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Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD Review – Modest Powerhouse?

20 septembre 2021 à 01:15

Review of the Titanium Micro TH7175 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

I think it would be fair to say that over the last few weeks I have seen ALOT of SSDs. Because of a myriad of industry affecting events in the last 18 months (Covid, Chia, Trade Wars, Component shortages) the usually regimented and carefully planned release schedules of the SSD brands have been thrown into utter chaos, leading to a huge number of high performing SSDs all landing into the market in the usually quiet summer period. All of these SSDs have been loud and proud about their performance, brash and shouty in proclaiming their superiority over their competitors – all except one. Titanium Micro and their TH7175 PCIe 4.0 SSD is one that you could oh so easily have missed. There is not a hugely well-known brand in the home/commercial sector and are all too often seen in business and enterprise bundled solutions. However, despite their rather modest stance on promoting their products in more consumer-friendly sectors and even the retail packaging of their drives being less number heavy, the Titanium Micro TH7175 is possibly one of the highest performing PCIe 4.0 NMe SSDs that I have reviewed on NASCompares so far in 2021/2022. However is the Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD a little too good to be true? Are there any hidden compromises and does it deserve your data/ Let’s find out in today’s SSD review.

Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

When it comes to the overall performance of the Titanium TH7175, you cannot help but be impressed, as it absolutely delivers on each of it’s claims online. Plus, the fact that the brand is so fantastically understated in its approach compared with other brands in its online marketing and product presentation is pleasingly rare. The physical drive itself is pretty underwhelming and avoids a number of the snazzy labelling for good or bad, so you really only have the performance and stats to go by on this drive, which holds up well. The Price tag, though not as low as some mid/late 2020 released PCIe4 NVMe SSD, is still quite affordable, especially when compared against some of the other Phison E18 enabled SSDs available right now. The availability of this drive is nowhere near as widespread as others tough and this may likely hurt how well it fares in an increasingly busy SSD marketplace! If you are looking for a solid, honest and reliable NVMe SSD for your PCIe 4.0 enabled system, this ticks a lot of boxes for gamers and even has a dependable write speed for those content creators and editors upgrading their storage in 2021/2022. Plus the inclusion of an especially rare yet highly reassuring 7-year warranty is not to be ignored.

PROs of the Titanium Micro TH7175 CONs of the Titanium Micro TH7175
Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

7 Year Warranty (with Registration)

Available in up to 4TB

1.2 Million Read IOPS (4TB model)

Modest Presentation is a rare treat!

Particularly powerful PC required to crack 7,000MB/s

No Inclusive Heatsink Option

Availability is lower than the bigger brands

Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD Review – Packaging

As already mentioned, Titanium Micro are NOT a particularly loud or over-sharing kind of brand. Indeed, the retail packaging of the TH7175 SSD is fantastically understated, arriving in a simple plastic shell as you might find hanging on a rack of your local grocery store. This kind of packaging is not new in computer components, but is usually found in memory modules and less commercially desirable parts. I query the protection this kind of retail packaging provides to such a delicate component, but am still just a bit surprised at the complete lack of ANYTHING related to the 7,200MB/s+ Sequential Read, 6850MB/s Sequential Write, 1.2M IOPS or anything even remotely boastful (as found in EVERY SINGLE PCIe SSD I have reviewed lately). I cannot decide if this is a good or bad thing yet!

In fact, the ONLY thing I can find on this retail packaging for the Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD that I would describe as boastful/loud is the brand highlighting that this SSD arrives with a 7-year warranty available to the buyer. Yes, SEVEN years, comprising of a 5yr standard warranty and then (if you register online) an additional 2 more years. I have criticised brands like Sabrent previously that have offered 1yr standard warranty and 5years IF you register, but this is very different with the TH7175, as you do genuinely feel like you are getting something ‘extra’ for registering, rather than the registration being required for the 5yr warranty as you find in practically ALL other SSD brands. I can see why they would make a point of highlighting this ‘longer than most’ warranty period.

Unboxing the Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD is a rather brief affair! Inside the plastic shell casing, we only find the SSD itself. The display card has all the information regarding warranty and product information links and this SSD does not feature any 1st party inclusive heatsink. NOTE – I removed the SSD label during the YouTube review to display the on-board components, so although I have attempted to re-apply it carefully/accurately, the slight blemish on the sticker was caused by myself during the reapplication.

The SSD for today’s review is the 1TB version of this series and (again) it is very understated. Lacking the metal top plate of the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus or the inclusive heatsink of the Gigabyte Aorus 7000s, what we find is a small label that simply denotes the model ID and logo.

Indeed, the label barely covers the NAND/Controller, not that this matters as you would 100% need to use a heatsink of a drive like this! The 1TB model of the Titanium Micro TH7175 is a single-sided SSD and does not suffer from any kind of cramming on the PCB.

The rear side of the Titanium Micro TH7175 has a little more information on the SSD, as well as the clear bocks that the 2 sided 2TB and 4TB models would utilize.

Just before we conducted the full PC benchmark testing, we took the time to test the Titanium Micro TH7175 NVMe m.2 inside the PS5 SSD expansion bay to check it’s compatibility. I am pleased to confirm that the SSD fits like a glove with plenty of room for a standard heatsink (the Eluteng m.2 2-part heatsink was used for the PS5 performance testing coming soon on NASCompares).

Performance testing of the Titanium Micro TH7175 inside the PS5 (using Beta Software 3.1) showed that this SSD benchmarked 6,557.08MB/s Read on the Playstation’s own testing. This puts it more than 1,000MB/s over the recommended minimum for a PS5 storage upgrade and faster in Read and Write than the PS5’s own internal SSD. Impressive.

So that is the physical design and PS5 testing of the Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves and how they perform in further PC testing? Does the Titanium Micro TH7175 cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet! Below is how it looks:

Titanium Micro TH7175

1TB – $279.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $999.99

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC 96L NAND
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided
Controller Phison E18-PS5018
Warranty 7yr (5+2YR with Reg.)

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 Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD Series

The first big, BIG thing to remember here is the controller, that Phison E18. 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 E18 was first revealed last year in 2020, but due to the pandemic making storage trends unpredictable and semi-conductor shortages, most SSDs that utilized the Phison E18 eventually arrived in 2021. This controller is one of the biggest reasons that the Titanium Micro TH7175 can actually back up it’s promises about the 7,000MB/s+ Sequential Read (sequential data = big chunks of data). However, that is not the only reason.

The NAND on the Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 theTitanium Micro TH7175 SSD.

Much like the Controller on the Titanium Micro TH7175 being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175, 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 Titanium Micro TH7175, 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.

Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 20-30%!. Below is a breakdown of how each Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD compares:

Brand/Series Titanium Micro TH7175

1TB – $279.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $999.99

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 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC 96L NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 7yr (5+2YR with Reg.) 5yr 5yr
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ N/A $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model 850028113318 ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $259 / £215 $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model 850028113325 ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $499 / £419 $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model 850028113967 ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ $999 / £820 $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model 850028113318 ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 700TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1600000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model 850028113325 ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1400TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1600000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.3DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model 850028113967 ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 3000TB 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1600000 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.3DWPD 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 Micron 96 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than t 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 E18 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD has been available in the market for almost 3-4 months longer and has certainly embedded itself in the market at that time a fraction more. Below is how these two drives compare:

Brand/Series Titanium Micro TH7175

1TB – $279.99, 2TB – $489.99, 4TB – $999.99

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 N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model 850028113318 ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7150MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5600MB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model 850028113325 ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7175MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6800MB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model 850028113967 ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7200MB 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6890MB 6900MB N/A
Brand/Series Titanium Micro TH7175 Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 700,000 680,000
1TB Model 850028113318 ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 360000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 645000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model 850028113325 ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 640,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 630,000 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model 850028113967 ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 660,000 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,250,000 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 on the test machine!

Testing the Titanium Micro TH7175 m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The Titanium Micro TH7175 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 Titanium Micro TH7175 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 38C 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  = 6.58GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.08GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.57GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.12GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.52GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.12GB/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) = 5907MB/s Read & 5433MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5874MB/s Read & 5389MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5874MB/s Read & 5411MB/s Write

Overall, the Titanium Micro TH7175 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.

Titanium Micro TH7175 SSD Review – Conclusion

When it comes to the overall performance of the Titanium TH7175, you cannot help but be impressed, as it absolutely delivers on each of it’s claims online. Plus, the fact that the brand is so fantastically understated in it’s approach compared with other brands in it’s online marketing and product presentation is pleasingly rare. The physical drive itself is pretty underwhelming and ashews a number of the snazzy labelling for good or bad, so you really only have the performance and stats to go by on this drive, which hold up well. The Price tag, though not as low as some mid/late 2020 released PCIe4 NVMe SSD, is still quite affordable, especially when compared against some of the other Phison E18 enabled SSDs available right now. The availability of this drive is no where near as wide spread as others tough and this may likely hurt how well it fares in an increasingly busy SSD marketplace! If you are looking for a solid, honest and reliable NVMe SSD for your PCIe 4.0 enabled system, this ticks a lot of boxes for gamers and even has a dependable write speed for those content creators and editors upgrading their storage in 2021/2022. Plus the inclusion of an especially rare yet highly reassuring 7 year warranty is not to be ignored.

 

PROs of the Titanium Micro TH7175 CONs of the Titanium Micro TH7175
Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

7 Year Warranty (with Registration)

Available in up to 4TB

1.2 Million Read IOPS (4TB model)

Modest Presentation is a rare treat!

Particularly powerful PC required to crack 7,000MB/s

No Inclusive Heatsink Option

Availability is lower than the bigger brands


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ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD Review – The NEW Score to Beat?

7 septembre 2021 à 08:04

Review of the XPG GAMMIX S70 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

2021/2022 has been an unbelievable fruitful year for NVMe SSDs! After the initial reveal of a small handful of PCIe4 enabled drives, the sheer onslaught of brands and models that have arrived on the scene to tempt the commercial and prosumer sector has been particularly heavy. With this deluge of releases, the consumer confusion as so many incredibly similar SSDs arrive at once was going to be inevitable and when so many brands and their drives are making similar promises on similar hardware, it is going to take something special for any one particular SSD to stand out. However, that is exactly what the XPG GAMMIX S70 from ADATA has managed to do. Most users who have pre-built devices in their homes or offices stand a better than average chance of having it feature ADATA memory inside and although it is not a big/known name in the conventional sense as Samsung or Seagate, they ARE an incredibly well established and implemented brand in the background. They have supplied numerous SSD devices over the years, but their PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 SSD is the one that has really, REALLY got peoples attention. Arriving with a very unique controller that challenges the Phison E18 that most competitors have opted for, along with an inclusive heatsink, advanced LDPC and a price tag that is noticeably lower than its competitors, straight off the bat it has made a significant impact. Then you see that the performance benchmarks supplied from ADATA seemingly indicate that this drive is one of, if not THE highest-performing SSD in the market right now within its tier. Is the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD too good to be true? Or does it live up to it’ bold reputation? Let’s find out.

XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

Is the ADATA GAMMIX S70 NVMe SSD the best PCIe SSD to buy right now? It is really hard not to think so! Arriving at a price point that is a noticeable degree lower in price than its competitors, arriving with a higher sequential Read and Write than most of its competitors AND arriving with an included and high-quality heatsink – it is REALLY tough to argue with that! It is by no means perfect, with reported IOPS appearing only a pinch higher than average and fairly standard durability, but these are always going to be factors that are of a specific concern to VERY specific types of buyer. With impressive temperature control, enough architectural differences to stand out from an increasingly busy crowd of PCIe 4 SSDs right now, I think this and the Seagate Firecuda 530 come to an incredibly tied first place for me and even then, the GAMMIX S70 from ADATA still gains an upper hand by virtue of being the better all-round choice for the majority of buyers in 2021/2022. If you are considering buying the ADATA GAMMIX s70 – stop considering and just buy it already!

PROs of the XPG GAMMIX S70 CONs of the XPG GAMMIX S70
Genuinely Impressive Performance

Excellent Value (Especially With the Reported Performance)

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

Inclusive Heatsink is high quality AND expertly applied

Innogrit Controller is Unique vs the many Phison E18 SSDs out there

Excellent on-board Temp Control

August ’21 Update Increased Performance Further

The heatsink is 15mm high and uniquely shaped, so physical installation should be checked first

Only two capacities are available

 

XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD Review – Packaging

The retail box that the Gammix S70 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 SSD. No instructions, warranty information (displayed on the rear of the box) or screws, just the SSD+1st party pre-attached heatsink in a plastic shell.

it certainly is a beefy looking SSD in that heatsink, measuring 15mm in height, maybe check the location of where you plan on installing this SSD, as in some cases the height of the heatsink can interfere with your CPU FAN/Heatink physically. It’s a wonderfully unique looking heatsink though and given its inclusion in the price, whilst still remaining competitively prices vs other M.2 PCIe 4 NVMe SSDs, it is a very positive mark in their favour.

Getting a closer look at this SSD and Heatsink, the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 is a chunky drive indeed. Unlike most heatsinks that form a single solid rectangular mass of shaped metal formed for vertical vents, this official heatsink is designed in a far more angular fashion, as well as utilizing a closed vent structure.

Looking at the heatsink ‘down the barrel’ and you can see that 1, that heat is directed in a curve from the base and 2, it is then fanned out over a shingled layer curve so that each tier is unobstructed in its heat dissipation. In testing the result was that although the heat of the drive was a pinch warmer than most in idle (measured by CrystalDisk), it never hit the same height as other heatsinks in the most intense tests. This might even be arguable more beneficial, as it will keep the NAND warm but not keep the controller hot (temp graph further blow in the tests)

Nonetheless, this IS a very tall heatsink and can certainly see it being problematic in shuttle/mini-ATX setups.

The base of the heatsink is quite basic, featuring the model IS/Manufacturer details, as well as the usual certification stamps. Additionally, you can make out a thermal pad under the SSD, despite the drive being single-sided.

For those of you who have been considering the ADATA XPG GAMMIX S70 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 will definitely be on the compatibility list of the full software update release. However, the physical installation needs highlighting.

That unique, inclusive and highlight effective is certainly a nice unit, but in terms of PS5 installation – a bit OTT! Completely filling the slot up to the 2280 mark, it protrudes from the bay and although you can still attach the consoles external panels, you cannot apply the metal bay cover.

Installing the ADATA Gammix S70 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 6,235MB/s in its initial benchmark. Later testing brought this figure much higher to 6,651MB/s, however in the spirit of fairness against other SSD, I am recording the first attempt.

The included heatsink on the XPG Gammix S70 is held in place by 2 SSDs on one side (locked in under a metal lip on the other side) and is very firmly held in place.

Removing the top part of the heatsink revealed the assortment of onboard chips that I will touch on later, but it is definitely worth revisiting the subject of heatsinks and the advantages of ones that are applied by the same manufacturer as the SSD.

As you can see from the thermal pad shape and placement below, it has been specifically made to cover the most important components in their precise location (rather than a general large strip of thermal padding that is much less efficient at the expense of trying to cover everything!

The fact that ADATA includes the heatsink with your purchase of the XPG GAMMIX S70 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 SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves? Does the XPG GAMMIX S70 cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

XPG GAMMIX S70 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 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 is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet! Below is how it looks:

ADATA GAMMIX S70

1TB – $159.99, 2TB – $299.99

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided
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 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 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 SSD, comparing against a Phison E18 SSD of similar architecture (96L 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. 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 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 XPG GAMMIX S70 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 XPG GAMMIX S70 SSD. Although detailed information on the NAND used is not readily available online, we observed that the XPG GAMMIX S70 featured two blocks of ADATA NAND modules.

Much like the Controller on the XPG GAMMIX S70 being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The XPG GAMMIX S70 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 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 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 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, 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, 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 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 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 SSD compare:

Brand/Series ADATA GAMMIX S70

1TB – $159.99, 2TB – $299.99

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 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Innogrit IG5236 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ N/A $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 $ $399 / £355 $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ N/A $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD N/A 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 96 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than t 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 96 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 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 is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the XPG GAMMIX S70 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

1TB – $159.99, 2TB – $299.99

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 N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 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 7450MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6800MB 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 ADTA GAMMIX S70 Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 700,000 680,000
1TB Model AGAMMIXS70-1T-C ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 350000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 720000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model AGAMMIXS70-2T-C ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 650,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 740,000 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. 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. Remember that you can get 1TB of XPG GAMMIX S70 for the same price as 500GB of the Firecuda 530 – which given the similarity of that performance means that you are getting incredible value! Let’s get the XPG GAMMIX S70 on the test machine!

Testing the XPG GAMMIX S70 m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The XPG GAMMIX S70 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 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 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  = 6.34GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.94GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.34GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.91GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.46GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.85GB/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) = 5861MB/s Read & 5039MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5874MB/s Read & 5127MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5881MB/s Read & 5218MB/s Write

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

Overall, the XPG GAMMIX S70 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 SSD Review – Conclusion

Is the ADATA GAMMIX S70 NVMe SSD the best PCIe SSD to buy right now? It is really hard not to think so! Arriving at a price point that is a noticeable degree lower in price than its competitors, arriving with a higher sequential Read and Write than most of its competitors AND arriving with an included and high-quality heatsink – it is REALLY tough to argue with that! It is by no means perfect, with reported IOPS appearing only a pinch higher than average and fairly standard durability, but these are always going to be factors that are of a specific concern to VERY specific types of buyers. With impressive temperature control, enough architectural differences to stand out from an increasingly busy crowd of PCIe 4 SSDs right now, I think this and the Seagate Firecuda 530 come to an incredibly tied first place for me and even then, the GAMMIX S70 from ADATA still gains an upper hand by virtue of being the better all-round choice for the majority of buyers in 2021/2022. If you are considering buying the ADATA GAMMIX s70 – stop considering and just buy it already!

 

PROs of the XPG GAMMIX S70 CONs of the XPG GAMMIX S70
Genuinely Impressive Performance

Excellent Value (Especially With the Reported Performance)

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

Inclusive Heatsink is high quality AND expertly applied

Innogrit Controller is Unique vs the many Phison E18 SSDs out there

Excellent on-board Temp Control

August ’21 Update Increased Performance Further

The heatsink is 15mm high and uniquely shaped, so physical installation should be checked first

Only two capacities are available

 


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Corsair MP600 Pro NVMe SSD Review – Serious Storage?

3 septembre 2021 à 01:15

Review of the Corsair MP600 Pro PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

Of all the PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD that have arrived on the market in 2021, few promised the blend of value vs quality that the Corsair MP600 Pro has. It is no secret that this summer has seen a large number of 7,000MB/s m.2 SSDs have dropped into the consumer and prosumer market either to capitalize on the growing trend of professional/next-gen gamers or delayed till then due to the pandemic, hardware shortages and chia. The Corsair MP600 Pro media drive on the other hand is one of a small handful of PCIe4 SSD is one of a very small contingent of drives that brands were able to sneak out for release between the closing stages of 2020 and Spring 2021. With around 6 months longer on the shelves than many alternative drives like the Firecuda 530 and SPATIUM M480, this has led to this drive being a popular choice indeed, as well as more time to get flexible with its pricing. With PCIe4 equipped motherboards now becoming considerably more affordable and the PS5 M.2 SSD expansion slot activation growing closer, the appeal of this highly-compatible drive has grown even further. Add to that the Corsair MP600 Pro’s inclusive custom heatsink and impressive availability (in spite of shortages elsewhere) and now seems like a perfect time to Review this SSD and find out if the Corsair MP600 Pro deserves your data in 2021/20222?

Corsair MP600 Pro SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

It is genuinely very hard not to like the Corsair MP600 Pro NVMe SSD. Even when it did not quite hit 7,000MB/s in some of my testing, I got the impression was my system not having the ‘umpf’ to break that number and not the SSD hitting any kind of internal barrier. Likewise, the price point of this SSD (thanks to its earlier release and large availability) means it is easily one of the best value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs that you can buy right now and although its durability & write performance is still overshadowed by the Seagate Firecuda 530 and its IOPS are a tad eclipsed by the WD Black SN850 & Samsung 980 Pro, these are very industry-specific factors that most home and prosumer gamers will never need to factor into their long term storage use. The inclusive heatsink is high in quality, application and utility – something most brands would include as an optionally charged extra, Corsair include and still arrive at a price point lower than most, only really challenged meaningfully on this score by the Gigabyte Aorus 7000s. The SLC caching (raised often in other reviews) seems a little underwhelming in size and realistic recovery when compared to everything else, but still compares well against others in this bracket nonetheless. Additionally, there is a non-PRO version that although lower traditional throughput performance, addresses/remedies concerns of endurance etc. Overall, the Corsair MP600 Pro is a standout drive amoung the growing crowd of PCIe4 SSDs being released right now and I can easily recommend it.

PROs of the Corsair MP600 Pro CONs of the Corsair MP600 Pro
Impressive Inclusive Heatsink

Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

96 Layer TLC 3D NAND

Higher Durability than WD Black & Samsung 980 Pro

Consistent 7,000MB/s on ALL Capacities

Available in up to 4TB, at 2280 Length Too

IOPS figures are lower than many PCIe4 SSDs

Cache fills up quick!

Lower endurance than the Firecuda 530

 

Corsair MP600 Pro SSD Review – Packaging

The retail packaging of the Corsair MP600 Pro is very gamer aimed and quite slick. With an embossed mesh design, performance stats adorning the bottom and a neat grey, black and neon yellow colour scheme, it certainly stands out.

A closer look at the reported performance statistics at the base of the box shows us that this drive is making a few rather bold claims. Now, on the face of it (at the time of writing in September 2021), these stats are actually not so unique. Indeed, with around 8 very distinct M.2 NVMe PCIe4 SSDs launched in Summer 2021, these seem standard. However, back in Feb/March 2021, these were not so common and the MP600 Pro was one of only 3-4 SSDs to take advantage of the Phison E18 controller (that makes this performance throughput possible) commercially.

Opening up the retail box shows us rather neat, today and secure contents. The SSD (with heatsink attached that I will touch on shortly) arrives in a pre-cut hard-foam surround (which I very much approve of, when most SSDs arrive in simply cut card or plastic shell they are easily crushed). The drive also arrives with a couple of paper docs regarding initial use and warranty information (5 years included).

I really want to add that the foam, pre-cut surround for the MP600 Pro is genuinely unique and in the 13-14 SSD I have reviewed this year on NASCompares, NONE of them arrived in such well-protected packaging. This is a minor point I know, but I will always give bonus points to a brand that actually spends a little more on retail/shipping packaging, as it shows they are willing to spend a little more now to save time/money later on RMAs and issues. Tick!

Removing the SSD in it’s entirety shows us the full 2280 Corsair MP600 Pro drive, with it’s lovely unique heatsink. The drive is branded with the manufacturer logo and model ID, as well as the heatsink fully surrounding the drive in a screwless, hard-clip design.

Looking at the heatsink at an angle, you can see the rather unique vent structure that Corsair has employed here and it is one that you can see a semblance of in a number of premium Corsair memory modules. I am also surprised that this heatsink does not use screws, but instead is latched on at 4 different points with metal clips. We did manage to get the drive removed from the heatsink later in the review, but it was attached remarkably firmly and almost certainly at the point of manufacturer, in bulk on a production line.

Much like a number of other Phison E18 PCIe4 SSDS, the larger controller chip on the PCB has been placed right at the top, millimetres from the m.2 key connector. However, I am pleased to confirm that this heatsink toes the line nicely between amply covering the controller, whilst not obstructing the M.2 connector over-lap (surprisingly more common than you would think). That is one of the primary benefits of buying an SSD that has the heatsink included, it often (but not always, see Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus) means that the thermal pads between the heatsink and drive are SPECIFICALLY applied to the most important components in a bespoke fashion and not one long covering strip as found in generic 3d party heatsinks. Additionally, as it is applied at the point of manufacture/production, it will likely have been done far more accurately and in a dust/airflow controlled environment. It’s a tall heatsink, but the width and depth of coverage on the SSD is still very good and not compromised upon.

Indeed, looking at this heatsink at an angle shows us just how deep this is. The SSD measures quite tall with this pre-installed Heatsink and in testing for a separate video and article here on NASCompares coming soon involving testing this drive with the Sony PS5 console gaming system, the heatsink was too tall to allow the installation of the m.2 cover panel after the drive was connected. The system could still be used with the drive uncovered (but the larger system console cover panels on), but this is still a very important consideration to factor in.

So that is the physical design of the Corsair MP600 Pro SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves? Does the Corsair MP600 Pro cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet! Below is how it looks:

Corsair MP600 Plus

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided
Controller Phison E18-PS5018
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 Corsair MP600 Pro SSD Series

The first big, BIG thing to remember here is the controller, that Phison E18. 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 E18 was first revealed last year in 2020, but due to the pandemic making storage trends unpredictable and semi-conductor shortages, most SSDs that utilized the Phison E18 eventually arrived in 2021. This controller is one of the biggest reasons that the Corsair MP600 Pro can actually back up it’s promises about the 7,000MB/s+ Sequential Read (sequential data = big chunks of data). However, that is not the only reason.

The NAND on the Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 corsair MP600 Pro SSD.

Much like the Controller on the Corsair MP600 Pro being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro, 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 Corsair MP600 Pro, 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.

Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 20-30%!. Below is a breakdown of how each Corsair MP600 Pro SSD compares:

Brand/Series Corsair MP600 Plus

1TB – $199.99, 2TB – $399.99, 4TB – $949.99

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 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ N/A $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model MP600-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $225 / £185 $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model MP600-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $435 / £364 $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model MP600-4TB ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ $1055 / £915 $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model MP600-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 700TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.38DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model MP600-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1400TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.38DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model MP600-4TB ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 3000TB 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.38DWPD 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 Micron 96 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than t 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! It is also worth highlighting that the Corsair MP600 Pro arrives in an impressive 4TB version that, although clearly more expensive, is a relative rarity compare with many of the current top-tier PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSDs (with only 3-4 brands having this option and most being noticeably more expensive)

However, despite the use of the Phison E18 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the Corsair MP600 Pro SSD has been available in the market for almost 3-4 months longer and has certainly embedded itself in the market at that time a fraction more. Below is how these two drives compare:

Brand/Series Corsair MP600 Plus

1TB – $199.99, 2TB – $399.99, 4TB – $799.99

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 N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model MP600-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5500MB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model MP600-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6550MB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model MP600-4TB ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6850MB 6900MB N/A
Brand/Series Corsair MP600 Plus Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 700,000 680,000
1TB Model MP600-1TB ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 360000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 780000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model MP600-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 660,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800,000 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model MP600-4TB ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 650,000 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 Corsair MP600 Pro on the test machine!

Testing the Corsair MP600 Pro m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The Corsair MP600 Pro 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 Corsair MP600 Pro 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 41C 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  = 6.56GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.10GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 5.69GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.13GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.59GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.12GB/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) = 5894MB/s Read & 5461MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5874MB/s Read & 5450MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5887MB/s Read & 5450MB/s Write

Overall, the Corsair MP600 Pro 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.

Corsair MP600 Pro SSD Review – Conclusion

It is genuinely very hard not to like the Corsair MP600 Pro NVMe SSD. Even when it did not quite hit 7,000MB/s in some of my testing, I got the impression was my system not having the ‘umpf’ to break that number and not the SSD hitting any kind of internal barrier. Likewise, the price point of this SSD (thanks to its earlier release and large availability) means it is easily one of the best value PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs that you can buy right now and although its durability & write performance is still overshadowed by the Seagate Firecuda 530 and its IOPS are a tad eclipsed by the WD Black SN850 & Samsung 980 Pro, these are very industry-specific factors that most home and prosumer gamers will never need to factor into their long term storage use. The inclusive heatsink is high in quality, application and utility – something most brands would include as an optionally charged extra, Corsair include and still arrive at a price point lower than most, only really challenged meaningfully on this score by the Gigabyte Aorus 7000s. The SLC caching (raised often in other reviews) seems a little underwhelming in size and realistic recovery when compared to everything else, but still compares well against others in this bracket nonetheless. Additionally, there is a non-PRO version that although lower traditional throughput performance, addresses/remedies concerns of endurance etc. Overall, the Corsair MP600 Pro is a standout drive amoung the growing crowd of PCIe4 SSDs being released right now and I can easily recommend it.

PROs of the Corsair MP600 Pro CONs of the Corsair MP600 Pro
Impressive Inclusive Heatsink

Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

96 Layer TLC 3D NAND

Higher Durability than WD Black & Samsung 980 Pro

Consistent 7,000MB/s on ALL Capacities

Available in up to 4TB, at 2280 Length Too

IOPS figures are lower than many PCIe4 SSDs

Cache fills up quick!

Lower endurance than the Firecuda 530

 


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MSI SPATIUM M480 PCIe4 SSD Review – Game Breaking or Game Making?

1 septembre 2021 à 02:12

Review of the MSI SPATIUM M480 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD

There has been a remarkable deluge of PCIe NVMe M.2 SSDs hit the market in the middle of 2021 and for many users who have been looking at upgrading their high-performance gaming storage or post-production editing, this has come as something of a mixed blessing. The fact that the MSI Spatium M480 SSD arrives amidst a bunch of other alternative drives from brands like Seagate, Gigabyte and Sabrent gives buyers a great deal of choice right now, but when is too much choice a bad thing? The relative similarity of the MSI Spatium M480 in hardware architecture to the Corsair MP600 Pro, Gigabyte Aorus 7000S and Sabrent Rocket plus in the controller, NAND, price and availability has the potential for this new SSD release to arrive with a whiff of ‘old news’ about it. However, with the Spatium M480 arriving from one of the biggest and recognizable names in pro-PC builder architecture gives it a certain air of quality to its name and in today’s review of the MSI M480 SSD, I want to work out whether this new PCIe NVMe drive deserves your data, or if it is just a lot more of the same with a different label on top? Let’s go!

MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD Review – Quick Conclusion

The MSI Spatium M480 SSD is an SSD that, if it had been released even 4-5 months earlier, would have made a much bigger splash than it has. This is not MSI’s fault. The massive range of market damaging events that have plagued the storage market for good or bad in the last 24 months (ranging from the pandemic, semi-conductor shortages, changes in buying trends, US-China trade war, Chia and more) have led to a large number of releases that ordinarily would have been released in a more appropriate/spaced-out manner has led to a downpour of 7,000MB/s SSD releases to hit the market back to back within 3-4 months. Some brands were luckier than others to sneak limited available storage releases at the closing of 2020 and start of 2021 – Looking at you Samsung, WD and Sabrent) and a big result of this is that although the MSI Spatium IS a good SSD that provides EXACTLY what it promises, it does it whilst appearing near identical to about 6 other SSDs from fellow big brands that do the same thing – at a slightly lower price. The MSI Spatium IS a GOOD drive and if you are looking for an NVMe M.2 SSD that can push through more than enough data to largely saturate the potential 8,000MB/s of PCIe 4×4, then this can do it. It is just a little harder to pinpoint what makes this drive stand out from the crowd right now that have similar promises.

PROs of the MSI SPATIUM M480 CONs of the MSI SPATIUM M480
Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

96 Layer TLC 3D NAND

Higher Durability than WD Black & Samsung 980 Pro

More affordable than the Seagate Firecuda 530

Consistent 7,000MB/s on ALL Capacities

The heatsink isn’t included and run rather hot!

IOPS figures are lower than many PCIe4 SSDs

 

MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD Review – Packaging

The packaging is pretty understated, with the drive arriving in a black carton hanging retail slider. The box is quick to highlight that this drive arrives from MSI, with their instantly recognizable logo appearing loud n proud at the top, alongside the promised 7,000MB/s Seq’ Read speed. This is one of the few M.2 PCIe SSD drives that I have reviewed in the last few months that actually downplays the text on the front, with most brands heavily hammering boastful text on the front. They mention the 7,000MB/s reported read – and that’s it.

Indeed they don’t even present it with a pile of caveats and exclusions. The read of the box details things more of course, but fair play to the brand for keeping it nice, clear and simple.

Opening up the retail kit provides suitably simple content. Anyone that has ever purchased an MSI hardware component that they have a huge body of online resources that is the preferred source for assistance and setup guidance, so this does not come as a massive surprise! Inside we find the drive in a sealed surrounding plastic shell and information on the 5 years inclusive warranty and light setup information. For today’s review, we are featuring the 1TB model, but not the 1st party heatsink version that is around $30-35 more.

The drive itself arrives with the fairly standard layout for a 1TB. Single-sided NAND/System processors, with a branded label over the top. I am a little sad that it is not a metallic label as you find on the Sabrent Rocket series or even a metal surround as found on the Gigabyte 7000s, but this is all fairly standard otherwise.

The m.2 connector o this NVMe 1.4 rev drive is nice and clear, without any overhand at the top of the drive. The controller is located right there at the top, so definitely make sure that heatsink and thermal padding you install on this drive when you install it is right up to the top!

The rear of this single-sided NVMe SSD is pretty standard, detailing the worldwide classifications and utility. Oddly, I noticed the mentioning of warranty support refusal if the label is removed. This is always a peculiar thing, given that many users remove these labels to ensure the connectivity of heatsinks and thermal panels (so they can see the key components are amply covered). This is largely irrelevant in the case of a single-sided 1TB, but I would be interested in how this is addressed and handled in larger versions.

So that is the physical design of the MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD. But what about the hardware components themselves? Does the MSI SPATIUM M480 cut the mustard in terms of current generation hardware and protocols? Let’s find out.

MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 is pretty darn similar on the spec sheet! Below is how it looks:

MSI SPATIUM M480

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided
Controller Phison E18-PS5018
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 MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD Series

The first big, BIG thing to remember here is the controller, that Phison E18. 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 E18 was first revealed last year in 2020, but due to the pandemic making storage trends unpredictable and semi-conductor shortages, most SSDs that utilized the Phison E18 eventually arrived in 2021. This controller is one of the biggest reasons that the MSI SPATIUM M480 can actually back up it’s promises about the 7,000MB/s+ Sequential Read (sequential data = big chunks of data). However, that is not the only reason.

The NAND on the MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD.

Much like the Controller on the MSI SPATIUM M480 being the ‘CPU’, it also has an area of memory. The MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480, 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 MSI SPATIUM M480, 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.

MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 20-30%!. Below is a breakdown of how each MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD compares:

Brand/Series MSI SPATIUM M480

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

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 1.4 NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron 96L 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 2TB – Single Sided 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr 5yr
500GB Model M480-500G ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $119 / £99 $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model M480-1000G ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $225 / £185 $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model M480-2000G ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $435 / £364 $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model N/A ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ N/A $949 / £789 N/A
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) N/A 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) N/A 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD N/A 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model M480-1000G ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 700TB 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.38DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model M480-2000G ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1400TB 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,700,000 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.38DWPD 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 Micron 96 Layer 3D TLC NAND used, rather than t 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 E18 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 is the Seagate Firecuda 530. However, the MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD has been available in the market for almost 3-4 months longer and has certainly embedded itself in the market at that time a fraction more. Below is how these two drives compare:

Brand/Series MSI SPATIUM M480

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

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 N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB N/A 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model M480-1000G ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 5500MB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model MP600-2TB ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6550MB 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 Seagate Firecuda 530 WD Black SN850
500GB Model N/A ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 N/A 700,000 680,000
1TB Model M480-1000G ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 360000 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 780000 1000000 720,000
2TB Model M480-2000G ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 660,000 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800,000 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. 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 on the test machine!

Testing the MSI SPATIUM M480 m.2 PCIE4 NVMe SSD

The MSI SPATIUM M480 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 MSI SPATIUM M480 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 43C 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  = 6.31GB/s

256MB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #2

1GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.31GB/s

1GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5GB/s

 


 

ATTO Disk Benchmark Test #3

4GB File PEAK Read Throughput  = 6.30GB/s

4GB File PEAK Write Throughput = 5.03GB/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) = 5356MB/s Read & 5855MB/s Write

4GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5313MB/s Read & 5835MB/s Write

16GB AJA File Test Results (Peak) = 5383MB/s Read & 5855MB/s Write

Overall, the MSI SPATIUM M480 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.

MSI SPATIUM M480 SSD Review – Conclusion

The MSI Spatium M480 SSD is an SSD that, if it had been released even 4-5 months earlier, would have made a much bigger splash than it has. This is not MSI’s fault. The massive range of market damaging events that have plagued the storage market for good or bad in the last 24 months (ranging from the pandemic, semi-conductor shortages, changes in buying trends, US-China trade war, Chia and more) have led to a large number of releases that ordinarily would have been released in a more appropriate/spaced-out manner has led to a downpour of 7,000MB/s SSD releases to hit the market back to back within 3-4 months. Some brands were luckier than others to sneak limited available storage releases at the closing of 2020 and start of 2021 – Looking at you Samsung, WD and Sabrent) and a big result of this is that although the MSI Spatium IS a good SSD that provides EXACTLY what it promises, it does it whilst appearing near identical to about 6 other SSDs from fellow big brands that do the same thing – at a slightly lower price. The MSI Spatium IS a GOOD drive and if you are looking for an NVMe M.2 SSD that can push through more than enough data to largely saturate the potential 8,000MB/s of PCIe 4×4, then this can do it. It is just a little harder to pinpoint what makes this drive stand out from the crowd right now that have similar promises.

 

PROs of the MSI SPATIUM M480 CONs of the MSI SPATIUM M480
Genuinely Impressive Performance

PS5 Compatibility Confirmed

96 Layer TLC 3D NAND

Higher Durability than WD Black & Samsung 980 Pro

More affordable than the Seagate Firecuda 530

Consistent 7,000MB/s on ALL Capacities

The heatsink isn’t included and run rather hot!

IOPS figures are lower than many PCIe4 SSDs

 

 


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