes on the WD Black PCIe SSD a certain amount of expectations from buyers who similarly expect to get the fastest SSD for sane money.


Drive: WD Black PCIE SSD 256GB
Capacity, GB: 256
Serial read speed, MB/s: 2050
Serial recording speed, MB/s: 700
Maximum random reading speed (blocks of 4 KB), IOPS: 170,000
Maximum random recording speed (blocks of 4 KB), IOPS: 130,000
Controller: Marvell 88SS1093
Memory type: SanDisk, 15 nm, TLC NAND
Total number of bytes recorded (TBW), TB: 80
Mean time between failures (MTBF): 1,750,000
Connection interface: PCI Express 3.0 (NVMe)
Power consumption (read/record), W: 0,135
Form factor: M.2 2280
Dimensions, mm: 22x80x2,23
Weight, g: 7.2


The WD Black PCIe SSD feature set looks very attractive. It is an SSD with initial support for the prospective NVMe protocol and a PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection interface, the data transfer speed of which reaches 2050 MB/s for reading and 800 MB/s for recording. Pricing policy, as for such a class of devices, pleasantly surprises. Somewhat alarming is the fact that TLC NAND circuits are used as flash memory, which means that we are dealing with a «pseudo-SLC» buffer. So let’s have a separate look at every of the device’s features.

The drive is supplied in a medium-sized cardboard box containing the information on the exact name of the model, the amount of available space, serial number, date and country of production. Through an uncomplicated scheme, Western Digital does not forget to remind that it is optimal to create a «perfect» PC using a combination of fast SSD and a reliable HDD, which can also be selected from a wide range of devices from this American brand.

The delivery kit is not available as such. Inside the box, the user will find only the drive itself, fixed in a plastic blister to protect against damage during transportation.

The first thing that catches your eye after unpacking is the minimum size of the reviewed SSD. Being made in the M.2 2280 form factor, its dimensions are 22x80x2.23 mm, and the weight is only 7.2 grams. Against the background of the classic 2.5-inch SSDs, it looks just tiny.

The Marvell 88SS1093 controller is responsible for the speed. It was developed specifically for working with PCI-E 3.0 and NVMe, as well as 15-nanometer TLC NAND memory produced by SanDisk, with a guaranteed recording capacity of 80 TB. All the chips are placed on one side, as a result of which the rear part remained completely empty.

If you delve into the list of technologies supported by WD Black PCIe SSD, then in addition to the usual garbage collection, you will find mention of «complex algorithms for regulating thermal parameters and power management» as well. The fact is that among the fast drives in the M.2 format, the problem of strong heating during the load is quite common. And it did not bypass this model either. In the absence of additional cooling, the WD Black PCIe SSD warmed up to 44 ° C in idle and up to 70 ° C during operation.

The installation of a 120-mm fan with a speed of 700 rpm allowed normalizing the temperature regime – the peak temperature during a long period of continuous recording was 41 ° C. Thus, anyone who thinks about buying an SSD in M.2 format, regardless of the brand, should make sure that the used PC case is sufficiently ventilated.

The use of TLC NAND memory means the presence of a «pseudo-SLC» buffer, the capacity of which in WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB is slightly more than three gigabytes. This is not so much by modern standards and in the market you can find a sufficient number of models with a more capacious buffer. After filling it, the recording speed drops from a maximum of 700 MB/s to a noticeably more modest 220 MB/s.

The things are even worse when copying a large volume of real files. After a short time, the recording speed is limited to a range from 100 to 120 MB/s.

It remains not completely understandable the logic of WD engineers and marketers, who decided to equip the top solution in the manufacturer’s line of SSD with an inexpensive TLC-memory. Installing a more productive MLC NAND memory would completely solve the aforementioned problems with sagging performance and would also increase the lifespan of the device without having a significant impact on its retail value.

In classic synthetic benchmarks the WD Black PCIe SSD 256GB demonstrates high results which correspond and somewhere even exceed the declared basic characteristics. The maximum linear speed recorded by the CrystalDiskMark utility was 2142 MB/s for reading and 715.2 MB/s for recording. The SSD also proved to be very successful when working with 4K units, where data processing took place at a speed of 48.66/154.9 MB/s. Full disk load partially affects the reading results, reducing them to a mark of 1519 MB/s. The TRIM command is executed without any delays.

The speed of copying different file types ranges from 457.2 MB/s for the smallest of the Game subtest to an impressive 1132 MB/s for a single ISO image. The reviewed device copes well with both compressible and incompressible data.


Launching its fastest line of solid state drives – Black, the Western Digital Company equipped the novelty with an ultra-fast PCI-E 3.0 x4 connection interface and implemented the support for the prospective NVMe access protocol. In total, this provided the WD Black PCIe SSD with a high level of performance, typical for the top models in the segment for enthusiasts. At the same time, the price of the overviewed device at the start of sales is noticeably lower than the one ofpopular competitive models, such as Kingston HyperX Predator SSD, Samsung 960 Pro and Samsung 960 EVO.

At the same time, the memory of the standard TLC NAND and the lack of a proprietary NVMe-driver at the time of product launch should be noted as the drawbacks of the model. The last one, the WD developers will most likely fix in the nearest future.
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  • 14 March 2017, 13:20
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