I just made one of the strangest – and best – upgrades to my PC

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The curse of being a PC gamer who loves to build and upgrade your computer is that you’re obsessively eyeing the latest components and wondering how to cram them into your rig.

It doesn’t matter that your gaming PC is already incredibly powerful, booting Windows 11 in seconds and playing any modern game with ease. There’s always going to be something that’s better than what you currently have, which can make your PC a bit faster,


While we would all love to upgrade our machines like the ever-evolving RGB-lit Frankenstein’s monster, as we all know, the real world sucks, and there are few realities that can kill this dream: money and hardware. .

While upgrading your PC is certainly cheaper than buying or building a new PC, it can still be a costly endeavor, especially when some components are swapped out. Then your budget may limit your upgrade ambitions.

Then there’s hardware. After some time some of your essential components will be out of date, and will be unable to support the latest technology, which limits what you can upgrade. This means upgrading to core components such as the motherboard and CPU, which can be far more expensive and time-consuming.

Aging Mobo Blues

This is the situation in which I have found myself. My main gaming rig is an absolute Animal And I have no problem with its performance. But… I’m also a sucker for new hardware. I have multiple SSDs installed, two fast M.2 PCIe 3.0 drives, one for Windows 11 and intensive apps, and another for game installs.

I have a larger SATA III SSD for storing files, lighter apps, and generally anything that doesn’t require super-speedy file transfer speeds, being much slower than PCIE 3.0.

This setup has worked great for a while, with Windows 11 loading in a few seconds, and games generally starting up quickly.

However, as is always the case with PC gaming, there are some troubling quirks, and room for improvement.

For some reason, both Steam and Xbox Game Pass on PC no longer let me install games on the M2 SSD. This is a particularly frustrating situation, and I’ve tried a few things to fix it. It seems like the only option would be to format the drive, but the problem is that other apps, such as Ubisoft Connect and the Epic Games Store, don’t seem to have a problem with it. Formatting it would mean re-downloading a lot of games.

Another issue is that at 1TB, it’s starting to fill up. My options, then, are to install games on the slow drive (no thanks) or start filling up my boot drive with games (ew).

Or… I can install a new drive.

Obviously, this is the path I decided to take. However, this is where the hardware limitations I talked about earlier come into play.

I was eyeing the speed of the new breed of PCIe4 M.2 SSDs that promise incredibly high speeds of 7,000MB/s. These drives are changing the way many people play — and design — games. The PS5 is built around a faster SSD of that quality, and an increasing number of games are now being designed with those types of speeds in mind.

However, my rig has an Intel Core i9-9900K, which is a decent 9th generation processor, but is limited to PCIe 3.0. A quick benchmark of my current Gaming M.2 drive gives me 3,402MB/s read and 3,319MB/s write speeds. Sure, it’s not bad, and it’s a lot faster than any SATA III drive (they top out at around 600MB/s – see why I don’t want to install a game on that?), but This may happen faster,

Of course, with my current hardware setup, PCIe 4.0 drives are out of the question, unless I upgrade both my CPU and motherboard. This is not only an expensive upgrade but also an absolute pain. At that point it’s almost worth buying a new PC.

So, was I out of luck? Not really. Western Digital has a unique product that can help solve my issues…

power of raid

Insert the WD_Black AN1500 SSD add-in card. Looking like a slim graphics card with no video output, the AN1500 pops into an empty PCIe slot, and promises speeds close to that of a PCIe 4.0 SSD.

How does it do this? Well, within the AN1500’s metal chassis are two WD SN730 NVMe SSDs set up in RAID 0 with an enterprise-grade controller. Unlike some types of RAID configurations where multiple drives are used simultaneously as backups, RAID 0 is all about speed.

Essentially, the AN1500 uses RAID 0 and two SSDs to divide the data into blocks (also known as ‘stripes’). These strips can then be written and read in the SSD simultaneously, greatly accelerating the performance of the drive.

Thus the AN1500 offers very fast drive speeds, but has drawbacks, mainly with the price. Although the AN1500 comes with two SSDs (in the case of the model I have, 2TB each), they’re used as a single drive, so you don’t get 4TB of storage, you get 2TB.

This obviously adds to the price, and the AN1500 is certainly an expensive addition. However, it is still cheaper than replacing a PC’s CPU and motherboard.

The WD_Black AN1500 SSD has been out for a while, but I’ve been concerned about it for a while. Using RAID 0 for performance isn’t new, but the WD_Black AN1500 SSD comes pre-configured for ease of use. Like other WD_Black devices, it has a cool looking metal chassis, and packs RGB as well. what’s not to love?

It is also very easy to install. I love M.2 drives, but they’re often located in hard-to-reach places on the motherboard – sometimes even on the back. If the motherboard is already on the PC’s case it can make installing them difficult.

The PCIe slots are pretty easy to access, though there was still something wrong with it, being the Nvidia RTX 3090, SO HOGE, due to the GPU I had installed. The WD_Black AN1500 SSD has a PCIe 3.0 x8 interface, so you need to make sure you don’t put it in a PCIe 3.0 x4 slot, which happens on some motherboards. If you do, the SSD will still work, but performance suffers.

With a sleek design and RGB lighting, it looks great on the GPU as well, and when I powered up my PC I ran a quick benchmark to see how it performed. The results were impressive, with read speeds of 6,154MB/s – twice as many as my other SSDs, and write speeds of 4,441MB/s.

I also wanted to try a game on it, so I did Far Cry 6 overs. On older SSDs, it took 1:03.97 (one minute, three seconds) for the game to load and get to the main screen (excluding the opening cinematic).

On the new drive, it took just 58 seconds to load. not one Vishal The difference, and about the same time it took to load as in the actual save game, was 10 seconds. But in a large open-world game, the WD_Black AN1500’s faster speeds allowed for faster texture streaming, which led to less pop-in of surfaces and textures when moving around the world.

It’s early days with Drive, but I’m already impressed. I’m looking forward to trying more games on it, and so far it seems to have given my PC a new lease of life.

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