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Seagate Firecuda 530 Star Wars Special Edition SSD Review – This is the way?

16 février 2022 à 01:29

Review of the Seagate Firecuda 530 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD


Of all the PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSDs that I have discussed in the last year or so, very few have stood out as much as the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD. Although arriving late in the game in August 2021 (whilst their biggest rivals WD and Samsung released their own drives in Autumn 2020), the Seagate firecuda made up for lost time by releasing one of the very best examples of Phison E18 Controller architecture in the market and fast forward 6 months and it still continues to stand out. Indeed, in my original review and benchmarks of the Seagate Firecuda last summer, I heaped praise on the SSD for its remarkably high durability, higher than most write performance and inclusive 3 years of data recovery services. Now, since its initial release, the Seagate Forecuda 530 has seen updates in firmware, a 4TB version, an EK designed high durability heatsink and now… a Star Wars Mandalorian licenced SSD+Heatsink combo. Now, there is a lot to unpack there! The Mandalorian is arguably one of the hottest current properties that Disney Lucasfilm have released in a long time and aside from the clear move by Seagate here to appeal to the disposable ‘geek dollar’, Seagate say that this SSD has more to shout about than it looks. So, today I am taking the opportunity to revisit the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD in its latest form, with its latest firmware and see if this new version of this premium SSD deserves your data?


Seagate Firecuda 530 Mandalorian Edition SSD Review – Quick Conclusion


I mean, there are two ways to look at this SSD. On the one hand, you can judge the Seagate Firecuda 530 Beskar Ingot Drive on its looks (which I am fairly certain I was always told not to) and if you are even slightly following the Mandalorian on Disney plus, this is a lovely presented drive. However, the more practical of us will question the long term value of a beautiful SSD that we are going to immediately enclose inside our PC/PS5 systems, never to be seen again. It’s a fair point, but to some buyers (perhaps those that favour LEDs or hyper metallic ‘future’ design on their memory heatsinks or steampunk esc internal cooling) this small detail will be enough for them to spend a pinch more on this special edition of the drive. It’s no coincidence the presentation of this drive right out of the box differed wildly from that of the more traditional component kit approach of the regular Firecuda 530 SSD. But dig deeper and what you find is the same incredible SSD from Seagate that still continues to impress. The price tag of the special edition Firecuda 530 is still higher than most out there (even the regular version is priced some 10-15% higher than others in the market), but you still need to factor in that this SSD is capable of hitting performance and durability figures that are still unchallenged in the market right now and Seagate seemingly know that! Until Seagate decide whether to release a more affordable alternative to the Firecuda 530 SSD (Firecuda 535 or 525 maybe?), this is always going to be a pricey drive (whether you opt into the Mandalorian version or not) and if you are running a system that can hit those lofty benchmarks it can achieve or plan on using it extensively without fear of durability, I STILL think it is worth the asking price. Just keep in mind that the additional highs that this Drive is capable of hitting are going to need other serious horsepower under the bonnet too! Also, remember that the Firecuda 530 is available with the standard EK heatsink and a non-heatsink version and you can say £25-50 respectively on the terabyte.

SPEED - 10/10
HARDWARE - 10/10
PERFORMANCE - 9/10
PRICE - 8/10
VALUE - 8/10


9.0
PROS
👍🏻I mean – It looks ridiculously cool!
👍🏻Highest PCIe 4×4 M.2 Performance Right Now
👍🏻
👍🏻176 Layer 3D TLC NAND is still a rare treat in 2022
👍🏻
👍🏻Best Example of Phison E18 Performance
👍🏻
👍🏻Highest Endurance PCIe Gen 4×4 M.2 SSD Right Now
👍🏻
👍🏻Inclusive Data Recovery Services
👍🏻
👍🏻PS5 Compatibility Fully Confirmed
👍🏻
👍🏻Firecuda 530 is Available in up to 4TB
CONS
👎🏻Costs more than most
👎🏻Branding and License design will be obscured in your PS5/PC enclosure
👎🏻Mandalorian Design only available in 500GB and 1TB

Seagate Firecuda 530 Star Wars SSD Review – Packaging


Immediately upon seeing the Firecuda 530 Beskar Ingot SSD retail box, it is pretty clear that Seagate wants to shout as loudly as possible about the Star Wars / Mandalorian branding of this SSD. It makes sense, they almost certainly had to pay a decent chunk of change to get the licencing on this and aside from this drive being a limited run, they clearly want to make it clear that this SSD is a special edition. Indeed, if I saw this drive on the shelf of my local Forbidden Planet, it would fit right in. Indeed, if you compare the Firecuda 530 retail boxes of the standard and Special edition, you can see that the layout is the same, but a lot of the Seagate specific branding has been reduced/removed in favour of the big, big Disney/LucasFilm branding on this SSD. Given the noticeably price differences between each version of this SSD, it would be expected that Seagate would want to differentiate as much as they can. For example, the Firecuda 530 1TB SSD arrives at (at the time of writing) £149 without a heatsink, £179 with the professional EK heatsink and £199 with the Beskar Ingot EEK heatsink. That is some noticeably jumps at each tier.


Indeed, the Seagate Firecuda 530 Mandalorian Special Edition drive is by no means the first SSD/HDD by brands targetted at gamers or followers of ‘geek’ culture. From connections with licenced games (so the brand includes a download code for a game + livery on the drive) all the way through to presenting arguably dull components like HDDs and SSDs in more stylistic means. Indeed, a great example of this is by Patriot and their Viper VP4300 SSD, designed in the style of an action figure. So, no one can really blame Seagate for shifting the retail packaging up a gear on this SSD.


I cannot really recall Disney ever endorsing a solid-state drive, so the idea of seeing the Star Wars logo on an m.2 NVMe SSD still blows my mind a bit, particularly when in the star wars fraternity an ‘SSD’ stands for Super Star Destroyer! Still, there it is, loud and proud.



Opening the box is a little different too (compared with the regular Firecuda 530 and other SSDs) as it opens into a picture of the Mandalorian, in a pull out display box (not the plastic shell of the regular Firecuda 530). Inside is the retail kit that I would expect with a firecuda 530, but with some Star Wars tweaks along the way.



The box contained a lot of star wars ‘bumpf’ that I know I personally will largely ignore BUT I know there is an audience for it! The range of branded stickers for your gaming rig/laptop/console is expanded for the usual ‘Seagate Gaming’ focused ones and I can perhaps see myself using one or two on my laptop – MAYBE! There is also information on the rescue recovery services that the drive includes (I’ll touch on this later), information on first-time installation, details on the 5 year included warranty and, of course, the Firecuda 530 Beskar Ingot SSD itself.



The SSD arrives in a pre-applied EKWB heatsink that surrounds the entire SSD. The non-special edition SSD uses this same high-quality heatsink, but this is the one that has all the Mandalorian /Beskar ingot branding. The top of the heatsink is textured across the waved white pattern and the ‘Galactic Empire’ logo is laser engraved very well.



The heatsink is weightier than many that I have used and although it would be easy to write off this kind of heatsink printing/engraving as pointless, I will say that the build quality of the EKWB heatsink on both this AND the regular Seagate Firecuda 530 really stands up to sustained use. I nthe last 3-4 months I have been putting the standard heatsink that the Firecuda arrives with through the wringer with sustained tests on PC benchmarks and repeated PS5 testing. So, although the surface of this Mandalorian SSD differs from the regular version, the shape and material used in these two heatsinks remain the same.



Indeed, when I put the standard 1TB Seagate Firecuda 530 Heatsink version through 13 SSD benchmarks back in 2021, even at the heaviest activity (a 64GB CrystalDisk Benchmark action, that also included 70/30 mixed activities) the SSD only hit 42 Degrees. And that was with the big test sandwiched between 12 other tests over the course of 2 hours. Below was the temperature breakdown:



Likewise, I repeated the same tests with the Mandalorian edition of the Seagate Firecuda 530 and performed the same testing. I am pleased to say that the Star Wars themed EK heatsink performed jsut as well:



Then I checked the controller temperature throughout the PS5 games tests + heavy read/write activities and once again, very impressively low temperature readings throughout:



I then followed that test up with a comparison with another big PCIe 4 NVMe SSD that gamers compare with Firecuda 530 with regularly, the WD Black SN850 (released in Oct 2020, 10 months before!). The Seagate Firecuda 530 and EKWB Heatsink maintained noticeably lower temps both on the PC benchmarks and the range of PS5 tests. You can see the full breakdown and test results in the video below:



So, you cannot really fault the Seagate Firecuda 530 Heatsink, as it comes from a well-established gaming cooling company and is built to withstand significantly harsher use than most users are even going to deliver upon it. So, what about the SSD inside? The heatsink is held in place with 4 very small and soft Phillips head screws. Removing the SSD from its casing will invalidate the warranty, so please do not try this at home!



The inside of the heatsink reveals a single long thermal pad, but it is noticeably more porous than disposable pads (a little more like gel and putty silicon base ones). I am a little surprised it is not cut to cover the Phison E18 controller in particular, but it is still an amply covered SSD inside the EKWB heatsink enclosure.



Removing the Firecuda 530 from the heatsink allows us to have a closer look at the SSD itself and it’s components. The 1TB model of this SSD arrives with a single-sided build, so the NAND on board are 4x 256GB modules all sharing the same side with the PCIe4 controller and SK Hynix 1600 MHZ DDR4 DRAM Memory buffer.



It’s a familiar arrangement



The drive is fairly standard in height to other m.2 NVMes, however, it is easy to forget that the micron NAND featured in the Firecuda 530 is significantly higher quality than many at 176L (something we will touch on later). Since it’s original release (the non star wars version from Summer 2021 I mean), we have still seen very few 176L NAND arrive on the scene and the Firecuda 530 Beskar Ingot and it’s Micron NAND still manage to stand out.



The larger capacity Firecuda 530s drives at 2TB and 4TB (the Mandalorian edition is not available in 4TB) feature double-sided NAND placement, resulting in both better capacity handling, performance and durability. However, this needs to be balanced against a larger heatsink/thermal pad application. In PC use, this is of little-to-no concern, but now the Firecuda 530 NVMe SSD is pretty much the ‘score-to-beat’ on PS5 SSD upgrades, this is an important consideration for some. NAND is ok to get a little warm in use, but the controller needs to maintain that lower temp of between 50-70 degrees to run fine and under 50 Degrees to be at it’s best for performance and durability. So lots of warm NAND surrounding the controller can raise tips a few degrees. In a PC case environment, the Firecuda 530 SSD will have plenty of airflow, however, the PS5 (a target user market that this SSD is aiming at in a big way in 2022) uses a close M.2 slot that has a cover lid and noticeably less active airflow to run over the heatsink.



The Seagate Firecuda 530 Special Edition fits in the PS5 SSD expansion slot perfectly fine and is wide enough to connect with the air slots, whilst still being compact enough to allow the m.2 cover to be applied inside the PS5. When the PS5 system was booted, we got a benchmark (not to be confused with PC benchmarks, as the PS5 as a different range of tests/priorities). Three tests were performed and this 1TB benchmark was around 6,250MB/s Read on average. This is very respectable for a 1TB SSD and the typically performance of a Phison E18 SSD at 1TB is around 6,100MB/s. Larger capacities such as TB or 4TB tend to hit 6,500-6,00MB/s as they have a great distribution of NAND and more DRAM.



As you would expect, the Seagate Firecuda 530 appears immediately in the PS5 storage manager for use.



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Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD Review – Hardware Specifications


Below is a breakdown of the hardware specifications of the Firecuda 530. There are a number of key factors here that really need your attention!

Drive Firecuda 530 500GB Firecuda 530 1000GB Firecuda 530 2000GB Firecuda 530 4000GB (Regular)
Price 500GB – $149.99 1TB – $239.99 2TB – $489.99 4TB – $949.99
Warranty, Limited (years) 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue
PCIe Gen M.2 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND Type 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND
Controller E18-PS018 E18-PS018 E18-PS018 E18-PS018
Performance ZP500GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A013 ZP4000GM3A013
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7300MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 6000MB 6900MB 6900MB
IOPS ZP500GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A013 ZP4000GM3A013
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 800,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
DWPD 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
MTBF, hours 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000

Now, the above is clearly a little more technical than many gamers would like. Obviously, the general performance of the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD is going to be high (as detailed in the performance tests later in the review), however, its sequential Read performance is actually not too far ahead of the likes of the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850 released some 5-6 months ago, so why should gamers spend more on this drive? Well, a lot of the more technical aspects that focus on SUSTAINED performance and DURABILITY make up a lot of this. Likewise, this architecture and its impact on Sequential WRITE is also something to consider. Write activity in console/pc gaming of a noticeably smaller fraction of activity over Read, approx 85% Read and 15% Write over time. However this is changing all the time, as games are being regularly streamed or shared, as well as world creation games and create-your-own-adventure sandbox titles growing quite significantly, smaller but sustained write activity running parallel with read is an important consideration. Let’s take a closer look at those key specifications and translate them into normal speak!


Hardware Focus of the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD Series


The first big thing to focus on with the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD is the controller. This is the brains of the SSD and in the case of this SSD, it’s a good one! The Phison E18 has already featured on a few other SSD releases in early 2021 to wide praise and given Seagate’s history of using their controllers right up to the E16 in the previous drive in this series, it was always going to be their SSD controller of choice here. This controller has some remarkably high bandwidth capabilities that the rest of the SSD can stretch it’s muscles a bit in order to try and saturate! Supporting up to a maximum 7,400MB/s and 7,100MB/s sequential Read/Write and up to 1Million 4K Read/Write IOPS, the Phison Controller is pushed quite far to it’s limits at the 4TB Firecuda 530 model. It’s a shame that Seagate does not have it’s own in house teams as WD/Samsung do, but the Phison E18 is still an industry leader right now and an inevitable choice by the brand.



Alongside this controller, the NAND featured on the Seagate Firecuda 530 is quite a top-end choice too. As mentioned, the Phison E18 controller has been featured on a number of other solutions in the last 6+ months, however, the Firecuda 530 arrives with an extra advantage with Micron 176 layered 3D TLC NAND. This is very important, as this massive jump over the bulk of other SSDs that arrive with 96L NAND allows better-sustained performance through the drives lifetime and (more importantly) a MUCH higher endurance rating. With most other M.2 PCIe4 NVMe SSDs arriving with 0.3 or 0.38 drive writes per day, this one is rated at 0.7 DWPD. Even if you are not planning on hammered this drive daily, that only means this SSD NAND will last even longer and will in all likelihood massively outline whatever system it is installed within.



Alongside the controller and NAND, the Firecuda 530 features DD4 DRAM/memory. This scales in capacity alongside each storage tier of the series. Another interesting thing of note on the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD drive physically is that regardless of whether you chooses the 500GB, 1TB, 2TB or 4TB, they ALL arrive at 2280 length. This is to be expected on the smaller capacities, but the 4TB in particular managing to hit that cap without resorting to a 22110 (without compromising the NAND storage to QLC etc) is impressive indeed. This does mean that the 2TB and 4TB model then need to be double-sided drives (something to factor in at the heatsink level on more compact PC and console systems like PS5) but nevertheless, only 2-3 brands including Seagate include a 4TB drive at this architecture and performance threshold.



As mentioned (about a million times, I know) the Firecuda 530 features M.2 PCIe4 architecture, arriving in NVMe 1.4 revision. This is an important detail as, although there are currently a large number of PCIe4 M.2 SSDs on the market, some are using older revisions. This can be updated in some cases, but it is by no means consumer-friendly/universal. Overall, you really cannot fault the hardware inside/onboard the Seagate Firecuda 530, as it is still by far one of the highest performing sequential Read and Write drives in the market over many other M.2 NVMe PCIe 4 SSDs released in the last 6-8 months. Before we go into the full testing, however, it is worth taking a moment to look closely at the reported performance benchmarks of the Seagate Firecuda 530, as although the performance is good, there are areas such as IOPS and endurance when compared with its main rivals that make quite a stark contrast.

Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD Review – Official Stats First


Before we conduct our own testing on this SSD, Let’s take a closer look at the reported specifications and benchmarks first. The Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD arrives in four capacities at 500GB,1TB, 2TB and 4TB (with the Beskar Ingot, Mandalorian branding only available on the 500GB and 1TB model). The Prices currently are a little inconsistent (with each higher capacity tier actually having a higher price per GB – quite unusual) likely due to the hardware shortages, the Pandemic, Chia has affected SSD availability in the last 24 months and most recently the announcement that PS5 supports this SSD and it has increased the current price of most models around 20%! Below is a breakdown of how each Firecuda 530 SSD compares:

Drive Firecuda 530 500GB

Firecuda 530 1000GB

Firecuda 530 2000GB

Firecuda 530 4000GB

Price 500GB – $149.99 1TB – $239.99 2TB – $489.99 4TB – $949.99
Warranty, Limited (years) 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue 5+3yr Rescue
PCIe Gen M.2 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4 PCIe Gen 4×4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND Type 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND 176L 3D NAND
Controller E18-PS018 E18-PS018 E18-PS018 E18-PS018
Performance ZP500GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A013 ZP4000GM3A013
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7300MB 7300MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 6000MB 6900MB 6900MB
IOPS ZP500GM3A013 ZP1000GM3A013 ZP2000GM3A013 ZP4000GM3A013
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 800,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
DWPD 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7
MTBF, hours 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000 1,800,000

The first very clear thing is that the performance clearly scales quite hugely as you go through each capacity tier. The 500GB model features a rather underwhelming 3000GB sequential write compared with the more than double 6,000MB/s and 6,900MB/s reported on the rest of the series, but the sequential read performance of all capacities is still reported at 7,000MB/s (with a peak of 7,300MB/s at the highest end). Likewise, the 4K IOPS scales noticeably through the tiers, with the 500GB being the only version that does not break the 1,000,000 IOPS rating. Understandably this is an architecture/physical NAND scale limitation, but it is definitely worth highlighting, as many buyers who are looking at the Seagate Firecuda 530 series and are somewhat intimidated by the higher price tag over other M.2 PCIe4 NVMe SSDs (but still want the endurance and durability of use) might scale to the 500GB model and then be unaware they are getting a very different ‘write’ experience. That said, modern PC and console gamers who are going to use the Seagate Firecuda 530 are going to largely need to focus on Read activity. For a better understanding of the most commonly used terms in the word of SSDs, take a moment to watch my video below that breaks down all of the most complex and repeated terms and anacronyms into plain, chewable English!



So, now you know the hardware specifications, the performance benchmarks and exactly what makes the Seagate Firecuda 530 a particularly advantageous drive. However, there are quite a few drives n the shelves right now that are shoving for gamer’s attention and for both PS5 and PC Gamers alike, there are 2 main alternative drives, the WD Black SN850 and Samsung 980 Pro. These two alternative drives have been available to consumers for well over 12 months and in that time have dominated this tier of the storage market significantly. The WD and Samsung gamer SSD arrived on the market last year at a lower price point than the Seagate Firecuda 530, as well as had plenty of time to get more flexible with that price in the meantime. So, with the Seagate SSD arriving at a higher price point, they can only really win on the subject of VALUE, not the price tag. Ultimately, what you GET for your money in terms of performance, responsiveness, service and (Seagate hope) durability. Below is how these three SSDs compare at each available capacity tier:

Brand/Series

 

Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

Samsung 980 Pro

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P500BW
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 $119 / £99 $119 / £109
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $249 / £169 $209 / £179
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $399 / £339 $390 / £369
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013   N/A
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 N/A N/A
Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850 Samsung 980 Pro
PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.3c
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC 3D TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 2TB 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2 Custom Elpis
Warranty 5yr + Data Recovery 3yrs 5yr 5yr
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.3DWPD
500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P500BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB 6900MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 4100MB 5000MB
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5300MB 5000MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 5100MB 5100MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013   N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB N/A N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB N/A N/A
Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850 Samsung 980 Pro
500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P500BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 1,000,000 800,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 680,000 1,000,000
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 1,000,000 1000000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 720,000 1000000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 710,000 1,000,000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013   N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A N/A

So, when looking at these drives, we have to look at the advantages and disadvantages of the Seagate Firecuda 530 vs the WD Black SN850 and Samsung 980 Pro. They break down as follows:


+ Highest Peak Performance at 1TB and 2TB


+ 4 Terabyte Option


+ More Than Double The Reported Endurance & Durability than WD/Samsung


+ Inclusive Rescue Data Recovery Service


– More Expensive at ALL Capacities


– 500GB Model Has Noticeably Lower Seq Write than 500GB WD/Samsung


– Not 100% Developed In-house


Overall, I do genuinely think that Seagate and the Firecuda 530 win overall on points versus the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850. It definitely costs more, but you seemingly get quite a lot for your money. That does mean that you need to price these SSDs in terms of their lifetime utility and value (which many might not want or need to), but Seagate does make a compelling argument here. Additionally, the available 4TB drive will please a lot of professional gamers, as that is quite a lot of space to play with – albeit at quite an intimidating price tag! Let’s get the Seagate Firecuda 530 in the test machine:

Testing the Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD


When testing the Seagate Firecuda 530, I wanted to perform a good balance of consumer-accessible tests. So the results below come from testing this 1TB SSD on a PC system and loading game tests from a PS5 system (for those considering this SSD for a console gaming system).


PC Test Machine:

  • Windows 10 Pro Desktop System
  • Intel i5 11400 Rocket Lake – 6-Core 2.6/4.4Ghz
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Intel B560M mATX Motherboard
  • OS Storage, Seagate Firecuda 120 SSD
  • Test SSD connected to Secondary PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Slot

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The Drive was first checked on Crystal Disk to check that it was clearly accessible, utilizing the PCIe Gen 4 bandwidth interface fully and was in good, healthy working order.



The PC Tests of the Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB SSD included ATTO Diskbench Mark, CrystalDisk, AS SSD and spikes of AJA Disk Speed Test (over time).

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – 1GB Test


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – 4GB


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – 16GB


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – 64GB



 

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – ATTO 256MB Test

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – ATTO 1GB Test

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – ATTO 4GB Test


 

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – AS SSD Tests


We performed three different file type tests in AS SSD, 1GB, 3GB and 5GB. They were as follows:

AS SSD 1GB TEST FILE

AS SSD 3GB TEST FILE

AS SSD 5GB TEST FILE


Ordinarily, I would introduce tests like BlackMagic and AJA into the mix here, but even a short burst of testing on an NVMe like this would over saturate the cache memory on board. Nevertheless, in the short term we still could ascertain the reported performance on 1GB, 4GB and 16GB file testing was:

Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB 1GB AJA File Test Results (Max)


5816MB/s Read & 5383MB/s Write


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB 4GB AJA File Test Results (Max)


5829MB/s Read & 5672MB/s Write


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB 16GB AJA File Test Results (Max)


6008MB/s Read & 5427MB/s Write


Seagate Firecuda 530 1TB – Playstation 5 Load Times


Below I tested 4 different games on the Playstation 5, with each game being stored on the m.2 SSD expansion slot populated with the Seagate Firecuda 530. In three out of four cases, the game loaded 1 Sec + faster on the Seagate:


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SSD NEXT TO BOX RANGE

Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD Review – Conclusion



I mean, there are two ways to look at this SSD. On the one hand, you can judge the Seagate Firecuda 530 Beskar Ingot Drive on its looks (which I am fairly certain I was always told not to) and if you are even slightly following the Mandalorian on Disney plus, this is a lovely presented drive. However, the more practical of us will question the long term value of a beautiful SSD that we are going to immediately enclose inside our PC/PS5 systems, never to be seen again. It’s a fair point, but to some buyers (perhaps those that favour LEDs or hyper metallic ‘future’ design on their memory heatsinks or steampunk esc internal cooling) this small detail will be enough for them to spend a pinch more on this special edition of the drive. It’s no coincidence the presentation of this drive right out of the box differed wildly from that of the more traditional component kit approach of the regular Firecuda 530 SSD. But dig deeper and what you find is the same incredible SSD from Seagate that still continues to impress. The price tag of the special edition Firecuda 530 is still higher than most out there (even the regular version is priced some 10-15% higher than others in the market), but you still need to factor in that this SSD is capable of hitting performance and durability figures that are still unchallenged in the market right now and Seagate seemingly know that! Until Seagate decide whether to release a more affordable alternative to the Firecuda 530 SSD (Firecuda 535 or 525 maybe?), this is always going to be a pricey drive (whether you opt into the Mandalorian version or not) and if you are running a system that can hit those lofty benchmarks it can achieve or plan on using it extensively without fear of durability, I STILL think it is worth the asking price. Just keep in mind that the additional highs that this Drive is capable of hitting are going to need other serious horsepower under the bonnet too! Also, remember that the Firecuda 530 is available with the standard EK heatsink and a non-heatsink version and you can say £25-50 respectively on the terabyte.

PROs of the Seagate Firecuda 530 CONs of the Seagate Firecuda 530
I mean – It looks ridiculously cool!

Highest PCIe 4×4 M.2 Performance Right Now


176 Layer 3D TLC NAND is still a rare treat in 2022


Best Example of Phison E18 Performance


Highest Endurance PCIe Gen 4×4 M.2 SSD Right Now


Inclusive Data Recovery Services


PS5 Compatibility Fully Confirmed


Available in up to 4TB

Costs more than most

Branding and License design will be obscured in your PS5/PC enclosure

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Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Perfect All Rounder?

20 décembre 2021 à 01:15

Review of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

Of all the brands that have embraced the PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD revolution, few have been as aggressive as Sabrent. In a little over 10 months, they not only released their first PCIe4 SSD, but then fleshed out an entire multi-tiered range of drives within this tier. Named the Sabrent Rocket Series, there is three individual tiers available in the Rocket 4 Plus Premium/Prosumer level, the Sabrent Rocket Q4 Home/Budget level and finally, right there in the middle, the Rocket PCIe 4.0 series. That last one is the focus of today’s review, as it is the one that promises a good balance of performance, capacity and price. Although the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 was the first of this series to arrive, it is still quite current in 2021, arriving with a market endorsed Phison controller, 96Layered NAND and a very unique build & presentation. Although, it might have been usurped by the Rocket 4 Plus in the eyes of prosumer/business buyers and the ever-changing pricing of SSDs (thanks to the ripples of the pandemic, chia, semiconductor shortages and the trade war), as well as newer and more powerful SSDs landing in summer 2021 in the Firecuda 530 and MSI Spatium M480, so is the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 Still worth your time and your data? Let’s find out in my review and performance testing of the Rocket PCIe 4 SSD.

Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

In many ways, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is a victim of the brands own rising success (a bit overly flattering, but hear me out). Whether through accident or design, the fast-paced establishing of their range of PCIe 4.0 SSDs that cover budget buyers to Professional buyers has led to the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD being somewhat overshadowed by the Rocket 4 Plus SSD. Had the numerous market-changing events of the last 18 months not happened, then the pricing structure between these three SSD tiers would be must more distinguishable. As it stands, now the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is very close to the Rocket 4 Plus and unless a buyer is highly concerned with durability (0.9 DWPD vs 0.3 DWPD), it makes spending a tiny bit more and opting for the premium class drive a no brainer. That said, judging the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD on its own merits, it is another solid release from the brand. It still features the strange warranty registration policy of the rest of the brand’s releases (nope, still can’t get behind that idea!), but the rest of the drive is exactly what I want in a all-purpose m.2 NVMe SSD. If you see this drive on sale, then do not hesitate to snap it up.

SPEED - 7/10
HARDWARE - 6/10
PERFORMANCE - 7/10
PRICE - 8/10
VALUE - 8/10


7.2
PROS
👍🏻Still Impressive Performance even a year since it’s release
👍🏻High Durability of over 0.9 DWPD
👍🏻
👍🏻Good Drive for those with Systems that cannot reach 7000MB/s Cap tier
👍🏻
👍🏻Good Build Quality and Presentation
👍🏻
👍🏻Includes Acronis True Image to clone/move OS to drive
👍🏻
👍🏻PS5 SSD Expansion Drive Support (Negotiable – check later software releases)
CONS
👎🏻Overshadowed by the Rocket 4 Plus SSD
👎🏻No 4TB Option (unless the Q4 / Rocket 4 Plus Series)
👎🏻
👎🏻SSD Pricing Madness in 2020/2021 hurts its appeal

Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Packaging

Much like the majority of Sabrent SSDs, the Rocket Rocket PCIe 4.0 is a very well presented drive. Arriving in a smaller retail box than their competitors, there is the hesitation that this drive is not going to be suitably protected or corners have been cut. However in reality this is one of the most impressively packaged (aesthetically and protectively) M.2 SSDs I have seen in a long time.

Inside the Rocket 4.0 retail box (with its promised performance abilities and specifications detailed) is a copper hinged case that is surprisingly sturdy and gives off a nice feeling of quality.

Inside this copper/rose-gold case is instructions for first-time drive installation, warranty information (which you are urged to register for, else you only have 1yr warranty as opposed to the expected 5yrs), a foam branded card that protected the M.2 NVMe and (of course) the Sabrent Rocket PCIe4 itself.

Removing the Sabrent PCIe 4.0 SSD from the carry case show you a nice and clear drive label. Indeed this label is also a little different from those that you might find on other SSDs.

The top label of the Sabrent Rocket PCIE4.0 SSD is actually a metal place that lies across the entirety of the SSD. This plate is attached with adhesive and is present on all Sabrent NVMe SSDs, including this more consumer class PCIe4 SSD. Later we will peel back this metal plate to show you the internal NAND, Controller and Memory, but this is still a very slick touch and although I query its effectiveness in real-world usage for heat dissipation, it’s still a nice extra touch of design.

The m.2 Connector on the Sabrent Rocket 4.0 has plenty of clearance and the distribution of the NAND on this drive is very even. We are reviewing the 2TB model of this SSD series and therefore there is little need to be conservative about the spacing of NAND/Components.

Of course, if you are going to deploy the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4 SSD in your PC or PS5 console, it is worth remembering that these drives get hot, plus in the case of the Sabrent PCIe4, it gets remarkably hot! To counter this you can always get a 3rd party heatsink OR get the Sabrent Rocket+Heatsink package. The heatsink that Sabrent supply for this SSD is both stylized similarly to the drive itself and made of impressive build quality. However, there are a few caveats that are worth keeping in mind.

First, unlike a lot of SSDs that when purchased in complete packages with the first party/branded heatsink, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 does NOT arrive pre-installed in the heatsink. This is NOT a big deal, as its not exactly brain surgery to install an SSD inside a heatsink, however, two of the main benefits of buying an SSD+Heatsink combo is that 1) the thermal pads can/will be applied to the precisely most beneficial elements of the SSD (eg not a long, inefficient thermal pad, but selective area application to the SSD), and 2) a SSD+Heatsink combo might be applied at factory level with dust/air control meaning better-sealed installation. These are very minor points, however, it’s a real shame that the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0+Heatsink combo kit does not arrive readily attached at the point of manufacture. Another point that is worth noting, if largely not advisable, is if you are considering installing the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 drive in your PS5. It is still technically below the recommended minimum for drive installation and you might encounter gameplay issues later, but nonetheless, the drive is supported and WAS displayed as usable by the PS5 system software (currently in the beta at the time of writing and not a full-public release feature).

However, the 1st party Sabrent Heatsink is way, WAY too tall for PS5 expansion bay and will not allow you to install the m.2 cover by a big margin. You can still install the PS5 outer shell and panels, but this might well affect airflow too (TBC). When you uninstall the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4 inside a PS5 with supported SSD expansion update in the expansion slot, the Playstation 5 System software recorded a highly unusual read speed of 5,622MB/s. This is significantly higher than the reported maximum 5,000MB/s Sequential Read that Sabrent themselves say the Rocket 4.0 is capable of. So, take that measurement with a MASSIVE grain of salt!

So that is the physical design of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves? Does the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Hardware Specifications

As you might expect from an M.2 NVMe SSD that boldly promises performance of over 5,000MB/s sequential read (ie BIG data), the hardware specifications and architecture of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 are quite modern. Indeed, for all the big talk of the Seagate Firecuda 530 hardware (still currently the ‘score to beat’ PCIE Gen4 m.2 NVMe right now) being top tier, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet to the firecuda 520 that came before it! There is, of course, the higher tier Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus premium model, which arrives around 15-20& more expensive, but what this gives in performance, it loses in endurance and cost per TB. Below is how the Sabrent Rocket PCIe4 looks:

Sabrent Rocket PCIe4

500GB – $89.99, 1TB – $149.99, 2TB – $399.99

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.3
NAND 3D TLC KIOXIA 96L
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided
Controller Phison E16-PS5016
Warranty 1yr/5yr

I know a lot of the above will seem needlessly technical, so below we can bring the most important considerations into sharper focus.

Hardware Focus of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Series

The first thing to focus on is the controller, that Phison E16. An SSD is much like a microcosm version of a whole computer. The Controller is equivalent to the CPU, and Phison are one of the bigger 3rd party SSD controller manufacturers in the world! I say 3rd party, because some long-running storage brands like Samsung and WD have most of their development and hardware engineering ‘in-house’ and use their own branded controllers. Whereas some brands source some/all components for their SSDs from 3rd parties – which is not necessarily a bad thing for both them and the industry (there are pros and cons on either side). Phison has been at the cutting edge of this subject for years now and the E16 was first introduced into the hardware market back in summer 2019 and is featured prominently on a number of PCIe4 SSDs that are now a pinch more affordable than the latest revision, the E18. This has created a two-tier system in the M.2 PCIe 4 market that some brands have used to produce two kinds of PCIe4 in their portfolio. A more affordable E16 SSD and a premium E18 SSD. Regardless of how the Phison E16 has slipped into the lower pricing/performance tier, this controller is still one of the biggest reasons that the Sabrent Rocket PCIe4 can actually back up its promises about the 5,000-4,400MB/s+ Sequential Read (sequential data = big chunks of data)

The NAND on the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is where the data lives! SSDs (as you no doubt know) do not use moving parts as found in traditional hard drives and instead uses cells that are charged and data is read/written to them in this process. The quality of the NAND and the layers used will make a big difference to the durability and performance of an SSD and although the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 does not provide the best SSD in the industry at this tier right now (that, once again, goes to the Seagate Firecuda 530 at 176 layer 3D TLC NAND), it is bigger than most, arriving at 96 Layers of 3D TLC NAND. Although the majority of modern PCIe M.2 SSD use 3D TLC NAND (avoid QLC NAND like the PLAGUE btw!), most are still at 64 layers or so, so this is a big jump up for the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD.

Much like the Controller on the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD uses 1GB DDR4 memory on board and this in conjunction with the SSD provides a massive body of data handling resources for getting your data moving through the SSD and out of the m.2 NVMe PCIe 4 interface. The amount of memory scales in conjunction with the 1TB or 2TB SSD you use, with 2GB of DDR4 at the on the 2TB tier, 1GB DDR4 on the 1TB, etc.

As mentioned, all available capacities of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 arrive at 2280 in length. This is quite normal for the 1TB and 2TB versions, but the fact that the 2TB can arrive on single-sided SSD boards is very impressive. Physical storage NAND is distributed evenly in order to space out the storage and allow even cooling, NAND wear and performance.

Finally, there is the M.2 NVMe connection. Not all m.2 SSDs are created equal and although M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe look similar, they provide massively different performance and connectivity. However, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 takes it one step further, by using a newer generation of PCIe Connectivity. In short, M.2 NVMe SSDs are connected to the host PC/Console system via PCIe protocol (think of those slots that you almost always use for your graphics cards, but a much, MUCH smaller connector). These allow much larger bandwidth (ie maximum speed) for the connected storage media, Much like regular PCIe slots, they have different versions (i.E PCIe Gen 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) and also a multiplying factor (x1, x2, x4, etc). Up until around 18 months ago, the best M.2 NVMes were M.2 PCIe Gen 3×4 (so a maximum 4,000MB/s possible). However, never generation SSD like the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 use PCIe Gen 4×4 (a potential 8,000MB/s possible) and it is only now that SSD controllers and NAND production has reached a point where it can catch up and fully saturate (i.e fill) this connection.

Overall, you really cannot fault the hardware inside/onboard the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0, as it is still (2-3 months after release) higher performing in sequential Read and Write than many other M.2 NVMe PCIe 4 SSDs released in that time. Before we go into the full testing, however, it is worth taking a moment to look closely at the reported performance benchmarks of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0, as although the performance seems stellar, there are areas such as IOPS and endurance when compared with its main rivals that are worth taking into consideration.

Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Official Stats First

Before we conduct our own testing on this SSD, Let’s take a closer look at the reported specifications and benchmarks first. The Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD arrives in multiple capacities (below). The Prices currently are a little inconsistent (with each higher capacity tier actually having a higher price per GB – quite unusual) likely due to the hardware shortages, the Pandemic, Chia has affected SSD availability in the last 12 months and most recently the announcement that PS5 supports this SSD and it has increased the current price of both models around 10%! Below is a breakdown of how each Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD compares:

Brand/Series Sabrent Rocket PCIe4

500GB – $89.99, 1TB – $149.99, 2TB – $399.99

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

WD Black SN850

500GB – $169.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $549.99

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.3 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC KIOXIA 96L 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E16-PS5016 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 1yr/5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model SB-RKTQ4-500GB ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 850TB 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.9DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model SB-RKTQ4-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1800TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.9DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model SB-RKTQ4-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 3600TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.9DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD N/A

There are clear throughput improvements as you rise through the capacity tiers (not unusual), as does the rated 4K IOPS. Though one area worth focusing on a little is that TBW (terabytes Written) and DWPD (Drive writes per day), as this drive is THREE TIMES HIGHER than the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850 in terms of NAND lifespan on daily writes, likely down to that Kioxia 96 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than the used by those used by competitors. This is an important point because the brand has significantly less pedigree in-home/business SSD media than the likes of Samsung, WD and Seagate and people will want to know they are going to get a product that lasts!

However, despite the use of the Phison E16 controller and 96 layer NAND, the reported IOPS on each capacity is actually a noticeable degree lower than those reported by their competitors. Indeed, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is one of the few E18 SSDs that does not cross into the reported 1 Million IOPS mark, maxing out at 700k. This is still very impressive anyway, but it does make me wonder where the disparity stems from. Indeed, when you look at the bulk of PCIe 4×4 M.2 NVMe 1.4 SSD, that feature the E18 controller and 96L (or higher) on board, it really only leaves about 4 other SSDs in the market today that this can be compared against. The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, the MSI Spatium M480, the ADATA Gammix S70 and (current leader) the Seagate Firecuda 530. Of those, the only one that seemingly ‘out specs’ the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD has been available in the market for almost 14 months longer and has certainly embedded itself in the market at that time more. Below is how these two drives compare:

Brand/Series Sabrent Rocket PCIe4

500GB – $89.99, 1TB – $149.99, 2TB – $399.99

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

WD Black SN850

500GB – $169.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $549.99

500GB Model SB-RKTQ4-500GB ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5000MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 2500MB 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model SB-RKTQ4-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 4400MB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model SB-RKTQ4-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 4400MB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 6900MB N/A
Brand/Series Sabrent Rocket PCIe4 Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model SB-RKTQ4-500GB ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400000 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 550000 700,000 680,000
1TB Model SB-RKTQ4-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 750,000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 750,000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model SB-RKTQ4-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 750,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 850TB 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A

Yes, that is a LONG table, but you can immediately see that the Seagate Firecuda 530 raises the stakes on all of the key specifications. Although there are a number of micro reasons for this, the 176L NAND is the biggest factor here. Yes, that is why the Firecuda 530 commands the higher price tag. Additionally, the WD Black arriving at a better price point, higher IOPS in most tiers and the fact it does this whilst still hitting that 7,000MB/s certainly gives pause for thought. However, for many, the additional cost for higher durability they may never need, peak performance their core system will not reach and IOPS rating that their larger file handling will never utilize will mean that holding out for the Firecuda or WD Black SN850 is not in their interest. Both SSDs (on paper at this stage!) are fantastic examples of where consumer and prosumer SSDs are evolving towards. Let’s get the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 on the test machine!

Testing the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 was selected for this test and it was tested using multiple benchmark tools, from a cold boot, in the 2nd storage slot (i.e not the OS drive). Each test was conducted three times (full details of this are shown in the YouTube Review of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 over on NASCompares):

Test Machine:

  • Windows 10 Pro Desktop System
  • Intel i5 11400 Rocket Lake – 6-Core 2.6/4.4Ghz
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Intel B560M mATX Motherboard
  • OS Storage, Seagate Firecuda 120 SSD
  • Test SSD connected to Secondary PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Slot

Using CrystalDisk, we got a good measure of the drive and verified that this PCIe Gen 4 x4 SSD was indeed using the 4×4 lane. Additionally, the temp averaged out around 44C between each test being conducted.

The first tests were conducted using the ATTO disk benchmark software. The first was a 256MB test file size and below is a breakdown of the transfer rates and IOPS. The 2nd Test was a 1GB test file and finally, the last test was with a 4GB test file. The system was given 1-minute cool downtime between tests, no screen recording software was used (remove overhead) and a heatsink was used throughout (no reboots)

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #1

256MB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 5.24GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 3.94GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 5.23GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 3.94GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 5.23GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 3.93GB/s

 


 

Next, although the ATTO tests were quite good, but not what I would have hoped from this SSD, so I moved on to the Crystal Disk Mark testing to see how well it would handle our lasts barrage of tests. The first test was the 1GB file testing, which measured both sequential and random, as well as the read and write IOPS. Test were conducted on a 1GB, 4GB and 16GB Test File. I also included a mixed 70/30 read and write task to give a little bit more of a realistic balanced workload. These tests were conducted with 1-minute cooling break in between

CRYSTALDISK MARK 1GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 4GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 16GB TEST

 

Next, I switched to AS SSD benchmark. A much more thorough test through, I used 1GB, 3GB and 5GB test files. Each test includes throughput benchmarks and IOPS that are respective to the larger file sizes (important, if you are reading this and trying to compare against the reported 4K IOPS from the manufacturer).

AS SSD Benchmark Test #1

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #2

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #3

Ordinarily, I would introduce tests like BlackMagic and AJA into the mix here, but even a short burst of testing on an NVMe like this would over saturate the cache memory on board. Nevertheless, in the short term we still could ascertain the reported performance on 1GB, 4GB and 16GB file testing was:

1GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 4468MB/s Read & 4145MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 4487MB/s Read & 4132MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 4487MB/s Read & 4125MB/s Write

Overall, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 was certainly able to provide some solid performance, as well as potentially exceed the test figures here on a more powerful machine. Given the reported Read and Write statistics that the brand has stated publically, I think there is enough evidence here to back up those claims. IOPs were a little lower than I expected, but again, we were testing very large file types, so this would have to be taken in context.

Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD Review – Conclusion

The Sabrent Rocket 4.0 M.2 SSD is a good, solid release that although may appear a little safe in summer 2021 compared to its release in mid-2020, is still a drive that still delivers on what it promises. In many ways, the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is a victim of the brands own rising success (a bit overly flattering, but hear me out). Whether through accident or design, the fast-paced establishing of their range of PCIe 4.0 SSDs that cover budget buyers to Professional buyers has led to the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD being somewhat overshadowed by the Rocket 4 Plus SSD. Had the numerous market-changing events of the last 18 months not happened, then the pricing structure between these three SSD tiers would be must more distinguishable. As it stands, now the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 is very close to the Rocket 4 Plus and unless a buyer is highly concerned with durability (0.9 DWPD vs 0.3 DWPD), it makes spending a tiny bit more and opting for the premium class drive a no brainer. That said, judging the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 SSD on its own merits, it is another solid release from the brand. It still features the strange warranty registration policy of the rest of the brand’s releases (nope, still can’t get behind that idea!), but the rest of the drive is exactly what I want in a all-purpose m.2 NVMe SSD. If you see this drive on sale, then do not hesitate to snap it up.

 

PROs of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0 CONs of the Sabrent Rocket PCIe 4.0
Still Impressive Performance even a year since it’s release

High Durability of over 0.9 DWPD

Good Drive for those with Systems that cannot reach 7000MB/s Cap tier

Good Build Quality and Presentation

Includes Acronis True Image to clone/move OS to drive

PS5 SSD Expansion Drive Support (Negotiable – check later software releases)

Overshadowed by the Rocket 4 Plus SSD

No 4TB Option (unless the Q4 / Rocket 4 Plus Series)

SSD Pricing Madness in 2020/2021 hurts its appeal


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ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – New Phison Killer?

6 décembre 2021 à 01:35

Review of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

Of all of the brands that are spread across the SSD industry, very few have the same level of market coverage of ADATA. With a strong memory division that has resulted in their hardware being featured in countless hardware clients in home and business, environments, as well as a long-established presence in the PC gaming community in their XPG series, there is a pretty good chance that ADATA components or accessories are somewhere near you right now. When they entered the NVMe SSD market, they did with a remarkably strong footing, with releases being separated into consumer and business needs – with virtually no compromise on wither. The XPG Gammix S70 Blade is a physically slim lined version of their popular chunky heatsink version, the Gammix S70 (non-blade), arriving with a similarly unique architecture using that Innogrit PCIe 4 controller, thin thermal plate deployment and arriving at a price point that makes a number of the Phison E18 alternatives in the market look a bit overpriced indeed. Now that the PS5 has enabled console storage and the non-Blase Gammix S70 proves too large for the task, the Adata XPG Gammix S70 Blade serves as a great choice. Add to this that many users have low expectations for how much heat will be generated in a 90/10% Read over Write systems like PS5 and even concerns over the thin Thermal plate heatsink deployment may be unwarranted. So, today I want to review the Adata XPG Gammix S70 blade and help you decide if it deserves your data.

XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

Given the stronghold that Phison has over the bulk of SSDs in the current generation of NVMe, it takes a lot for a drive that chooses a different way of doing things to make its mark. The XPG Gammix S70 blade achieves this in practically every way, proving itself as an excellent example of the Innogrit Rainer controller. With performance that matches or surpasses that of its biggest rivals, yet arriving at a more affordable price point, the Gammix S70 Blade is another great gamer release from Adata in their XPG series. The slimline heatshield, although clearly designed for a particularly compact deployment, is arguably less effective than a regular heatsink (or the non-blade fat heatsink) and does possibly limit the Blade’s use in high write situations, but for traditional PC gamers and especially for PS5 SSD upgrades, the Adata XPG Gammix S70 Blade is a solid SSD that most gamers will not regret.

SPEED - 9/10
HARDWARE - 9/10
PERFORMANCE - 8/10
PRICE - 9/10
VALUE - 9/10


8.8
PROS
👍🏻Great to see non-Phison E18 SSDs in the market
👍🏻176L 3D TLC NAND is a big plus over the current 96L non-Blade Version
👍🏻
👍🏻Excellent Value (Especially With the Reported Performance)
👍🏻
👍🏻PS5 Compatibility Confirmed
👍🏻
👍🏻Unparalleled Compact Deployment
👍🏻
👍🏻Low Heat Temp Recordings in Read Activity
👍🏻
👍🏻August ’21 Update Increased Performance Further
CONS
👎🏻The heatshield is very limited in its deployment vs traditional ‘fat’ heatsinks
👎🏻PS5 Has an oddly resistant Benchmark vs Phison E18 SSDs (still unknown why – largely academic in its impact though)

XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – Packaging

The retail box that the Gammix S70 Blade arrives in is shiny. No, that is not enough. It’s REALLY shiny, covered in holographic sheen and is oozing with gamer focus branding! The box makes a bold impact and although the majority of PCIe 4.0 SSDs in 2021/2022 are quite loud and brash in their presentation, this is a big step up still., especially given that ADATA is generally quite a ‘background’ company in most other components.

The top left of the retail box highlights a number of the drive’s key features that, although fairly standard in PCIe4 M.2 NVMes of late in most cases, still has a few stand out specs. 

Opening up this retail gives us JUST the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD. No instructions, warranty information (displayed on the rear of the box) or screws, the XPG S70 SSD and unattached slimline graphene heatshield.

If you look at the metal cover next to the SSD, you can see that the heatshield is remarkably compact. Unlike the non-blade version of the XPG S70 with its oversized heatsink, the single-use plate (with readily applied adhesive) is of course designed for much more compact deployment, such as the new PS5 SSD expansion slot activated in Summer ’21. Generally, when it comes to PCIe 4 SSDs, I would always recommend a larger and more effective heatsink for dissipating the large amount of heat the controller will be generating. However, in deployments that are going to be larger read based (which less complicated systems like PS5 will be doing) this thermal plate will likely be fine. Comparative heat testing on the PS5 vs the likes of the non-blade heatsink and the Sabrent PS5 heatsink will be coming soon on NASCompares YouTube, but even the first two test sessions with the S70 Blade on the PS5 (linked below) went perfectly well.

The heatshield is applied simply by removing the pealed panel, utilizing an adhesive topped thermal pad. It is attached INCREDIBLY firmly and is effectively single-use, in that if removed (with force) will tear the thermal pad away.

Even a casual glance at the XPG Blade and heatshield next to the non-blade fat heatsink gives you some idea of just how thin that metal panel is. The non-blade heatsink even manages to raise the height of the SSD M.2 connector notably too.

Applying the XPG S70 Blade heatshield to the SSD, although making the drive arguably cooler looking, definitely shows how little surface area and density of heat dissipation are going to be possible. I would be concerned about the Blade in deployment in an area that has limited/zero airflow, as that heatshield is only going to be able to offload a small amount of heat from the SSD controller compared with the bigger version. Again, less of a concern in heavy read activity though.

So, what about in PS5 deployment? For those of you who have been considering the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade for installation in the PS5 SSD expansion slot to increase storage, I am pleased to confirm that this SSD is 100% supported by the system (currently in software beta, but the Gammix S70 Blade will definitely be on the compatibility list of the full software update release. However, the physical installation needs highlighting.

Comparing it against the non-Blade, you can see why many have been looking at the XPG Gammix S70 Blade for PS5 deployment.

BLADE Version

Non-BLADE Version

The XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade takes up considerably less space in the PS5 storage expansion slot, leaving more room to allow air to flow over the heatsink. The non-Blade included heatsink, being considerably larger, not only fills the m.2 slot considerably more, but it also presents a new problem. Namely that the Gammix S70 NON-BLADE is too large and prevents a user from installing the M.2 bay cover. On the one hand, the fat heatsink is in the direct line of airflow through the PS5 system, which means it will get getting air passing on/through the fat-heatsink. However, this also means that it is partially obstructing the airflow inside the PS5 towards other components. The PS5 utilizes negative airflow (pulling air through one set of vents and push it through the net) and it is unknown whether an M.2 in this slot uncovered AND protruding out into the air path would negatively affect the system as a whole. Hence why many users would opt for the Blade version as a matter of overall precaution.

BLADE Version

Non-BLADE Version

Installing the ADATA Gammix S70 Blade in the PS5 M.2 SSD bay at startup allows you to run a benchmark on the drive. Oddly, despite the high performance of this SSD, the PS5 rated the drive at over the recommended minimum of 5,500MB/s in its initial benchmark. Below is how the Adata XPG Gammix S70 Blade and non-Blade version compared when the PS5 Benchmarked them both:

PS5 Benchmark – 6,009MB/s

BLADE Version

PS5 Benchmark – 6,235MB/s

Non-BLADE Version

The fact that ADATA includes the heatsink with your purchase of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade will always be attractive to buyers who want hassle from installation, as well as doing so at no additional cost and STILL arriving at a lower price point than many competitors is inarguably appealing. So that is the physical design of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves? Does the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – PS5 Benchmark

To put the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD PS5 Performance Benchmark into a little perspective, here is how it compares against the Addlink A95, Adata XPG Gammix S70, Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and Gigabyte Aorus 7000s – four SSDs that are all PS5 supported and VERY similar architecture very little difference between the others in this tier, it is a solid benchmark.

Addlink A95 PS5 Benchmark – 6556MB/s XPG GAMMIX S70 PS5 Benchmark – 6235MB/s
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus – 6557MB/s Gigabyte Aorus 7000s PS5 Benchmark6557MB/s

Full PS5 Testing of the Adata XPG Gammix S70 is all available as a playlist over on the NASCompares YouTube channel. But for now, let’s carry on with looking at the hardware of the A90S70 Blade, how it conventionally benchmarks and how it compares with currently favourite PS5 SSDs like the WD Black and Seagate Firecuda 530,

XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – Hardware Specifications

As you might expect from an M.2 NVMe SSD that boldly promises performance of over 7,000MB/s sequential read (ie BIG data), the hardware specifications and architecture of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade are quite modern. Indeed, for all the big talk of the Seagate Firecuda 530 hardware (still currently the ‘score to beat’ PCIE Gen4 m.2 NVMe right now) being top tier, the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet! Below is how it looks:

ADATA GAMMIX S70 Blade

500GB –  $99, 1TB – $199, 2TB – $389

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 176L
Capacity 500GB – 1TB – 2TB
Controller Innogrit IG5236
Warranty 5yr

I know a lot of the above will seem needlessly technical, so below we can bring the most important considerations into sharper focus.

Hardware Focus of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Series

The first big, BIG thing to remember here is the controller, that Innogrit RainIer IG5236. An SSD is much like a microcosm version of a whole computer. The Controller is equivalent to the CPU, and although Inoogrit has produced several high profile SSD controllers in the last few years, this is their first PCIe 4.0 controller. This is a particularly big deal when most reports and measurements seemingly indicate that the Innogrit IG2536 is higher in performance than the Phison E18 controller used by most other recent PCIe 4 M.2 NVMe SSD, as well as because some long-running storage brands like Samsung and WD have most of their development and hardware engineering ‘in-house’ and use their own branded controllers. Indeed, the XPG Gammix S70 Blade is one of very, VERY few SSDs that are using this controller in the home/prosumer gamer sector.

Earlier in 2021, CDRLabs ran performance testing with CrystalDisk on the Gammix S70 Blade SSD, comparing against a Phison E18 SSD of similar architecture (176L 3D TLC NAND, DDR4 RAM, NVMe 1.4, etc) and largely surpassed it by hundreds of Megabytes in Sequential Read and Write performance. So these results tend to back up the increased performance benchmarks that ADATA provide on the XPG S70 Blade. This is further improved with a recent software/firmware update for this drive released in August 2021 that further improved the write performance.

The NAND on the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade is where the data lives! SSDs (as you no doubt know) do not use moving parts as found in traditional hard drives and instead uses cells that are charged and data is read/written to them in this process. The quality of the NAND and the layers used will make a big difference to the durability and performance of an SSD and the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade arrives with the current highest layer NAND in the industry at this tier right now (originally premiered in the Seagate Firecuda 530), it is bigger than most, arriving at 176 Layers of 3D TLC NAND. Although the majority of modern PCIe M.2 SSD use 3D TLC NAND (avoid QLC NAND like the PLAGUE btw!), most are still at 128L or 96L layers or so, so this is a big jump up for the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD. Although detailed information on the NAND used is not readily available online, we observed that the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade featured FOUR blocks of ADATA NAND modules (256GB each), which really pushes the performance up!

Much like the Controller on the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD uses DDR4 memory on board and this in conjunction with the SSD controller provides a massive body of data handling resources for getting your data moving through the SSD and out of the m.2 NVMe PCIe 4 interface. The amount of memory scales in conjunction with the 1TB or 2TB SSD you use, with 2GB of DDR4 at the on the 2TB tier, 1GB DDR4 on the 1TB, etc.

As mentioned, all available capacities of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade arrive at 2280 in length. This is quite normal for the 1TB and 2TB versions, but the fact that the 2TB can arrive on single-sided SSD boards is very impressive. Physical storage NAND is distributed evenly in order to space out the storage and allow even cooling, NAND wear and performance.

Finally, there is the M.2 NVMe connection. Not all m.2 SSDs are created equal and although M.2 SATA and M.2 NVMe look similar, they provide massively different performance and connectivity. However, the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade takes it one step further, by using a newer generation of PCIe Connectivity. In short, M.2 NVMe SSDs are connected to the host PC/Console system via PCIe protocol (think of those slots that you almost always use for your graphics cards, but a much, MUCH smaller connector). These allow much larger bandwidth (ie maximum speed) for the connected storage media, Much like regular PCIe slots, they have different versions (i.E PCIe Gen 1, 2, 3, 4, etc) and also a multiplying factor (x1, x2, x4, etc). Up until around 18 months ago, the best M.2 NVMes were M.2 PCIe Gen 3×4 (so a maximum 4,000MB/s possible). However, never generation SSD like the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade use PCIe Gen 4×4 (a potential 8,000MB/s possible) and it is only now that SSD controllers and NAND production has reached a point where it can catch up and fully saturate (i.e fill) this connection.

Overall, you really cannot fault the hardware inside/onboard the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade, as it is still (2-3 months after release) higher performing in sequential Read and Write than many other M.2 NVMe PCIe 4 SSDs released in that time. Before we go into the full testing, however, it is worth taking a moment to look closely at the reported performance benchmarks of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade, as although the performance seems stellar, there are areas such as IOPS and endurance when compared with its main rivals that are worth taking into consideration.

XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – Official Stats First

Before we conduct our own testing on this SSD, Let’s take a closer look at the reported specifications and benchmarks first. The XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD arrives in multiple capacities (below). The Prices currently are a little inconsistent (with each higher capacity tier actually having a higher price per GB – quite unusual) likely due to the hardware shortages, the Pandemic, Chia has affected SSD availability in the last 12 months and most recently the announcement that PS5 supports this SSD and it has increased the current price of both models around 10-20%!. Below is a breakdown of how each competitor drive and the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD compare:

Brand/Series ADATA GAMMIX S70 Blade

500GB – $99 1TB – $199 , 2TB – $389

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

WD Black SN850

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 3D TLC ADATA 176L 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB – Double Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Innogrit IG5236 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model AGAMMIXS70B-512G-CS ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $99 / £80 $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model AGAMMIXS70-1T-C ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $199 / £175 $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model AGAMMIXS70-2T-C ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $389 / £340 $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ N/A $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model AGAMMIXS70B-512G-CS ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 370TB 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 2,000,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.4DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model AGAMMIXS70-1T-C ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 740TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 2,000,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.4DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model AGAMMIXS70-2T-C ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1480TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 2,000,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.4DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD N/A

There are clear throughput improvements as you rise through the capacity tiers (not unusual), as does the rated 4K IOPS. Though one area worth focusing on a little is that TBW (terabytes Written) and DWPD (Drive writes per day), as this drive is rated a pinch higher than the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850 in terms of NAND lifespan on daily writes, likely down to that controller and 176 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than the 96L or 128L used by those used by competitors. This is an important point because the brand has significantly less ‘end user’ recognition in-home/business SSD media than the likes of Samsung, WD and Seagate and people will want to know they are going to get a product from a brand that they have heard of.

However, despite the use of the Innogrit Rainier IG5236 controller and 176 layer NAND, the reported IOPS on each capacity is actually a noticeable degree lower (for the most part) than those reported by their competitors. Indeed, the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade is one of the few SSD/Memory focused brands with a PCIe 4.0 SSD that does not cross into the reported 1 Million IOPS mark, maxing out at 740k. This is still very impressive anyway, but it does make me wonder where the disparity stems from. Indeed, when you look at the bulk of PCIe 4×4 M.2 NVMe 1.4 SSD that feature the E18 controller and 96L (or higher) on board, it really only leaves about 4 other SSDs in the market today that this can be compared against. The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, the MSI Spatium M480, the Gigabyte Aorus 7000s and (current leader) the Seagate Firecuda 530. Of those, the only one that seemingly ‘out specs’ the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD has been available in the market for longer and has certainly embedded itself in the minds and budget’s of PC/PS5 gamers who think the Firecuda 530 is too expensive and the others are less impress – it makes a very appealing middle ground. Below is how these drives compare in terms of throughput and IOPS:

Brand/Series ADATA GAMMIX S70 Blade

500GB – $99 1TB – $199 , 2TB – $389

Seagate Firecuda 530

500GB – $149.99, 1TB – $239.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $949.99

WD Black SN850

500GB – $169.99, 1TB – $249.99, 2TB – $549.99

500GB Model AGAMMIXS70B-512G-CS ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7400MB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 2600MB 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model AGAMMIXS70-1T-C ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7400MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5500MB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model AGAMMIXS70-2T-C ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7400MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6700MB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 6900MB N/A
Brand/Series GAMMIX S70 BLADE Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model AGAMMIXS70B-512G-CS ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 425,000 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 510,000 700,000 680,000
1TB Model AGAMMIXS70-1T-C ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 740000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 740000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model AGAMMIXS70-2T-C ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 740,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 750,000 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 1,000,000 N/A

Yes, that is a LONG table, but you can immediately see that the Seagate Firecuda 530 raises the stakes on all of the key specifications. Additionally, the WD Black arriving at a better price point, higher IOPS in most tiers and the fact it does this whilst still hitting that 7,000MB/s certainly gives pause for thought. However, for many, the additional cost for higher durability they may never need, peak performance their core system will not reach and IOPS rating that their larger file handling will never utilize will mean that holding out for the Firecuda or WD Black SN850 is not in their interest. Both SSDs (on paper at this stage!) are fantastic examples of where consumer and prosumer SSDs are evolving towards. Remember that you can get 1TB of XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade for the same price as 500GB of the Firecuda 530 – which given the similarity of that performance means that you are getting incredible value! Additionally, it is worth noting that although IOPS on the XPG Gammix S70 Blade were lower than those reported on the WD Black SN850 and Seagate Firecuda 530 were higher, the Sequential Read and Write for the XPG Gammix S70 Blade were higher on both versus the WD Black and even a pinch higher on Read vs the Firecuda 530 – which is a particularly impressive vote of confidence in the Innogrit controller and the XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD. Let’s get the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade on the test machine!

Testing the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade was selected for this test and it was tested using multiple benchmark tools, from a cold boot, in the 2nd storage slot (i.e not the OS drive). Each test was conducted three times (full details of this are shown in the YouTube Review of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade over on NASCompares):

Test Machine:

  • Windows 10 Pro Desktop System
  • Intel i5 11400 Rocket Lake – 6-Core 2.6/4.4Ghz
  • 16GB DDR4 2666MHz Memory
  • Intel B560M mATX Motherboard
  • OS Storage, Seagate Firecuda 120 SSD
  • Test SSD connected to Secondary PCIe Gen 4 M.2 Slot

Using CrystalDisk, we got a good measure of the drive and verified that this PCIe Gen 4 x4 SSD was indeed using the 4×4 lane. Additionally, the temp averaged out a little higher in idle than most previously tested SSD, HOWEVER, the ADATA Gammix S70 Blade heatsink kept the drive at a consistent temp of late 40’s for most of the tests and did an incredible job of maintaining a working temp without spiralling too high between each one being conducted.

The first tests were conducted using the ATTO disk benchmark software. The first was a 256MB test file size and below is a breakdown of the transfer rates and IOPS. The 2nd Test was a 1GB test file and finally, the last test was with a 4GB test file. The system was given 1-minute cool downtime between tests, no screen recording software was used (remove overhead) and a heatsink was used throughout (no reboots)

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #1

256MB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.50GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput =5.85GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.56GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.84GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.50GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.89GB/s

 


 

Next, although the ATTO tests were quite good, but not what I would have hoped from this SSD, so I moved on to the Crystal Disk Mark testing to see how well it would handle our lasts barrage of tests. The first test was the 1GB file testing, which measured both sequential and random, as well as the read and write IOPS. Test were conducted on a 1GB, 4GB and 16GB Test File. I also included a mixed 70/30 read and write task to give a little bit more of a realistic balanced workload. These tests were conducted with 1-minute cooling break in between

CRYSTALDISK MARK 1GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 4GB TEST


CRYSTALDISK MARK 16GB TEST

 

Next, I switched to AS SSD benchmark. A much more thorough test through, I used 1GB, 3GB and 5GB test files. Each test includes throughput benchmarks and IOPS that are respective to the larger file sizes (important, if you are reading this and trying to compare against the reported 4K IOPS from the manufacturer).

AS SSD Benchmark Test #1

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #2

 


AS SSD Benchmark Test #3

Ordinarily, I would introduce tests like BlackMagic and AJA into the mix here, but even a short burst of testing on an NVMe like this would over saturate the cache memory on board. Nevertheless, in the short term we still could ascertain the reported performance on 1GB, 4GB and 16GB file testing was:

1GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5797MB/s Read & 5063MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5874MB/s Read & 5218MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5920MB/s Read & 5234MB/s Write

Throughout the testing, the XPS GAMMMIX S70 Blade SSD started at a slightly higher than average temp, but maintained a good operational temperature throughout the whole testing:

Overall, the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade was certainly able to provide some solid performance, as well as potentially exceed the test figures here on a more powerful machine. Given the reported Read and Write statistics that the brand has stated publically, I think there is enough evidence here to back up those claims. IOPs were a little lower than I expected, but again, we were testing very large file types, so this would have to be taken in context.

XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade SSD Review – Conclusion

Given the stronghold that Phison has over the bulk of SSDs in the current generation of NVMe, it takes a lot for a drive that chooses a different way of doing things to make its mark. The XPG Gammix S70 blade achieves this in practically every way, proving itself as an excellent example of the Innogrit Rainer controller. With performance that matches or surpasses that of its biggest rivals, yet arriving at a more affordable price point, the Gammix S70 Blade is another great gamer release from Adata in their XPG series. The slimline heatshield, although clearly designed for a particularly compact deployment, is arguably less effective than a regular heatsink (or the non-blade fat heatsink) and does possibly limit the Blade’s use in high write situations, but for traditional PC gamers and especially for PS5 SSD upgrades, the Adata XPG Gammix S70 Blade is a solid SSD that most gamers will not regret.

PROs of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade CONs of the XPG GAMMIX S70 Blade
Great to see non-Phison E18 SSDs in the market

176L 3D TLC NAND is a big plus over the current 96L non-Blade Version

Excellent Value (Especially With the Reported Performance)

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

Unparalleled Compact Deployment

Low Heat Temp Recordings in Read Activity

August ’21 Update Increased Performance Further

The heatshield is very limited in its deployment vs traditional ‘fat’ heatsinks

PS5 Has an oddly resistant Benchmark vs Phison E18 SSDs (still unknown why – largely academic in its impact though)

 


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