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

Western Digital has its fingers in a lot of storage pies, as it showed at its What’s Next Western Digital event today. In addition to showing off 22TB CMR and 26TB UltraSMR hard drives for business users and an equally impressive 16TB eSSD for those sorts of lucky servers, it also announced some consumer SSDs looking to improve many of us mere mortals.

Along with the DRAM-free WD_Black SN740, which looks a lot like the WD_Black SN770announced a new version of our favorite gaming SSD, the WD_Black SN850, called WD_Black SN850X. Because Xs are cool. Well this one definitely seems to be.

As you would expect from any PCIe 4.0 NVMe drive released today, it has a higher transfer rate than its predecessor, with reads of up to 7,300 MB/sec. That’s not the only thing that caught my eye, although I’ll never turn down more throughput – No, it’s the triumvirate of technologies that makes this prospect exciting for hardcore gamers. These are:

  • minimized latency
  • Predictive Loading
  • adaptive thermal management

Minimized latency and predictive loading technologies use built-in intelligence to predict what you’re doing and prepare data as needed. It seems a bit like magic, but if it works, it can noticeably improve gaming performance. The original SN850 was already a fast drive in real-world testing, so it shouldn’t take long to master the roost.

The only issue I had with this unit’s predecessor was that it could heat up under load, although this never seemed to cause a problem in use. Still, even better thermal management should mean it’s an option for tighter cases. The WD_Black SN850X will be available with and without a heatsink to help here.

All of these technologies look good basically, although we’ll have to see what a difference they make when I put them in the lab. The only unknown at this point is still Microsoft direct storagewhich was mentioned as part of the unit’s announcement, though little was said in terms of hard-and-fast details.

The new WD_Black SN850X will be available from July, with higher capacities than its predecessor – it’s available in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB formats now. Pricing starts at $189.99, a little more expensive than the original SN850, which can be had for around $150, but not ridiculously so if all these technologies deliver.

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