Western Digital’s What’s Next event in May 2022 introduced new products to the WD_BLACK lineup. On the portable SSD (PSSD) front, the WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD strengthens the company’s strong product set in the gaming market. Complementing his popular WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD, his new PSSD retains the USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) link while adding RGB lighting to the case.
The P40 launched at a much lower price point than the P50. In order to achieve a low price point and make the P40 a mid-range product, the company has made some cuts while promoting the drive as something in the 2GBps class. performance and compared to other PSSD hosts in the same capacity class. Our analysis revealed use cases in the premium class where it made sense for him to use the P40 without spending much on the P50.
External bus-powered storage devices have improved in both storage capacity and speed over the past decade. Thanks to rapid advances in flash technology (including the emergence of 3D NAND and NVMe) and faster host interfaces (such as Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.x), there are now palm-sized flash-based devices capable of delivering 3 Gbps and beyond storage devices. speed. These speeds can be achieved with Thunderbolt, but mass market devices must rely on USB. Within the USB ecosystem, USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps) is fast becoming the entry level for thumb drives and portable SSDs. Premium devices with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20 Gbps) interfaces are starting to gain host support on desktops and other computing platforms and have hit the market in the last few years. Broadly speaking, there are five different performance levels in this market.
- 2GBps or faster drive with Thunderbolt 3 or USB4 using NVMe SSD
- 2GBps drive with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 using NVMe SSD or Direct USB Flash Drive (UFD) controller
- 1GBps drive with USB 3.2 Gen 2, using NVMe SSD or direct UFD controller
- 500MBps drive with USB 3.2 Gen 1 (or Gen 2 in some cases), using SATA SSD
- Sub 400MBps drive with USB 3.2 Gen 1, using UFD controller
The PSSD we’re looking at today – the WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive – belongs to the second category in the list above. Western Digital’s WD_BLACK product line is targeted at the gaming market, with a focus on performance numbers and industrial design/RGB lighting. The company has also used the lineup to bring new technology to market, such as his WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD for 2019. This is his one of the first 20 Gbps PSSDs to hit the market at launch. This allowed the company to charge a premium for high performance products that continue to this day. Looking to expand its lineup with a mid-range offering, WD launched his P40 Game Drive SSD earlier this year with very similar specs (up to 2000 MBps) at a much lower price.
The WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD retains the industrial design and appearance of its premium brothers while being slightly more compact. One of the key updates appreciated by our target market is the addition of RGB lighting (controllable via WD’s dashboard software) to the case. Instead of providing two separate cables, WD provides a single Type-C to Type-C cable with a Type-C to Type-A adapter attached.
A rugged aluminum metal casing gives the drive a rugged look and solves potential heat issues during operation.
CrystalDiskInfo provides an overview of PSSD as seen from the host system. As you can see in the screenshot below, the P40 supports SMART passthrough and TRIM. In contrast to the DRAM-equipped SN750E used in the P50, the P40 uses the DRAM-less SN560E. Cost savings translate into a lower price point for the P40 compared to the P50.
|SMART passthrough – CrystalDiskInfo|
The table below provides a comparative view of the specifications of the various storage bridges presented in this review.
|Comparing direct-attached storage device configurations|
|downstream port||1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe)||1x PCIe 3.0 x4 (M.2 NVMe)|
|upstream port||USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C||USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type C|
|bridge chip||ASMedia ASM2364||ASMedia ASM2364|
|Power||bus power||bus power|
|Use case||Mid-range 2GBps class, compact and rugged portable SSD in a gumstick form factor targeting the gaming market||Premium 2GBps class, compact and rugged portable SSD in gumstick form factor targeting the gaming market|
|weight||79 grams (without cable)||115 grams (without cable)|
|cable||30cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C to Type-C
Type-C female to Type-A male adapter (resulting Type-C to Type-A cable length: 33 cm)
|30cm USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C to Type-C
30cm USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C to Type-A
|hardware encryption||out of service||out of service|
|Rated storage||Western Digital SN560E PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
SanDisk/Toshiba BiCS 5 112L 3D TLC
|Western Digital SN750E PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 2280 NVMe SSD
SanDisk/Toshiba BiCS 4 96L 3D TLC
|review link||WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD 1TB Review||WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD 1TB Review #1 (2020)
WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD 1TB Review #2 (2021)
Before looking at the benchmark numbers, power consumption, and effectiveness of the thermal solution, we will discuss the testbed setup and evaluation methodology.
Testbed setup and evaluation method
Direct-attached storage devices are evaluated using a Quartz Canyon NUC (essentially a Xeon/ECC version of a Ghost Canyon NUC) configured with: 2x 16GB DDR4-2667 ECC SODIMMs and PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD – IM2P33E8 1TB From ADATA.
The most attractive aspect of the Quartz Canyon NUC is that it has two PCIe slots (electrically x16 and x4) for add-in cards. If you don’t have a discrete GPU (not required for the DAS testbed), both slots are available. In fact, we added a spare SanDisk Extreme PRO M.2 NVMe SSD to the baseboard’s CPU-direct M.2 22110 slot to avoid the DMI bottleneck when evaluating Thunderbolt 3 devices. This allows for two add-in cards that run at x8 (x16 electrical) and x4 (x4 electrical). Quartz Canyon NUC does not have a native USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 port, so Silverstone’s SST-ECU06 Install an add-in card in the x4 slot. All non-Thunderbolt devices are tested with the Type-C port enabled by SST-ECU06.
The specifications of the testbed are summarized in the table below.
|AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration for 2021|
|system||Intel Quartz Canyon NUC9vXQNX|
|CPU||Intel Xeon E-2286M|
|memory||ADATA Industrial AD4B3200716G22
32GB (2x 16GB)
DDR4-3200 ECC @ 22-22-22-52
|OS drive||ADATA Industrial IM2P33E8 NVMe 1TB|
|Secondary drive||SanDisk Extreme Pro M.2 NVMe 3D SSD 1TB|
|add-on card||SilverStone Tek SST-ECU06 USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C Host|
|OS||Windows 10 Enterprise x64 (21H1)|
|Thanks to ADATA, Intel and SilverStone Tek for the build components.|
Testbed hardware is just one segment of the evaluation. Over the last few years, the typical direct-attached storage workload on memory cards has also evolved. High bitrate 4K video at 60fps is becoming commonplace, and 8K video is starting to emerge. Thanks to high-res textures and artwork, game install sizes are steadily increasing even on handhelds. With these in mind, the evaluation scheme for direct-attached storage devices includes multiple workloads detailed in corresponding sections.
- Synthetic workload using CrystalDiskMark and ATTO
- Real-world access traces using PCMark 10 storage benchmarks
- Custom robocopy workload reflecting typical DAS usage
- Sequential write stress test
The following section outlines the performance of the WD_BLACK P40 Game Drive SSD in these benchmarks. Before we draw any conclusions, we also consider the power consumption numbers and thermal solutions of the device.