Among several announcements today, Western Digital is introducing a new more affordable PCIe Gen4 SSD under their gaming-oriented WD Black brand (styled WD_BLACK). The new WD Black SN750 SE is not just a refresh of their existing SN750 but instead appears to be an entirely new and different drive. The SN750 SE brings PCIe Gen4 support but in other respects seems to be a downgrade compared to the SN750, and appears to have more in common with the WD Blue SN550. Based on the pictures and the few performance specifications that have been disclosed so far, the SN750 SE looks like a 4-channel DRAMless NVMe SSD, with respectable sequential read throughput but reduced sequential write throughput compared to the original SN750. Random IO performance was not included on the data sheet—not a good sign.

UPDATE: Our friends over at PCGamer have learned that WD is using the Phison E19T DRAMless controller for this drive, and the product listings are now live with a few more detailed performance specs.

WD Black SN750 SE SSD Specifications
Capacity 250 GB 500 GB 1 TB
Form Factor single-sided M.2 2280 PCIe 4.0 x4
Controller Phison E19T
DRAM None
NAND Flash ?
Sequential Read 3200 MB/s 3600 MB/s 3600 MB/s
Sequential Write 1000 MB/s 2000 MB/s 2830 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 190k 360k 525k
Random Write IOPS 240k 480k 640k
Warranty 5 years
Write Endurance 200 TB
0.4 DWPD
300 TB
0.3 DWPD
600 TB
0.3 DWPD
MSRP $54.99 $74.99 $129.99

The WD Black SN750 SE is intended to be the more affordable Gen4 alternative to their flagship SN850. The smaller controller, lack of DRAM, and newer NAND flash all combine to make the SN750 SE a significantly lower-power drive than its nominal predecessor, though the more interesting comparison would be against the WD Blue SN550. Write endurance ratings for the SN750 SE match the original SN750, but the 2TB model has gone missing. Pricing starts at $54.99 for the 250GB model, the midpoint between the WD Blue line and the existing WD Black products. The WD Black SN750 SE is now available for pre-order direct from Western Digital, and will be available through retailers and system integrators this summer.

This isn't the first time that Western Digital has made a mess of the naming of their WD Black SSDs. The first generation in 2017 was simply the WD Black PCIe SSD. The next year, they released another WD Black SSD that was a huge upgrade: switching from a Marvell controller to their new in-house controller, and from 15nm planar TLC to 64L 3D TLC NAND flash memory—but the branding was confusingly similar, and the best way to tell which generation you were buying was to check if the advertised capacity was 256GB/512GB (old) or 250GB/500GB/1TB (new). In 2018 Western Digital made the most minor of refreshes by releasing the WD Black SN750; the most significant change over its predecessor was the addition of an unambiguous (until now) model number. The hardware was identical and the firmware got only a minor update, and a version with a heatsink was added. That SN750 has been overdue for an update to use 96L instead of 64L TLC, a change which Western Digital made for their OEM drives by replacing the SN720 with the SN730. But the SN750 SE isn't the simple NAND refresh we expected based on its name, nor is it a true successor and upgrade to the SN750.

The SN750 SE should make for a great mainstream NVMe drive. Western Digital has an excellent track record for getting good performance from DRAMless NVMe SSDs, and this will probably be enough to leapfrog the recent Samsung 980. But using a name that's so similar to such a different product is a serious disappointment.

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  • Wereweeb - Saturday, May 29, 2021 - link

    Dude, literally go outside. Your life won't be significantly improved by your game loading in five seconds instead of ten. Reply
  • Spunjji - Friday, May 28, 2021 - link

    Trying to fathom what the point of a PCIe 4.0 drive that runs at speeds attainable by PCIe 3.0 drives is... Ah, yes. Marketing. Reply
  • eastcoast_pete - Friday, May 28, 2021 - link

    This sort-of devalues the entire "Black" label for WD's SSDs, which actually stood for something. This DRAM-less design is more "baby blue". Reply
  • DarthMaal - Thursday, November 4, 2021 - link

    As someone who has been using the the SN550 as my boot drive for two years, I don't see it as a compelling comparison to the SN750SE. The SN750SE blows it out of the water for speeds and durability numbers. My SN550 1TB in real world numbers is only doing 1600-1800 MB/s in sequential writes and maxes out at 2400 MB/s. Considering the price points currently with SN750SE sitting around $125 CDN on Amazon...it's a no brainer. The SN750SE stomps the $117 CDNSN550.

    Further, from an aesthetics POV, the gawdy blue SN550 sticks out like a sore thumb if you don't have a heatsink to cover it. It tends to take the eye away from the rest of the build. Given the extra cost of a heatsink to cover it, any value that it may seem to propose over the SN750SE evaporates if you care about your build looking good. Personally, I'm good with them not labeling it under the Blue nomenclature and giving it those aesthetics.

    If you're a gamer, then you're likely gonna be fine either way, as none of the three represent a massive advantage in terms of load times over one another, and install times are gonna be miles faster than SATA no matter which way you go. It's only people using them for workstation and server purposes who are really going to notice the difference. Unless you're writing massive amounts of data daily, it's mostly a toss-up between aesthetics, and minute differences in performance bang for buck between the black models.

    To be clear, the SN550 is still a good drive and I've had zero issues with it in terms of performance and reliability, but at current prices on Amazon, it would be silly not to go SN750SE. As far as the SN750 to SN750SE 1TB models...the performance is too close to really worry about shelling out the extra $15 for the SN750. I picked up 2x 1TB SN750SEs for $249.98 before tax. The SN750 2TB is currently $289.99, so if you have two M.2 slots on your mobo anyway, then you may as well. Just my thoughts though.
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