Five months after completing its acquisition of SanDisk, Western Digital is introducing SSDs under the WD brand for the consumer market. The WD Blue is the mainstream SATA offering and is derived from the SanDisk X400. While not exactly the first Western Digital SSD in blue, the WD Blue is the beginning of a new era for the WD brand and is an acknowledgment that SSDs are now mainstream consumer products that exist alongside or displace hard drives instead of just occupying a high-end niche.

The SanDisk X400 was announced at the beginning of this year as the new flagship of SanDisk's business/OEM client SSD family. When we reviewed it in May we were pleasantly surprised to find that it raised the bar for the performance and power efficiency of planar TLC SSDs and was a credible mid-range drive, not just an entry-level budget-oriented product. The WD Blue SSD uses the same hardware platform as the SanDisk X400, but with some changes to the firmware. Most notably, the WD Blue reserves a bit more spare area and thus has capacities of 250GB, 500GB and 1000GB where the X400 has capacities of 128GB–1024GB. There are minor differences to the performance specifications and the WD Blue has only a three year warranty compared to the X400's five years. (Though still better than the two year warranty carried by the current WD Blue hard drives.)

Western Digital WD Blue Specifications
Capacity 250GB 500GB 1000GB
Form Factor 2.5" 7mm SATA or M.2 2280 SATA
Controller Marvell 88SS1074
NAND SanDisk 15nm TLC
Sequential Read 540 MB/s 545 MB/s 545 MB/s
Sequential Write 500 MB/s 525 MB/s 525 MB/s
4KB Random Read 97k IOPS 100k IOPS 100k IOPS
4KB Random Write 79k IOPS 80k IOPS 80k IOPS
Average Power 70 mW
Max Power 4.4 W
Encryption No
Endurance (TBW) 100 TB 200 TB 400 TB
Warranty Three years
MSRP $79.99 $139.99 $299.99

All capacities of the WD Blue are available in either the 2.5" SATA form factor or as M.2 2280 cards. This continues the trend of recent mainstream SATA SSDs placing M.2 on an equal footing with the 2.5" form factor.

As a result of the increased spare area, the WD Blue has a higher write endurance rating than the SanDisk X400 and one of the highest endurance ratings of any TLC SSD. It even exceeds the rating on some capacities of the Samsung 850 Pro that comes with a 10 year warranty. Western Digital is pitching the WD Blue as suitable for heavy workloads, and even if its performance falls short of the best SATA drives it should last a very long time even when subject to a write-intensive workload.

SSD Endurance Specifications Comparison
Capacity 240-256GB 480-512GB 960-1024GB
WD Blue 100 TBW 200 TBW 400 TBW
SanDisk X400 80 TBW 160 TBW 320 TBW
OCZ Trion 150 60 TBW 120 TBW 240 TBW
OCZ VX500 148 TBW 296 TBW 592 TBW
Samsung 850 EVO 75 TBW 150 TBW 150 TBW
Samsung 850 Pro 150 TBW 300 TBW 300 TBW

The construction of the WD Blue carries over the same metal case and plastic lid that SanDisk has been using for years. Inside our 1TB sample we find the same single-sided PCB as in the X400 and the thermal pad that covers nearly every component. The NAND is arranged in eight packages of 128GB each, while the Micron DRAM is split across two packages.

For this review the 1TB WD Blue will be compared against most of the other 1TB-class SATA drives we have tested. The current competition in the marketplace consists primarily of the preceding SanDisk X400, cheaper planar TLC SSDs such as the OCZ Trion 150, MLC SSDs that are mostly significantly more expensive, and 3D TLC SSDs such as the Samsung 850 EVO and Crucial MX300. Note that while we have already reviewed the 750GB Crucial MX300, in this review we are comparing against the 1050GB MX300 that will be covered by an upcoming review of the wider range of MX300 capacities that are now available.

AnandTech 2015 SSD Test System
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.5GHz
(Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
Motherboard ASUS Z97 Pro (BIOS 2701)
Chipset Intel Z97
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1200
OS Windows 8.1 x64
Performance Consistency
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  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    I'd pay the extra $6 for the 1TB 850 Evo, which preforms much better. Reply
  • vladx - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    I'd rather pay $50 less for the Sandisk X400 than to spend an addiitional $56 for some benchmark points that are hardly relevant to real world experience Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    in a heavily used system, those "extra points" can mean more then just a high score. Reply
  • vladx - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    For a heavily used system, you buy a Samsung 850 Pro or PCIe SSD. Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    The EVOs do go on sale somewhat often... I can see paying a premium for them either way, but I definitely wouldn't pay an extra large premium for the Pro, at that point you might as well go PCI-E/M.2 IMO... Unless it's a really fringe case where you need both the fastest+largest consumer drive available and price (or leaving performance on the table) isn't a concern. Reply
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Saturday, October 15, 2016 - link

    Extra large premium for the Pro???

    I require a minimum of 160GB for my Boot Drives in my test Rigs so I need 250 - 256GB SSD's minimum

    Lets look at the Huge Premium at Newegg for the 256GB 850 Pro shall we

    Oct 15 2016
    850 EVO / 250GB $99.99 OUT OF STOCK
    850 Pro / 256GB $123 IN STOCK

    850 EVO warranty 3 years
    850 Pro warranty 10 years

    850 EVO TLC Nand
    850 Pro MLC Nand (40nm process)

    Firmware problems
    850 EVO ???
    850 Pro None

    Would anyone here spend more than the difference in price between these 2 SSD's just for an extended warranty on an EVO?

    The better buy is the Pro!
    It also has much better compatability with various Operating Systems than PCIe / M.2 SSDs

    I'm using mine for Windows XP / Windows 8.1 / Windows 10 and Linux Mint
    Try running any OS that is not a DRM Spyware Platform on your precious M.2 drive
    Reply
  • Bullwinkle J Moose - Sunday, October 16, 2016 - link

    Apparently it was only the 840 EVO that had firmware problems so the 850 EVO firmware appears to be fine and neither the 850 EVO or Pro has burst into flames yet Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Monday, October 17, 2016 - link

    Linux loves my 950 pro. So yeah. Reply
  • Magichands8 - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    What a disappointment. Yet another low capacity, highly priced SSD permanently crippled by the SATA interface... just like all the other SSDs we've been presented with for years and years. Not touching this with a 10 foot pole. Reply
  • npz - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    When you're doing random small I/O, SATA is plenty.

    Look at the benchmarks here, at pure random, none even come close at all to 6Gbps / 600MBs.
    And look at the light workload for Anandtech's benchmark. It's a mixture that is still significantly less than SATA's limit.

    And these mixed with bursty random I/Os are very common desktop workloads. Take for example browser usage. They all **constantly** write and read small I/O. Web browsers if left open, write 20 - 40GB a day! They are consantly updating the current save state for session restore, updating the database they use, etc. If the browser is not maxing out the cpu, then small pauses and waits while you load pages and browse, especially with many tabs open are always a result of waiting those small I/Os.

    Even stuff like torrents are nothing but a constant random tiny I/Os. Loading up a large program is also random I/O. It has to read many small libraries and load small config files, etc.
    Reply

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