Two Different Brands With Same Internals Featuring BiCS 3D NAND

Are you wanting to purchase a brand new SATA SSD with the latest in 3D NAND technology, capacities up to 2TB and sequential speeds up to 560MB/s?  Look no further than the WD Blue 3D NAND and Sandisk Ultra 3D SSD series. These two series obviously have different brand names on them, but internally they are identical. How can this be? Western Digital completed the acquisition of SanDisk in 2016 and now we are starting to see some products come to market that are identical internally and being sold by both of these widely known brands. WD believes that the WD Blue will do better with new system builders and DIY enthusiasts whereas the SanDisk Ultra will be more appealing for buyers at brick and mortar stores along with upgrade users.   WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 2D SSD   Both of these drives are built using 64-layer 3D BiCS NAND, which is looking to offer much better performance than 'old' 2D planar TLC NAND Flash memory that was used on prior generations. This new NAND technology makes TLC NAND based products act more like MLC NAND in period of long sustained writes. The WD Blue 3D NAND and Sandisk Ultra 3D SSD series drives are available in the popular 2.5-inch form factor with 250GB, 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. If you are needing a M.2 2280 single-sided form factor drive, you'll only be able to find that under the WD Blue 3D NAND series as they are not offered under SanDisk. Sequential performance is rated at up to 560MB/s read and 530MB/s write on on the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB drives, while the 250GB model gets rated slower at up to 550 MB/s read and 525 MB/s write.When it comes to 4K Random IOPS performance the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB drives capacities are rated at 95K read and 84K write and once again the 250GB model is rated lower at 95K write and 81K read. Both brands  are backed by a 3-year limited warranty and have access to Acronis True Image HD software for easy data migration if you might need to clone a drive. WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD Series Specifications:  We did extensive testing on both models and found no significant difference between the two. That said, the performance numbers were still off by less than 5% and due to that we won't be including both drives in our testing to keep things simple. So, from this point on we'll be taking a look at today is the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB SSD that is sold under part number WDS100T2B0A for $259.99 shipped ($0.26 per GB). This particular model has an endurance rating of 400 TBW. That means the drive should be good for 365GB of drive writes per day over the 3-year warranty period. The drive will likely last much longer than that as 400 TBW is a fair bit of data being written to the NAND! WD Blue 1TB 3D NAND SSD The WD Blue 1TB 3D NAND SSD is your typical run of the mill 2.5" drive if you just look at it. You have a black metal enclosure that is 7mm thick and a simple label on the front. If you want to open this drive there are four screws under the label on the back that need to be removed. WD Blue 1TB 3D NAND SATA SSD Label The label on the back of the drive has the model, serial and WWN (world wide name) numbers along with the build date and other information that might be needed if an RMA were ever needed. [caption id="attachment_202474" align="aligncenter" width="645"]WD SSD Dashboard WD SSD Dashboard[/caption] The WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D series both have robust SSD toolboxes that will allow you to monitor the drive, check the S.M.A.R.T. attributes, secure erase the drive, update the firmware and more. You must use WD SSD Dashboard for WD branded drives and SanDisk SSD Dashboard for SanDisk branded drives as they aren't interchangeable. Let's take a look at some benchmarks of this drive!

The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM Support

Before we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (version 1709 build 16299) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance and we also disabled c-states and Turbo mode on the Intel Core i5-8400 to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F GAMING Motherboard The Intel Z370 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS ROG STRIX Z370-F Gaming motherboard with BIOS 0606 that came out on January 4th, 2018. We used Intel Chipset Driver v10.1.1.45, Intel Management Engine Interface v11.7.0.1045 and Intel RST v15.9.0.1015 drivers. This is important to point out as they include some of the fixes for Meltdown and Spectre design flaws that have recently rocked the PC Market. The Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4 16GB 3200MHz memory kit was run with CL15 memory timings and a Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512GB SATA SSD was used as the primary drive.

Intel Z370 Test Bench

Intel LGA 1151 Test Platform
Component Brand/Model Live Pricing

Processor

Intel Core i5-8400

Motherboard

ASUS STRIX Z370-F Gaming

Memory

Corsair Vengeange LPX 3200MHz 16GB

OS Drive

Samsung 850 PRO 512GB

Power Supply

Corsair RM850x

Operating System

Windows 10 64-Bit

CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 Readout:

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.5.1 shows that the WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D series supports S.M.A.R.T., APM, NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version X61130WD installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The overall capacity shows up as 931 TB on the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB SATA III SSD in Windows 10 version 1709. Please remember that 1GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes. A certain portion of capacity may be used for system file and maintenance use, thus the actual available capacity may differ from the labeled total capacity. Does The WD Blue 3D and SanDisk Ultra 3D SATA III SSD Series Support Trim?  Most SSDs today support the TRIM command, but we still run a quick test to ensure that the command is being properly passed through to the SSD and being done. A great free utility called TRIMCheck can be run to ensure that TRIM is functioning properly. trimcheck hellfire According to TRIMCheck v0.7, these two drives do execute the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!

Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

Anvil SSD Benchmark with 100% Compression (incompressible data):

Benchmark Results: The Anvil SSD Benchmark showed that with 100% compression (incompressible data) the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB SATA drive was able to achieve a score of 4,616.42 points with 493 MB/s read and 398 MB/s write speeds when it comes to the measured sequential performance with 4MB file sizes. 

Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:

Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found the overall score improved to 4,651.94 points.  Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K Random Read performance and found we topped out at 96,300 IOPS using the 46% compression preset that best matches typical applications.  WD specifications show this drive as having a maximum 4K Random Read IOPS of up to 95K at QD32 and we surpassed that! The QD1 to QD4 performance numbers are heavily used on consumer PCs and the QD1 performance was the lowest of the eight drives we have tested, but the QD2-4 low queue depth performance was solid. Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the WD Blue 1TB 3D NAND SSD topped out at 84,900 IOPS at QD16 and that is close enough for us to the drives 85K rating.  The QD1 4K Random Write Performance was by far the lowest of the eight SSDs tested, but at QD2 the performance was on par with the other drives. 

ATTO & CrystalDiskMark

ATTO v3.05

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.

ATTO - WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB:

Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB drive reaching speeds of up to 564 MB/s read and 536 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 560 MB/s max sequential read and 530 MB/s max sequential write, so we exceeded both of those scores on our Intel Z370 based test platform.    Benchmark Results: Compared to some other SATA III SSDs we can quickly see that there isn't much difference with regards to sequential read performance. The Crucial BX200 didn't do too hot in the sequential write test, but the BX300 was notably better. When it comes to small file transfers almost all SATA III SSDs perform the same., so nothing too exciting here.    

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 x64

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) and shows the highest score of five runs.

CystalDiskmark - WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB:

Benchmark Results: The WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB reached 563 MB/s read and 535 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test. Random 4K QD1 performance was 32 MB/s read and 63 MB/s write. Those 4K random performance numbers improved up to 221 MB/s read and 203 MB/s write at a queue depth of 32.  Manually running the Sequential performance test at Q1T1 showed performance of 455 MB/s read and 422 MB/s write. The QD1 performance on this model is underwhelming for both sequential and random operations. ATTO tests at QD4 and CDM by default only tests sequential performance at QD32, so something to be aware of. Anvil tests sequential performance at QD1 and our testing showed the WD Blue 3D NAND had the lowest QD1 performance of the eight SATA III drives that we have tested on this particular test platform. Let's look at some other benchmarks!

AS SSD Benchmark

AS-SSD (2.0.6485.19676) Benchmark:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from all three of them.

AS SSD - WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB:

Benchmark Results: On AS SSD, the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB drive had an overall score of 1,1141 points with sequential read speeds of 482.5 MB/s and 498.9 MB/s write. The 4K random results were down at 30.1 MB/s read and 56.6 MB/s write. 

AS SSD  Copy - WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB:

Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were on par with what one expects from a SATA III SSD with speeds ranging from 482.5 MB/s in the Program to 526 MB/s in the Game benchmark. These are impressive results for a budget friendly SATA SSD!    Benchmark Results: We are fans of the AS SSD copy benchmark tests, so we charted the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TD drive against 7 other SAT drives to see how it performs. We were actually shocked to see just how well this 3D TLC NAND drive performed against some big name brands. 

AS SSD  Compression - WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB:

Benchmark Results: For this benchmark chart you would ideally want to see a straight line as you don’t want any compression performance loss as the test goes from 0% compressible to 100% compressible data during the benchmark test period. The WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB had virtually no dips on the read side and just one around the 50% mark on the write side. 

Linear Write and Real World File Transfer Testing

AIDA64 Disk Benchmark

We've had some people ask for AIDA64 linear write tests to be done, so we fired that utility up to see what would happen. When you take a look at extended sustained write performance you'll see that the performance never significantly dropped off and we quit after writing to 27% of the drive. Not many people will be writing over 250GB of data to the drive without a break, so we are pretty happy to see this value drive handling such an intensive task with ease. The average speed is right around 502 MB/s, which is impressive to say the least.

Real World File Transfer

Before we wrap things up we wanted to see how real-world was when writing a movie folder containing seven 1080P movies over to the SSD. For this test, we are going to simply stress write performance by transferring over a 30.6GB folder of movies off of a PCIe NVMe SSD to the drive being tested to see how performance looks. When it comes to writing large amounts of data to the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB drive came in right at 496 MB/s when writing over 30 GB of movies to the drive, which is just shy of the average we saw in the linear write test in AIDA64. You don't see real world numbers that close to benchmark applications that often, but we aren't going to complain as the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB drive is performing along side the Samsung 860 and 850 series drives! We'll talk more about that in the conclusion on the next page.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

The WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD 1TB drives really shocked us with how well they handled heavy workloads and sustained writes. There was virtually no slow down with sustained write activity! The BiCS3 64-layer TLC (triple level cell) 3D NAND appears to offer good performance and endurance at excellent price points, so they have a winner here. Here we have a value or budget oriented SATA drive and our tests found it performing alongside the best mainstream and performance SATA drives on the market today. The one and only area that needs improvement would be QD1 performance, but that is it. WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 2D SSD When it comes to pricing we did find that the WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND drives differ in price by up to $20. Since both drives are identical internally we highly suggest comparing prices between both series to find the capacity with the lowest price.

WD Blue 3D NAND SATA SSD Pricing 

SanDisk Ultra 3D NAND SATA SSD Pricing 

The 1TB model that we tested today actually has the lowest price per GB of the four capacities available and feels like a pretty good drive to go with for a new system build that needs budget friendly mass storage. At $259.99 shipped, the WD Blue 3D NAND 1TB SSD beats the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB ($283.44 shipped) and even the new Samsung 860 EVO ($329.99 shipped) when it comes to pricing. Samsung once dominated the entry level SATA market with the EVO series, but the latest 3D NAND drives from WD and SanDisk show that they have what it takes to be competitive. We are also seeing that the performance gap between TLC and MLC drives is going away and that is a very good thing. If you are looking for a new SATA III SSD we can easily recommend the WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD to our followers that are looking for a budget friendly drive that offers solid performance that should last for years to come. LR Recommended Award Legit Bottom Line: The WD Blue 3D NAND and SanDisk Ultra 3D SSD don't suffer performance degradation with long file writes and are priced right!