WD Black SN750: Is that NVMe?

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WD Black SN750: Is that NVMe?

WD Black storage solutions are well known among gamers and performance enthusiasts. Based on reliability, performance, and endurance, they’re a solid choice when considering the competition. As I recently started piecing together my old/new system that’s been collecting dust, I had the opportunity to try the WD Black SN750 NVMe M.2 SSD. Mainly experienced with SATA III SSD performance, I needed to see the difference myself. Before we get to that though, here's a quick rundown of these two drive technologies.

WD 1TB Black SN750 NVMe M.2 Internal SSD

SATA III: SATA stands for Serial ATA and is the most common storage bus interface used with the standard Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI). These drives can be found in both 2.5" and M.2 form factors, as well as HDD and SSD variations from everyday desktops to ultra-thin compact laptop systems. SATA III has a bandwidth of 6 Gb/s or 750 MB/s.

NVMe: PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe stands for Non-Volatile Memory Express and is a newer host-controller technology. Unlike AHCI, which is optimized for rotating media, NVMe is built for non-volatile flash media such as SSDs. The Gen3 x4 denotes that it operates via PCIe 3.0 with an x4 connection. These drives are available in M.2, PCIe, as well as 2.5" U.2 form factors. PCIe 3.0 x4 has a theoretical bandwidth of 3940 MB/s.

Also, to help you understand what I'm working with, here are my system details.

CPU

4.0 GHz Intel® Core™ i7-6700K Quad-Core

Motherboard

ASRock Fatal1ty Z270 Gaming-ITX/ac

RAM

16GB (2 x 8GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX 3200 MHz DDR4

Storage

1TB WD Black SN750 M.2

1TB Samsung 860 EVO 2.5"

GPU

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 SUPER

PSU

Corsair SF Series SF600 SFX

The Little Everyday Things

Starting from scratch with clean drives, I began with the basics. If you’ve had to install Windows 10 on a hard drive before, you know that it takes a bit; however, I finished the process in around seven minutes using the NVMe drive. With the SATA one, it took me about nine minutes. From there, it was just nine seconds to my desktop from a cold boot versus 15 or so with the SATA drive. During the process of getting everything set up for some further testing, I could already feel a difference. Most of the software installations went by in three taps of the enter key, while some, like GPU drivers, took their course. The biggest time sink of all was spent redownloading my game library.

Having used traditional hard drives as my main storage media before, the initial upgrade to even a SATA SSD was already life changing. It was and remains my most recommended upgrade for everyone looking to improve a system that has gotten slower. Instead of being able to start my morning routine booting from an HDD, I now only have time for a quick stretch. What was that saying, every second counts?

Waiting Games

Around two years ago, I picked up a very capable 250GB Samsung 960 EVO, thinking I’d get to experience the wonders of NVMe for myself. Unfortunately, I never had the chance to complete my build because I was playing the graphics card waiting game. With the WD drive now, and an impulse purchase of a shiny new RTX 2070 SUPER, I figured now would be a good time as any to throw it in the ring. And for all gaming-intensive purposes, it performed within the range of the WD Black SN750. Regarding the SATA drive though, there were notable differences. Rather than posting benchmarks with similar results you can already find on the Internet, here are my real-world usage numbers (with some room for deviation of course).

Samsung 250GB 960 EVO NVMe M.2 Internal SSD

From Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 start menu to a moveable character in-game, it took the SATA SSD around 20 seconds, whereas the NVMe drive clocked in at 14. Repeating this “start menu to game” loading test with other titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Destiny 2, and Wolfenstein: Youngblood, I found differences ranging from three to eight seconds. Overall, it was pretty satisfying, but even more so when it just takes two seconds to restart a checkpoint. (Sorry, Lara.) There was not much benefit for multiplayer online games where everyone needs to finish loading, like League of Legends.

 

Samsung 960 EVO 250GB M.2

WD Black SN750 1TB M.2

Samsung 860 EVO 1TB 2.5"

Interface

M.2 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe

SATA 6 Gb/s

Sequential Read

3200 MB/s

3400 MB/s

550 MB/s

Sequential Write

1500 MB/s

3000 MB/s

520 MB/s

Envy and Me

So, let’s tackle the big question: Is NVMe worth it? The short answer: Yes.

  • If you’re using a traditional hard drive as your main boot drive, then YES.
  • If you’re currently using a SATA SSD? Maybe a lowercase yes, but still getting my seal of approval. While this upgrade saved some time in games, the benefits it offers your system beyond gaming is the bigger plus.
  • If you already have a NVMe drive. Probably not? Unless you’re aiming for better performance or larger storage capacities.
  • If you have a need to fill the slots on your motherboard? That’s a yes from me.

With SSDs becoming the standard these days and technologies surrounding storage improving, the price per GB has been dropping. NVMe drives are more expensive than SATA 2.5"-ers, but within reason. For gamers and enthusiasts, if you’re eyeing a NVMe M.2, especially during a sale, I’d say go for it. Also, if you haven’t heard, PCIe 4.0 is out and some drives have been reported achieving speeds of more than 5 GB/s. That’s right. Capital B. Thinking back to my Core™ i7-6700K, maybe next time we’ll test how much CPUs affect loading times.

What are your thoughts on NVMe SSDs? Are you using one? Drop us a Comment down below.

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1 Comments

I've used two machines, the first for almost two years now, both with motherboards having slots for MVMe M.2s.  Actually there are three M.2 slots in both machines, plus a tray for a 2.5" SATA III drive occupied with a 1T Hitachi 7200 RPM.  Two of the M.2 slots are for the 2280 profile, and the third for smaller profile 2242.

Originally both machines were shipped with an older 128G NVMe M.2, plus the Hitachi.  Almost immediately I swapped in two larger M.2s: a 500G for the boot and programs, cloned from the 128G, and a 1T for primary data and working storage, leaving the Hitachi as onboard storage for backup.  If I should ever need a third machine, I will readily repeat this upgrade.

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