WD Black SN770 SSD Review: Killer Gen 4 Storage For Gamers

WD_Black SN770 Review: More Benchmarks, Gaming And The Verdict

EFD Software's HD Tune is described on the company's website as such: "HD Tune is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive's performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more." The latest version of the benchmark added temperature statistics and improved support for SSDs, among a few other updates and fixes.

HDTune v5.75 Benchmarks

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In terms of bandwidth, we see the WD Black SN770 landing about in the middle of the pack in both the sequential and burst tests. Its read latency (along with the other DRAM-less drive), is much higher, however. The WD Black SN770's write latency is great, though.

CrystalDiskMark x64 Benchmarks

CrystalDiskMark is a synthetic benchmark that tests both sequential and random small and mid-sized file transfers using incompressible data. It provides a quick look at best and worst case scenarios with regard to SSD performance, best case being larger sequential transfers and worse case being small, random transfers.

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The WD Black SN770 performed extremely well here, all things considered. It finished in the middle of the pack in the higher queue depth sequential transfer test, but finished strong in the low queue depth sequential test. In fact, its Q1 read performance lead the pack. The WD Black SN770 also put up strong random 4K transfers, leading the pack yet again in the QD32 and remaining competitive at QD1.

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Game Level Load Times

We also tested game level load times using the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker benchmark. This tool loads an array of different game levels during its graphics benchmark and outputs the average result when complete.

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We tested the WD Black SN770 in both standard and game modes in the gaming related benchmarks. Here, the WD Black SN770 technically finishes in the middle of the pack, sandwiching the Samsung SSD 980 Pro depending on the mode being used. It's right there in the mix, though. Note the significant increase in performance over the PCIe Gen 3 WD Black SN750.

UL's 3DMark Gaming Storage Benchmark

aUL recently added a gaming-centric storage benchmark to 3DMark, that leverages trace-based tests of actual PC games and gaming-related activities (like streaming with OBS) to measure real-world gaming performance in a variety of scenarios. The tests include things like loading Battlefield V, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, and Overwatch from the initial launch to the main menu, recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS while playing Overwatch, installing The Outer Worlds and saving game progress. And finally, copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive from an one drive to another.

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We've just begun using this test, and have yet to build up a database of results. For comparison here, we have the WD Black SN770 in both its standard and game modes, versus the previous-gen SN750, which was also running with its game mode enabled. Regardless of which mode was used, the WD Black SN770 performed similarly -- game mode didn't have much of an impact -- but the newer Gen 4 drive offered significantly higher throughput loading all of the games and in the gaming-related transfer tests.

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The latency results mirror what we saw in the bandwidth tests. Game mode had virtually no impact on latency with the WD Black SN770, and the newer drive offered better latency characteristics than the older SN750 throughout.

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The overall score reflects what we saw in the individual tests. Game mode had minimal impact on performance here, and the WD Black SN770's increased bandwidth and lower latency result in a much higher score than the previous-gen drive.

UL's PCMark 10 System Drive Storage Test
We like PCMark 10's new quick storage benchmark module for its real-world application measurement approach to testing. PCMark offers a trace-based measurement of system response times and bandwidth under various scripted workloads of traditional client / desktop system use cases.

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In the trace-based PCMark tests, the new WD Black SN770 kicked some tail. As we saw in some of the synthetic tests, the WD Black SN770 offers strong 4K transfers, with relatively low latency, and competitive IOs, especially with 4K - 64K transfers at lower queue depth. All of that added up to a first place finish in PCMark 10.

WD Black SN770 PCIe Gen 4 SSD: The Verdict

The WD Black SN770 is an excellent, mainstream SSD. The drives will be available immediate on WD’s website and select etailers, at prices ranging from $59.00 - $269.00 (MSRP USD). At those prices, the WD Black SN770 can be had for about $0.23 – $0.13 per gigabyte depending on the capacity, which makes them some of the more affordable PCIe Gen 4 SSDs currently on the market.

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Although the WD Black SN770 doesn’t stand out in terms of sequential transfers, the 1TB drive we tested offers excellent performance where it matters most. Random 4K transfers were highly competitive with some of the highest-performing drives on the market and in the trace-based tests, the SN770 led the pack. WD’s new controller and BiCS5 TLC NAND deliver excellent performance, even in this DRAM-less design.

If you’re shopping for an affordable, but high-performance SSD for a new gaming rig, the new WD Black SN770 should definitely be on your short list.

  • Top Trace-Based PCM10 Results
  • Sequential Tests Surpassed Rated Specs
  • Low Latency
  • Competitive Pricing
  • Middling Sequential Transfers
  • Relatively High Temps Under Load

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