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WD Black P50 Review: A Fast, Rugged, and Bold Portable SSD for a Price

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Despite the similarly rugged design, the WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD is in an entirely different league from the P10 that came out in early 2019.

The new portable drive, first released in late 2019, houses an NVMe SSD inside to deliver many times the speed of its older hard-drive-based cousin. In fact, as the first drive featuring USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps), it's one of the fastest USB portable drives to date.

On the downside, the new portable SSD is more expensive than any other drives of the same capacities, including its presumed WD's recently announced SanDisk Extreme and Extreme PRO of 2020.

Western Digital designs the WD Black P50 hardcore gamers. Or, maybe it's the other way around: having this drive will earn you the bragging right to call yourself hardcore or whatever you want. And for that, it's worth the investment.

WD Black P50 Hand
You can get the WD Black P50 in any color as long as it's black.

Dong's note: I originally published this review when the P50 first shipped, on December 21, 2019, and updated it on October 12, 2020, with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 performance as add-on cards featuring this latest USB standard became available.

WD Black P50: Familiar design, new performance grade

The P50 looks almost the same as the P10—both were announced together in August 2019. It has the same length but is slightly thinner and significantly narrower. The design remains the same, with a black metal casing. If you think the casing looks and feels like a heatsink, well, that's because it works as one.

The portable SSD is tough. Western Digital doesn't offer any specifics on the drive's ruggedness, but the drive sure seems like it can handle some beating.

WD Black P50 Cables
The WD Black P50 features a USB-C port and includes both USB-C and USB-A to USB-C cables.

Latest USB specs with USB-C

Unlike the P10 which uses USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), the P50 is the first drive I've known that features the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 that has a cap speed of 20Gbps. It also uses a USB-C port instead of a Micro-B SuperSpeed.

USB-C: One port to rule them all

It's important to note that computers and add-on adapters card supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 weren't available until late 2020. That said, if you have waited before getting this drive, now is the time.

But the drive is compatible with all existing USB variations, and it's plenty fast when working USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps)—more on this below.

Ready to work right out of the box, no encryption

The WD Black P50 is prepared to work right out of the box. It's formatted in the exFAT file system and will work with any hosts, including Windows, Mac, or game consoles. Like all drives, you can format it into whichever file system you'd like.

The drive also includes one USB-C and one USB-A-to-USB-C cable. The former is for devices with a USB-C or Thunderbolt 3 port, and the latter allows the P50 to plug into any existing USB-enabled computer. And plugging it in is all you have to do.

The P50 has no software bundle, nor does it feature hardware encryption. As a game drive, it works primarily as extra storage space. However, you can always use Windows' BitLocker To Go if you want to keep your data secure.

WD Black P50 Bottom
The WD Black P50 has openings on its underside for ventilation.

WD Black P50’s hardware specifications

The WD Black P50 is a bit overkill for a game drive since game consoles, so far, only feature USB 3.2 Gen 2 or slower—it's likely that the next-gen console will support the 2x2 standard, however.

One thing is for sure, the only time you can enjoy this drive at its full potential is when you use it with a computer that supports the latest USB standard.

WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD Specs
WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD Specs.

WD Black P50: Fast performance

I tested the 1TB version of the WD Black P50 using all popular USB standards, including USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), Gen 2 (10Gbps), and Gen 2x2 (20Gbps), and it was speedy.

One of the fastest USB portable drives to date

When used with USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps), the P50 had a sustained copy speed of more than 800 MB/s for reading and more than 620 MB/s for writing. When used with USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps), the drive now averaged around 450 MB/s for writing and reading.

WD Black 50 Performance

Most importantly, via the latest USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, the drive delivered a sustained speed of close to 900MB/s for writing and well over 1000MB/s for reading, ending up the second-fastest drive on the market. It was just a tad slower than the 2020 SanDisk Extreme PRO.

The P50 works with a USB 2.0 port, too, by the way. But in this case, it has an average speed of just around 40MB/s.

Excellent as a game drive, a bit warm

I also tried the P50 with an XBOX One, which uses USB 3.2 Gen 1, and found games to load significantly faster than when I used the console's internal hard drive or the P10. Anecdotally, games now took less than half of the time to launch. It's a kind of change that makes you not want to go back.

By the way, the drive did get warm in my testing, but it didn't get hot to the point that'd raise concerns. However, it's a good idea to leave it in the open with rooms for the heat to dissipate.

WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD's Rating

7.9 out of 10
WD Black P50 Cables
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Super-fast NVMe-based performance

Compact, rugged design

Top USB specs with USB-C port

High compatibility

Cons

Expensive

Currently, there are no game consoles with USB 3.2 Gen 2x2

No security feature for general use

Conclusion

The WD Black P50 is overkill as a game drive until consoles that feature USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 are widely available. Chances are you'll need a computer, or an add-on card, that supports this standard first.

The P50 indeed works well as a general portable drive, too. But in this case, it's a bit too bulky and expensive compared with others, such as the 2020 SanDisk Extreme, while offering no security options.

That said, still, if you want a rugged, compact, and super-fast, portable drive that can be a statement, the WD Black P50 remains an excellent buy.

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10 thoughts on “WD Black P50 Review: A Fast, Rugged, and Bold Portable SSD for a Price”

  1. @Dong Ngo ,

    I need to choose between the P10 & P50 for my PS4 games backup on my PS5…

    for LONG TERMS RELIABILITY (only) , what you would choose between the two ?

    Ive seen a comment on amazon where the UK guy mention the P50 died after 3 months of use.

    P.S. Again the same question for the P50 this time : it is SAFE to play games from it OR its main purpose is “DEAD STOCKAGE” only ???

    Reply
    • It’s very hard to comment on reliability, John. But SSDs are generally more reliable that HDDs. You can also pick one of these. I don’t see how the P50 can be better than any of them. If you want to make sure get one from Samsung or SanDisk, and don’t turn on the security feature. And yes, you can play directly from the drive, especially if your console supports USB 3.2 Gen 2×2.

      Reply
  2. I bought one of these thinking they would be great for my Xbox one. Here’s what i found.
    Setup was a super easy. Copy games over from old Samsung T5 to this was ridiculously fast. Games did load in faster.
    Major Con after the Xbox would go to sleep for more than 2 hours it would lose its connectivity with the drive. I spent 5 days on the phone with WD tech support only to reformat the drive 4 times and still the trouble followed. For the Xbox to find the drive i would have to unplug then plug back in then boom i’m up and working. For a drive that’s twice the prices of the Samsung T5 (that i never had this issue with) I was completely dissatisfied. Then WD customer service and return methods are horrible. Took me over 2 months to get my refund. If I ever get this drive again is if they fix the connectivity it’ll be from Amazon or Bestbuy.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the input, James. In my testing with a computer, the drive wake up by itself, together with the computer. But I didn’t test that with my XBox.

      Reply
    • Exactly the same problem I ran into! WD support is probably the worst I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, theyre awful. Definitely not worth the cash for this piece of trash…

      Reply
  3. Great! I look forward to it. I hope raw speed is better than the latest Samsung 7 Touch 350MBps. As you know nowadays, the speed of most NVMe SSD portable drives or enclosures have similar average write and read speed as long the SLC cache is not fill up or no thermal throttling occur. Therefore it is more important to test the raw speed, thermal throttle speed, and temperature during idle and peek. Thanks again. If you still some of the recent portable drives, maybe do a comparison review for three test cases. I read some use the linear write test in AIDA64 Disk Benchmark for this.

    Reply
  4. Can you do an update on thermal throttle and RAW speed after cache SLC is full for extended operation like copying 50GB or more? Please consider adding this for future reviews because thermal throttling and RAW speed after cache is full are most important portable or enclosure encounter. I really like how Anandtech does it. Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the review! I have been looking at this dive since it was announced. I am stuck between this one and the SanDisk 1TB Extreme PRO Portable. Would the P50 be the better option in the long run?

    Reply

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