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WD Black lights up its SSD storage for gamers

The company's WD Black line of gaming storage achieves enlightenment.

The AN1500
Lori Grunin/CNET

WD brings gamers SSD upgrades -- to store all those 200-plus GB games coming down the pike -- with the RGB lighting they crave. The three new products in the company's WD Black family add some novelty to its NVMe: a bootable SSD RAID 0 array on an 8-bit PCIe 3 card, a Thunderbolt dock with up to 2TB of SSD built-in and an "irrationally fast" PCIe 4 NVMe drive.

The Windows-only AN1500 add-in card incorporates two NVMe SSDs configured as RAID 0 (for better performance) and claims read speeds up to 6,500MB/sec and write speeds up to 4,100MB/sec. WD says it's plug and play, and you can use it as a boot drive. It's backward compatible with PCIe 2 motherboards as well as PCIe 3. 


RGB LEDs with 13 customizable effects light up the AN1500.


Since it's on the PCIe bus, the card should deliver much higher bandwidth than an SATA SSD installed in a 2.5-inch bay, and at least based on specs it comes close to class-leading NVMe M.2 slotted SSD like the Samsung 980 Pro. It's more expensive, but if you don't have M.2 slots in your desktop it's a way to upgrade to faster storage than SATA.

The AN1500 is shipping now, and comes in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities with prices starting at $300.

Directly taking on 980 Pro-class NVMe, though, WD's offering the WD Black SN850 with similar specs, including PCIe 4 compatibility and up to 7,000MB/sec read and up to 5,300MB/sec write speeds. It comes in three capacities -- 500GB, 1TB and 2TB -- and in two versions. The standard stick is shipping this month starting at $130, while a version with a heatsink (so you can push performance a little more) and single-color RGB LED is slated for early 2021 for an as-yet unknown price.


A little more broadly intriguing, the WD Black D50 Game Dock SSD Thunderbolt dock includes 1TB or 2TB NVMe SSD along with a host of connections: two Thunderbolt 3, two USB-C, three USB-A, audio and a gigabit Ethernet jack. It can serve 87 watts for charging devices, including laptops, and has some blingy illumination as well. Plus, this one's Mac compatible.

WD rates the SSD in it at 3,000MB/sec read and 2,500MB/sec write, but that doesn't indicate the actual drive speed, since it's going through an external interface, like a portable drive. You can also get the D50 without any storage if you just want the illuminated dock. 

It's shipping now, with prices starting at $500 with SSD and $320 without.