WD rolls out go-faster Black gaming SSDs, including chewy little gumstick

Western Digital’s Black brand gaming storage products have been given a go-faster flash upgrade, driving performance to the million IOPS level.

It has aimed the three new pieces of kit at gamers. WD has worked PCIe gen 4 magic to build a furiously fast drive moving data at up to 7GB/sec. For PCIe gen 3 users it has strapped two SSDs together to get to around 80 per cent of PCIe 4 speed, and it’s also built a Thunderbolt 3-connected gaming dock with an SSD inside too.

Jim Welsh, Consumer Solutions SVP at Western Digital, said in a canned quote: “Our latest WD Black products have been purpose-built to allow gamers to meet the increasingly high standards of future games and gaming platforms. We’ve optimised these products to not only provide more storage for gamers but to elevate the gaming experience as a whole.”

The PCIe gen 4 SSD gives a taste of the performance to be expected from coming PCIe gen 4 enterprise drives. Now for details:


The M.2 gumstick format SN850 SSD succeeds the SN750, with roughly similar capacity levels of 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. But it has a PCIe gen 4 x4 lane interface instead of the SN750’s gen 3 PCIe link.

SN850 M.2 2280 format drive.

The new drive has WD/Kioxia BiCS4 96-layer TLC 3D NAND inside it and pumps out up to 1 million ransom read IOPS with sequential read/write bandwidth of up to 7GB/sec and 5.3GB/sec respectively. The older SN750 did  up to 515,000 random read IOPS, 3.37GB/sec sequential reading and 3GB/sec sequential writing.  There’s a near doubling of read IO performance and much faster write performance as well.

SN850 M.2 2280 format drive with heatsink and lighting effects.

There is an optional heatsink to help reduce thermal throttling and this also gets you customisable red-green-blue (RGB) rim lighting effects controlled through a Dashboard utility running on Windows. The drive has a 5-year warranty and the endurance numbers are: 

  • 500GB – 300TBW, 0.3 Drive Writes per Day (DWPD) 
  • 1TB – 600TBW, 0.3DWPD
  • 2TB – 1200TBW, 0.3DWPD

You can download datasheet for more details.


For those of us, the majority, stuck with PCIe gen 3 but still wanting more speed, WD has combined two Black M.2 SN730 SSDs in a PCIe half-height, add-in-card format for its Black AN1500 drive. It has 1, 2 and 4TB capacity levels and uses an 8-lane PCIe gen 3 interface.

The SN730 is an OEM version of the SN750 and has 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. It delivers up to 550,000 random read/write IOPS, 3.4GB/sec sequential reads and  3.1GB/sec sequential writes. An SLC cache helps produce such high speeds from the same NAND as used in the SN850. 

The AN1500 SSD has more extensive lighting effects than SN850.

Two of these SN730 drives used as one, via RAID 0 (striping), in the AN1500 deliver up to 780,000/710,000 random read/write IOPS and up to 6.5 and 4.1 GB/sec sequential read and write bandwidth. That’s near-PCIe gen 4 speed and produced using a Marvell 88NR2241 controller, which has 3 Arm CPUs and 8Gb of DRAM cache per SSD.

The AN1500 has a heat sink and customisable RGB lighting, again through the Dashboard utility, with 16 different effects. The prices are; 1TB – $299.99, 2TB – $549.99, 4TB – $999.99 – and there is a downloadable datasheet.

D50 Dock

The third Black product is the D50 gaming dock with a Thunderbolt 3 connection to a host laptop, a 1TB or 2TB Black SDD inside, multiple accessory ports for a display, a mouse, a keyboard and other things, and a customisable RGB lighting bar. That needs the same Windows-only Dashboard utility as the other Black products above.

WD D50 gaming dock and ports.

Essentially it’s an external drive and Thunderbolt 3 dock combined. Thunderbolt 3 runs at 40Gbit/s and includes USB 3.1, supports DisplayPort 1.2, two 4K displays with video and audio signals, HDMI 2.0, and 10GbitE networking.

It’s made to stand vertically with the RGB lighting effects bar near its base.

The DOCK is available on its own with no drive inside and the MSRP prices are $319.99 for the dock on its own, $499.99 for the 1TB version and $679.99 for the 2TB model.


The Black SN850 non-heatsink model should be ready to buy by the end of October, with the heatsink version ready in the first 2021 quarter.

The Black AN1500 is available now at certain WD retailers, etailers, resellers, system integrators and the Western Digital Store.

The D50 game dock, with or without an internal SSD, is available for pre-order at certain WD retailers, etailers, resellers, system integrators and the Western Digital Store.