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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  • HollyDOL - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    Indeed, all those companies had hiccups, but out of those two long term RMAing rate at friend's computer shop for Seagate is almost double of WD's (like... it was 9% of sold WD and 18% of sold Seagates, numbers being example, not actual ones).

    Then againt, it's 7 weeks since I had WD Red failure & RMAing.

    so... backup, backup, backup and then again backup...
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 14, 2016 - link

    Never ceases to amaze me the number of business users I come across that have no backup of any of their systems or data at all. Reply
  • jamyryals - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    Wow, I didn't realize the 1TB prices had come down so much. Pretty awesome Reply
  • Impulses - Wednesday, October 12, 2016 - link

    Prices haven't budged much in over a year, I paid $300-ish (ea.) for 2x 1TB EVOs back around the Skylake launch, well over a year ago... The X400 was already cheaper at the time, but I was fine with the slight premium for the faster EVO. WD is basically launching an average to sub average drive at nearly the price point that an EVO has held for 12+ months... Reply
  • mapesdhs - Friday, October 14, 2016 - link

    In some cases they've gone way up. The 850 EVO was pretty cheap in Jan/16, since when it's skyrocketed. Reply
  • Jad77 - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    Lets hope the Black drives, when they make an appearance, are NVMe - in U.2 and M.2 form factors. Reply
  • plopke - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    I would say my experience with WD is about 3/5 and sandisk 4/5 and I mean the complete picture product quality,product description,price,support,drivers,firmware,....

    Curious how this take over will go , how they will use sandisk brand name and knowledge. I fear it will become a typical , safe cost because of the purchase , dropped support for products , confused technical support people ,.... but I can always hope.
    Reply
  • cknobman - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    I think you have a typo in your charts, the 1TB drive is showing $299.

    Other outlets are listing it as $199.
    Reply
  • Ryan Smith - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    I just double-checked with WD and it's definitely $299. If anyone has it listed at $199, then that would seem to be in error. Reply
  • cknobman - Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - link

    Yep you are correct. Thanks!

    Now I'm sad, deep down I knew $199 was too good to be true :(
    Reply

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