This WD Black AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-in-Card 1TB review unit seems to be presented for desktop PC users who still want to stick with their PCIe gen 3 motherboard but want to get the PCIe gen 4 class transfer-rate performance headroom.
Previously, I was impressed by the SSD stick product with the PCIe 4.0 interface with the WD Black SN850 product code, which is more suitable for laptop users. This time I have another product from WD, but one that is targeted at Desktop PC users.
Specifications & Prices
The WD Black AN1500 NVMe SSD Add-in-Card is available in 1TB, 2TB and 4TB capacities with suggested retail prices starting from $300. That means the 1TB series that we are reviewing costs roughly 3x the mainstream 1TB PCIe m2 SSD.
Expensive, maybe the word that comes to the surface when you partially calculate, by adding up the prices of two 512GB NVMe x4 SSDs. Yep, the 1TB version means there are two (2) 512GB SSD m2 chips in it (RAID 0).
There is a way that there is a price, and this applies to this one product. Therefore, let’s look at the performance that this product promises. Does it match the statement on the box that shows a throughput speed of up to 6500 Mbps, which is equivalent to a PCIe Gen 4 SSD? We’ll see in the performance section.
Before that, there is something you should note about the needs of this product line. This WD Black AN1500 review unit requires eight (8) PCIe dedicated lines. So this product must be embedded in the PCIe x16 slot. You have to calculate the maximum capacity of the PCIe line that your processor and motherboard have and how many lines are available.
Original, the WD Black AN1500 looks very industrial classy but still has a ‘manly gaming’ design line, especially when the RGB LED is active. Its size only needs a 1x slot with a length which is quite worrying for users of the mini-tower casing of 15 liters and below.
When held, the heaviness immediately sends a signal to the brain that the heatsink is not just a sweetener. And from the shape, incredibly when open, I believe there is an advanced cooling solution that WD has applied to this product.
When plugged in and operating, you can set the RGB LED to match the motherboard’s default RGB profile, such as Asus Aura Sync, Gigabyte RGB Fusion, or MSI Mystic Light Sync.
In addition to the WD Dashboard, as I also found on the WD Black SN850, users will also get the 2020 version of the Acronis True Image disk management utility, which is quite helpful considering that RAID 0 configuration requires a manual backup process.
We can monitor the used capacity, real-time temperature, estimate the remaining life of the SSD, and even monitor access speed. We can also find the RGB Led mode settings in the WD Dashboard utility. In total, there are 13 RGB Led pattern effects that users can choose from here.
Since the WD Black AN1500 review unit is configured as RAID 0 by default, which the user is unlikely to change, some modern storage features should be absent. For example, Secure erase. 256-bit AES hardware encryption is also not supported. However, the WD Black AN1500 supports Trim and S.M.A.R.T. data reporting
That’s right, to deliver performance close to SSDs running on PCIe gen 4, WD outsmarted it by downgrading a high-end RAID controller, which combines the performance of two PCIe gen 3 x4 SSDs.
In RAID 0 mode, the available bandwidth will be doubled. In theory, in some scenarios that can take advantage of RAID acceleration (benchmark applications, for example), the performance is close to that of a 4th gen PCIe SSD.
For information, the AN1500 uses the SLC cache method, which has multiple hole characteristics. Where when processing extensive data, the performance tends to drop quite significantly. This indicates that this product is more suitable as an OS partition than a DATA partition.
Although we can be sure, users will not always get the peak performance of two SN730s SSDs in this RAID 0 configuration. What might be reflected in the real-world user experience is not different from the user experience given a piece of PCIe SSD Gen 3 x4.
Temperature & Power Consumption
WD put a large cooling heatsink on the AN1500 is not without reason. A single piece of PCIe SSD Gen 3 x4 can give off reasonably high heat – let alone two. Close together too.
But I see that WD is quite careful in calculating the maximum number of calories (* read heat) released by the two SSDs in this AN1500. As proof, as long as I load the benchmarks streak, the detected temperature is far from alarming.
Since this product targets desktop users who are generally not too concerned about power consumption, the addition of 18 watts should not be a big problem for data transfer performance that is many times faster.
What needs to be noted is, this AN1500 consumes relatively high power when idle, about 6 watts according to the HWInfo that I use.
If you are a desktop PC user with one or more empty PCIe x16 slots or all m2 slots already filled and happen to be looking for an enterprise-class storage solution, this one product you really should consider.
Apart from price considerations and the need for the 8x PCIe lane, I have nothing else to comment on this 1TB version of the WD Black AN1500 review unit.
Even though the full name is an Add-In card, or it can be interpreted as an internal supplementary card, the designation for this one product seems to be contradictory. I see the AN1500 is even more suitable for primary storage than being a secondary drive.
I suggest that you move your primary storage to this product because the AN1500 is more capable of maximizing the bandwidth capacity of the PCIe slot it uses compared to the m2 slot, whose data transfer capability is limited by its physical interface.