The Western Digital Black D50 Game Dock with NVMe SSD is exactly the kind of device laptop gamers need in their arsenal of tools. Most modern gaming laptops are impressively powerful, enough to power an entire gaming setup. But even the best gaming laptops come up short on storage and port selection. The D50 Game Dock solves this by providing a plethora of ports for external peripherals and extra storage in the form of a 1 or 2TB NVMe SSD. All this means that with a single cable, gamers can turn their laptops into a battle station with one of the best external hard drives with extra bells and whistles.
Features & Design
The D50 Game Dock is a surprisingly squat piece of tech, standing at just 12cm tall, and is just 12cm long, and 5cm thick. This compact form does enable it to fit comfortably on your desk without taking up much space. You can have it stand or lie on its side as you prefer. There’s an RGB strip too because you can customize it using the WD_Black Dashboard on Windows OS. Even better, it syncs with third-party lighting apps like Razer Chroma, Asus Aura Sync, and MSI Mystic Light.
As a dock, the D50 shines. It has three USB-A Gen 2 ports, and two USB Type-Cports all capable of 10Gb/s data transfer speeds. It also has a Gigabit Ethernet, 3.5mm Audio/Mic jack, and a DisplayPort 1.4 for up to 5K at 60Hz output to an external monitor. Elsewhere, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports on the back which support 40Gb/s data transfer and are the main data input from your compatible Thunderbolt 3 device.
One of them even supports 87W power pass-through, which is more than enough for most laptops running everyday tasks. But depending on your laptop, that won’t be enough to sustain it while gaming, which usually draws a ton of power for those RTX 3000 GPUs. The D50 Game Dock itself is powered by a 180W power brick which supplies the necessary power to the dock and connected devices as well as the built-in fan. Like most ThunderBolt docks, the D50 can get really hot when using power passthrough so the fan helps keep things cool. Overall it stays just warm, unlike my 12South StayGo USB dock which can cook eggs.
Inside of the D50 Game Dock is either a 1TB or 2TB WD NVMe SSD (or no drive at all if you really are after the dock on its own) and given the company’s pedigree in the storage space, it’s really good. Rated at 3000MB/s read and 2500MB/s write, my own tests with CrystalDiskMark actually exceed this by a bit. I measured 3,108.75MB/s read and 2,554.65MB/s write which is possibly the first time I’ve ever recorded scores higher than the manufacturer’s claims – nice! And while these aren’t speeds that will rival those at the top of our best SSD for gaming guide, these are still very good indeed.
In fact, it was much faster than the internal SSD in the gaming laptop I had for testing, making it a completely viable and sane move to shift all my games installations to the D50 disk. I tested this across Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Metro Exodus, Dying Light 2, and recent shenanigans of Lo Wang in Shadow Warrior 3. In all cases, games loaded extremely fast and there were absolutely no data streaming issues while I was playing.
There’s also a dedicated game mode that further optimizes performance for the exact type of workout that games require. For those who maybe want to use the dock for more serious things like work, you can still enjoy the fast performance for things like video editing or 3D rendering work.
For monitoring and optimization, the WD_Black Dashboard software works well although most people will likely ignore it given the rather technical jargon used. Granted, there are helpful tooltips but it’s something you’d rarely use outside of turning on the Game mode or adjusting the RGB lighting. Speaking of which, it’s also helped me appreciate the D50’s cooling fan because my SSD temp was regularly around 70C which is frighteningly hot if you ask me.
Overall – should you buy it?
It really goes without saying that if you have a gaming laptop with Thunderbolt 3, the WD_Black D50 Game Dock NVMe SSD is worth every penny. However, if you don’t have a Thunderbolt, don’t even bother as the D50 just won’t work with regular Type-C for input which totally makes sense. However, the D50 performs better than advertised and allows you to power an entire setup with a single cable from your laptop which is a serious flex that’s really hard to beat. The nearest competitor is the Razer Thunderbolt 4 Dock but that doesn’t have an SSD which essentially leaves the D50 Game Dock as king of the hill.
If you really want to ensure you have a battle station setup that gets the most out of such a dock, then check out the best gaming PCs and Alienware gaming PCs that money can buy.
4.5 out of 5
WD BLACK D50 Game Dock
Western Digital has delivered an exceptional piece of kit that truly enhances gaming laptops.