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PS5 SSD Comparison – WD BLACK SN850 v SEAGATE FIRECUDA 530 v SAMSUNG 980 PRO v SABRENT ROCKET 4+

13 août 2021 à 15:00

Should You Buy the WD Black SN850, Seagate Firecuda 530, Samsung 980 Pro or Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 SSD for PS5?

If you have been considering an SSD upgrade for your Playstation 5 now that the feature is enabled (currently in beta and full support coming very soon), then chances are that of all the many PS5 compatible PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSDs available to buy, that one of four models are at the top of your list. The WD Black SN850 (recommended by Mark Cerny), the Seagate Firecuda 530 (heavy endurance, high speed industry recommendation), the Samsung 980 Pro (widely available, fantastic performance and great value) and the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus (great price vs capacity and fantastic architecture). These four SSDs have been the ones that have risen above most others, for various reasons, as the hottest picks for your PS5 storage upgrade. Each drive is pretty much the fastest and most capable drive from their respective brands and although there are a few close ones (such as the Aorus 7000s, ADATA Gamix S70 and PNY CS3140), they have not been as widely embraced at these four SSDs.

TOP 4 Recommended PS5 Storage Expansion Compatible SSDs

WD Black SN850

Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

SABRENT Rocket 4 Plus

500GB – $169.99

1TB – $249.99

2TB – $549.99

500GB – $149.99

1TB – $239.99

2TB – $489.99

4TB – $949.99.

250GB – $69.99

500GB – $119.99

1TB – $199.99

2TB – $429.99

1TB – $200

2TB – $469.99

4TB – $999.99

But which one should you buy? Which SSD should you choose for your PS5 Expansion storage? Today I want to go through a large selection of loading tests that were performed on each SSD in order to work out which one is the best SSD to upgrade your PS5. Let’s begin.

Note: SN850 = WD Black SN850, FC 530 = Seagate Firecuda 530, 980 Pro = Samsung 980 Pro and Rocket+ = Sabrent Rocekt 4 Plus.

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison – PS5 Internal Benchmark

The first thing to test is the PS5 internal Sequential Read performance benchmark on all four SSDs.

WD BLACK SN850 1TB – 6,457MB/s

SEAGATE FIRECUDA 530 500GB – 6,558MB/s

SAMSUNG 980 PRO 250GB – 6,317MB/s

SABRENT ROCKET 4 PLUS 2TB – 6,557MB/s

Although it HAS TO be taken into account that the capacities of these drives differ, this has very little impact on sequential real (given that all four brands say that their smallest 250/500GB drives can all hit/surpass 7,000MB/s). The Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD had the highest PS5 reported speed at 6,558MB/s. However, this is a singular reported benchmark from the system bootup and not fully representative of game loading/handling when in use. So, let’s look at the game loading comparisons.

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 1 – Demon Souls 1

This test was for the PS5 launch title Demon Souls and was loading into the game from the title screen (offline). Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

Though incredibly close, in the case of the Loading of the save file, frame by frame analysis shows that the WD Black SN850 was the fastest loading.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 2 – Demon Souls 2

This test was for the PS5 launch title Demon Souls and was loading from the nexus hub and into another world (offline). Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

Once again, with barely hundredths of seconds between them all, the WD Black SN850 SSD was still the first to load this demon souls level change.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 3 – Demon Souls 3

This test was for the PS5 launch title Demon Souls and was loading from the nexus hub and into another world (offline). Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

The last Demons Souls test was once again, painfully tight, but this time I would say it was a tie between the WD Black SN850 and the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus SSD.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 4 – Resident Evil Village 1

This test was loading a save file from Resident Evil Village in the later stages of the game. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

When loading Resident Evil VIII for PS5 from a save game, the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD was first by just a few frames in the first test.

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 5 – Resident Evil Village 2

This test was loading a save file from Resident Evil Village in the early castle stages of the game. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

Once again, in the 2nd Resident Evil savegame load (this time in to a more compact environment) the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD was the fastest, but only just.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 6 – Ratchet & Clank 1

This test was loading a save file from Rachet & Clank and featured the long transitional world-changing sequence in the first 30mins of the game. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

When testing the Rachet and Clank long level change transitional rail segment, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD were a tie.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 7 – Ratchet & Clank 2

This test was loading a save file from Ratchet & Clank again and the very start of the game, in a very dense asset-rich environment. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

In the 2nd Ratchet & Clank test, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus was the fastest but barely 2 frames! Still, a win is a win!

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 8 – GTA V

This test was loading GTA V from the PS5 main menu (notorious for an incredibly long loading time) and into single player. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

Grand Theft Auto 5 is a game that has been migrated and upscaled from PS3, to PS4 to PS4 Pro. Now running on PS5 for this test (with a PS5 version coming soon), the loading screen is still VERY long! Of the four SSDs, the WD Black SN850 loaded the fastest but a VERY comfortably margin!

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 9 – DOOM Eternal

This test was loading a save file from Doom Eternal from the preliminary stages of the game. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

Loading Doom Eternal PS5 upgrade (with high graphical settings and ray tracing enabled) from a save game, the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus SSD were the fastest, but once again, only by a tiny number of frames.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 10 – Destruction Allstars

This test was loading an arena match in arcade mode of Destruction Allstars. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

For Destruction Allstars, as the game uses a sneaky form of hidden loading (as you go into the arena, the game loads assets one by one, with smart camera angling) I judged loading to be ‘completed’ when the help splash screen appeared, as this signalled the start of the player control. In this case, the Samsung 980 Pro was the fastest!

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison Test 11 – Control

This test was for the PS5 full version of Control and was loaded from the PS5 console menu and directly into the game. Below is a quick video/gif demonstrating this and how the WD, Seagate, Samsung and Sabrent PCIe4 SSDs compared:

This one was INCREDIBLY tight, but in the case of Control for PS5, the fastest loading SSD of the four was the Samsung 980 Pro SSD, but only by 1-2 frames.

 

SN850 v FC 530 vs 980 Pro vs Rocket+ SSD Comparison – RESULTS!

It is important to remember that all four of these SSDs are still amazing drives and still easily some of the best choices when upgrading your PS5 storage. Even when one SSD managed to load a game faster than another, it did so within 10ths/100ths of a second faster than the others in some cases. Below is a breakdown of points for each time an SSD either loaded the game first or was given a higher benchmark at the start. There is also the FULL TEST video below over on YouTube that goes through these tests in greater length and detail. It is also VERY important to factor in that these 4 drives were not all the same capacity, though this would have more sway/impact in writing operations (which were largely irrelevant here). I hope you enjoyed this guide and found it useful in your search for the perfect SSD for your PS5 Expansion slot upgrade! Use the links in the table to find your SSD of choice at the best available price right now, for each capacity.

TOP 4 Recommended PS5 Storage Expansion Compatible SSDs

WD Black SN850

Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

SABRENT Rocket 4 Plus

POINTS: ★★★★★

POINTS: ★★★★

POINTS: ★★

POINTS: ★★★★

500GB – $169.99

1TB – $249.99

2TB – $549.99

500GB – $149.99

1TB – $239.99

2TB – $489.99

4TB – $949.99.

250GB – $69.99

500GB – $119.99

1TB – $199.99

2TB – $429.99

1TB – $200

2TB – $469.99

4TB – $999.99

asa

 


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This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today's content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Visit the NASCompares Deal Finder to find the best place to buy this device in your region, based on Service, Support and Reputation - Just Search for your NAS Drive in the Box Below

 

SEARCH IN THE BOX BELOW FOR NAS DEALS

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do choose to buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

WD Black SN850 PS5 SSD Expansion Test

8 août 2021 à 20:00

Testing the WD Black SN850 SSD on the PS5

Yes, it’s time for another PS5 SSD Expansion Test and this time it is the drive that received one of the most high profile recommendations so far (from Mark Cerny, designer and programmer, involved in the development of the PS5 itself), the WD Black SN850. Now that Sony has enabled the ability to expand the storage of the Playstation 5 in the latest software update (in beta at the time of writing), the range of potential PCIe M.2 SSDs that PS5 gamers are able to choose from is surprisingly vast. The minimum requirements of the M.2 update are 5,500MB/s sequential read (i.e big files), no longer than 22110 in length and PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Key interface in architecture. So, that narrows things down a little, but not by a vast amount. I made a master list of current compatible SSDs for PS5 HERE with help from Reddit users, but today I want to focus on the WD Black SN850, as it is one of the most available, well priced and high performing SSDs that are supported by PS5 right now. The WD Black SN850 is certainly supported by the Playstation 5 and in today’s test, I have opted for the smallest available capacity, as whatever results are achieved by this drive are only going to be amplified/better on the higher tiers and regardless I can imagine a number of buyers who choose this drive for its great architecture, will make a saving on the capacity. Let’s take a look.

IMPORTANT – In today’s article we will be testing 4 mid-range PS5 games. Bigger and more exhaustive titles (such as Spiderman Miles Morales, Rift Apart and Demon Souls) will be tested in a FULL comparison between the 6 BIGGEST/Most Popular M.2 NVMes that are compatible with the PS5 Expansion slot. Stay Subscribed for those later this same week!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 – Specifications

Western Digital and its ‘WD Black’ series has been around for years! Indeed, WD was one of the very first brands to take direct-to-gamer storage media seriously, adapting the WD Black range that was originally aimed at pro-PC users and photo/video editors and shape it more towards games players. The WD Black SN850 is the latest iteration of this in NVMe (though originally released right at the tail end of 2020, ahead of many others at this storage tier), though the WD black label is carried on a large number of other data storage solutions from docks, HDDs to external drives and high-end PCIe lane media. The specifications are particularly impressive, even at the 500GB smallest capacity (though sequential read is a tad underwhelming by comparison) and only get better as you scale into the larger 2TB level at the top. The specifications are below:

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

Model ID WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Capacity 500GB 1000GB 2000GB
Price in $ 500GB – $169.99 1TB – $249.99 2TB – $549.99
PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND BiCS4 96L TLC BiCS4 96L TLC BiCS4 96L TLC
Controller WD_BLACK G2 WD_BLACK G2 WD_BLACK G2
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 4100MB 5300MB 5100MB
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,750,000 1,750,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.3DWPD

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Test – Internal Speed Test

The first test is the easiest. When you boot the PS5 with the WD Black SN850 NVMe SSD inside the expansion slot, the system will immediately identify that it is installed and format the drive. Then the system makes a performance benchmark check in order to ascertain whether the drive is suitable for PS5 Game use. The WD Black SN850 SSD achieved 6,457MB/s Sequential Read on the PS5 internal system performance test. This is only a small dip from the reported maximum 7,000MB/s, but I hoped it would be a pinch higher. Throughout my testing of SSDs in the PS5 m.2 expansion slot, the highest speed I have seen has been around 6,650MB/s reported sequential read, even on drive rated as high as 7,300MB/s, so this would indicate that the full development and fine-tuning of what the PS5 hardware can do still leaves room for growth. This is not unusual (even in previous generations of PlayStation, it took 2-3years for both Sony and Games developers to learn how to fully optimise the system hardware to its fullest degree in the lifespan of the system).

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Test – Moving Games

Moving games from the internal console storage and onto the WD Black SN850 SSD is very straightforward and can be conducted from the Playstation main menu, then on from the settings>storage manager menu. I moved the four games that will be used later in the article for performance and loading tests from the PS5 internal SSD and onto the WD Black SN850:

Initiating the move of these files is very easy, however when files were being transferred (much like in my testing of the PS5 and other compatible SSDs) it was nowhere near the speed I was expecting and in fact it became very apparent that the PS5 system much performs some encryption, compression or bit-checks as the files are moved. The result is that moving games from the internal PS5 SSD and onto the expansion slot with the WD Black SN850 took much, MUCH longer than I expects. This is not the fault of the M.2 SSD and more regarding the clear internal handling protocol and security of the PS5 System.

They did move however and once the games were moved onto the WD Black SN850 M.2 SSD, the data used was clearly visible in the storage manager. Let’s get on with testing the games.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 1 – Destruction Allstars

The first game to test loading times WITH the WD Black SN850 SSD on the PS5 was Destruction Allstars. Again, I started the timer from the title screen and below is the results on how the internal SSD and m.2 SSD compared:

Both games ran as well as expected, but the WD Black SN850 was able to load the game the tiniest pinch faster (under 1 sec). A good start!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 2 – Control

Next was loading the game control directly from the PS5 player GUI and to test loading the game into a save and into direct gameplay would take, comparing the internal storage to the WD Black SN850 expansion SSD.

Interestingly, once again, the WD Black SN850 seemingly loaded the game a pinch faster at 16 seconds, 1.1 seconds faster than the PS5 internal SSD. Again, a small difference, but still noteworthy. As games become more advanced in the PS5 system lifespan and the speed of storage access grows in importance, knowing you have an SSD that can keep pace or even exceed the one inside the system at game loading is going to be reassuring.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 3 – Maneater

The third game to test on the PS5 and using the WD Black SN850 SSD was Maneater. Rather than loading from the main PlayStation user interface, I opted to load the games from their own title screens, as this allowed me to not factor in the publisher and studio logos at startup that is unskippable and therefore would just hamper the comparison. Here is how the game running from the internal PS5 SSD compared with running on the WD Black SN850:

This was slightly an area of contention, as although both games loaded into the game fat (with the WD Black SN850 doing ti 1.5secs faster), they did load into different locations and this might have played a part. Nevertheless, load times were very close, and as long as they run at the same pace, that is always going to be a plus!

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 4 – Wreckfest

Next up was Wreckfest. I loaded this on the WD Black SN850 and PS5 internal SSD from the title screen and quickly skipped through the options and config menus. Only off-line play was selected, to remove any server/internet connectivity delays from the equation.

Once again, the WD Black SN850 was a clear second or more after, even with the slight differences in menu transition removed from the time difference. It’s once again worth highlighting that although these differences are very small, they are all still important, as later in the system’s life, you are going to want to know that this SSD can stand the test of time and greater demands from the PS5 hardware in future titles.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 Loading Test 5 – Innocence A Plague Tale

Finally was A Plagues Tale. I selected this larger world title as it has a lot of world assets that need drawing very early on. The game was loaded directly from the title screen and below is both the game running from the PS5 SSD and the WD Black SN850:

For me, this was the clearest win for the WD Black SN850 SSD over the internal SSD. Although it was barely 1 second faster, it was the one where there was little to no difference in their loading side-by-side and the WD Black was clearly the faster. It’s all relative, as we are talking an odd second here or there, but it’s still good to know that upgrading your PS5 with the WD Black SN850 will not present any kind of bottleneck.

PS5 SSD Expansion WD Black SN850 – Conclusion

The WD Black SN850 is unquestionable a great PS5 SSD choice! Even without heavy market recommendations, it breezed through the preliminary testing and was even seen to exceed the PS5 internal SSD at points from a 100% even start. Clearly, the performance you have will scale depending on the capacity you choose, but even the 500GB has read performance that is more than enough to run your top tier games from. As mentioned, endurance on the WD Blck SN850, although a pinch lower than a number of other PCIe4 M.2 NVMe SSDs on the market right now (between 0.8 and 4.0 less DWPD), but is of little significance to anyone but the highest level professional gamers streamers (and even then if/when Sony open up the storage use to more than warm game storage). If you are looking for a great performing, best priced and highest recommended SSD for your PS5 SSD expansion upgrade, the WD Black is practically unbeatable!

Brand/Series WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

WD Black SN850

Model ID WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Capacity 500GB 1000GB 2000GB
Price in $ 500GB – $169.99 1TB – $249.99 2TB – $549.99


Articles Get Updated Regularly - Get an alert every time something gets added to this page!


This description contains links to Amazon. These links will take you to some of the products mentioned in today's content. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Visit the NASCompares Deal Finder to find the best place to buy this device in your region, based on Service, Support and Reputation - Just Search for your NAS Drive in the Box Below

 

SEARCH IN THE BOX BELOW FOR NAS DEALS

Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

We want to keep the free advice on NASCompares FREE for as long as we can. Since this service started back in Jan '18, We have helped hundreds of users every month solve their storage woes, but we can only continue to do this with your support. So please do choose to buy at Amazon US and Amazon UK on the articles when buying to provide advert revenue support or to donate/support the site below. Finally, for free advice about your setup, just leave a message in the comments below here at NASCompares.com and we will get back to you. Need Help? Where possible (and where appropriate) please provide as much information about your requirements, as then I can arrange the best answer and solution to your needs. Do not worry about your e-mail address being required, it will NOT be used in a mailing list and will NOT be used in any way other than to respond to your enquiry. [contact-form-7] Terms and Conditions Alternatively, why not ask me on the ASK NASCompares forum, by clicking the button below. This is a community hub that serves as a place that I can answer your question, chew the fat, share new release information and even get corrections posted. I will always get around to answering ALL queries, but as a one-man operation, I cannot promise speed! So by sharing your query in the ASK NASCompares section below, you can get a better range of solutions and suggestions, alongside my own.  

 

 

Buyers Guide to Seagate M.2 NVMe SSDs – Barracuda, Firecuda and Ironwolf

19 juillet 2021 à 01:13

Choosing The Right Seagate m.2 SSD – Difference Between Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf

If you are making the move from regularly SATA storage and over to the newest generation of super-fast NVMe SSD, whether it is for gaming, video editing or professional streaming, then you can suddenly be faced with an overwhelming amount of information as you trawl through the remarkably complex world of M.2 PCIe storage drives. Although many brands feature various types of M.2 NVMe media in their portfolios, few have kept things as clearly defined as Seagate. Their SSD range from home, to business and to enterprise, so today I want to go through the current five types of NVMe drive they offer in 2021/2022 and help you decide which one best suits your needs.

IMPORTANT – Remember, this is not strictly about the BEST NVMe SSD (though that is highlighted), this is about helping you which M.2 NVMe best suits YOUR needs, so in some cases, the SSD that is half the price of the others or less enduring, might still be more than suitable for you. Additionally, these are ALL M.2 NVMe SSDs, so NOT SATA M.2s (which cannot exceed 500-600MB/s). So double-check your PC/Laptop/Console supports NVMe M.2 SATA before buying anything! Lastly, ALL of the drives in today’s comparison of NVMes are 2280 in length (though longer and higher capacity 22110 models might have been released later in the year when you are reading this, so check you have a PCIe M.2 NVMe slot that can fit the drive you buy!

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Intended Use

Before going any further though, it is important to understand what each of the Seagate Naming conventions represents. I published a full Seagate SSD Buyers Guide last year (covering their entire range of SSDs), but when it comes to NVMe, their individual series can be detailed as follows:

Seagate Barracuda Q5 & 510 – This is their range of drives for standalone computer use. So, office computers, day to day tasks and your base operating system. They are sturdy, reliable drives that arrive at one of the most affordable tiers and give you fairly standard and performance, durability and endurance. It is worth highlighting that the Barracuda 510 appears to be slowly phasing out and leaving the Barracuda Q5 to be the only NVMe at this tier. Remember that the Q in Q5 represents the use of QLC (Quad Layer Cell) NAND. This will be important later.

Seagate Ironwolf 510 – These are drives that are SPECIFICALLY designed for use in NAS servers and for caching. When the same files on a server/NAS/SAN/etc are accessed continuously by one or more users, one way you can improve performance is to install NVMe SSDs in available slots and the system will automatically move copies of these files (big or very, very small) onto this much higher performing media. However, SSD for this task is recommended to have particularly high endurance (typically measures in DWPD, TBW and MTBF) as data will be VERY frequently refreshed/replaced on these NAS caching NVMes. That is why the Ironwolf 510 NVMes exist. They have a fantastic read speed, but write speeds are much lower (leveraging more in favour of over-provisioning and channeling towards read for even faster cache access)

Seagate Firecuda 510, 520 & 530 – The Firecuda Series is the range that Seagate produced for both gamers and high-end video editors (both live broadcast and post-production). With each generation of new architecture M.2 NVMe on the market, Seagate have released a new revision of their Firecuda Prosumer series, currently in 510 (PCIe Gen 3×4), 520 (PCIe Gen 4×4 high-end controller) and 530 (PCIe Gen 4×4 Premium End controller & NAND). These are the highest tier of M.2 NVMes from Seagate you can get, but you will be paying a premium for this level of storage.

Seagate Nytro – This is Seagate’s premium SSD series for Enterprise. However, at the time of writing, there are no strict m.2 NVMe available in the series. These typically arrive in flash server-class SATA drives, SAS and U.2 interfaces and have some of the highest R/W, IOPS and DWPD ratings than any other SSD in the market. Though, there is every possibility that a Seagate Nytro M.2 NVMe will return in future that rivals the Firedcuda 530 in performance and endurance

Fianlly, it is worth highlighting that all of the Seagate M.2 NVMe’s in today’s buyer’s guide include Rescue Recovery services from Seagate – their included data recovery services. I have covered this in more detail in my review of the Seagate Rescue service last year HERE, but I recommend you check it out, as this is a service ONLY Seagate offer and for that extra layer of recovery chance from accidental deletion, corruption, physical damage beyond your control and more.

So, now you understand the different Seagate SSDs, let’s talk about how each M.2 NVMe compares and help you choose the right one for you.

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Controllers, Bandwidth & NAND

Not all M.2 NVMe are built equal and although the general use of PCIe based m.2 storage has existed in the consumer arena now for 4-5 years, the general standard of hardware has MASSIVELY changed. Each M.2 NVMe available in the Seagate ranges are based on quite different architecture. From smaller changes like the revision of NVMe protocol being used (with each later revision being an improvement over the last), to bigger differences in NAND quality, controller (kind of the CPU of the SSD) and bandwidth of the PCIe architecture the M.2 NVMe uses. Below is a breakdown of how each of these five M.2 NVMes from Seagate compare and although we will go into a little detail on this, later in the guide you will see exactly how these small, component level differences result in massive disparity throughout the line up:

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

Warranty, Limited (years) 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 3+1yr Rescue
PCIe Gen M.2 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 3×4 PCIe Gen 3×4 PCIe Gen 3×4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

So, the fact that only the Firecuda SSDs are available in PCIe Gen 4×4 should give you a good idea of how and why these are going to be the highest performers later on. The PCIe architecture is based around versions and multiplication. PCIe Gen 3 = 1,000MB/s potential bandwidth and the x4 figure simply multiply that number by four, which means PCIe Gen 3×4 = 4,000MB/s bandwidth. PCIe 4×4 in the Firecuda 520 and 530 is twice the bandwidth at 8,000MB/s, but it is always worth remembering that Bandwidth is a maximum POTENTIAL speed, it is the width of the pipe that data can travel through – it is still up to the SSD to fill this pipe with data (known as throughput and filling it is known as saturation). Likewise, the Firecuda 530 is the only drive here using the latest NVMe revision, as it was only released in summer 2021 shortly after NVMe 1.4 rev was fully available.

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

NAND Type 176L 3D NAND Toshiba 96L TLC Kioxia BiCS3 64L TLC Kioxia BiCS3 64L TLC 3D QLC
Controller E18-PS018 Phison PS5016-E16 PS5012-E12DC PS5012-E12DC Unknown

Additionally, it is worth looking at the controllers and NAND used in each drive. With the exception of the affordable barracuda Q5, all the Seagate m.2 NVMes feature 3D TLC (Triple layer NAND) – this is currently the best balance of performance, endurance and capacity you can get in 2021/2022. The Barracuda uses the QLC NAND which means data is crammed in more on each cell, resulting in weaker performance and lesser lifespan (reflected later in all other specifications). Another consideration is the number of laters each NAND cell uses (reflected in the number with L on the end, eg 64L and 96L), as this allows improvements in capacity, throughput and sustainability in the NAND, without sacrificing quality. The higher this number, the better really – though it will make the drive more expensive per GB/TB. As impactful as the NAND is though, the controller featured on these SSD is where it REALLY matters! An SSD much like a computer really and is made up of a controller (like a CPU), DRAM/SD-RAM (like computer memory) and NAND cells (like storage media) and although all of these are important, the controller is incredibly important to keep data moving to the interface/connection with the client device (so, in this case m.2 NVMe) as fast as possible.

Unlike Samsung or WD, Seagate does not use ‘in-house’ controllers and have used the Phison series of controllers in a number of high profile SSDs over the years. The current gold standard in these is the Phison E18-PS5018 and this is featured on the Firecuda 530 (as well as with a few other SSDs from other brands, but with lesser NAND and NVMe revs). Overall, it is clear here in the chats that the Firecuda has the best architecture available, but provides this at quite a high price, so although it absolutely wins things in terms of ROI if your budget can cover it, the best all-round SSDs for price AND hardware are the Firecuda 520 and 510, depending on whether you have PCIe 4 or PCIe 3 m.2 slots available.

 

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Capacity

For some SSD buyers, the capacity (and ultimately the price per GB/TB) can be a big factor in the purchase of their new M.2 NVMe drive. The different ranges available from Seagate are all largely available in the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB tier (with a rejig mix up on  the Ironwolf 510 – which I will touch on in a bit), but there are clearly a couple of exceptions after that. The Firecuda 510 and the Ironwolf 510 are the only drives that are available in 250/240GB, because the former can often be used for the core system drive for Gamer PCs that have one or more M.2 slots to use (at least one will be a PCIe 3X4) and the latter needs to be scalable to a NAS system and the HDDs it already has in a RAID. The Firecuda 520 and 530 are not available in this capacity tier because these premium drives already work at their best with more NAND to play with (as you will be in the performance benchmarks in a bit) and the Barracuda Q5 is already using such cost-effective price vs capacity NAND that a 250GB and 500GB model would be practically the same price ultimately. See below:

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

240GB / 250GB N/A N/A ZP250GM3A001 ZP240NM30011 N/A
2480GB / 500GB ZP500GM3A013 ZP500GM3A002 ZP500GM3A021 ZP480NM30011 ZP500CV3A001
960GB / 1000GB ZP1000GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A002 ZP1000GM3A011 ZP960NM30011 ZP1000CV3A001
1920GB / 2000GB ZP2000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A002 ZP2000GM30021 ZP1920NM30011 ZP2000CV3A001
3840 / 4000GB ZP4000GM3A013 N/A N/A N/A N/A

The other exception to the rule is that the Seagate Firecuda 530 arrives in an impressive 4TB capacity, which is especially impressive when you remember that ALL of the NVMes above are available in 2280 M.2 2280 length, not the 22110 m.2 drives that are sometimes associated with larger capacity NVMe SSDs above 2TB. Thanks to the Firecuda having the more capable controller and choice of NAND and DRAM/SD-RAM, this means that this higher 4TB also has some fantastic performance (made possible with the NAND being distributed on either side of the PCB board – so make sure you have sufficient thermal pads or purchase the custom heatsink that this drive can be equipped with. The Ironwolf 510 SSDs arrive with a slightly different capacity, as they factor in a storage technique called Overprovisioning, whereby a small % of the available storage on NAND is given to the controller/memory in order to give them more space to handle tasks. This is particularly beneficial to Read processes in queuing and as these drives are geared towards caching, the use of overprovisioning leads to much more consistent read activity being sustained. Overall, the best drive here in terms of capacity CHOICE is the Firecuda 510, but the best drive for total capacity, of course, is going to be the Firecuda 530 M.2 NVMe SSD.

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Read & Write Throughput Speed

The overall performance that each of these drives is capable of will almost scale upwards as you look at each tier of capacity. This is largely due to the way the NAND is distributed on the physical PCB of the NVMe SSD. That said because each series type features quite different NAND types (ranging in layering and 3D vertical layering quantity), varying controller onboard and even vary in the PCIe interface, the result is that even the highest performance of the biggest capacity Barracuda Q5 2TB and Ironwolf 510 1.92TB can barely scratch the STAGGERING 7000/3000MB/s maximum performance of the Firecuda 530. Clearly the drives get higher in total potential performance in Read and Write as we move from the more affordable Barracuda Q5 and all the way up to that FC 530. However, there is clearly an inconsistency here, can you spot it?

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

240/250GB N/A N/A ZP250GM3A001 ZP240NM30011 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB  – –  3200MB 2,450MB – 
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB –  1300MB 290MB
2480/500GB ZP500GM3A013 ZP500GM3A002 ZP500GM3A021 ZP480NM30011 ZP500CV3A001
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 5000MB 3450MB 2,650MB 2300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 2500MB 2500MB 600MB 900MB
960/1000GB ZP1000GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A002 ZP1000GM3A011 ZP960NM30011 ZP1000CV3A001
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 5000MB 3450MB 3,150MB 2400MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 4400MB 3100MB 1,000MB 1700MB
1920/2000GB ZP2000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A002 ZP2000GM30021 ZP1920NM30011 ZP2000CV3A001
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 5000MB 3450MB 3,150MB 2400MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 4400MB 3200MB 850MB 1800MB
3840/4000GB ZP4000GM3A013 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB – 
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB – 

If you did spot it, well done. For the rest of you – look at the Write speed on ALL 4 capacity Seagate Ironwolf 510 M.2 NVMe SSDs! Not only does it just barely cross into 1,000MB/s in the 960GB model, it actually DIPS into 850MB/s at 2TB. Again, this is because of this drive being massively geared towards Read over Write for cache optimization (as well as durability and endurance, which we will touch on later). That means that the Ironwolf 510 is incredibly unsuitable to regular SSD use outside of NAS when compared to all the others, even compared with the Barracuda Q5. Regardless of this, as you would expect, the firecuda’s do hit all the usual highs, with each newer version breaking higher thresholds. It is also worth remembering that these are maximum Read and Write figures, so these do not fully depict sustained performance. The Barracuda performance figures will likely not maintain that height over extended periods of time, hence their suitability for day to day computer use (with more sporadic/lite activity than something like professional gaming with consistent performance requirements or video editing). Clearly, the m.2 slot your system features (e.g PCIe 3 or PCIe 4) will factor heavily in the drive your choose, but obviously, if you can afford it and have the architecture in place I would recommend the Firecuda 530. Otherwise, the FC 510 and 520 are solid choices for PCIe4 and PCIe3 m.2 repectively.

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – IOPS Rating

Another popular way that SSD performance is typically measured is the IOPS (input, output operations per second), as M.2 NVMe SSDs and their much faster response handling of instructions from the system they are in. These are typically measures in the thousands, though the random read/write IOPS figures for the Barracuda Q5 drive were hard to find online and given their use of QLC and lower endurance rating (making me question the long term durability of the drive) I have not added any reported benchmarks for this drive. Unsurprisingly, the reported benchmarks for IOPS on each drive series and capacity scale up as you would expect, with the Firecuda 530 making an enormous jump thanks to its architecture:

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

240/250GB N/A N/A ZP250GM3A001 ZP240NM30011 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32     210,000 100,000 UNKNOWN
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32     320,000 12,000 UNKNOWN
2480/500GB ZP500GM3A013 ZP500GM3A002 ZP500GM3A021 ZP480NM30011 ZP500CV3A001
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 430,000 420,000 193,000 UNKNOWN
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 630,000 600,000 20,000 UNKNOWN
960/1000GB ZP1000GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A002 ZP1000GM3A011 ZP960NM30011 ZP1000CV3A001
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800,000 760,000 620,000 345,000 UNKNOWN
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700,000 600,000 28,000 UNKNOWN
1920/2000GB ZP2000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A002 ZP2000GM30021 ZP1920NM30011 ZP2000CV3A001
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 750,000 620,000 270,000 UNKNOWN
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700,000 600,000 25,000 UNKNOWN
3840/4000GB ZP4000GM3A013 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000       UNKNOWN
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000       UNKNOWN

Once again, the heavy read over write structure of the Ironwolf 510 has led to an enormous disparity between the random Read over Write IOPS on every capacity tier on this M.2 NVMe. When comparing it against the Firecuda 510 (also PCIe Gen 3×3) the Ironwolf 510 half 50% of the read IOPS and (staggeringly) around 4-5% of the write IOPS! If you are using your M.2 NVMe for a consistently engaged/interactive environment (eSports, Photo Editing, AI-assisted services, physics engines, etc) then the higher the IOPS ratings per second, the better – as that means that those hundreds/thousands of tiny instructions and changes you make to your live data will not be bottlenecked by the SSD.

The Firecuda series clearly wins the day here (note the Firecuda 530 comfortably cracks the 1,000,000 barriers on both read and write in the larger capacity tiers). If you care about IOPS and are using a system/setup that can make use of these response volumes (so not a day to day data entry PC or NAS unless as a storage pool drive in the latter), Firecuda 520 and 530 all the way.

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Endurance and Durability

Unlike the other points in this comparison of the Seagate M.2 NVMe SSD ranges, the Endurance and Durability of an SSD is an area that is overlooked often enough that I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank me years from now! The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. All of these SSDs need to factor in endurance and lifespan, as although they have varying quality NAND, there are no exceptions to the slow wearing it will suffer. However,alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between these drives. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

TBW = Terabytes Written, rated as the total number of terabytes that this SSD can have written to it in its warranty covered lifespan. So if the TBW was 300TB and the warranty is 5 years of coverage, that would mean that the drive can receive on average (with deleting/overwriting data each repeatedly) 60 Terabytes per year (or 5TB a month). After this point, the manufacturer highlights that durability, endurance and performance will decline. Often highlighted as an alternative to warranty length when gauging the predicted lifespan of a SSD.

DWPD = Drive Writes Per Day / Data Writes Per Day, this is a decimalized figure that represents what proportion of the capacity of an SSD (where 1.0 = 100% capacity) can be filled, erased and/or rewritten on a daily basis. This is provided using the warranty period and TBW figure. So, for example, if a 500GB drive has a 0.3DWPD rating, that is approx 150GB of data per day

MTBF = Mean Time Between Failure, which is the interval between one failure of an SSD and the next. MTBF is expressed in hours and most industrial SSDs are rated in the Millions of Hours. MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) have largely become overlooked in recent years in favour of TBW and DWPD in SSDs, but are still stated on most Data Sheets.

So, now you know what those large Terabyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 stand on this:

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

N/A N/A ZP250GM3A001 ZP240NM30011 N/A
DWPD 0.7 0.9 0.7 1 0.2
MTBF, hours 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000

This is clearly the area where the Seagate Ironwolf 510 gets to SHINE! It features a reported 1.0 DWPD (rather rare in mid-pro level m.2 NVMe) due to its lower write stats lessening the impact and over-provisioning. Over-provisioning (OP) increases SSD endurance by allowing extra space for the flash controller to manage incoming data. Over-provisioning improves wear-levelling and random write performance, and reduces the write amplification factor (WAF), thereby improving the endurance of NAND-based SSDs. That said, many users will be able to overlook the endurance rating and weigh it up against the lower write performance negatively – once again, hence its optimization for caching being rather hobbling other usage cases. The Barracuda at the end is clearly the least enduring of the bunch (already touched on) at 0.2 drive writes per day, which is reflected poorly by the performance AND the fact it only has a 3yr warranty (rather than the 5 years on the rest of the M.2 NVMes from Seagate. Overall, I am most impressed by the Seagate Firecuda 520 having it’s 0.8 drive writes per day, especially when you consider the 5000/4400MB/s top-end performance on a PCIe 4×4 m.2 bandwidth. Yes, it is only a pinch higher than the 0.7 on the Firecuda 530 and its 7300/6900MB/s, but remember these are maximum reported speeds and are very dependant on the file system and instructions being given by the client machine. Additionally, another big takeaway here is to know that these drive write per day figures are based on if you were going flat-out on these SSDs daily and within the 5-year warranty timeline. So if you are using them a tad more casually, or intermittently, these figures for durability and endurance will be considerably longer (though obviously the manufactures warranty for support only extends to 5 years)

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Conclusion

If there is one big, BIG takeaway that I want you to take away from this guide of Seagate m.2 NVMe SSDs, is that CLEARLY not all of them are built equally. Over on YouTube, I will constantly highlight that of all the types of modern computing technology, few areas have the diversity of use or crafted end-user design that data storage has. You have a lot of different spoons in your kitchen and they all ‘work’, but have you ever tried making a cup of tea with a wooden pasta/sauce spoon? Or cut a steak with a butter knife? The same logic is quite clear in these SSDs and although it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘most expensive must be the best’ or ‘fastest = best for everything’, but the truth is a lot more nuanced. Below is a breakdown of the best use/user for each of these drives to help you decide between Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf and which Seagate NVMe SSD is the best for your needs:

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

Seagate BarraCuda Q5

Best For User 4K/8K Professional Editing

Professional Gamer

eSports

Current-Gen Consoles

4K Professional Editing

Semi-Pro Gamers

eSports

AI Tasks

1080p / Compressed 4K Editing

Prosumer Gamers

Professional Computing

NAS Server Caching

Virtual Machine Caching

SAN/Shared Storage

Office Computers

Home Gamers

Operating Sytems

Where To Buy

Remember, ALL of these M.2 NVMes arrive with Rescue Data Recovery services, so that’s another little bonus you get with any of these. Thanks for reading and I hope this guide helped you choose the right M.2 Seagate NVMe SSD for your gaming PC, home console (PS5?) or professional editing machine. If you need any further assistance on choosing the right storage media for your needs, take advantage of the free advice section below. It is manned by two humans, myself and Eddie the Web guy, and is a COMPLETELY FREE advice service. It might take us a day or two extra to respond to your questions, but we answer every single one and provide unbias advice that only has your storage interests at heart! Have a lovely week and stay awesome.

 


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