We're already making progress in migrating from traditional hard disk drives (HDD) to SSDs, but not all of the latter are created equal. Newer technologies in the flash storage department allow for faster drives and larger capacity, but this comes at additional cost — and SSDs aren't cheap, even in 2017.
Still, companies continue to roll out more advanced SSDs, and Western Digital's 3D NAND Blue series sports some capable storage drives. We took a look at the 2.5-inch 1TB variant to see if it is worth the money.
WD Blue 3D SSD specifications
On paper, the 3D NAND Blue series is flashier than the flash storage contained within the outer shell. It's worth noting that the following specifications are for the 2.5-inch drives and not the M.2 range.
|Sequential read||560 MB/s||560 MB/s||560 MB/s||550 MB/s|
|Sequential write||530 MB/s||530 MB/s||530 MB/s||525 MB/s|
|Random read||95,000 IOPS||95,000 IOPS||95,000 IOPS||95,000 IOPS|
|Random write||84,000 IOPS||84,000 IOPS||84,000 IOPS||81,000 IOPS|
|Endurance||500 TBW||400 TBW||200 TBW||100 TBW|
|NAND||SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC||SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC||SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC||SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC|
|Controller||Marvell 88SS1074||Marvell 88SS1074||Marvell 88SS1074||Marvell 88SS1074|
|Warranty||three years||three years||three years||three years|
Blue means go
Western Digital offers the new Blue range of drives in both 2.5-inch and M.2 flavors, depending on your needs and available budget. M.2 cards are connected directly to the motherboard, as opposed to standalone drives that require a SATA connection and offer exceptional speeds. Samsung SSDs are faster overall, for sure, but they also cost considerably more.
|Header Cell - Column 0||WD Blue||INTEL 545S||Crucial MX300||850 EVO|
|Read||560 MB/s||550 MB/s||530 MB/s||540 MB/s|
|Write||530 MB/s||500 MB/s||5100 MB/s||520 MB/s|
The performance, endurance and other features of this drive are in line with high-end SATA SSDs. Western Digital also offers a number of tools and utilities that can be used with the Blue SSD, including the rather good SSD Dashboard. This piece of kit shows you everything you need to know about the drive itself, including health, access to Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (S.M.A.R.T) reports, performance graphs, and more.
Here's the test bench we used to carry out both synthetic and real-world testing:
- CPU — Intel Core i5-6600K (clocked at 4.4 GHz).
- Motherboard — ASUS PRO GAMING.
- RAM — 4x 4GB Patriot DDR4 2400.
- GPU — ZOTAC GTX 1070 AMP! Extreme Edition.
We performed the tests below while the drive was completely void of any files, before installing software and games.
We used version six of CrystalDiskMark, which allowed us to again match numbers supplied by Western Digital with read and write speeds coming in at 560 MB/s and 533 MB/s, respectively.
This handy tool allows us to see just how well the drive performs with specific sizes. Compressible sequential read and write speeds seemed to match (and surpass) manufacturer's numbers, which is always a bonus when purchasing storage, and there was a nice curve to the results.
Conclusion: WD Blue 3D is a solid performer
Numbers are all good on paper, but how does the drive perform in real-world scenarios? I installed a handful of games on the WD Blue — GTA V, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Witcher 3 and X3: Albion Prelude. We compared to other SSDs in the test system, including a Crucial CT250M, Kingston SV300, OCZ Agility 3, and a Seagate Barracuda for good measure.
Against other SSDs with similar technology, you'll not notice much improvement, if any. Compared to older SSDs there is definitely a noticeable improvement in loading times for software and games, and against an HDD is a no-brainer result. Should you be in the possession of an SSD or few already with similar speeds, you'll likely not get much out of picking up the WD Blue.
However, should you currently be using an HDD for games or an older-generation SSD, the WD Blue series is worth considering. Pricing also isn't out of this world, allowing you to pick up a 500GB and 1TB version for $142.99 or 289.99, respectively.
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Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.