Nov 06, 2012

WD SiliconEdge Blue 256GB

At A Glance

The Good

Stylish; sustained write speeds topped out at 171MB/s.

The Bad

Sustained write speeds were sometimes as slow as 1.1MB/s; expensive; signs of stuttering.

WD's first consumer SSD is a mixed blessing

Western Digital has finally dipped its toe into the SSD pond, a move we’ve been expecting since last year’s acquisition of SiliconSystems. The first consumer SSD to be born of this acquisition is the SiliconEdge Blue. Can one of the biggest names in mechanical hard drives compete in the solid state world?

Western Digital seems to be banking on two things with the SiliconEdge Blue: first, that seeing Western Digital’s name on an SSD will draw consumers, and second, that the strength of its custom firmware and rigorous performance testing will enable it to compete with drives running the high-performing SandForce and Barefoot Indilinx controllers. WD won’t say whose controller the SiliconEdge Blue uses, but it’s not developed in-house and it isn’t SandForce or Barefoot.

Western Digital added a bit of style to its SSD by foregoing a commodity chassis.

Whatever’s powering the drive, it’s TRIM-compatible, has speedy DDR2 cache, and its read speeds top out at 213MB/s—not shabby by any metric, and close to the 220MB/s of the Torqx. Writes are a little erratic, though. The SiliconEdge isn’t entirely immune to the strange stuttering that plagued first-gen SSDs—while sustained write speeds topped out at 171MB/s in our testing, they sometimes dropped as low as 1.1MB/s, resulting in an average of just 109MB/s. And random-access write times averaged 3.3ms, another telltale sign of stuttering.

With an MSRP of $1,000 (although its street price hovers around $800), and obvious jitter, it’s hard to recommend the SiliconEdge Blue. Given its “Blue” designation, a speedier SiliconEdge Black is doubtless on the way. Whatever controller WD uses for that one, we just hope it doesn’t stutter.

See comparative benchmarks on the SSD landing page.

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WD SiliconEdge Blue 256GB

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