Kingston KC3000 vs. WD Black SN850

Kingston Kc3000 Review
Kingston Kc3000 Review (Image credit: Windows Central)

I recently reviewed the Kingston KC3000 PCIe 4.0 SSD and came away quite impressed with its performance and durability rating. WD's Black SN850 is another PCIe 4.0 drive in direct competition with the KC3000, and anyone looking to upgrade their laptop or build a custom PC will likely have these SSDs on their radar. A comparison is in order to help you decide which one is best suited for your needs.

Kingston KC3000 vs. WD Black SN850: Tech specs

Take a look at the specifications that make up each of these drives.

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Header Cell - Column 0 Kingston KC3000WD Black SN850
FormM.2 2280M.2 2280
Capacities512GB, 1TB, 2TB, 4TB500GB, 1TB, 2TB
ControllerPhison E18WD Black G2
InterfacePCIe 4.0x4NVMe 1.4PCIe 4.0x4NVMe 1.4
Durability512GB: 400 TBW1TB: 800 TBW2TB: 1,600 TBW4TB: 3,200 TBW500GB: 300 TBW1TB: 600 TBW2TB: 1,200 TBW
Read speed7,000MB/s7,000MB/s
Write speed512GB: 3,900MB/s1TB: 6,000MB/s2TB, 4TB: 7,000MB/s500GB: 4,100MB/s1TB: 5,300MB/s2TB: 5,100MB/s
WarrantyFive yearsFive years
~$ per GB512GB: $0.201TB: $0.162TB: $0.154TB: $0.22500GB: $0.181TB: $0.142TB: $0.13

Design, features, and performance

Kingston's KC3000 and the Western Digital (shortened to WD) Black SN850 are both PCIe 4.0x4 drives with NVMe 1.4. These are "full-size" M.2 2280 drives, capable of slotting into the best laptops and PCs. While PCIe 4.0 is backwards compatible with the likes of PCIe 3.0, these drives are best reserved for the latest standard. If you're using a PC that tops out at PCIe 3.0 and don't plan on upgrading anytime soon, some of the other best SSDs on the market will be better suited.

The KC3000 uses a Phison E18 controller and has 176-layer 3D TLC NAND. The Black SN850 uses its own WD Black G2 controller and it has 96-layer 3D TLC NAND. For the average person this difference isn't going to matter much; neither drive offers hardware-based AES encryption, and the difference in NAND isn't going to be a huge factor.

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

PCIe 4.0 drives generally run hot due to their boosted transfer speeds. The Black SN850 has an optional heatsink (seemingly permanent) you can choose to add at checkout. If you'd like to add something to the KC3000, it looks like you'll have to go with a third-party option. The KC3000 has a graphene sticker included, but it doesn't do as good of a job as a full heat-spreader.

In my own testing, the Kingston KC3000 performed admirably, posting read and write scores above many other SSDs I've reviewed. Unfortunately, I've yet to personally test the SN850, but we can take a look at theoretical performance caps to get an idea of how it performs compared to the KC3000.

Source: Western Digital (Image credit: Source: Western Digital)

Both drives offer up to a 7,000MB/s write speed for all capacities. Read speeds are a different matter. The KC3000's 512GB option tops out at 3,900MB/s, while the 1TB model hits 6,000MB/s. The 2TB and 4TB models both read 7,000MB/s read speeds. On WD's side, the Black SN850's 500GB model hits a faster 4,100MB/s read speed, but its 1TB and 2TB models lag behind the KC3000. They respectively hit 5,300MB/s and 5,100MB/s read speeds.

One final thing to note is the Terabytes Written (TBW) rating. This gives users an idea of how long the drive should last under normal operation. The KC3000 comes out ahead in this regard for all capacities. If you're someone who expects to be transferring large files day in and day out, this might sway you. Both SSDs come with a five-year warranty period.

Sizes and price

Source: Western Digital (Image credit: Source: Western Digital)

There are four KC3000 sizes available, ranging from 512GB all the way up to 4TB. The largest drive gets quite pricey, but at least it's an option. The Black SN850 ranges from 500GB up to 2TB, so you don't get the same large-capacity option. Most people are buying in the 500GB to 2TB range anyway, so not a huge deal.

As we saw, the KC3000 should be a bit faster than the SN850 when it comes to write speeds at larger capacity, and it has a better TBW rating. It's important to clarify that the SN850 is still an awesome PCIe 4.0 SSD for just about any use, and the fact that it costs less than the KC3000 will matter a lot to many people. If you don't mind some of its fairly minor drawbacks, you will save some money by going with the WD Black SN850.

Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt brings to Windows Central more than eight years of experience writing about laptops, PCs, accessories, games, and beyond. If it runs Windows or in some way complements the hardware, there’s a good chance he knows about it, has written about it, or is already busy testing it.