Western Digital WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB Review (Page 2 of 10)

Page 2 - A Closer Look, Test System

The Western Digital WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB is a PCI Express add-in card solid state drive. The last time I covered something similar was in 2019 with the Gigabyte AORUS RGB AIC NVMe SSD 512GB, but as you will see, the AN1500 is also very different. Electrically, the WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB interfaces with PCIe 3.0 for those who have not upgraded to a system with PCIe 4.0 support and plugs into compatible motherboards directly. However, this SSD uses eight lanes for up to 8000MB/s bandwidth in each direction to support its two PCIe 3.0-based SSDs in RAID 0. In addition to the massive amount of bandwidth compared to regular PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSDs that uses four lanes, it can also be useful for those who ran out of or do not have any M.2 slots on their motherboard. The AN1500 works on the NVMe 1.3 logical device interface.

To provide the electronic components like the controller, memory, and flash ICs with the proper cooling, the WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB comes with a large aluminum heatsink that covers both sides of the printed circuit board. This is important because all power management features are disabled for maximum performance. The heatsink is stylish with its matte black finish and beveled vertical bars. The WD_BLACK branding, model, and description in an industrial-style font is printed in white. The heatsink makes contact with the electronic components via thermal pads. On the side facing the exterior panel of your chassis, a plastic diffuser, also featuring the WD_BLACK branding, adjacent to 16 surface mount RGB LEDs give you some cool lighting effects that can be controlled via the company's Western Digital Dashboard utility.

Flipping the WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB around, and you will find the PCB is also covered entirely by a matte black aluminum heatsink. The heatsink on this side actually does not actually cool any electronics components, but rather for aesthetics only. This surface has miscellaneous information such as its model name, capacity, serial number, and regulatory certifications printed on it. The AN1500 SSD is made in Malaysia, just like many products from Western Digital.

Removing some hex screws and taking off the heatsinks, you can see what the Western Digital WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB is made from. There are actually two identical Western Digital SN730 1TB NVMe SSDs controlled by a Marvell 88NR2241 NVMe switch. The 88NR2241 is designed to virtualize both SN730 SSDs into a single logical unit in RAID 0 configuration for maximum performance. Specified at 6500MB/s read and 4100MB/s write on PCIe 3.0 x8, these figures are impressive and sound about right for something in this configuration. It is nearly twice as fast as a standard PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drive and definitely the highest rated non-PCIe 4.0-based drive tested here at APH Networks. For comparison, the PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe flagship, Western Digital Black SN750 NVMe SSD 1TB we reviewed a couple of years ago, is rated at only 3470MB/s read and 3000MB/s write.

There is no information on the WD_BLACK AN1500's rated write endurance. But we can reasonably derive this from the SN730's specifications sheet. The SN730 1TB is rated at 400TBW. By the principle of linear extrapolation, which is a reasonable assumption considering the drives are configured in RAID 0, the write endurance of the AN1500 2TB is expected to be 800TBW, which equates to about 438GB per day for five years. I have certainly seen better, considering the Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB is rated at 1300TBW with half the capacity. Each SN730 1TB is rated for 550,000 IOPS in both read and write. This does not extrapolate linearly though -- the AN1500 2TB is rated at up to 780,000 IOPS read and 700,000 IOPS write.

The rated power consumption of the AN1500 2TB is a whopping 15.7W active write, 12.8W active read, and 8.5W idle. This is a shocking amount of power for an SSD -- actually, it is significantly more than any modern HDDs I have seen -- considering power management features are disabled for maximum performance. I mean, this is more than the Western Digital Black WD6001FZWX 6TB mechanical hard drive I reviewed in 2015, which is rated at 10.6W read/write and 7.6W idle. I guess it does not really matter since it is meant for desktop use, haha. This does show the necessity of the heatsink. Meanwhile, the actual usable space is 2TB, as advertised. You will see 1.81TB in Windows.

Removing the thermal interface material and label on the Western Digital SN730 1TB reveal three types of components. At the heart of each SN730 1TB is a custom controller labeled SanDisk 20-82-00705-A2. It is an NVMe solution on the M.2 socket to overcome traditional Serial ATA bandwidth bottlenecks. A Micron D9WFH IC, which represents the part number MT40A512M16LY-075, DDR4-2666 1GB memory chip is present; it is used by the controller for system memory. The Black SN730's flash memory are two SanDisk-branded 96-layer BiCS4 3D triple-level cells chips labeled 60082-512G.

To see how all this hardware translates to numbers in our benchmarks, we will pit the WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB against the big boys of this game to see how this new performance drive from Western Digital steps up against some popular NVMe-based SSDs from manufacturers like ADATA, Crucial, Gigabyte, Kingston, Patriot, Seagate, and even Western Digital themselves in the next seven pages or so.

Our test configuration is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i7-6700K @ 4.60GHz
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-D15S chromax.black
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5
RAM: Kingston HyperX Savage Black HX426C15SBK4/64 4x16GB
Graphics: ASUS Dual GeForce GTX 1060 3GB
Chassis: NZXT H700i
Storage: Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
Power: Seasonic PRIME Ultra Titanium 850W
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro

Compared Hardware:
- Western Digital WD_BLACK AN1500 2TB
- ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB
- Crucial P1 1TB
- Crucial P2 500GB
- Crucial P5 500GB
- Kingston KC2500 1TB
- Patriot P300 512GB
- Patriot Viper VPN100 512GB
- Seagate FireCuda 510 1TB
- Western Digital Black SN750 NVMe SSD 1TB
- Western Digital Blue SN550 NVMe SSD 1TB

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. A Closer Look, Test System
3. Benchmark: AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
4. Benchmark: ATTO Disk Benchmark
5. Benchmark: Crystal Disk Mark 8.0
6. Benchmark: HD Tach
7. Benchmark: HD Tune Pro 5.70
8. Benchmark: PassMark PerformanceTest 10
9. Benchmark: PCMark 10
10. Conclusion