Choosing a WD SSD – Get it Right First Time
Solid State Drive (SSD) technology is something that, though once considered out of the reach of the average consumer, is now very, very common. Considerably faster than the much older HDD technology, SSDs are now featured inside almost every commercial technology device that we use today in some large or small form. One of the biggest brands in the world of storage in 2020/2021 is Western Digital and unsurprisingly, they have an impressive selection of SSDs available to buy in their product portfolio. This combined with WD being connected with SanDisk and UltraStar, has resulted in their range of SSDs for sale being incredibly diverse and confusing. So, if you are in the market to buy a new SSD from WD, it can be awfully confusing and you can spend hours trying to narrow down the literal hundreds of SSDs on offer to the right one, losing hours along the way. Never fear, I have taken the time to break down the key product families (WD Blue, Green, Black, Red and Gold) and separated them into what each one is designed for, what each one can do, what it cannot and ultimately help you decide the best SSD for your storage needs. However, before we start, it is worth taking a moment to learn about the key buying factors that affect the performance and suitability of any SSD compared with another.
Choosing the Right WD SSD – A Guide to the Terminology
Before we discuss each of the WD SSD family members, it is worth highlighting some of the most common buying factors that affect the performance and durability of an SSD. It is with these that you can measure the suitability of the SSD with your own personal/business needs. Often the higher the capacity of an SSD, the lower the durability (unless you go towards exceptionally high-end NAND), or the fact that the most expensive SSD does not always guarantee the highest IOPs, or negate the lower drive writes per day. Below ar the key factors that you should keep an eye on when looking at the specifications and build of an SSD.
NAND Types (the Cells/Chips used in the SSD) –
- SLC: Single-level cell NAND flash supports 50,000 to 100,000 write cycles
- MLC: The 2-bit data multi-level cell (MLC) flash generally takes up to 3,000 write cycles. eMLC (enterprise MLC) sustains up to10,000 write cycles, and can reach 35,000 cycles on 3D NAND
- TLC: Triple-level cells (3-bit) NAND flash is low at 300-1000 write cycles, and can achieve 1500-3000 write cycles with 3D NAND
- QLC: Quad Layer Cells, featuring 4 Bit flash – Highest Capacity available at the lowest price, but lower durability overall. Requires improved controllers for stability
- 3D NAND Technique – Method of stacking/writing data vertically on chips, resulting in even faster retrieval and more efficient space utilization. Often featured with TLC and MLC NAND
- eXLC – Often featured as eMLC, eTLC, and eQLC, it is an enterprise-quality build and utilization of the existing MLC/TLC/QLCNAND usually featured for improved consistent speeds and more write cycles on balance
TCO – Total Cost of Ownership, In a TCO calculation, cost per gigabyte still has a role, but it’s only a very small part of a much bigger picture. Other metrics – such as IOPS per watt and capacity and performance per rack – also come into play. The truth is that TCO can’t be measured with any single metric; it’s a mix of several measures that should be weighted according to the unique workloads of the storage system.
IOPS – Input/output operations per second – (IOPS, pronounced eye-ops) is an input/output performance measurement used to characterize computer storage devices like hard disk drives (HDD), solid state drives (SSD), and storage area networks (SAN).
TBW – Terabytes Written – measures how much you can write cumulatively into the drive over its lifetime
DWPD – Drive Writes Per Day – specification of a drive to calculate the number of times that the user capacity of a drive can be written per day over the warranty period
TBW ÷ (warranty years × 365 days/year× Drive Capacity in GB) = # DWPD
MTBF – Mean Time Between Failures, is a popular measurement for HDDs but not as meaningful for SDDs.
ECC – (error correction code) software corrects random bit errors that are quite common in NAND flash, and helps to correct bit errors from wear. By correcting both types of errors, ECC lengthens the lifetime of a block.
TRIM – These commands are not typically error-checking tools, but do improve performance by immediately wiping deleted pages or blocks. Without TRIM, the SSD controller does not actually wipe deleted data until it is ready to write new data to the same location
WD BLUE & SN550 NVME SSD – For Home, Domestic and Standalone Use
We start with the BEST cost vs hardware SSD drive of all, the WD Blue SSD series. These are designed with day to day access and long term use in mind, as well as arriving in both a SATA and NVMe form. Once these would have been recommended for use for your operating system inside a non-mission-critical PC (general browsing etc), but now with the inexpensive of SSD even at 1TB and it becoming ideal for your operating system, start-up and primary apps, the WB Blue SSD moved into being more than just a bog-standard SSD and is now an impressively scaled drive, with the SN550 NVMe SSD serving as a good commercial/SMB drive for PCIe equipped user devices.
WD Blue 3D NAND SSD Highlights
WD 3D NAND – 250GB-4TB, SATA 2.5” and M.2 SATA, 530 MB/s R/W, 95K/81K IOPS R/W, 0.3 DWPD, 5YR WARRANTY, 1.75Million MTBF
WD Blue 3D NAND SSD – 250GB-1TB, NVMe PCIe Gen 3, 2,400/1,950 MB/s R/W, 410K/400K IOPS R/W, 0.37 DWPD , 5YR WARRANTY, 1.7Million MTBF
Also Consider – SANDISK SSD PLUS
WD RED SA500 SATA SSD – For NAS Server Use in Caching and/or Live Access
Possibly the most well know WD HDD Color we will talk about today, WD Red is the Drive you need for your NAS Server. If you are looking at buying a brand new Synology NAS for your home or a beefed-up QNAP NAS for your business, then it is paramount you get media that is designed to not only be ready for sporadic and irregular read and write (as your access to the NAS Server will differ constantly) but also media that is designed to be on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alongside the popularity of WD Red in the work of NAS, WD have invested heavily in SSD technology and presented an SSD that is tailored for use in NAS drives, both as a means of adding caching to improve performance in/outside of your system, as well as for raw data access over connections like 10Gbe and Thunderbolt 3 NAS. In this environment, a regular SSD is just no longer suited and though will perfect the job, will do so much slower in Read/Write MB/s, have a lower endurance rating, less than ideal TBW and worse of all have a lower IOPs rating than you need – which for caching, can be critical. Lastly, WD Red SA500 NAS SSDs are concurrently available in M.2 SATA format, but with more and more NAS drive manufacturers involving the faster NVMe SSD cache into their systems (Synology DS1621XS+, QNAP TVS-872XT and Asustor LockerStor 10 Pro to name just a few), it will not be long before WD Move into this area of SSD NAS Storage.
WD RED SSD Highlights
WD 3D NAND – 500GB-4TB, SATA 2.5” and M.2 SATA, 530 MB/s R/W, 95K/82K IOPS R/W, 0.38 DWPD , 5YR WARRANTY, 2Million MTBF
Also consider – SANDISK ULTRA 3D
WD GREEN PC SSD – For Basic SSD Use in non-critical Devices
Considered the entry-level SSD, the WD GREEN SSD arrives in SATA and m.2 SATA formats. Though not as affordable as the WD Green HDDs of old, they’re still considered a lower power and more discreet SSD. If you are looking for a small-capacity SSD for your hardware, on a device that is less frequently, or urgently accessed (so high IOPs and Higher Read/Write is not key), then the WD Green SSD range is the best one for you. Generally, the WD Green series, once very popular, is largely overlooked these days. This is once again largely due to the manufacturing technique of SSD 3D NAND becoming far more efficient and affordable, leading to the WD Blue and WD Black series becoming far more desirable.
WD Green SSD Highlights
SLC NAND- 120GB-1TB, SATA 2.5” and M.2 SATA, 530 MB/s R/W, 20K/15K iops R/W, 0.3 DWPD , 3YR WARRANTY, 1Million MTBF
WD BLACK SN750 NVME SSD – For Speed Critical and Performance Priority Tasks
Serving as the Performance and High Intensive access SSD choice, the WD Black series has been circulation for a relatively shorter time compared with the NAS and Desktop SSD media over in both the SSD and HDD industry, as well s arriving at a steeper price point. However, this is largely down to the use of some hugely top-grade NAND, Controllers, choice of interface (one of the latest NVMe revisions you can get, though still compatible with older varients) and arrives with a unique heatsink addition where needed. Whether it is through the marketing around WD Black or the history of the WD Black HDD range previously, those with a background in PC building and Photo Editing will be aware of this product family. Outperforming the majority of the WD SSD range, it also features much higher grade NAND, so both performance and durability is impressive, though the available capacities might seem a little lower than what many would be used to for 4K projects in post-production – so use them for Live Editing, but they are wasted on your archive – so keep them sharp! They are seen as the drive of choice of large scale media editors due to their balance of large capacity vs access speeds
WD BLACK SN750 NVMe SSD Highlights
3D NAND SSD – 250GB-2TB, NVMe PCIe Gen 3, 3,400/2,900 MB/s R/W, 410K/550K iops R/W, 0.3 DWPD, 5YR WARRANTY, 1.75Million MTBF
Also Consider – SANDISK EXTREME PRO 3D
WD GOLD u.2 NVME SSD -For Enterprise and High-End Flash Use
However, if it is a high-end performance at a hyper-scale level (so large servers, flashstation and data centers) you are looking for, the WD Gold SSD range, with its utilization of PCIe NVMe Gen 3.1 x4 via U.2 is almost certainly the one you need to be looking for. Although purely U.2 equipped servers are very, VERY much at the top end of the market, the WD Gold is pretty much the GO-TO drive in their SSD portfolio you need to consider. It is worth highlighting that at this point, you should also be looking at UltraStar SSD (acquired in the WD/HGST merger in recent years). But, with Secure Data Erasing featured, as well as SED and FIPS level encryption on the table (it’s a recent release, so always growing), the WD Gold SSD range is by FAR their best performing SSD as far as IOPS, DWPD and TBW come in, and if you are looking for a data center SSD in 2020/2021 without the fuss, then look no further!
WD Gold U.2 NVMe SSD Highlights
3D NAND SSD – 250GB-2TB, NVMe PCIe Gen 3.1 x 4, 3,100/1,800 MB/s R/W, 465K/65K IOPS R/W, 0.8 DWPD, 5YR WARRANTY, 2Million MTBF
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