Western Digital Launches Enhanced Budget-Friendly WD Blue SN5000 SSDs, Introduces New 4TB Variant

Western Digital has expanded its WD Blue NVMe family of budget SSDs this week with the introduction of the WD Blue SN5000 series, featuring an updated lineup of SSDs that now includes a 4 TB model. Although these are budget drives, the SN5000 series offers a combination of capacity, reliability, and relatively low price, which could appeal to both casual buyers and enthusiasts seeking inexpensive bulk solid-state storage.

The WD Blue SN500 NVMe drives come in an M.2-2280 form-factor and are built around an in-house WD controller, which the company does not disclose the codenames for anymore. This 4-channel DRAMless controller design is typical for budget and mainstream SSDs. The controller supports a PCIe 4.0 x4 connection, which according to WD’s specifications, should be fast enough to utilize the additional bandwidth of PCIe 4.0, even for a budget drive. All drives are single-sided and feature a thin graphene heat spreader for heat dissipation.

More surprising is WD’s choice of NAND. According to the company, they are using a mix of different generations and different types of NAND depending on the model. The 500GB/1TB/2TB models use WD/Kioxia’s older 112-layer BiCS 5 TLC NAND. Meanwhile, the new 4TB capacity is enabled by the company’s newer BiCS 6 NAND – but of the QLC variety. All drive capacities feature the same controller, providing a thread of commonality, but at a high level, WD leverages the higher performance of BiCS 6 to offset the shift from TLC to QLC.

WD Blue SN5000 SSD Specifications
Capacity 500 GB 1 TB 2 TB 4 TB
Controller WD In-House: 4 Channel, DRAMless
NAND Flash WD BiCS 5 TLC WD BiCS 6 QLC
Form-Factor, Interface Single-Sided M.2-2280, PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe
Sequential Read 5000 MB/s 5150 MB/s 5150 MB/s 5500 MB/s
Sequential Write 4000 MB/s 4900 MB/s 4850 MB/s 5000 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 460K 730K 650K 690K
Random Write IOPS 770K 800K
Peak Power 6.3W
SLC Caching Yes
TCG Pyrite Encryption 2.01
Warranty 5 Years
Write Endurance 300 TBW
0.33 DWPD
600 TBW
0.33 DWPD
900 TBW
0.24 DWPD
1200 TBW
0.16 DWPD
MSRP $70 $80 $140 $280

The performance of the WD Blue SN5000 series drives is rated for read speeds between 5000 MB/sec and 5500 MB/sec depending on the capacity, while write speeds range from 4000 MB/sec to 5000 MB/sec. For random performance, there are up to 690K 4K IOPS random read speeds and up to 900K 4K IOPS random write speeds for the highest capacity model. The lower-end 500 GB model is rated for 460K/770K 4K random read/write IOPS.

Overall, even with the 4TB model using QLC NAND, WD is promoting it as offering better performance than any of the lower capacity models. It is typically expected for QLC drives to lag behind TLC drives in performance, so the newer generation of NAND is providing significant help to put it ahead of other models.

This is also true for write endurance; the 4TB QLC model has the highest endurance rating, at 1200 TB written, followed by 900, 600, and 300 TBW for the lower capacity models respectively. Depending on the specific drive model, this translates to between 300 to 600 total drive writes or around 0.164 drive writes per day, which is standard for drives in this category.

In summary, the new drive family replaces WD’s previous generation of Blue drives, last year’s SN580 series. Comparatively, the SN5000 drives offer better sequential and random drive performance at all tiers, and the small 250GB drive has been dropped to make room for the new high-capacity 4TB model at the high end while the 500GB model becomes the new entry-level capacity.

Although the WD Blue SN5000 NVMe family seems poised as low-cost drives intended to compete aggressively on price, the launch prices are somewhat ambitious. The $70 price tag for the 500 GB version is pretty typical, while the $280 recommended price for a 4TB model places it in an awkward spot between several other 4TB drives. For example, the slightly slower Crucial P3 Plus 4TB can be found for $217, while WD’s significantly faster WD_Black SN850X 4TB is only $30 more, at $310. Given that Western Digital’s Blue drives are designed to be budget-friendly SSDs, we expect retail prices to align with market realities shortly.

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