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Hands-on review: WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive

By Darren Price
Fri 20 May 2022

Western Digital expands its WD_Black range of NVMe solid-state drives with the WD_Black SN770 Game Drive. We were sent a 1TB drive to check out.

I’ve already taken a look at Western Digital’s flagship NVMe gaming drive, the WD_Black SN850, as well as the more mainstream WD Blue SN550 NVMe SSD. Both are very good drives for their particular price point. Like the WD Blue SN550, the WD_Black SN770 does not come with a factory installed heatsink.

The WD_Black SN770 sits just below the SN850 in also being an M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 SSD. The SN770 has a stated maximum data transfer rate of up to 5150MB/s (read) compared to the SN850s 7000MB/s. As well as costing a bit less than the SN850, one assumes that the slower speed is what helps with lower power consumption. According to Western Digital, the new WD_Black SN770 is 20% more power-efficient than the slower previous generation WD_Black SN750 SE SSD.

Western Digital’s website suggests that the version or the SSD with the factory fitted heatsink is designed for desktop PC, with the bare version for laptops, etc. that require the SSD’s height to conform to the M.2 size specification. In my case, using an MSI Z690 Carbon WIFI motherboard, that has the capacity for a whopping five M.2 SSDs, I don’t need a heatsink. All the MSI board’s M.2 sockets have integrated heatsinks, as seems to be the norm these days on mid to high-end motherboards. The higher-spec WB_Black SN850 that I have, which has a factory-fitted heatsink, has to sit alone with that part of the motherboard’s integrated heatsink arrangement removed.

The SN770’s stated speed of 5150MB/s the SN770 sits just below the recommended 5500MB/s specification for use as a PlayStation 5 storage expansion. That’s not to say it won’t work at all, as long as it has an aftermarket heatsink fitted, but you may still run into trouble. I’d not risk it, the WD_Black SN850 with a factory-fitted heatsink being better equipped.

As a PCIe Gen 4 SSD, to get anywhere near the stated speed from the device you will need to ensure that your PC supports PCIe 4.0 x4, these have a maximum speed of 8GB/s. The SN770 is also compatible with PCIe 3.0, but you will suffer a drop in drive speeds due to the limitations of the older technology. 

Using CrystalDiskMark 8.0.4, the WD_Black SN770 achieved a maximum read speed of 5222.78 MB/s and a write speed of 4979.71 MB/s. both of these scores were very reasonable, the read speed was more than the WD stated score. Compare the above with a WD_Black SN850 running on the same system, with a maximum write speed of 6951.86 MB/s and the SN770’s write speed of 5233.77 MB/s and there’s really not that much in it. The cheaper WD_Black SN770 holds its own rather well against its bigger brother. 

The WD_Black SN770 NVMe SSD Game Drive  is available with capacities of 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB. It’s a cost-effective way to install some very fast, energy-efficient desktop/laptop storage in your system that actually delivers the speed (plus a little bit more) stated on the packaging.

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