Review: Western Digital Blue 1TB Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Western Digital (WD) has been successful in the storage industry for many years and is also one of the few manufacturers left. Some of the well-known HDD that WD has produced over the years are the Black series for performance, Blue series for mainstream PC, Red series for NAS and etc. Late last year, they had also ventured into the solid-state drive segment. There was not much publicity done, at least not one that I have seen so far.

On 1 Nov 16, WD introduced both the WD Blue and WD Green SSD,  offering consumers with more options. SSD is slowly replacing HDD as it now cost less than S$0.60/GB compared to a few years ago. Many people are now adopting SSD simply because of the speed it offers as well as the less space it requires. You can easily stack 8 SSD into a mATX PC versus to 4 HDD. 

The WD Blue SSD is available in both 2.5″ SATA (7mm)  and M.2 2280 (NVMe) form factor, and capable of up to 400 Terabytes Written (TBW). It offers up to 545MB/s and 525MB/s of sequential read and write speeds, in different capacities – 250GB (S$139), 500GB (S$259) and 1TB (S$499). Locally, it comes with 3-year limited warranty.

WD Blue 1TB_1     WD Blue 1TB_2

WD Blue SSD is built using the 2nd generation TLC flash node, and features SLC cache technology. Its multi-tiered caching architecture that uses both SLC and TLC blocks help maximise the read/write speed to improve responsiveness.

I conducted a benchmarking test with the WD Blue 1TB SSD using both CrystalDiskMark v3.01 and v5.2.1, so that I can compare the speed of my current in-use SanDisk® Extreme. The sequential read/write speed is close to what is published by WD. The slightly lower speed recorded by me could be limited due to the ageing CPU (Intel Ivy Bridge i5-3570).

CrystalDiskMark v3.0.1     CrystalDiskMark v5.2.1

While the sequential read/write speed may look good, it is less of a good indicator in my opinion as it is unlikely that you will run operations that read sequentially. You should be more concerned with the 4K Q32T1 indicator instead. It represents the SSD’s random 4KiB read/write with multi queues and threads. A file transfer from a WD Black 1TB HDD (on SATA2 interface) to the WD Blue 1TB SSD (on SATA3 interface) is able to achieve a constant speed of 75MB/s (limited by the HDD).

File Transfer (Write)

Do note that the above benchmark and file transfer tests are indicative results only, as there are many other systemic factors such as CPU, RAM, SATA speed and etc that could affect the results. 

Other features that the WD Blue SSD includes are S.M.A.R.T monitoring, Advanced Power Management (APM), Native Command Queuing (NCQ), TRIM and is backward-compatible with SATA1/SATA2.

CrystalDiskInfo After Upgrade

Along with the release of the SSD, WD has also provided consumers with means to monitor and update the SSD using “WD SSD Dashboard“. I found the software pretty informative and simple to use.

1_WD SSD Dashboard     2_PerfMon     3_Trim     4_Drive Details

A firmware upgrade only requires a few clicks and a reboot to complete. This is especially important for end consumer who are not so technical to keep the drive in good operating conditions. A step-by-step guide is as followed:

  1. Go to Tools and click on “Firmware Update”.
    FW1_WD SSD Dashboard     FW2_New FW Update
  2. Click on “Update SSD Firmware”.
    FW3_New FW Found
  3. Afterwhich, you will be prompted to restart your system and the update will automatically run. Tada! Your SSD is successfully updated.
    FW5_Up to Date FW     FW6_Updated FW

In summary, I felt that the WD Blue 1TB SSD is a worthy market competitor in terms of speed and durability, and would be a good upgrade for me. For those who are purchasing new PC or upgrading your PC/laptop, do consider the WD Blue SSD.

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