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WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD with Heat Sink for PS5 Review

Note that our test of the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD with heat sink is aimed solely at use with the PS5 console as an advanced storage option. Our test does not cover the use of the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD with heat sink for PCs or other applications.

After we were the PS5 SSD expansion drive of choice for PS5 architect Mark Cerny, we simply had to try out the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD with heat sink for ourselves. Western Digital was happy to send us a 1TB model to drop in our PS5 and test it out. As expected, it performs admirably and is a great way to add to the rather limited internal PS5 storage space. It meets all the necessary technical specifications, fits perfectly into the PS5 SSD expansion slot and runs games on a par with the internal hard drive and other comparable SSD expansion models.

The WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD is available in three sizes – 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB – and the option to use a pre-installed heat sink or not. The PS5 requires a heat sink on SSD expansion drives, so you’ll either have to bypass the extra for the heat sink model or grab a $ 15 heat sink and install it yourself.

Notably, there have been some user complaints about the heatsink WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD stating that the thermal pads are not making full contact with the SSD itself. Several users have noticed micrometer gaps in theirs – enough to let the light shine through when looking directly at it. We also noticed a very small, almost microscopic, void in ours, but after a couple of weeks of testing and playing games for several hours a day, it hasn’t shown any problems and appears to be working just fine. Despite the gap, the heat sink seems to be doing its job – after all, things expand when heated, which can cause the very small gap to close and contact the pad when the PS5 is working the SSD – but when you are If this is your concern, the best thing to do is to go for the heat sink model and just install one yourself to be sure.

The PS5 SSD installation process

Installation is relatively straightforward and will be the same for each drive you choose to install (with the choice of heat sink making the only difference in the process). In all fairness, the “hardest” part of installing a new SSD in the PS5’s expansion bay is popping off the PS5’s outer cover. Personally, I cringe every time I feel like I’m breaking something in the process, but that’s just the nature of plastic covers that “snap into place”. Under the hood, it’s so easy to remove a screw from the SSD bay cover and remove the small spacer. From there, the SSD can be plugged directly into its connections and clicks into place. Tighten it with the spacer screw, reattach the SSD slot cover, open the PS5 cover again and you’re ready to go. You can check out a full video and step-by-step guide of the installation process at this link.

WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD test ps5

When you turn the PS5 back on, you will be prompted to format the drive. You can then transfer games to the new SSD, choose where to install new games, and enjoy the extra space on your PS5 console to the fullest. The nice thing about SSDs is that you see what you get in terms of memory allocation. The usable storage on a 1 TB drive is 1 TB. You have no space reserved by the system. Since traditional hard drives use 10-20% of their space on things like caching, the operating system, and other technical stuff that I’m not going to pretend to understand, it’s nice to know that every drive I use in my expanded PS5 storage bay is so that I can take full advantage of the space, especially when that is potentially a few more games that it can hold.

WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD in the test

The WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD offers 7 GB / s read speed and 5.3 GB / s write speed, which meets the minimum specification for the PS5. While it’s not the fastest in the room, it doesn’t really make a difference on the PS5, which uses its own custom controller to manage the SSD anyway. In performance tests, games on the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD are loaded and executed in roughly the same way as the internal PS5 SSD and other SSD extensions, within a reasonable and imperceptible margin of error, usually less than a second. Rigid tests can detect these discrepancies, but the vast majority of users are unlikely to notice a difference in practice.

What sets the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD apart is its price, which is about $ 50 cheaper than some other more expensive brands at each tier, although the approach for all SSDs may vary from retailer to retailer. While I have some very minor concerns about the heatsink-thermal pad gap in the long run, it is not enough for me to call it defective or subpar at this point and can only be inherent with the design of the SN850. None of the complaints about the gap mentioned that it caused functional issues – most just jump back on the gap immediately before using the drive’s heat sink.

Overall, the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD is a great SSD expansion drive for the PS5 that works exactly as it is advertised. The PS5 keeps it running at its best, putting the much-needed extra storage on the PS5’s puny internal drive. For use as a PS5 SSD extension, the WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD does the trick.

WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD PS5 test device provided by the manufacturer. Review of a 1 TB with heat sink in a starter model PS5. Checked with the live firmware, not the beta. Please see our Review Guidelines for more information.

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