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WD Black SN850X vs Samsung 980 Pro: Which one to buy?

    Let’s face the truth. The number of competitors for the Samsung 980 Pro is increasing rapidly. I have compared the very popular WD Black SN850 with the Samsung 980 Pro in this article. SN850 just smashed the 980 Pro.

    And now, there is another addition to WD Black’s team. WD Black SN850’s upgraded version is right here. It is named WD Black SN850X. It comes in three variants i.e. 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB. I have compared these both as well in another article. It has got some performance improvements over the SN850.

    I was getting a lot of requests for the comparison of the WD Black SN850X and Samsung 980 Pro. So, here I am again to reveal which one is the best pick for whom.

    Right off the bat, I should add that the WD Black SN850X lacks hardware encryption which could be a notable drawback for some users. But, we are going to cover all other aspects here in this article. So, let’s get started.

    SpecificationWD Black SN850XSamsung 980 Pro
    Storage Variants1TB, 2TB, 4TB250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
    Theoretical Read Speed (Seq)Up to 7,300 MB/sUp to 7,000 MB/s
    Theoretical Write Speed (Seq)Up to 6,300 MB/sUp to 5,000 MB/s
    Random Read SpeedUp to 1,200K IOPSUp to 1,000K IOPS
    Random Write SpeedUp to 1,100K IOPSUp to 1,000K IOPS
    Warranty5 Years5 Years
    Heatsink OptionAvailableAvailable
    EncryptionNot AvailableAvailable
    PriceCheck AmazonCheck Amazon

    The WD Black SN850X has a slightly higher sequential read speed of 300 MB/s. In terms of sequential write speed, the WD Black SN850X is significantly faster than the Samsung 980 Pro in this aspect, with a difference of 1,300 MB/s.

    The WD Black SN850X has a random read speed of 1,200K IOPS, which is 200K IOPS faster than the Samsung 980 Pro’s random read speed of 1,000K IOPS. The random write speed of the WD Black SN850X is 1,100K IOPS, while that of the Samsung 980 Pro is 1,000K IOPS, indicating that the WD Black SN850X is 100K IOPS faster in random write speed.

    We are talking about the top variants (2TB and 4TB) of both the SSDs hence their maximum performance. The smaller storage variants will have their own specifications.

    The test-bench specifications are as follows.

    CPU: Intel Core i5 12600K (10 Cores/16 Threads) (4.90 GHz)

    Memory: 8x2GB DDR5 (4800 MHz)

    Motherboard: MSI Pro Z690-A DDR5

    Heatsink: Installed

    These benchmarks are done using the 1TB variants of both SSDs. During the tests, they are 0% filled. Let’s see the differences.

    For these tests, I have used the CrystalDiskMark software. For the sequential performance test, I have used 1MB I/O size and 1GB File size. Queue Depth is 8 and Thread is set to 1.

    sequential read/write benchmark scores bar graph (samsung 980 pro vs wd black sn850X)

    For this random performance test, I have used 4KB I/O size and 1GB File size. Queue Depth is 1 and Thread is 1 as well.

    random read/write benchmark scores bar graph (samsung 980 pro vs wd black sn850X)

    Clearly, the WD Black SN850X is winning here in these fundamental read/write benchmark scores. SN850X has around 500MB/s higher sequential read speed. The sequential write performance is much higher with SN850X i.e. around 1200 MB/s.

    But, the random read/write scores are not that much different. The SN850X is on the winning side again.

    Anvil’s Storage Benchmark software runs all the tests automatically and gives you a final read/write score. A higher number means better performance. It runs a wide array of tests including Seq 4MB, 4K, 4K QD4, 4K QD16, 32K, and 128K, in both read and write formats. The test size here in this case is 8GB.

    Anvil's Storage Utilities Scores Comparison bar graph

    I have used these 4 tests for this benchmark with AS SSD software:

    • Seq
    • 4K
    • 4K-64Thrd
    • Acc. Time
    ASSSD Benchmark Scores Comparison Bar graph (980 Pro vs SN850X)

    Surprisingly, the Samsung 980 Pro is winning this benchmark by good numbers. The major difference can be seen in the data write scores. During the benchmark, I observed that the Samsung 980 Pro performed comparatively better on 4KB-64 Threads.

    3DMark Benchmark Test for gamers bar graph comparison

    Since the Samsung 980 Pro doesn’t come with a dedicated game mode, this comparison was not fair. Still, the SN850X was winning the battle without even the game mode turned On.

    PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark Scores Bar Graph

    Benchmark Results: I would say WD Black SN850X is a much more capable Gen 4 NVMe SSD as compared to the Samsung 980 Pro. But, endurance and price are one of the big factors here. We will talk about it below.

    ParameterSamsung 980 ProWD Black SN850X
    TBW250GB: 150 TBW
    500GB: 300 TBW
    1TB: 600 TBW
    2TB: 1,200 TBW
    1TB: 600 TBW
    2TB: 1,200 TBW
    4TB: 2,400 TBW
    Warranty5-Years Limited Warranty5-Years Limited Warranty
    MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure)1.50 Million Hours

    For the matching variants such as 1TB and 2TB, the TBW ratings are the same so there is nothing to be talked about here.

    Technical SpecificationSamsung 980 ProWD Black SN850X
    NAND Flash TypeSamsung 3-bit MLC V-NANDSandisk’s TLC NAND
    NAND Flash Layers128/136112
    ControllerSamsung Elpis ControllerWD Proprietary Controller
    Controller ConfigurationsNot SpecifiedTri-core/4-Channels
    Heatsink OptionAvailableAvailable
    EncryptionAvailableNot Available

    3-Bit MLC NAND simply means a TLC NAND. So, both are using the same type of NAND. However, there is a difference in the number of layers. 980 Pro is covering a wider area with the NAND Flash. But, it doesn’t make any huge difference.

    The difference can be there if you are serious about data protection. WD Black SN850X lacks any kind of encryption. But, the company has tried to add everything else in as good a manner as possible. So, if data protection and encryption is important to you, SN850X should not be the ideal choice.

    By the time I am writing this article, the Samsung 980 Pro 1TB is available at around 20 bucks cheaper than the SN850X 1TB. The difference is much higher in the 2TB variants. So, price is going to be a factor for most buyers.

    If you are just looking for performance and nothing else, just go for the WD Black SN850X. Its dedicated game modes and better sequential and random read/write performance makes it a perfect choice for hardcore users and gamers especially.

    But, if your budget is a little tight, Samsung 980 Pro is a good and well-reputed option to go with.

    Both of these are Prosumer NVMe SSDs and are pretty expensive than the competitors.

    But, if you want to pick between both, I would say SN850’s performance is completely worth its higher price tag.

    Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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