Western Digital's new drive promises to be every gamer's dream SSD

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Western Digital has its fingers in many storage pies, as it showed at its What's Next Western Digital Event today. As well as showing off 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard drives for enterprise users, and a just-as-impressive 16TB eSSD for those lucky server types as well, it also announced a couple of consumer SSDs that look to improve the lot of us mere mortals.

Alongside the DRAM-less WD_Black SN740, which looks very similar to the WD_Black SN770 (opens in new tab), it announced a new version of our favourite gaming SSD, the WD_Black SN850 (opens in new tab), called the WD_Black SN850X. Because Xs are cool. Well, this one definitely looks to be. 

As you would expect from any PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive being released these days it boasts higher throughput than its predecessor, with reads of up to 7,300MB/s. That isn't the only thing that caught my attention, although I'm never going to turn down more throughput—No, it's the triumvirate of technologies that make this an exciting prospect for hardcore gamers. These are:

  • Minimized latency
  • Predictive Loading
  • Adaptive thermal management

Both the minimized latency and predictive loading technologies use built-in intelligence to predict what you're doing and prepare data as needed. Sounds a bit like magic, but if they work, it could notably improve gaming performance. The original SN850 was already a speedy drive in real-world testing, so it shouldn't take much to rule the roost. 

The only issue I had with this drive's predecessor was it could get hot under load, although this never seemed to cause a problem in use. Still, even better thermal management should mean that it is an option for more cramped cases. The WD_Black SN850X will be available with and without a heatsink to help matters here.

These technologies all sound good basically, although we'll have to see what difference they make when I get it in the lab. The only unknown at this point is still Microsoft's DirectStorage (opens in new tab), which was mentioned as part of the drive's announcement, although little was said in the way of hard detail. 

The new WD_Black SN850X (opens in new tab) will be available from July, with higher capacities than its predecessor—it's available in 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB form factors now. Pricing starts at $189.99, a tad more expensive than the original SN850, which can be had for around $150, but not ridiculously so if all these technologies do as promised.

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Alan has been writing about PC tech since before 3D graphics cards existed, and still vividly recalls having to fight with MS-DOS just to get games to load. He fondly remembers the killer combo of a Matrox Millenium and 3dfx Voodoo, and seeing Lara Croft in 3D for the first time. He's very glad hardware has advanced as much as it has though, and is particularly happy when putting the latest M.2 NVMe SSDs, AMD processors, and laptops through their paces. He has a long-lasting Magic: The Gathering obsession but limits this to MTG Arena these days.