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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 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

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

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

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 the 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 Hours1.80 Million Hours
DWPD (Drive Writers Per Day)0.30.3

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.

FeatureSamsung 980 ProWD Black SN850X
SLC Write Cacheapprox. 114 GB
(108 GB Dynamic/6 GB Static) (1TB)
Approx. 600GB
(576 GB Dynamic/24 GB Static) (2TB)
Approx. 300 GB (288 GB Dynamic
+ 12 GB Static) (1TB)
Speed when exhaustedApprox. 2200 MB/s (2TB)Approx. 1500MB/s (1TB, 2TB)
Cache Folding Speed1800 MB/s990 MB/s (2TB)
900 MB/s (1TB)

SLC Write Cache

The SLC (Single-Level Cell) write cache is crucial for temporary data storage before it gets written to the main storage area. The Samsung 980 Pro offers approximately 114 GB of SLC write cache for its 1TB model, divided into 108 GB dynamic and 6 GB static. On the other hand, the WD Black SN850 provides a significantly larger cache for its 2TB model, approximately 600 GB, with 576 GB being dynamic and 24 GB static. For its 1TB model, the cache size is around 300 GB, with 288 GB dynamic and 12 GB static.

Speed When Exhausted

The speed when the SLC cache is exhausted is another critical metric. The Samsung 980 Pro maintains a speed of approximately 2200 MB/s for its 2TB model. In contrast, the WD Black SN850 drops to around 1500 MB/s for both its 1TB and 2TB models when the cache is exhausted.

Cache Folding Speed

Cache folding speed refers to the rate at which data is moved from the SLC cache to the primary storage. The Samsung 980 Pro boasts a cache folding speed of 1800 MB/s. The WD Black SN850, however, has a lower cache folding speed of 990 MB/s for its 2TB model and 900 MB/s for its 1TB model.

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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