In an age where digital data has become the prevalent form of media (side note: remember CDs?) it’s important to have a good Hard Drive, or even better, a few good HDDs. Anyone serious about gaming has considered moving to a Solid State Drive, whether it’s the form factor being smaller, or the silent running, but it always comes down to one thing: speed.
Western Digital have been killing it with SSDs for a while now, but the WD_Black promises up to 3470MB/s reading which, to those wondering, means it’s incredibly fast. For comparison sake, picking a generic 2.5 inch internal SSD from Amazon, they offer upwards of 500MB/s, so that’s a significant increase. In gaming terms, this means that not only will games load faster, but they’ll even run slightly better thanks to that speed: textures can load quicker, etc. Of course, multiple facets that can be improved are also down to optimization of the game itself, but generally I noticed a significant increase in load times during games such as Metro Exodus and Anthem.
In fact, Anthem is a curious case, because it’s a game plagued by long load times and, frankly, load screens where there shouldn’t be any. I’m not going to pretend that a lightning fast SSD such as the WD_Black makes Anthem a game you should buy, but it made it tolerable for me. While I still got irritated by the absurd issues such as loading a loadout menu, the frustration was lessened because while others were reporting load times of minutes, I think the worst I had was maybe 90-120 seconds. Sure, it’s not good enough for a modern game, but comparing to the load times on Xbox One X, or even on a normal HDD, it makes it tolerable. Perhaps not a ringing endorsement of Anthem, but certainly a positive of the SSD on deck here.
Switching to the WD_Black for program installations is an interesting one, too. Premiere Pro, the tool we use for video production here, made for faster-loading software, but also using the drive for the cache files meant that previews load quicker and, generally, editing is much swifter. In truth, it’d have been better to have multiple SSDs for Premiere, with cache files on a separate drive to the software, but know that a drive like this will speed up your editing when it comes to previewing and rendering. That said, there are always multiple bottlenecks with such intensive software, so an SSD like this will help, but won’t always necessarily fix any issues you’re having.
If you own an older motherboard, there’s a chance you’ll need a PCIE adapter, which allows the M.2 (NVMe or AHCI) type of SSD to fit your board, and if so, it’s a case of screwing the WD_Black to the PCIE card, then slotting it into a PCI slot on your board. If not, the SSD goes directly onto your board and is absolutely tiny. In fact, if you’ve not done much PC building there’s even a chance you won’t have ever noticed the M2 slot before, but being right on the board makes it discreet and, well, it’s one of those things you look at and marvel at how small tech has become.
Something that isn’t quite as impressive about this unit is the price. The 1TB unit we’re covering here is going to set you back over £200, while a 500GB model will set you back £100, and the 250GB is closer to £65. It’s not bank-breakingly bad, and it’s worth mentioning that SSDs are usually an item you think about being “inexpensive, because it’s a hard drive!” and are then shocked by the price when you check them out. For comparison sake, a 1TB standard internal SSD is £139, but you aren’t going to get anywhere near the performance that the WD_Black gives. The numbers don’t lie: it’s a lightning fast drive – we’re talking “copying some files oh it’s done” levels of speed here. It’s also worth noting the 2018 models of this unit are cheaper, though I can’t be sure of the differences, it seems that the 2019 has faster speeds across the storage sizes, whereas the 2018 model is quicker than the 1TB model.
But if you’re in the market for a new SSD, or an upgrade, or even just starting with an SSD, then honestly, you shouldn’t really be thinking about going cheap. Storage is important, ever more so in this modern world, and while cloud backups are great, most of us have good but not incredible internet. Western Digital are leading, as usual, when it comes to storage, and despite the high price tag, I really can’t recommend the WD_Black enough if you’re in the market for a drive upgrade. You probably don’t need 1TB for your main drive, and it might even make more sense to buy a 250GB model for Windows and some software, and a 500GB model for gaming. Regardless, if you’re looking at the market, the WD_Black should be well atop your list of drives to consider, because as difficult as it is to get excited about “storage”, this really is a fantastic SSD.
Tiny, discreet HDD
Improves gaming and software
Compatibility issues with older motherboards