The WD Black SN850 is one of the best SSDs for gaming you can buy right now, and it’s currently our top recommendation for those looking to upgrade to a new PCIe 4.0 SSD right now, too. Happily, Amazon UK have knocked £30 off the 500GB model of WD’s flagship NVMe drive today, taking it down to its lowest ever price since it came out at the end of last year.
There are also savings to be had on its larger 1TB and 2TB models as well if you’ve got particularly deep pockets, with £10 and £20 shaved off them respectively to bring them down to £180 and £380 apiece, but that’s still a heck of a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.
Instead, it’s the 500GB model that’s probably more up your street, as this has been reduced from its launch price of £130 down to £100. Again, that’s still reasonably expensive for a 500GB SSD, especially when the 1TB model of WD’s also excellent Blue SN550 drive can be had for just a smidge less at £93 at time of writing.
The SN550 is still a great value drive for those after a taste of what an NVMe drive has to offer, but it only supports the existing PCIe 3.0 standard. The Black SN850, on the other hand, supports the newer, much faster PCIe 4.0 standard, which is why it’s so much more expensive. PCIe 4.0 offers double the bandwidth of PCIe 3.0, and my tests show it’s as much of a step-up from a PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD as it is going from a traditional 2.5in SATA SSD to a PCIe 3.0 NVMe drive. Not only are random read and write times much faster on a PCIe 4.0 SSD, but transfer speeds are quicker as well, which means less time spent waiting when you’re moving large files around your PC.
PCIe 4.0 is also set to become increasingly important for PC gaming this year, especially with the introduction of new technologies such as Microsoft’s DirectStorage. This is based on the same Xbox Velocity Architecture that the Xbox Series X and Series S use to cut down their gaming loading times so much, and should dramatically speed up loading times on PC as well when it launches later this year. It’s not yet clear whether PCIe 3.0 drives will be able to benefit from this technology, as both Xbox consoles are built around PCIe 4.0.
Of course, it’s entirely possible that PCIe 4.0 prices may drop even further as the year goes on, but if you’re looking to upgrade now and want to get in on the PCIe 4.0 action early, the WD Black SN850 is currently the drive to beat when it comes to speed and overall value for money.