WD Blue SN500 SSD Review: NVMe Performance, Dirt Cheap

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WD Blue SN500 SSD - Pushing NVMe Mainstream

WD’s Blue family of solid state drives has historically been comprised of nothing but SATA-based offerings, but the company recently updated the line-up with some brand-new NVMe-based drives. The WD Blue SN500 we’ll be showing you here today is the first Blue-branded NVMe SSD from the company, and as has been the case with many of WD’s “Blue” products, it is aggressively priced and pushes NVMe into more mainstream territory.

The WD Blue SN500, however, does not target the high-end of the NVMe market; that is the WD Black family's job. As you’ll see in the WD Blue SN500’s specifications below, it’s much more tame than many of other NVMe solid state drives out there, but it still spanks anything based on the legacy SATA interface. Take a look...
wd sn500 box style
WD Blue SN500 SSD
Specifications & Features

Like the vast majority of M.2 consumer-class solid state drives, the WD Blue SN500 uses the common M.2 2280 (80mm) form factor. The back side of the PCB is completely bare, and the top side features a proprietary controller, a single piece of 3D TLC NAND, and various other components. Currently there are two drive capacities available in the line-up, 250GB and 500GB; we’ve got the 500GB model on hand.
wd sn500 angle 2
The WD Blue SN500 is built around a new, scalable NVMe controller – the same one used on the latest, flagship WD Black family of SSDs. On the Blue SN500, however, it is connected to the system over only two PCI Express lanes, so peak sequential transfers are limited versus higher-end drives with PCIe x4 interfaces.

Similar to most other affordably-priced NVMe solid state drives on the market that feature 3D TLC NAND, the WD Blue SN500 will use a portion of its NAND as an SLC (single-level cell) cache to accelerate writes. Data is first written to the SLC blocks to maximize performance, but should the SLC cache be saturated, data can still be written direct to the rest of the NAND. The WD Blue SN500, however, does not feature any DRAM cache memory. And it doesn’t use the NVMe HMB (Host Memory Buffer) feature either, which can leverage a bit of system memory as a cache. Rather, the controller on the SN500 has some embedded DRAM of its own that functions in a similar manner – the amount of DRAM on board hasn’t been disclosed, though.
wd sn500 angle
All told, the 500GB WD Blue SN500 NVMe SSD shown here offers up to 1.7GB/s reads, with 1.45GB/s writes (the 250GB model peaks at 1.3GB/s writes). Random 4K reads (at QD32T1) are rated at 210K IOPs and writes (QD32T8) at up to 170K. Endurance is rated at 300 TBW for the 500GB drive over its 5-year warranty. The smaller capacity 250GB drive’s endurance is half that of the 500GB drive.

There isn’t much included in the WD Blue SB500 SSD’s retail packaging, save for the drive and a basic lit pack. It does support the WD SSD Dashboard software, however, which is available for download via the company’s website.

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