In brief: A speedy NVMe drive (even a non-PCIe 4.0 unit) will dramatically boost both general drive operations and game boot and load times -- their high read and write speeds ensure that. However, Western Digital feels there's still room for improvement in other areas and has introduced two new SSDs to its WD_Black product line to fill those gaps.
These products are the WD_Black SN850X -- the successor to Western Digital's SN850 -- and the WD_Black P40. Both drives are SSDs, but only the former is designed to fit into a PCIe 4.0 NVMe slot on your machine. The P40, by contrast, is a portable drive that supports USB 3.2 Gen2x2 connectivity, while also featuring customizable RGB lighting.
We'll start with the SN850X since it's arguably the more exciting product of the two. As you'd expect from any PCIe 4.0 drive, this thing is speedy, with sequential read speeds of 7,300 MB/s. Though that number is pretty standard among drives made by Western Digital's many competitors, the company hopes the SN850X will stand out thanks to three unique features: "minimized latency, predictive loading, and adaptive thermals management."
Western Digital did not elaborate on what these three terms mean in its official press release, so we'll be reaching out for clarification. Regardless of the response we receive, as always, we recommend waiting for independent tests and benchmarks to hit the web before you make a purchasing decision here.
The SN850X launches in July with a $189 base model price tag. That only gets you 1TB of storage, though, so if you need a higher capacity version -- either 2TB or 4TB -- you'll have to pay extra.
The P40 "Game Drive" SSD is, as mentioned before, a fully portable device with Windows-exclusive RGB lighting customization. It boasts read speeds of 2,000 MB/s and a "sleek, compact, and shock-resistant" design. It will ship sometime this Summer in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities with prices starting at $119.