Seagate Firecuda 530 vs WD Black SN850 SSD Comparison

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530

If you have recently purchased a modern generation gaming PC, Video setup or new generation console, then chances are that when looking at optimal storage media for your system, you likely narrowed your choices down to the Seagate Firecuda 530 (released in summer 2021) or the WD Black SN850 (released in Winter 2020) SSD. Although these two drives look incredibly similar to numerous M.2 media that came before, these solid-state NVMe drives represent the highest-performing PCIe 4.0 that either brand’s respective gamer/prosumer series have to offer, each hitting (and in some cases exceeding) 7,000MB/s performance. Both of these drives are able to exceed pretty much all of the understood maximums thanks to several key factors in their architecture. That said, that very modern architecture varies quite wildly as soon as you take even a casual glance at the specifications and its impacts on performance, durability and capacity is actually quite significant. So, today I want to take a good look at the Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 SSD to see whether they excel, where they fall short of their competitor and, ultimately, which one deserves your data! First up, let’s take a look at the early architecture here:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr
 

So, one of the earliest differences between each drive as we can see is the NAND being utilized and laters. Both use TLC 3D Memory (par of the course for 2021 – finding a good line between capacity, performance and durability over MLC/QLC on either side of the scale) but there Seagate Firecuda 530 uses the higher-performing 176L vertically stacked layers, allowing greater performance and greater capacity per physical cell (with the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD having a current capacity cap of 4 Terabytes and the WD Black at 50% less on 2TB). For those confirmed with endurance (which we will touch on later on) the 176L over the 96L does not result in negatives on durability (quite the opposite in fact) and both of these SSDs are managed by impressive top tier controllers. The Seagate uses the late 2020 formally revealed Phison E18-PS5018 controller (also used by a few other SSD manufacturers), whereas WD has its own massive in-house R&D manufacture available and has ait’s own unique WD Black G2 controller. We talk in a moment about how this impacts their respective performance, but fair play to WD for continuing to keep their SSD development 100% in house with this one. Both drives arrive with 5 years of warranty (though their DWPD/TBW do differ noticeably) which is quite standard, but it is worth highlighting that the Seagate Firecuda 530 also arrives with 3years of data recovery services included. Know as the Seagate Rescue Service, it allows you to access professional data recovery services in the event of accidental deletion, reversing corruption and recovery services at no additional cost (there are T& course). It’s a small extra on the face of it, but for anyone that has lost key data (in the case of this drive utility, I am talking 4K raw video, savegames, editing projects, etc), this is a very noticeable extra to have thrown in!

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

For many users, the size of an SSD and the price tag is going to be the most compelling argument one way to another on the best drive for their needs. Though the price you pay and the total storage ARE important, SSD like the WD Black SN850 and Seagate Firecuda 530 are much more than that. That said, it is fair to say that the WD Black SN850 provides the best price per GB/TB on every tier (500GB, 1TB and 2TB). Although there are regional differences that go beyond currency conversion (see the 2TB in £ vs $) and recent hardware shortages because of semiconductor shortages and Chia also played their part, the fact the WD Black arrived on the market 6+ months early has resulted in the price being a little more flexible right now – leading to it being at the lower price.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 N/A

However, there capacity differs slightly, with the Seagate Firecuda 530 NVMe SSD arriving at the larger 4TB – though at an eye-watering price point! If the cost of the SSD is an absolutely huge factor in your decision, the WD BLACK SN850 SSD clearly wins here, however it is worth taking a moment to read further to see what you get for your money – as, in some of the higher tiers, the difference between Price and Value is a great deal clearer.

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

Whereas the WD Black SN850 took a remarkably strong and clear early lead over the Seagate Firecuda 530 in terms of price, things take an immediate reverse in terms of performance between them. The reported maximum sequential Read and Write throughput on these drives from either brand is almost completely a win for Seagate and the Firecuda 530 in all but the 500GB. Now some of this credit can clearly be dedicated to that Phison E18 controller and 176 layer 3D NAND, but also the 2TB and 4TB SSDs feature double-sided cells (ie the chips are on either side) disturbing the read/write activity a bit. That NAND also provides some great durability (will touch on later) but the clear increase on the Firecuda 530 over the WD Black SN850, especially in the write activity as you rise through each capacity tier is remarkably impressive and only really rivalled by similar SSDs like the MSI Spatium, Sabrent Rocket Plus and Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 7000s.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB N/A

The WD Black NVMe PCIe 4×4 SSD certainly holds its own, maintaining that solid 7000MB/s write, but reported write speeds to seem a tad inconsistent at each GB/TB tier and fall behind significantly at each comparable Firecuda 530 drive (with the exception of the 500GB WDS500G1X0E model).

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

A much more SSD specific measurement, IOPS, shows us a much more even playing field on the reported performance, with advantages and disadvantages on both sides. One immediate plus for both the WD Black SN850 and Seagate Firecuda 530 is that they both break the 1 Million IOPS threshold respectively at the 1 Terabyte tier, with even the lowly 500GB WD Black SN850 managing to hit the 1M Random Read IOPS, more than double the reported Random Read IOPS of the Firecuda SN850. However the Seagate Firecuda 530 then maintains the 1M IOPS breakpoint, first in Write at the 1TB level and then continues to provide 1,000,000 Read and Write on the Terabyte tiers – with the WD Black capping at 1M/700K on those same tiers.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 680,000
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 720,000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A

Although IOPS are a tough and extremely relative-to-file’ method of measurement in real-world practice, the benefits of that E18 controller and NAND choice by Seagate here on the 530 are another win – though only JUST!

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Unlike the other points in this comparison of the Firecuda 530 and SN850, the Endurance and Durability of an SSD is an area that is overlooked often enough that I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank you years from now! The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the WD Black SN850 and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

TBW = Terabytes Written, rated as the total number of terabytes that this SSD can have written to it in its warranty covered lifespan. So if the TBW was 300TB and the warranty is 5 years of coverage, that would mean that the drive can receive on average (with deleting/overwriting data each repeatedly) 60 Terabytes per year (or 5TB a month). After this point, the manufacturer highlights that durability, endurance and performance will decline. Often highlighted as an alternative to warranty length when gauging the predicted lifespan of a SSD.

DWPD = Drive Writes Per Day / Data Writes Per Day, this is a decimalized figure that represents what proportion of the capacity of an SSD (where 1.0 = 100% capacity) can be filled, erased and/or rewritten on a daily basis. This is provided using the warranty period and TBW figure. So, for example, if a 500GB drive has a 0.3DWPD rating, that is approx 150GB of data per day

MTBF = Mean Time Between Failure, which is the interval between one failure of an SSD and the next. MTBF is expressed in hours and most industrial SSDs are rated in the Millions of Hours. MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) have largely become overlooked in recent years in favour of TBW and DWPD in SSDs, but are still stated on most Data Sheets.

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 stand on this:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.7DWPD N/A

And that is a very clear win for the Seagate Firecuda 530, with its significantly longer predicted lifespan for writing in its 5-year reported warranty period. Of course, if you are not going to be fully replacing the data on your drive on a regular basis, then you may not be concerned about the 0.7DWPD on the Firecuda 530 over the 0.3DWPD on the SN850, which is understandable. However, I would highlight that for Seagate to state that this SSD will maintain the reported performance benchmarks, as well as that durability is no small thing and although they cost more per GB/TB, you can see that this is where that extra money is seemingly going.

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

Comparing two SSDs like the Seagate Firecuda 530 and the WD Black SN850, although very similar in base architecture, may seem a little mean-spirited. There is clearly more than half a year of difference in when these two SSD were introduced to the market and in terms of technology, that is pretty huge. However, now that more and more affordable motherboards are integrating PCIe Gen 4 in their systems, modern home gaming consoles like PS5 are featuring storage expansions for PCIe 4×4 m.2 and even NAS brands are slowly approaching PCIe 4 in their servers, I think more people are going to compare these two high-end drives. the WD Black SN850 is very well priced right now, providing PCIe 4.0 Speeds at the same price as many PCIe 3.0 drives, with blanket 7,000MB/s Read performance on all models, cracking the 1Million IOPS threshold even on smaller capacities and getting head start on the PCIe4x4 M.2 NVMe market. However, given the large number of 7,000MB/s Read and 6,500-6,800MB/s Write drives that have been unveiled in the last 3 months, the WD Black may have arrived the tiniest bit TOO early to the party, before manufacturers could properly catch up (blame Covid, blame shortages, blame trade wars, blame Chia, you name it, it happened!). the Seagate Firecuda 530 on the other hand has arrived at the time when the latest generation on the kit that desires this kind of storage has been re-tooled and means it is very well placed. That isn’t to say that the Firecuda 530 gets by on luck, no, the incredible durability increase, consistent high performance on R/W and even arriving with a 4TB model off the bat make it a very convincing choice to ultimately win in this comparison. The data recovery stuff (for the few people that may actually use it) is a cherry on the cake too.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

Best Performance  
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  
Best Extras  
Best Value DRAW DRAW
Where To Buy

 

 


Articles Get Updated Regularly - Get an alert every time something gets added to this page!


This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today's content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Visit the NASCompares Deal Finder to find the best place to buy this device in your region, based on Service, Support and Reputation - Just Search for your NAS Drive in the Box Below

 

SEARCH IN THE BOX BELOW FOR NAS DEALS

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do choose to buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry.

    By clicking SEND you accept this Privacy Policy

    Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

    Leave a Reply