The Western Digital Blue (1TB) SSD Review: WD Returns to SSDsby Billy Tallis on October 11, 2016 8:00 AM EST
Our performance consistency test explores the extent to which a drive can reliably sustain performance during a long-duration random write test. Specifications for consumer drives typically list peak performance numbers only attainable in ideal conditions. The performance in a worst-case scenario can be drastically different as over the course of a long test drives can run out of spare area, have to start performing garbage collection, and sometimes even reach power or thermal limits.
In addition to an overall decline in performance, a long test can show patterns in how performance varies on shorter timescales. Some drives will exhibit very little variance in performance from second to second, while others will show massive drops in performance during each garbage collection cycle but otherwise maintain good performance, and others show constantly wide variance. If a drive periodically slows to hard drive levels of performance, it may feel slow to use even if its overall average performance is very high.
To maximally stress the drive's controller and force it to perform garbage collection and wear leveling, this test conducts 4kB random writes with a queue depth of 32. The drive is filled before the start of the test, and the test duration is one hour. Any spare area will be exhausted early in the test and by the end of the hour even the largest drives with the most overprovisioning will have reached a steady state. We use the last 400 seconds of the test to score the drive both on steady-state average writes per second and on its performance divided by the standard deviation.
With a slight increase in out of the box overprovisioning, it is unsurprising to see the WD Blue improve on the SanDisk X400's steady-state random write performance. The WD Blue overtakes the OCZ Trion 150 as the fastest planar TLC NAND SSD, but doesn't catch up to the MLC or 3D TLC drives.
The WD Blue has slightly worse performance consistency than the X400, but not low enough to be cause for concern.
Before reaching steady state, the WD Blue hovers between 20k and 30k IOPS, a significant improvement over the X400. Several other competitors have higher peak performance, but are either less consistent during the early phase of the test or don't last as long before dropping to steady state.
Upon reaching steady state, the WD Blue varies from roughly 2500 IOPS to 5000 IOPS, with short bursts of slightly higher performance. With extra overprovisioning the base performance of the WD Blue doesn't change but the upper limit of its normal band of performance increases to around 10k IOPS and the peaks reach 25k.