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WD Black D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD Review

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The WD Black D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD, if you have the bucks, is an industrial-cool, fast drive/docking station with up to 2TB of storage and a bevy of connections. But if your computer doesn’t have Thunderbolt 3, forget it.

PROS

CONS

WD BLACK D50 GAME DOCK NVME SSD SPECS

Inside or Exterior exterior
Capability (Examined) 2 TB
NVMe Assist Sure
Rated Most Sequential Learn 3000 MBps
Rated Most Sequential Write 2500 MBps
Guarantee Size Five years

The WD Black D50 Game Dock ($319.99 without SSD, $679.99 with 2TB as tested) is a terrific way to improve the connectivity and storage of your laptop or compact desktop with a multitude of handy ports and—except on the cheapest version—a fast solid-state drive. The 2TB SSD device we tested is generous with both speed and space, whether you have a vast game library or a lot of videos and images to store. The D50 can power a laptop through its interface, connect to a network, and add a mouse, keyboard, monitor, and other peripherals with ease. There are two caveats: it isn’t inexpensive, and it isn’t compatible with machines that don’t have a Thunderbolt connector.

It is a Docking Station—and an SSD

The WD Black D50 is a square box that measures 2.2 by 4.7 by 4.7 inches, similar to a tiny PC or a palmtop projector (HWD). This all-black drive mimics the industrial-chic style of WD Black-family products like the WD Black P50 Game Drive SSD, which looks like a shipping crate used for cover in a first-person shooter game. The top and bottom of the D50 feature a corrugated appearance similar to that of a shipping crate, with the model name in white letters on the upper lid.

The dock’s numerous ports take up the front and back, especially the back. There’s an RJ-45 Gigabit Ethernet jack, two Thunderbolt 3 ports (one of which provides 87 watts of USB power delivery), a DisplayPort 1.4 connector, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, and two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A connectors, as well as a jack for the 180-watt power adapter and a grille for a cooling fan.

Additional USB-C and USB-A connections, as well as a headphone jack, are included on the front panel. One of the remaining sides has no ports or slots, while the other has only a big ventilation grille.

The left-side labeling on the drive is oddly upside-down compared to the right-side wording, hinting that the D50 will work just as well when turned over. In fact, you can stand it on its end, with the grille edge facing upward, on the featureless side.

You can connect a keyboard, mouse, headset, monitor (supporting up to 5K resolution at 60Hz), or other peripherals to a wired LAN with this abundance of ports—though an HDMI port and a security lock slot are missing—and connect to a wired LAN, which is a useful option for environments where Wi-Fi is intermittent or absent.

An RGB light strip will cycle through a rainbow pattern when you initially attach the D50 to a computer’s Thunderbolt interface (best seen when the drive is stood on end or the WD name faces upward). In the WD Black SSD Dashboard, which is available as a free download from the company’s website, you may choose from a dozen other lighting designs. You may also use the dashboard to connect to third-party RGB control systems (Razer, MSI, Asus, or Gigabyte), as well as monitor the drive status (space allocated, volumes, and temperature), perform S.M.A.R.T. diagnostics, and update the firmware.

WD Black D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD software

Unless you’re looking for a $680 doorstop, this isn’t the drive for you if your computer doesn’t have a Thunderbolt 3 or 4 port (a USB-C connector marked with a Thunderbolt-branding lightning-bolt icon). When you connect it to a regular USB-C port, Windows fails to identify the disk. Thunderbolt is a high-speed interface designed by Intel in partnership with Apple that transports PCI Express 3.0 and DisplayPort signals as well as DC power via a single cable. It’s present on contemporary Apple laptops as well as many midrange and high-end Intel notebooks. (Athlon-based laptops are not supported at this time.) The port, however, employs the same physical interface as USB-C.

Using the Thunderbolt connector that came with the drive, I tried the D50 with my Dell XPS 13 ultraportable, which has two Thunderbolt 3 ports. When the XPS 13 was detached from its adapter, the D50’s 87-watt USB power output could readily power it.

WD Black D50 Sports Dock Configurations

Capability MSRP Price per Gigabyte Max. Throughput (Learn/Write)
No SSD $319.99 NA NA
1TB $499.99 50 cents 3,000MBps / 2,500MBps
2TB $699.99 35 cents 3,000MBps / 2,500MBps

The “bare” (SSD-less) WD Black D50 sells for $319.99, but is presently available for $269 from both WD and Amazon. According to Amazon and Newegg listings, that’s on the higher end of the Thunderbolt 3 dock price range. A couple of these docking stations cost more than $300, but the most are under $250, with several under $200. External solid-state drives with 2TB capacities start at around $250; the SanDisk Extreme Pro Portable SSD V2 costs $330. The 2TB D50 we tested, which includes both a drive and a dock, costs $679.99. Although the simplicity of the D50’s integrated design is appealing, you might save money by purchasing a separate dock and drive. However, the D50 will only function with a laptop that has Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports. AMD-based devices, several lower-cost Intel systems, and older laptops are all ruled out.

In an external dock, we tested the WD Black D50’s PCIe NVMe speed.

The WD Black D50 is a unique product because it’s an external Thunderbolt 3 docking station with an M.2 SSD that runs at rates comparable to a fast PCIe 3 or low-end PCIe 4 disk. A variety of external drives, many marketed as gaming drives or hubs, are included in our comparison goods, including a combination of USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Gen 2×2 SSDs, as well as one high-capacity (16TB) gaming hub with a 7,200rpm SATA hard disk.

The WD Black was put through its paces with Crystal DiskMark 6.0, PCMark 10 Storage, BlackMagic’s Disk Speed Test, and our own folder transfer test, among others. The first two are performed on a PC with an NTFS drive, while the later two are performed on a 2016 MacBook Pro with exFAT. (To learn more about how we test SSDs, go here.)

WD_BLACK™ D50 NVMe™ Gaming Laptop Dock Thunderbolt 3 SSD | Western Digital

Crystal DiskMark 6.0 assesses a drive’s throughput, or how fast it reads and writes big, contiguous blocks of data sequentially. The D50’s sequential read and write rates were 3,027MBps and 2,546MBps, respectively, well above the read and write speeds of the three USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 drives we included in the comparison group, which were about 2,000MBps (though none quite reached that mark in our testing). The USB 3.2 Gen 2 drives we examined also fell short of their rated read and write speeds of 1,050MBps and 1,000MBps, with none of them clearing 1,000MBps in either direction.

The PCMark 10 Storage test assigns a score based on a variety of simulated workloads, such as a Windows Defender scan, video editing operations, and application launches. The WD Black D50 outperformed five of six comparison systems (all except the Seagate FireCuda Gaming SSD) with a score of 1,753, though the FireCuda won convincingly with a score of 2,445.

The Mac-based BlackMagic Disk Speed Test, which is popular among videographers, tends to produce lower results than Crystal DiskMark. The write speed of the WD Black D50 was 2,346MBps, and the read speed was 2,279MBps. In both tests, none of our USB comparison drives exceeded 950MBps.

Finally, the D50 performed admirably in our folder transfer test, which involved timing the time it took to copy a regular 1.2GB folder from our MacBook Pro to the test drive using a stopwatch. I timed it at one second; six of our comparative drives took two seconds, one took three seconds, and the Seagate FireCuda Gaming Hub took seven seconds, which is impressive for a spinning hard disk.

Thunderbolt Docking and Storage Made Simple

The WD Black D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD is a simple, well-integrated combination of external drive and docking station, with a fast SSD that can hold several dozen AAA games or a small movie library at the 2TB size we tested. It contains connectors for connecting a monitor, keyboard, mouse, headphones, and other peripherals, as well as providing power and Ethernet access to a laptop.

As we previously stated, you may save money by putting together your own dock and external SSD bundle—and you’ll have to if your PC doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3. You’ll have to pass if you have an AMD-based, low-end, or outdated laptop. However, if you have a MacBook or a mid- to high-end Intel-based Windows system with Thunderbolt 3 or 4 ports, the D50 offers a handy and powerful integrated solution in a tiny dock-and-drive. Some things remain constant: Thunderbolt gear is expensive.

WD Black D50 Game Dock. Why should gamers have all the fun? (review) -  GadgetGuy
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