The SSD market is littered with competitors, but up to now, few companies behind mechanical storage have entered the arena. Last month though, Western Digital scratched its name off the list, with the help of its SiliconEdge Blue models. We’re taking a look at the 256GB variant here, so let’s see how it fares against the competition!
For all the variety of solid-state drives on the market, and the continual releases of new drives, one would think there would already be a plethora of controllers to choose from. Unfortunately that is not quite the case, as if you pick just about any one SSD it is likely to be using a JMicron, Toshiba, Intel, Indilinx, or Samsung controller inside.
Even with the ongoing introduction of new Sandforce controllers found in drives like the Vertex 2, Agility 2, or Corsair Force series, and the recent introduction of a highly customized Marvell controller in the Micron/Crucial RealSSD drives, we are up to seven brands of controllers. Seven brands of controllers to range across several hundred makes and models of SSDs currently on the market.
When it comes to the selection of SSDs, one thing should become apparent. For all the dozens upon dozens of brands, rebadges, and controllers available, when it comes to selecting an SSD there haven’t been any options available from any of the major drive manufacturers to choose from, with the potential exception of Samsung. Western Digital is changing that with the release of its mainstream SiliconEdge Blue series SSD that is already available in 64GB, 128GB, and 256GB capacities.
Western Digital aims to add one more choice to the list by offering its latest refresh to its SSDs with the SiliconEdge series that brings it up to date and performance competitive with some SSDs that have been on the market for awhile now.
What is interesting is that Western Digital is not aiming to deliver the fastest drive nor the best priced SSD. Instead, the company’s primary focus with the SiliconEdge has been on compatibility and reliability. This isn’t just marketing speak either; Western Digital has put plenty of emphasis on this point. The company has purposefully given dependability a higher priority than performance during the design stage of this drive. So while the SiliconEdge Blue may not be the quickest mainstream SSD, Western Digital tells us it has been designed to be the most reliable.
WD’s first consumer SSD is targeted as being a mainstream offering (as mainstream as SSDs themselves are, mind you), however, if the company’s nomenclature has taught us anything we might see the possibility of a SiliconEdge “Black” SSD in the future as a performance version of this drive. For its traditional hard disk drives, Black signifies the performance, Blue the mainstream, and Green the power efficient categories. And while a Raptor may not be a color, the name does signify WD’s de facto enthusiast 10,000K RPM premium performance hard drive.
MSRP on the SiliconEdge Blue unfortunately lacked any sort of “mainstream” price tag, but we are very thankful to see that the MSRP’s quoted to us were more of a loose “guideline” to retailers. Even with the <$100 decrease in prices across the range of capacities, the 128GB SiliconEdge Blue is retailing at $3.215 a GB, which is well above similar drives such as the Toshiba-based Kingston V+ series. In fact it makes this drive a direct competitor against the likes of the solid performing Indilinx Vertex and Intel’s X25-M G2 drives. Whether the slight price premium is justified or well-worthwhile we shall leave up to personal preferences.
Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue
Western Digital only offers the SiliconEdge Blue as an OEM drive, which means all a buyer will receive is the drive itself. There will be no 2.5″ to 3.5″ bracket converter, cable, or even instruction booklet. What you do receive is a drive that feels extremely solid and looks the part. The drive housing is brushed aluminum that has been given a smoked, gunmetal grey tinting. The final result does not show well in our photos but we find to look very nice in person.