Two drives, identical specs, great performance…but price disappoints.
You might wonder why we’re testing two solid state drives in the one review? Well, it’s because WD is being a little tricky with its marketing for these two products. The WD Blue 3D range of drives is aimed at resellers and system builders, while the SanDisk Ultra 3D drives are being marketed to gamers and creative types.
But, the fact remains that under the marketing and stickers, the hardware in these new 3D NAND-powered SSDs is identical. Pricing isn’t, however, so it’s worth shopping around to make sure you get the cheapest drive available at the capacity you’re looking for. And, it is worth the effort, because both drive ranges offer a compelling mix of capacity, performance, and value.
3D NAND has been on the market for about a year, but the 64-layer revision in these drives that makes a serious impact – these are in fact the first SATA SSDs with the hardware. At time of writing, they’re available in sizes from 256GB up to 1TB, but future releases will go up to 2TB, and be available in the M.2 form factor. The big difference between 2D and 3D NAND is that the former suffers a serious performance hit during sustained write activity. With these drives’ Marvell 88SS1074 and 64-layer 3D NAND, both make full use of the SATA interface – large files will not slow down these drives.
Both the WD and Sandisk drives come with a three-year warranty, and both come with free SSD Dashboard software – but the software will only work with the drive that comes with it. The software’s handy though, letting you monitor hardware performance, safely delete date, and manage disk space.
The 1TB drives on test both offer a promised sequential read/write speeds of 560/530MB/s, but testing came in a little lower – CrystalDiskMark delivered a sequential read speed of 530MB/s, and a sequential write of 520. As you can see from the detailed numbers below, performance between the WD and Sandisk models is negligible. This is solid performance, but even better when you stack it up against one of the better-considered storage products on the market today, Samsung’s 850 Evo.
Both the WD Blue 3D and the SanDisk Ultra 3D products are only a little slower than Samsung’s drive. However, while a lot of overseas reviewers are praising these new drives for their superior price point, the opposite is true in the Australian market. In the US the difference is stark – the 1TB WD Blue 3D retails for around $US280, compared to the Evo’s $US340. Here, however, the numbers aren’t so attractive, with the 1TB WD Blue
3D retailing for $479, and the similarly sized 850 EVO costing builders just $435. Both these prices are from the same online retailer, and are pretty indicative of pricing across the board. The SanDisk Ultra 3D fares just as poorly, its 1TB iteration retailing for slightly more at $480.
It’s odd enough that these two drives are practically identical, with the only difference being the marketing behind them. That could be forgiven if the Australian pricing was less unfair – these are great drives, delivering a considerable amount of performance and endurance. But given the Samsung 850 Evo does have the slightest performance edge, and the better local pricing, it remains the SSD of choice for us. Future price drops may make these more desirable, but for now, they just don’t quite make the cut in a very competitive market.