If there’s one thing gamers can all agree on is that one can never have too much storage, especially of the fast kind. While not necessarily the biggest deal for PC owners, console owners who don’t have the luxury of just slotting more drives into their shiny monolith must rely on external USB drives to satiate their needs. The WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD is designed for this very customer offering both PC and console gamers a compact, rugged and super speedy plug-n-play solution.
The P50 retails for $259, $429 and $619 for the 500Gb, 1TB and 2TB options respectively. That does seem like a lot of money and it is. You can readily get drives from Samsung or Sandisk for half the price. On the other hand, the P50 claims far superior read/write speeds — almost doubling the aforementioned brands. I’ve been testing it across a gamut of devices for the past few weeks and I’m here to tell you whether it’s worth your money.
WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD Review
For our review, I got the 1TB variant. I was immediately impressed with the build and styling. The WD_BLACK game drives are unmistakable with their all black, aluminium forged cases that are shock resistant and look something a Call of Duty: Warzone operator would carry. The branding and text sits in stark white that stands out against the black finish. The angled edges and exposed screws give it a rugged yet stealth look that suggests power and performance.
It’s pretty compact too measuring 4.6-inches in length, 2.4-inches wide and just half an inch thick. It’s very light too weighing 115G which isn’t that much heavier than the average gaming mouse. The compact size makes it easy to slip into your pants pocket or side pocket in your backpack.
The P50 has a single SuperSpeed USB 3.2 2×2 port on the back which means it can transfer data up to 20Gbps. The P50 comes with both a Type-C to Type-C cable and Type-C to Type-A for older devices like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Next to the port is an LED light that glows white when connected to a device.
Inside that rugged housing lies the high performance SSD capable of read speeds up to 2000MB/s. That’s far faster than most mainstream external SSD’s which top out at 1000 MB/s. However, getting those read speeds isn’t as straightforward as plugging in the drive and going.
In my testing, transfer speed varied wildly depending on the type of USB port I used. For the highest speed, a Thunderbolt 4 or USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 which are capable of 40Gbps and 20Gbps data transfer speeds respectively. I connected it to my laptops Thunderbolt 4 port and only managed 1053MB/s read speeds (half the rated 2000MB/s) in CrystalDiskMark 8. Using regular USB 3.2 ports dropped down to about 150MB/s so that’s a bummer.
I didn’t have either the Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5 to test but the P50 worked flawlessly on my OG PS4 Pro and Xbox One X. Setting up the drive was really easy and after a quick format, was ready to move my games on to. A quick round of tests showed about a 30-50% performance boost in load times — shaving 10-15 secs from the internal HDD. While that’s an improvement, it’s not mind blowingly so. The older USB 2.0 really bottlenecks the performance of the P50.
I posit that next-gen console owners won’t get much benefit from the P50, even with their faster USB ports. The P50 just can’t match the absurdly fast SSD’s already on the inside anyway and so the systems won’t let you run next gen games from it. At best, the P50 is additional storage for your last gen games, apps and screen grabs.
Should you buy it
The WD_BLACK P50 Game Drive SSD is a sexy little piece of tech that will fit nicely in your handbag or your TV cabinet. It’s beautifully designed, tough yet lightweight and in the right conditions is blazing fast. It also performs wonderfully for most things but your mileage depends on your access to the right USB ports. While that isn’t a problem on most modern PC’s and laptops, more likely than not you have more old gen USB ports.
Which also minimises the value of the P50 to last gen console owners. The performance gains just aren’t enough to justify the premium price. And considering that the P50 is priced much higher than other external SDD’s, it really gets harder to recommend unless you can snag it on a good sale.