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WD BLACK P40 Game Drive Review (vs P50): A More Compact, Colorful Alternative

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The new WD BLACK P40 is a slightly smaller and more colorful version of the P50 that came out almost two years ago. And by “colorful”, I don’t mean it’s no longer black — it most definitely still is a black drive.

However, the new portable SSD now comes with two RGB game LEDs on its underside that light up in any color pattern you’d like.

On the inside, though, while supporting the same USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 (20Gbps) and an NVMe SSD, the P40’s performance is slightly worse than its older cousin. And that’s likely why it’s a P40 and not a P60. This brief review will highlight more differences in a somewhat WD BLACK P40 vs P50 matchup.

All things considered, with the suggested costs of $120, $180, and $330 for 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB, respectively — the street price varies depending on demand — the WD BLACK P40 proved in my testing to be an excellent portable SSD for gamers, or anyone needing a fast and compact external storage device.

It’s safe to get a WD BLACK P40 today, but I’d wait a bit for the cost to come down, which it will.

If you’re not into those fancy lights, the WD BLACK P50 is also an excellent choice — its price has decreased considerably.

WD BLACK P40 1 20
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive is the first of its type that comes with RBG lighting.

WD BLACK P40 Game Drive: Familiar design, all-new RGB lighting

Out of the box, the WD BLACK P40 resembles the P50. It’s a rugged portable SSD with a metal casing and a single USB-C port on one end.

Looking closer, you’d note that the new drive is now significantly smaller and no longer has the ventilation gills on the underside. It seems to have no ventilation; the metal casing is the only heat dissipating method.

WD BLACK P40 vs P50
The WD BLACK P40 vs P50: The former (left) is noticeably smaller and no longer has ventilation gills on the underside. Note its two RGB LEDs running on its left and right sides.

Besides that, the new portable SSD feels rugged and seems as tough as others in the family, including the P50, D30, and P10.

Other than the “shock-resistant structure that can survive a drop of up to two meters”, Western Digital doesn’t offer any more specifics on the new drive’s toughness, but it seems to be able to take some beating. It’s not waterproof, however.

Hardware specifications: WD BLACK P40 vs P50 vs D30

NameWD BLACK P40 Game DriveWD BLACK P50 Game DriveWD BLACK D30 Game Drive
Capacities
(Part Number)
500GB (WDBAWY5000ABK-XXXX)
1TB (WDBAWY0010BBK-XXXX)
2TB (WDBAWY5000ABK-XXXX)
500GB (WDBA3S5000ABK-WESN)
1TB (WDBA3S0010BBK-WESN)
2TB (WDBA3S0020BBK-WESN)
4TB (WDBA3S0040BBK-WESN)
500GB (WDBATL5000ABK-WESN)
1TB (WDBATL0010BBK-WESN)
2TB (WDBATL0020BBK-WESN)
DesignSuper-compact and Bus-PowerSuper-compact and Bus-PowerCompact and Bus-Powered
USB PortUSB-C
USB-CUSB-C
USB StandardUSB 3.2 Gen 2×2
(20Gbps)
USB 3.2 Gen 2×2
(20Gbps)
USB 3.2 Gen 2 
(10Gbps)
USB CompatibilityUSB 3.2 Gen 2
USB Gen 1 (USB 3.0)
USB 2.0
USB 3.2 Gen 2
USB Gen 1 (USB 3.0)
USB 2.0
USB 3.2 Gen 2
USB Gen 1 (USB 3.0)
USB 2.0
Stop speedUp to 2000MB/sUp to 2000MB/sUp to 900MB/s
Dimensions4.21 x 2 x 0.51 in
(10.7 x 5.1 x 1.3 cm)
4.65 x 2.44 x .55 in  
(11.8 x 6.2 x 1.39 cm)
With Stand: 3.77 x 1.8 x 2.38 in
(96 x45.9 x 60.5 mm)
Without: 3.77 x 1.37 x 2.28 in
(9.6 x 3.5 x 5.8 cm)
Weight0.17 lbs (78.5g)Β 0.52 lbΒ (.230 g)With Stand: 0.3 lb (137 g)Β 
Without: 0.28 lb (125 g)
Included CableUSB-C
USB-A adapter
USB-A to USB-C
USB-C
USB-A to USB-C
Host CompatibilityWindows
macOS
Game Consoles
Windows
macOS
Game Consoles
Windows
macOS
Game Consoles
Release DateAugust 2022August 2019May 2021
MSRP$119.99 (500GB)
$179.99 (1TB)
$329.99 (2TB)
$150 (500GB)
$250 (1TB)
$450 (2TB)
$750 (4TB)
$90 (500GB)
$150 (1TB)
$270 (2TB)
Warranty5 Years5 Years3 years
WD BLACK P40 vs P50 vs D30: hardware specifications

A simple USB-C portable SSD

Like the case of the P50, the P40 is a straightforward portable drive. It has a USB-C on one end that features USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 that caps at 20Gbps.

USB-C: One port to rule them all

The drive includes a USB-C cable and a USB-A to USB-C adapter, allowing it to work with any existing host immediately. It’s also compatible with all USB standards, all the way to USB 2.0.

Out of the box, the WD Black P40 is formatted in the exFAT file system and is compatible with any platforms, including Windows, Mac, or game consoles. (If you want to use it as the backup drive for Time Machine, you’ll need to reformat it.)

Once plugged in, you’ll note that the P40 comes with the installer of the Dashboard software, the same one used for all WD BLACK drives, including the internal SSD, such as the SN850X.

The software only works with Windows; you’ll need it to manage the drive’s RGB LEDs. There are also handy tools to check the drive, view its status, update the firmware, etc.

WD BLACK P40 RGB LightWD BLACK P40 Tools
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive’s Dashboard software for Windows is necessary when you want to change its lighting.

The familiar and cool RGB lighting

The WD BLACK P40 is the first of its type that comes with a set of two RGB LEDs on the bottom. These are the same as those used in Asus routers or ROG gaming gear. In fact, they can sync with the gaming hardware of Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and Razer.

These lights are on by default with the rainbow pattern, but you can change it to any color of various patterns using a Windows computer.

The RGB LEDs are the main thing that makes the P40 different from the P50. These lights are of little value if you don’t care about the bling. But if you do, the P40 is an excellent storage fit.

WD BLACK P40: Detail photos

WD BLACK P40 1 32
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive’s retail box

WD BLACK P40 1 43
Out of the box, the drive includes a USB-C cable and a USB-A-to-USB-C adapter.

WD BLACK P40 1 29
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive is compact. Note the screws that you can use to open it up.

WD BLACK P40 1 42WD BLACK P40 1 40
And opening it up was what I did. The WD BLACK P40’s internal components include a circuit board and an NVMe SSD.

WD BLACK P40 1 30
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive has one USB-C port for data and power.

WD BLACK P40 1 35
Here’s the WD BLACK P40’s underside. Note the two RGB LEDs on the sides.

WD BLACK P40 1 36WD BLACK P40 1 45
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive’s RGB LEDs are in action.

WD Black P40: Fast but could-be-faster performance

I tested the 1TB version of the WD Black P40 for over a week using USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), Gen 2 (10Gbps), and Gen 2×2 (20Gbps). The drive was speedy overall but not as fast as the P50.

Specifically, in writing tests with a 20Gbps USB connection, the drive consistently sustained at around 850MB/s) for the first 5GB. After that, its speed was reduced to around 500MB/s and stayed that way for the rest of the task.

Its read performance, which is more important for a game drive, was better but still not the best I’ve seen among USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 drives.

WD BLACK P40 Write Speed PerformanceWD BLACK P40 Read Speed Performance
The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive’s performance

In any case, the P40 is still a speedy portable SSD. And despite the lack of ventilation gills, the drive remained relatively cool. It got a little warm during heavy operations, but clearly better than the P50 on this front.

WD Black P40 Game Drive SSD's Rating

8.3 out of 10
WD BLACK P40 1 27
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 support with fast NVMe-based performance, especially in reading

Compact, rugged design with programmable RGB LEDs

USB-C port with Cable and adapter included

Cros

Write performance could be better in extended operation

No security feature or higher capacities than 2GB

A bit pricey for now

Conclusion

The WD BLACK P40 Game Drive is a unique and excellent portable SSD for gamers who want matching storage hardware that features programmable RGB lighting.

In return, it’s a bit pricey, and you can’t find larger-than-2TB capacities. Overall, this is an excellent buy though you might want to wait a bit for the cost to come down.

In the meantime, the WD BLACK P50 is also a great deal thanks to its faster performance and the now lower price.

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4 thoughts on “WD BLACK P40 Game Drive Review (vs P50): A More Compact, Colorful Alternative”

  1. Just wonder when you open the case, did you fibd out what ssd inside model? , example for p50 it is sn750 for d30 it either sn550e or sn550. Just wonder what ssd in p40 would be. Why this matter? Well i believe with no grill mean that it is not so hot which mean it going to be dramless. D30 suffer write down to 70mbps when slc cache is full. So by knowing ssd inside we could calculate cache. Thank you

    Reply
    • I did, Jinz, but I’d leave it to WD to reveal what it is. As I mentioned in the review, this one had a similar issue, too, but 500MB/s, give or take, was about the slowest sustained rate in my testing with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.

      Reply
      • Thank you for you reply, your review was really great. I love the part where you clarify number P40 why not P60. This was in my heart too and I was curious about it. Also I feel like friends to friends telling style which is easy to digest. I got one too, but I’m not so sure I will open the case or not. I have P50 for my ps5 and D30 for my Xbox. P50 work great, D30 only when slc is full, so just when require to move game around is little time consuming. but for loading thing, it work great.

        I haven’t research for this yet, but I believe that HMB is not working when attaching to enclosure and also game console not support it so this create some issue.

        however, with thunderbolt enclosure it does. i use on Mac the system show as nvme protocol and not usb protocol. and when connect to window I could update firmware via thunderbolt enclosure but not usb enclosure.

        lastly, I will add ur site to my daily tech from now on.
        Thx for reply again

        Reply

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