To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Western Digital WD_Black P40 review: Ultra-fast SSD with added gamer bling

Our Rating :
£134.99 from
Price when reviewed : £99
(500GB), inc VAT. Also available: £149 (1TB), £183 (2TB)

You’re paying for the style and lighting, but performance will satisfy the most demanding PC gamer


  • Industrial style and RGB lighting
  • Impressive sequential performance
  • Strong random read/write speeds


  • Lower capacities are expensive
  • No performance advantage for console gamers

The WD_Black P40 is an SSD aimed squarely at gamers. With a USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 interface enabling read/write speeds of up to 2,000MB/sec it has all the performance you need to store a sizable games library, copy files between systems and even run games directly from the drive. What’s more, it comes with customisable RGB lighting strips to add a little extra bling to your gaming setup. 

The WD brand has a strong reputation with gamers, but when other drives offer similar specs for less, is the WD_Black P40 a smart buy? I put the drive through its paces to find out.

Western Digital WD_Black P40 review: What do you get for the money?

The WD_Black 40 is a high-performance SSD in a stylised industrial metallic casing, with WD’s signature all-black finish. It comes in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. At 107 x 51 x 13mm, it’s significantly larger than compact drives like the Kingston XS2000 and the Crucial X10 Pro, but you get a sense that the WD_Black P40 is meant to be seen; the slim frame and 78.5g weight mean it’s still a very portable drive. While it isn’t water- or dust-resistant like the Crucial drive, it’s drop-resistant from up to two metres and feels extremely tough.

While the casing doesn’t go big on colour, the RGB light bars more than make up for that. There are two of these, one under each long edge, and you can control them from the WD_Black Dashboard utility already sitting on the drive. As well as setting specific colours, you can select from a range of colour cycle, breathing and rainbow animations.

WD supplies the drive with a USB-Type C cable plus a USB-Type A adaptor, because the P40 is marketed at console gamers as well as PC users. However, it’s hard to recommend the drive to console users, because no console currently supports a 20Gbits/sec USB – the Xbox Series S and X only go up to 5Gbits/sec, while even the PS5 only goes as far as 10Gbits/sec. In other words, buying this drive to use with a console is a waste of its potential – you might as well stick to cheaper drives.

READ NEXT: Best external hard drive

Western Digital WD_Black P40 review: How does it perform?

When connected to a 20Gbits/sec USB port, the WD_Black P40’s sequential read performance is about as good as it gets for a USB drive. Write speeds are also better than those of most competitors: of all the USB 3.2 Gen2x2 SSDs we’ve tested, only two have achieved better benchmark results in CrystalDiskMark – those being the Seagate Firecuda Gaming SSD (which is no longer widely available) and the formidable Samsung T9. It’s a similar story with the AS-SSD benchmark, and that’s important for gaming, where you might want to copy game files to your main M.2 SSD at speed, or run games directly. There’s no doubt that games and save files will load faster from the WD_Black P40 than they would from a typical mid-price USB drive.

The T9 and Firecuda SSDs did have an edge over the WD in the random read/write speed tests – the Samsung substantially so. All the same, the WD_Black P40 will be fine for running apps and games directly from the drive; things might just be slightly slower than from an onboard M.2 SSD. 

Needless to say, while you can connect the drive to a regular USB 3.2 Gen 2 socket, this will see performance drop like a rock. If your PC or laptop doesn’t have a 20Gbits/sec USB port, save your cash and buy a cheaper USB 3.2 Gen 2 drive.

READ NEXT: Best gaming chair

Western Digital WD_Black P40 review: Are there any useful extras?

WD’s Dashboard utility does more than just handle the RGB lighting; it additionally monitors temperature, drive health and performance, and includes tools for diagnostics, optimisation and freeing up unused space. It’s one of the more stylish and usable drive utilities around, with a definite gamer-friendly look and feel.

WD also offers its own edition of Acronis’ True Image backup software, should you not want to work with Windows’ built-in tools.

Western Digital WD_Black P40 review: Should you buy it?

The WD_Black P40 has a lot to offer gamers – eye-catching styling, RGB lighting and blistering sequential read/write speeds. Overall we would say it’s the best external gaming SSD that we’ve tested.

It’s not necessarily the best value, however. The 1TB model is more expensive than the Crucial X10 Pro and the Kingston XS2000, and while those drives fall behind on sequential write speeds and random read/write speeds, you won’t notice much difference in real-world use. We’ve seen some great prices in sales on the 2TB version, but if you’re taken with the WD_Black P40’s style you should be prepared to pay a premium for the looks and lighting.

Read more