December 2019 Review Blog

 

Western Digital & SanDisk SSD Drives

Introduction

This month we are looking at SSD (Solid State Drives )storage solutions from Western Digital and Sandisk.

Digital file sizes have increased exponentially in the last few years and they continue to grow with the release of larger and more densely packed photographic sensors.

The average Uncompressed 14-bit Raw file size rendered with my Nikon D850 is a staggering 100MB. Compare that to five years ago my Nikon D300s file size was 25MB a fourfold increase, will we be looking at gigabyte file sizes in the coming years? 

The current SATA (Serial AT Attachment) mechanical drives are struggling to transfer this large data quickly.

Western Digital has introduced a variety of SSD (Solid State Drives) significantly increasing data transfer speeds, SSD drives have no moving parts increasing the longevity of the drives.

The three types of drives supplied by Western Digital :

The above drives were provided by Western Digital UK for this blog review, this will be an unbiased and factual review based on my findings.

All the drives will be speed tested, synthetically with software and a manual transfer of a 6.3GB file to and from each test machine.

Methodology 

The M.2 form factors drives are designed for internal installation via an M.2 socket on a motherboard. The PCIe drives are tested inside an external caddie (ElecGear NV-C01 External Aluminium Cooling Case) with an USB-Type C connection. The SATA M.2 drive is tested inside an external caddie (FIDECO M.2 SATA NGFF External SSD Enclosure) with an USB-Type C connection.  

iMac i5 Test Machine

Each drive will be speed tested withBlack Magic and Anamorphous Disk Mark software on a 5K iMac Quad-Core 3.2Ghz i5 32 GB 1867 MHz DDR3 Ram late 2015 and Catalina 10.15.1. OS.

A manual data transfer of 6.3GB to each drive will be timed, upload and download speeds will be recorded. USB 3.0 – Type A

MacBook i9 Test Machine

Each of the drives will be speed tested with ‘Black Magic’ and 'Anamorphous Disk Mark’ software on a MacBook Pro i9 8 Core 2.8GHz 16Gb 2400 MHz DDR4 Ram, running Catalina 10.15.1. OS.

A manual data transfer of 6.3GB to each drive will be uploaded and downloaded, these speeds will be recorded. USB 3.1 Gen 2 - Type-C

Comparison Test of Existing Mechanical Drives

A 6.3GB file transferred between the iMacs internal 1TB Seagate HDD mechanical drive to an external Seagate mechanical 4TB HDD and speeds recorded.

Test Result Layout

Test Results

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD 500GB

The SanDisk drive is a portable external PCIe SSD drive, weather and dust sealed (Rated IP55). Enclosed in an aluminium body and finished with smooth rubber on the rear with a textured finish to the front. 

This is a beautifully crafted drive, feeling solid in the hand with good weight; the case is accented with orange aluminium to the sides.

Size is 11.03 x 5.73 x 1.02 cm 

Drive supplied with a 5-year Limited Warranty

Transfer rate is up to 1050MB/s

iMac i5 USB 3.0 – Type A

MacBook i9 USB 3.1 Gen 2 – Type C

Western Digital Blue SN500 M.2 2280 PCIe 500GB

The WD Blue SN500 has a PCIe Gen3 8Gb/s, up to 2 lanes and its form factor is M.2 2280.

Size is 8.1 x 2.21 x 0.23cm (L x W x H). 5-year Limited Warranty

The drive transfer rate is up to 1700MB/s

iMac i5 USB 3.0 – Type A

MacBook i9 USB 3.1 Gen 3 – Type C

Western Digital Blue M.2 2280 SATA 1TB

The WD Blue 3D NAND SATA is the only non-PCIe drive tested. Its form factor is M.2 2280.

Size is 8 x 2.21 x 0.23cm (L x W x H) 5-year Limited Warranty

The drive transfer rate is up to 560 MB/s

iMac i5 USB 3.0 – Type A

MacBook i9 USB 3.1 Gen 2 – Type C

Western Digital Black SN750 M.2 PCIe 1TB + Heatsink

The WD Black SN750 is PCIe Gen3 8Gb/s, up to 4 lanes.

Its form factor is M.2 2280 and with the heatsink measures 8 x 2.42 x 0.81cm (L x W x H) 5-year Limited Warranty

The drive transfer rate is up to 3470 MB/s

iMac i5 USB 3.0 – Type A

MacBook i9 USB 3.1 Gen 2 – Type C

*Unfortunately, Amorphous Disk Mark failed to run on the MacBook, not sure if it was a compatibility issue.

Findings

There are several mitigating factors to consider in regards to the above tests, including but not limited to:

  • CPU Speed
  • Memory Installed
  • USB Type

The identical 6.3GB file was transferred between the internal 1TB Seagate HDD and external 4TB HDD on the i5 Mac, the results were significantly slower than any of the SSD drives tested. Incredibly the WD Black SN750 drive is 10 x faster a welcomed and significant boost to productivity.

The current upload and download data transfer speeds iMac i5: 

Upload        46 Seconds      

Download   50 Seconds

Reliability and Life Expectancy

The reliability of SSD drives appears to have increased over the last few years. Firmware developed by the various manufacturer's attempt control wear by the use of algorithms that attempt to distribute data evenly across the cells. 

There is a however a maximum limit that cells can be written before the cells start to forget new data, estimates vary widely online. Please see the link below for a superb and informative article on SSD reliability.

SSD Reliability by Roderick Bauer on BLACKBAZE.COM

Conclusions

SSD Drives are fast, indeed blazingly fast, especially the Western Digital Black SN750. That’s not to say the Western Digital Blue drives are slow far from it. The slowest SSD the WD Blue SATA 3D NAND drive is up to 20 seconds faster at transferring 6.3GB of data than the HDD mechanical drives.

Benefits of SSD drives

  • Silent
  • Small Form Factor
  • Low Power
  • Not affected by Magnetism
  • Reliability – No Moving Parts
  • Access Time

Negatives of SSD Drives

  • Price – Higher cost compared to Mechanical Drives
  • Capacity – SSD drives are still relatively small compared to mechanical drives

The cost of SSD drives has fallen in recent months quite considerably with larger capacities being made available. Smaller drives are being utilised in RAID configurations to serve as storage with all the benefits of SSD drives listed above.

The negatives of SSD drives should be virtually eradicated as the technology improves and prices continue to fall. Please bear in mind these are my results and yours will be different dependant on the configuration of your PC/Mac.

I can wholeheartedly recommend any of the Western Digital/SanDisk drives tested, on a lower budget the WD Blue range will certainly breathe new life into slow PCs and Mac’s. The SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable is a rugged and weatherproof drive for all those adventurists, who require data storage on the go. Require ultimate speed you should consider the WD Black series these are faster than fast. (not a technical term)

Final Thoughts 

Researching SSD drives online was enjoyable but frustrating at times, the variations of SSD drives can be confusing. My advice, check compatibility and suitability of the SSD drives with your system first.

Western Digital has a wonderful online support community group where you can find great advice on choosing your first SSD drive.

I have approached Western Digital to review their new G-DRIVE with Thunderbolt 3  external drives in the coming months.

Many thanks to Western Digital UK for making this review blog possible and you guys for supporting Gaelic Memories Photography.

 

Stephen

Next Months Review Blog Spider X Elite from DataColor 

*Disclosure “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Purchase :

Western Digital Black SN750 M.2 PCIe 1TB + Heatsink 

Western Digital Blue M.2 2280 SATA 1TB 

Western Digital Blue SN500 M.2 2280 PCIe 500GB 

SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD 500GB 

MacBook i9 

iMac i5 

ElecGear NV-C01 External Aluminium Cooling Case 

FIDECO M.2 SATA NGFF External SSD Enclosure 

SSD G-Series

SSD Drive Terminology :

M.2 Form Factor and M.2 Solid State Drives 

3D NAND 

NVMe 

M.2