After we reviewed the Silicon Power P34A80 1TB solid state drive we got numerous positive feedback on that review, which we are always grateful for, but also one burning question from nearly every one. That question was with regards to the Silicon Power P34A80 versus the highly regarded Western Digital ‘Black’ SN750 series. That certainly is an interesting question to say the least. After all, up until the Silicon Power P34A80 the WD SN750 series was considered one of the best – and arguably ‘the’ best- value high-performance NVMe series available. So good that with prices ranging from $80(250GB) to $500 (2TB) it made opting for the Samsung Evo series… rather difficult. In this review we are going to look at arguably the best value option of the SN750 series: the $120 SN750 500GB drive.
The secret to the SN750 series is three-fold. Firstly, is the controller. Yes, the SN750 uses the same ‘SanDisk’ controller as the previous SN720; however, the SN750 comes with even more refined firmware that further boosts already excellent performance… as it should as Western Digital purchased SanDisk back in 2016 and they know best how to get the most out of their own controller architecture and design.
Next is the fact that it uses SanDisk branded BiCS 3 TLC NAND. As the Silicon Power P34A80 series proved, BiCS 3’s combination of performance and low asking price make for a mighty firm foundation for a value orientated high performance series. This goes double when the BiCS 3 NAND ICs are the ‘cream of the crop’ of any batch… as SanDisk has a longstanding partnership with Toshiba, both co-develop the BiCS 3 NAND design, Western Digital now ‘owns’ SanDisk, and WD then forced ‘Toshiba’ to continue the partnership when Bain Capital purchased a huge chunk of Toshiba’s chip manufacturing division (aka ‘TMC’) back in 2017.
Lastly is the fact that Western Digital actually took the time to think about the unique demands the M.2 form-factor places upon the various components and then implemented a solution to them. As we all know high performance M.2 drives are notorious for thermal limiting / throttling performance. To minimize this issue Western Digital did two things. The first was to reposition the NAND, controller and RAM ‘chips’ on the PCB. We will go over what this precisely means in the review… but it does make a noticeable difference. The second was they contracted EK (of water-cooling fame) to create a custom heat sink for this ‘new’ SN750 series (though not all SN750’s will come with it).
So, do all these differences allow the Western Digital SN750 to retain its title of ‘excellent value’, or has Silicon Power P34A80 and its Phison E12 controller dethroned it? Let’s find out!