Connecting the WD Black SN850 to an X570 chipset kills the SSD's performance

midian182

Posts: 6,921   +62
Staff member
In brief: The combination of Western Digital's Black SN850 SSD and an X570 chipset may sound appealing, but be careful how you set it up. A report has highlighted a problem in which the SSD's write speeds are heavily impacted when it's used in an M.2 slot connected to the X570 chipset.

Update (06/22): WD contacted TechSpot with a statement and an update regarding an upcoming firmware fix for the performance degradation, as previously reported. The firmware update will become available via Western Digital Dashboard software.

The statement reads: "The WD_BLACK SN850 NVMe SSD can experience a decrease in write performance when connected to a chipset M.2 slot on certain motherboards, specifically when max payload size (MPS) is set to 128 bytes (128B). To resolve this issue, Western Digital will release a firmware update that eliminates a restriction in our product for this setting of MPS, expected to be available by July 12, 2021."

The report comes from German site ComputerBase, which investigated complaints from forum users about the SN850 underperforming by testing the SSD.

The problem stems from not all M.2 ports on a motherboard communicating directly with the processor due to the limited number of PCIe lanes on the CPU, leaving some slots connected to the chipset instead. Motherboard manufacturers have confirmed that going through the chipsets can result in higher latencies due to the longer line paths, but the performance difference tends to be less than 10%.

The Call of Duty-themed WD SN850 SSD

Testing the SN850 SSD on a Gigabyte Aorus X570 Master using the board’s third M.2 slot, which is connected to the chipset, the publication discovered performance almost halved. CrystalDiskMark found the 1TB SSD managed a sequential write speed of just over 3,200 MB/s, whereas placing the drive in the first, CPU-connected M.2 slot pushed it to over 5,200 MB/s, near the manufacturer’s claimed max speed of 5,300 MB/s. The disparity was even greater in other tests, reaching 43.4%.

ComputerBase tested other PCIe 4.0 SSDs and found while there was a performance difference between the CPU-connected and chipset-connected slots, it was less than ten percent, and there was no loss of write speeds with PCIe 3.0 SSDs.

Western Digital said it is investigating the issue and the causes. As noted by Tom’s Hardware, it’s suspected that the problem may be the X570 chipset detecting the SN850 SSD as Gen 3.0, as many PCIe 3.0 SSDs have speeds of 3,200 MB/s.

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Irata

Posts: 1,533   +2,516
Odd that this particular drive sees performance drop by up to 43.4% whereas for other drives it‘s below ten percent.

That does indicate there is a problem with this particular drive and it seems like it wasn‘t tested by the manufacturer attached to the chipset.
 

Puiu

Posts: 4,690   +3,551
TechSpot Elite
Ah, it's all coming back to me now. "Zx70" is Intel, "Xx70" is AMD. You'd think with all the pci-e lanes they're flaunting, they'd be able to have the NVME drives really zipping along.

Oh well, perhaps they (too?), need a chipset driver update.
It seems like that specific drive is having issues with the x570 chipset. One of two things will need to happen: NVME firmware update for the controller or a chipset update for the mobo.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 16,979   +5,753
It seems like that specific drive is having issues with the x570 chipset. One of two things will need to happen: NVME firmware update for the controller or a chipset update for the mobo.
Through the years, some AMD CPUs nave not, "played nicely", with Windows, and required specific,targeted, Windows updates (IIRC). I'm going to say that the issue to be addressed was with AMD's instruction sets, which had to be corrected individually. Of course the AMD fanboys will attribute the issues to, "Intel colluding with M$, to make AMD look bad" Either, both, who knows?

While not directly on point, I recently had massive problems with, "Orico", external SSD cases. They destroyed the boot order in one of my machines, requiring a BIOS reset after their removal. Samsung's migration software wouldn't recognize its own SDDs connected via USB, as being "available" for the transfer. I wound up having to wire the SSDs into the board's SATA array, to do the backup. (And this after I waited 2 weeks for them to arrive from China) Oh well, what should I expect from an $8.50, drive enclosure, actual PnP performance? Dream on. .

I bought two brands, the Orico, and Wavlink, the latter which didn't cause any bizarre issues like the former. The only real disappointment was the fact that neither case, offered an "eject" function, so they could be dealt with in the manner that a standard flash drive would offer.

Not matter who's at fault here, it seems like these problems have some things in common.
 
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Puiu

Posts: 4,690   +3,551
TechSpot Elite
Through the years, some AMD CPUs nave not, "played nicely", with Windows, and required specific,targeted, Windows updates (IIRC). I'm going to say that the issue to be addressed was with AMD's instruction sets, which had to be corrected individually. Of course the AMD fanboys will attribute the issues to, "Intel colluding with M$, to make AMD look bad" Either, both, who knows?

While not directly on point, I recently had massive problems with, "Orico", external SSD cases. They destroyed the boot order in one of my machines, requiring a BIOS reset after their removal. Samsung's migration software wouldn't recognize its own SDDs connected via USB, as being "available" for the transfer. I wound up having to wire the SSDs into the board's SATA array, to do the backup. (And this after I waited 2 weeks for them to arrive from China) Oh well, what should I expect from an $8.50, drive enclosure, actual PnP performance? Dream on. .

I bought two brands, the Orico, and Wavlink, the latter which didn't cause any bizarre issues like the former. The only real disappointment was the fact that neither case, offered an "eject" function, so they could be dealt with in the manner that a standard flash drive would offer.

Not matter who's at fault here, it seems like these problems have some things in common.
I've had so many issues with hardware compatibility that I've grown accustomed to it and it's not limited to windows, macs have the same damn issues (macs are so damn hard to please with peripherals :( ).

For example, I've recently bought an AX200 wifi card for my laptop to upgrade it to wifi 6 (for better connections to the Oculus Quest 2), but the bluetooth built-in the card just doesn't want to work even though it's an Intel system and the AX200 is an intel product. Luckily I can live without bt.
 

BadThad

Posts: 572   +601
AMD makes some fine CPU's but the infrastructure surrounding them has always had its issues. One of the reasons I went Intel for my latest build.
 

Mr Majestyk

Posts: 771   +650
Who cares, the price of this drive in Australia is an utter joke, would be the last SSD I would buy.
Also why wouldn't you put a PCI-E 4 SSD on the fastest M2 slot anyway, surely you don't have three of these filling all M2 slots on X570!
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,189   +769
Consumer chipsets just have crap amounts of PCIe lanes to the CPU. It's a joke that you are stuck with so few lanes nowadays.
 
Who cares, the price of this drive in Australia is an utter joke, would be the last SSD I would buy.
Also why wouldn't you put a PCI-E 4 SSD on the fastest M2 slot anyway, surely you don't have three of these filling all M2 slots on X570!
Exactly. Why buy this expensive drive only to slap it in a slow slot? I have a similar issue on my b550 AMD board when both slots are populated the bottom slot can only run at pcie x2 so I put a slower WD sn550 as a boot drive. It only reads at around 1200MB/s but that's still twice as fast as a SATA SSD.
 

Danny101

Posts: 1,751   +760
Are these bragging numbers or are they getting the job done numbers? I ask because in many cases, it's fast enough that many people wouldn't really noticed a NVM drive running at 43% speed. I'm still only accustomed to SATA speeds and having a SSD running at 1200mbs would be a massive upgrade for me at this point..
 
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captaincranky

Posts: 16,979   +5,753
Are these bragging numbers or are they getting the job done numbers? I ask because in many cases, it's fast enough that many people wouldn't really noticed a NVM drive running at 43% speed. I'm still only accustomed to SATA speeds and having a SSD running at 1200mbs would be a massive upgrade for me at this point..
Here's the thing, there's, "speed you can measure", "speed you can brag about" and "speed you can use", which are three entirely different things.

If you want to sit around with a stopwatch, then yes, NVME will boot a couple of seconds faster.

If you want to edit a photo, the story changes. Unless it happens to be a beyond humongous file, then either SATA or NVME can "think", a lot faster than you can.

Now, if you're encoding video, that's where the NVME drive will leave everything else in the dust. But keep in mind, for best results, you have to be storing it, on
the same drive, (or one of similar speed), to reap the full benefit.

OTOH, if you're just shooting the breeze on Techspot, an IDE drive can out type the both of us.

(I can't speak to absolute speed in gaming, hence I'm not even going to try).

There is such a thing as a, "this is new and way faster, so you should buy two immediately", ad campaign. And I suppose we can all fall prey to those.

With those thoughts out of the way, I actually considered buying an NVME for my, "Sunday go to meetin' box". I looked at the board, (Intel Z170), and summarily declared, "it doesn't have a slot for NVME". Little did I know, the humps at Gigabyte, put the slot directly below where you install the video card, and my lowly GTX 1050 ti (dual fans though), covers it completely.
 
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Puiu

Posts: 4,690   +3,551
TechSpot Elite
Are these bragging numbers or are they getting the job done numbers? I ask because in many cases, it's fast enough that many people wouldn't really noticed a NVM drive running at 43% speed. I'm still only accustomed to SATA speeds and having a SSD running at 1200mbs would be a massive upgrade for me at this point..
Unless you are moving big files over 1-10gbps networks or moving files between 2 NVME drives, you won't see much benefit. You will be limited by the random 4K speeds which aren't that much better than regular SATA drives.
 

Lionvibez

Posts: 2,341   +1,884
Looks like WD is releasing a firmware update to fix this.