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Seagate Firecuda 530 Vs MSI SPATIUM M480 PCIe4 M.2 SSD Comparison

20 août 2021 à 16:00

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530

The PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD market continues to grow into the accepted standard in 2021/2022 for performance – and the usual brands are rising to the challenge. If there is only one thing that you take from these comparisons on NVMe SSDs of late, it is that even in this relatively recent tier of Prosumer/Business storage, there is still plenty of choice. In fact, when Seagate revealed their industry beating Firecuda 530 last month, it was largely unchallenged for just a week, before MSI stepped up and formally revealed their new Spatium M480 series. What makes these two SSDs particularly interesting is that they are both based on an incredibly similar architecture and provide arguable comparable throughput too. Alongside this, professional and casual gaming consumers are having to make a choice here between Seagate (a big, BIG name in data storage) and MSI (a big, BIG name in gamer circles) – not as straightforward as you might think. So today I want to talk about these two brands, discuss what they offer in terms of performance, responsiveness, durability and endurance, and hopefully help you decide whether the Firecuda or Spatium M480 deserves your data.

 

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L B27 3D NAND 96L
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018
Warranty 5yr 5yr
 

A quick look at the architecture of each SSDs does NOT show a huge amount of disparity between them at first. Both arrive with PCIe 4.0 M.2 bandwidth (a potential maximum 8,000MB/s), the latest NVMe 1.4 revision and utilizing the cutting edge E18 Phison controller, resulting in over 7,000MB/s performance. However, one key difference we CAN see is in the choice of NAND being used by either NVMe SSD. Though both the Seagate and MSI SSD both use 3D TLC NAND, the M480 USES 96 layer NAND, whereas the Firecuda 530 arrives with an impressive 176 layer NAND – a significant advantage in a number of areas like IOPS and Throughput in the usage of the drive (even affecting endurance). This may seem like a minor point, but the impact of this choice will bear fruit later on. Let’s compare how each drive is priced.

MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

The price tag of the Firecuda 530 and Spatium M480 respectively are both based on the most recently available pricing at the time of writing, though the MSI NVMes might change. Nonetheless, the pricing on each PCIe 4×4 SSD is actually quite comparable and the differences that appear between each capacity model and even in the currency conversion is not too bad. It should also be noted that the prices below are based o nthe M480 and FC530 without a heatsink, though both brands supply a high-quality heatsink kit version at a smaller increased cost. Overall, I would say that the MSI M480 has a lower Price per GB/TB than the Seagate drive, but that is not quite the end of the story, as both brands have providing slightly different series capacity options:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 M480-500GB
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 $119 / £105 (TBC)
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 M480-1000GB
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $239 / £189 (TBC)
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 M480-2000GB
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $399 / £369 (TBC)
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769

Both brands have supplied the 500GB tier (i.e smaller scale gamers, caching, 2+ 4K projects for editing), 1TB (i.e professional gamers, rackmount caching/tiering, 4K/8K editing) and 2TB (i.e Pro Gamers and Streamers, Professional 4K/8K Post Production and enterprise) available in their ranges, but the Seagate Firecuda 530 is one of only around 2-3 brands that supply a 4TB PCIe Gen 4×4 m.2 4TB drive at 2280 length. This is particularly ambitious of the brand, especially when you look a the potential 4 figure price tag. However professional buyers who only want to make a purchase like this once every 5 years at least are going to be attracted to this option. Additionally, because the highest tiers of storage in NVMe are where you find the best performance (with the MASSIVE exception of when a brand uses QLC NAND of course), Seagate has clearly decided to put ALOT of backing on these drives in 2021/2022 to facilitate the biggest budget buyers. The MSI M480 is the winner here in terms of price per GB/TB, but Seagate win on Capacity and potentially on value – but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves yet.

 

MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

The throughout that the MSI M480 and Firecuda 530 can provide in sequential read and write are close, but on paper, Seagate win. Obviously, these are slightly more idealised benchmarks from the brands themselves and are maximums reported by their tech teams respectively, but even then you can see that the FC 530 provides a heck of a lot! Even in the Seagate Firecuda 530’s weakest tier (the 500GB model) it still outpaces the M480 noticeably. Once again, though both drives feature similar memory/SD, it is that higher-quality NAND that the Seagate features that gives it that edge. Below is a breakdown of the performance of each capacity tier on each NVMe:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 M480-500GB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 6500MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 2850MB
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 M480-1000GB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5500MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 M480-2000GB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6850MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB  
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB

Fair play to the MSI for still providing some genuinely impressive performance, eclipsing a number of other 96 layer 3D NAND drives previously compared here. Although neither brand is using an in-house built controller, choosing to use the Phison E18-PS5018 chip, so the fact that they can both hit 7,000MB/s is not too surprising, the fact the FC530 can hit higher in 3 of its 4 available capacities at 7,3000MB/s is the clincher here. Remember, the PCIe 4.0 x4 bandwidth that this drive utilises max’s out at 8,000MB/s, which is getting increasingly close to saturation here! The Seagate Firecuda 530 clearly wins here. Next, we can look at the reported IOPS of these two drives, as this is one of the Achilles heels of the MSI M480 sadly.

 

MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

The IOPs ratings of each of these drives, despite their relatively similar architecture, is significantly different. IOPs, along with the endurance and durability which we will touch on later, is one of the key areas that Seagate say they focused on with the Firecuda 530 and compared with the MSI M480, it shows. Performing twice the random read IOPS at the 500GB and 1TB tiers, they soon break the 1,000,000 IOPS barrier in both random read and write in the higher tiers. Although IOPS are generally a much more business/enterprise metric, they still hold court with professional gamers and in data centre-class AI operations. The 170K random read IOPS on the Spatium M480 is especially low (given the rest of the hardware on that m.2 PCB!) and it eventually maxes out at 650/700K random read/write at the highest tiers. Here is a breakdown:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 M480-500GB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 170,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 600,000
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 M480-1000GB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 350,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 700,000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 M480-2000GB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 650,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700,000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000  
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000

Overall, it is hard to claim this as anything else but a definitive win for the Seagate Firecuda 530 over the MSI M480 in terms of IOPS. Later in 2021, we will be running extended performance testing on these drives to see how well these stats hold up over extended periods, but in all likelihood, these stats will still be comparatively distance between each drive.

 

MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Next up, we need to discuss how well these two drives can endure consistent write/rewrites in their predicted 5 year lifespan (i.e in their 5 year warranty period and based on the drives being in constant use). The Endurance and Durability of an SSD is an area that is overlooked often enough that I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank you years from now! The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and MSI Spatium M480 are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the MSI Spatium M480 and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

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

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

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

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and MSI Spatium M480 stand on this:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 M480-500GB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB 350TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,600,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.38DWPD
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 M480-1000GB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 700TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,600,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.38DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 M480-2000GB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1400TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,600,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.38DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB  
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000  
DWPD 0.7DWPD

Although many users might well dismiss the TBW/DWPD of an SSD, as they do not feel they are going to refresh the data on the drive at that extreme frequency per day, it should be noted that this should also be used as a suitable benchmark for the lifespan of the NAND itself. In other words, jsut because a drive has a 5-year warranty, doesn’t mean you necessarily want to replace it in 5 years! More enduring NAND means both that the SSD will have a longer lifespan AND that it should be able to maintain it’s advertised performance for longer! High DPWD ratings are something that Seagate have been hugely supporting in their ranges for a number of years (they introduced several 1.0 and higher ratings into their Ironwolf and Nytro SSDs of late too). Again, another big win for the Seagate Firecuda 530 over the MSI Spatium M480 –  particularly when you factor in that the FC530 ALSO arrives with 3 years of data recovery services (forensic level) alongside the 5yr warranty too, in their Rescue Recovery services.

 

MSI Spatium M480 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

It will not come as a huge shock that in comparing the Firecuda 530 and Spatium M480, that the Seagate drive is still largely dominating this comparison and potentially the entire PCIe Gen 4 m.2 market so far. The M480 from MSI is a very good drive that has clearly been geared towards providing gamers and PC professionals some high tier throughput, and it is coming from a brand they already know and trust. However, it is impossible the ignore the comparatively mature decision by Seagate to focus a great deal on endurance and sustained performance and this plays out substantially throughout how these two drives compare and how they will support you later in their lifespan. Yes, the Firecuda 530 arrives at a higher price point, but you get more for your money and the money you save on day 1 with the M480 might end up costing you more in terms of an extra few minutes here or there, every day, week, month and year. If you are on a tighter budget and your NVMe SSD storage requirements are not considered Pro, Business or Enterprise, the M480 will serve you well – but for everyone else, the FC 530 has you covered in spades.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

MSI SPATIUM M480

Best Performance  
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  
Best Extras  
Best Value  
Where To Buy

 

 


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Seagate Firecuda 530 vs Samsung 980 PRO SSD Comparison

16 août 2021 à 16:02

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530

One industry that continues to exceed all expectations is solid-state drives (SSD). The accepted norms of storage in terms of capacity, speed and durability have wildly eclipsed those early days of SATA and now the combined might of near-total bandwidth utilisation and sophisticated onboard controllers has resulted in an SSDs capable of 20 times the performance of the first generation flash drives (370MB/s x10) and close to 50 times the speed of regular hard drives (150MB/s x50). It sounds insane but now there are SSD that can provide well over 7000MB/s read that are not only well established and available to consumer buyers, but also surprisingly affordable. Into this slowly growing tier of NVMe M2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD storage, two of the biggest players are Samsung and Seagate with their 980 Pro and Firecuda 530 drives. Released almost an entire year apart, these two drives are still among the most often requested media right now in summer 2021 for gamers, video editors and high-performance storage uses. Although similar in preliminary architecture, as both utilise a significantly higher saturation of the PCIe gen4 potential 8,000MB/s bandwidth available, each brand has geared their drives respective development in a different direction and the result is two drives that may seem similar at first but wildly deviate in what they can do at even a cursory examination. So today I want to compare the Seagate Firecuda 530 against the Samsung 980 Pro to help you decide which one deserves your data. 

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.3c
NAND 3D TLC

3D TLC Micron B47R 176L

3D TLC

1xx-layer layer V6 V-NAND 3-bit TLC

Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Custom Elpis
Warranty 5 Years

5 Years

Samsung introduced the 980 Pro into the market in summer 2020, during the height of the global pandemic, the US trade war and the start of the semi-conductor shortage – so that was ALOT of early friction to overcome. Despite all of this, the drive has gone from strength to strength and is largely the drive of choice in the early client development of PCIe4 m.2 on motherboards thanks to being one of the first on the market and that custom controller allowing them to break the 7,000MB/s barrier in M.2 form factor before practically everyone else. The Seagate uses the late 2020 formally revealed Phison E18-PS5018 controller (also used by a few other SSD manufacturers), whereas Samsung has its own massive in-house R&D manufacture available and has ait’s own unique custom Elpis controller. We talk in a moment about how this impacts their respective performance, but fair play to Samsung for continuing to keep their SSD development 100% in house with this one. Both drives arrive with 5 years of warranty (though their DWPD/TBW do differ noticeably) which is quite standard, but it is worth highlighting that the Seagate Firecuda 530 also arrives with 3years of data recovery services included. Know as the Seagate Rescue Service, it allows you to access professional data recovery services in the event of accidental deletion, reversing corruption and recovery services at no additional cost (there are T& course). It’s a small extra on the face of it, but for anyone that has lost key data (in the case of this drive utility, I am talking 4K raw video, savegames, editing projects, etc), this is a very noticeable extra to have thrown in!

Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

For most casual users, the price per GB/TB and the variety of available capacities are always going to form a decent chunk of the decision-making process! Both the Firecuda 530 and Samsung 980 Pro are available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB versions, however, the Samsung also arrives in a modest 250GB model (which may well be useful to NAS users for caching or video editors looking for a smaller, faster drive for current projects (moving them to a slower archive as they go). The Seagate Firecuda has very much gone the other way on this and provides a hefty 4 terabyte (double-sided – cells on either side of the M.2 PCB) that, although rather expensive, is still going to be very attractive to buyers who only want to make this kind of purchase ONCE and want it to suitable for long term storage convenience (Professional Gamers/Pro Streamers with larger constant libraries they need to access relatively on the fly and PS5 console owners looking to take advantage of that storage expansion slot). When it comes to the price tag, Samsung 980 PRO has a tremendous advantage with being released almost a year ago (September 2020) and that has given them a great deal of time to saturate the market with their drive and introduce a greater degree of flexible pricing now in 2021. That said, the prices are not quite as far apart as I would have thought – with around $20-30/£10-20 at each storage capacity tier. See below:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 MZ-V8P500BW
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 $119 / £109
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $209 / £179
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $390 / £369
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 N/A

The Samsung 980 PRO is easily going to be the lower-priced of the two, even if you ignore the RRP of each brand, the 980 PRO will be on sale at one retailer or another just as the Seagate Firecuda 530 gets out of the gate! We will talk a little more about Value later on, but if the pricetag is paramount to you (perhaps you are on a tighter budget or are buying multiple NVMe SSD units) then Samsung win this one easily. However in capacity, these two PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs are harder to compare, given they differ ever so slightly. I do like that the Samsung 980 PRO arrives in the smaller 250GB capacity model, as some hybrid storage users or those looking for their OS/Steam Library for 1-2 AAA games, will like this smaller unit at around $89/£70 (though the performance is lesser – important). However, the Firecuda 530 arriving in 4TB is an unignorable power flex from Seagate, being only 1 of 2 PCIe 4.0m.2 NVMe 7,000MB/s+ available in the market (the other being the Sabrent Rocket Plus SB-RKT4P-4TB for $999). Yes, it is a hefty price tag at $949 at launch, but it still works out as $237 per TB, has by FAR the fastest performance of any of the other drives and means you only need to make this purchase ONCE. So, overall, I think the Seagate Firecuda 530 takes the win for its approach to capacity.

 

Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

NOW we are talking! Moving away from price, let’s talk about what these two top tier NVMe PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs can give you in terms of traditional Read and Write performance. Ever since we first started seeing PCIe4 SSDs arrive, it has been a case of how much of the potential 8,000MB/s they could saturate with sophisticated controllers, SDRAM and NAND. The first-gen looked good at 5,000MB/s, but was soon eclipsed when Samsung 980 PRO entered the market last summer/autumn with their 7,000MB/s Read drive. Indeed, although the 250GB and 500GB drives dip slightly to 6,400/6,900MB/s respectively, the 1TB and 2TB models can reach that 7,000MB/s mark, which is great news for gamers that prioritize reading those core game files for streaming/casual gaming. However, their write speeds (a key concern for video editors and advanced content creators in general) largely cap at 5,000MB/s for the most part – still VERY impressive and Samsung have not been secretive about this, but it is still a noticeable difference. The Seagate Firecuda 530 series, thanks to a newer revision of NVMe (NVMe 1.4 over NVMe 1.3c) as well as the 176 layer 3D NAND (improving performance and relative durability, covering later). Samsung don’t disclose the layer count but claim it to be 40% more than their previous generation at 92 layers, so it is assumed to be 128L 3D NAND. The 500GB model from Seagate drops the ball a bit in terms of write speed, at a comparatively lowly 3,000MB/s (which does make the 500GB model much less appealing) but from there, the 1TB, 2TB and 4TB models all massively surpass the majority of other SSD in the market right now, reaching 6,000MB/s – 6,900MB/s in sequential Write and smashing an impressive 7,300MB/s in sequential Read – genuinely staggering and for manufactures to be getting so close to the theoretical 8,000MB/s max of PCie 4×4 M.2 so early cannot be ignored! See below:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 MZ-V8P500BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 6900MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 5000MB
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5000MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB N/A

As the chart above indicates, Seagate Firecuda 530 almost completely wins the performance comparison for traditional Read/Write activity. Given its later release, slightly higher price tag and increase NAND quality/layers, this is what you would expect and unless Samsung release a new revision of the PRO SSD series in 2021/2022, the Firecuda 530 wins this round in spades.

 

Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

The performance of the Samsung 980 Pro and Seagate Friecuda 530 in terms of IOPS are actually surprisingly similar. Indeed, only the 500GB model ZP500GM3A013 and MZ-V8P500BW give us much difference of note. Both drive manufacturers report that they hit the 1,000,000 input/output operations per second threshold. So that means that these drives pass through data incredibly well. I mention the 500GB model, as the Samsung 980 Pro largely dwarfs the Firecuda 530 at this tier, with twice the random read IOPS and 40% or so more on random write IOPS. I would be interested to see if this is because of NAND placement (as the larger 2TB Firecuda 530 matches the Samsung 980 PRO, but is double-sided)  or total GB per physical cell and more/less over-provisioning in place – but for now we can definitely see that buyers looking for premium IOPS on a 500GB scratch/current-projects drive will see better results on the Samsung 980 PRO (also remember that the 500GB 980 Pro also had superior traditional Write too).  Below is breakdown on the reported IOPS on each drive:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 MZ-V8P500BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 800,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 1,000,000
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 1000000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 1000000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A

IOPS are always going to be a tricky measurement of an SSD. Individually (i.e the M.2 NVMe in a single drive-use environment like a console or OS), the IOPS will translate to a much more responsive system. However this is still a question of near-milliseconds and the minute you introduce multiple PCIE4 M.2 SSDs RAID’d into a single system, then the multiplication of these IOPS and bottleneck of the rest of the system will level the playing field massively. The Samsung 980 Pro easily provides the best IOPS and excellent price-vs-R/W throughput on the 500GB level and makes it the clear choice at that capacity. However, in practically all over tiers they are level for the most part and unless you are running these drives in massive sessions individually (ie a streamer or eSport professional running daily 4-6hr sessions), then either of the Samsung 980 Pro or Seagate Firecuda 530 will be a suitable choice at 1TB and higher in terms of responsiveness.

 

Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

The importance of IOPS and Throughput are all well and good, but how long the SSD can maintain those speeds and operation in general as the years go by is an increasing concern in 2021/2022. The Firecuda 530 and 980 PRO are rated quite differently in terms of Endurance and Durability, so I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank you years from now! The importance of SSD durability is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and Samsung 980 PRO are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the Samsung 980 PRO and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

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

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

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

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Samsung 980 PRO stand on this, as the extra 10-12 months that the Firecuda spent ‘in the oven’ has seemingly produced rather large improvements in it’s predicted lifespan:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 MZ-V8P500BW
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 MZ-V8P1T0BW
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 MZ-V8P2T0BW
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,500,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD

Whether it is that Phison E18 controller having better-balanced wear management, the  176 layer 3D NAND or just generally more refinement of the handling as PCIe4 m.2 is explored, there is no ignoring that 0.7 drive writes per day of the Firecuda 530 being more than double that of the Samsung 980 Pro. This is not the first time Seagate have prioritized DWPD and TBW in their SSD media (their first entries into 24×7 NAS SSD featuring 1.0DWPD, practically unheard of at that tier) and given that Samsung have some of the most sophisticated and well-engineered in-house R&D operations in the world (only really challenged by WD), it is very surprising this is drive only has a 30% drive fill per day rating. I won’t focus too much on the MTBF (although clearly there are differences) as it is far less relevant as a spec these days, but in summary and in terms of durability, endurance and predicted lifespan – the Seagate Firecuda 530 wins by a country mile here.

 

Samsung 980 Pro vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

The Seagate Firecuda 530 is the more recently released drive of the two and it shows. Samsung heavily occupied the PCIe4 M.2 SSD market when this tier of Prosumer media (at the client-manufacturer level) arrived last year. But, as incredible as it sounds, the Samsung 980 Pro is in danger of looking a little slow as the rest of the market produces their own faster and more enduring alternatives in the Firecuda 530, the MSI SPATIUM M480 and Sabrent Rocket Plus. The Samsung 980 Pro still an incredible feat of development and construction, but much like my comparison of the Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850, entering the market before full widespread adoption of your kind of product is better established can sometimes lead to competitors being given more time to overtake. Adoption of PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD is still by no means ‘standardised’ and even now, numerous mobo manufacturers taht support the technology either do so using bandwidth sharing on the board OR choose to dedicate those potential PCIe 4.0 lanes to a traditional PCIe upgrade slot over M.2.The Samsung 980 Pro is an EXCELLENT SSD and provides the best price for this kind of performance at every capacity tier (not just compared with the Firecuda 530, but against pretty much ALL of the other PCIe4 M.2s on the market right now) which is thanks in a big way to it’s earlier release than most. However, it is impossible to ignore that the Seagate Firecuda 530 has used that extra time in development very wisely and has produced a higher-performing drive for the most part, with a much more enduring lifespan and ultimately better VALUE overall. I recommend buying the Firecuda 530 right now or wait until Samsung revisit their PRO series to see how where they can push things even further!

 

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Samsung 980 Pro

Best Performance
Best Endurance/Durability
Best Price for TB
Best Extras
Best Value
Where To Buy

 

 


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

 

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Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

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

Seagate Firecuda 530 vs WD Black SN850 SSD Comparison

11 août 2021 à 16:25

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530

If you have recently purchased a modern generation gaming PC, Video setup or new generation console, then chances are that when looking at optimal storage media for your system, you likely narrowed your choices down to the Seagate Firecuda 530 (released in summer 2021) or the WD Black SN850 (released in Winter 2020) SSD. Although these two drives look incredibly similar to numerous M.2 media that came before, these solid-state NVMe drives represent the highest-performing PCIe 4.0 that either brand’s respective gamer/prosumer series have to offer, each hitting (and in some cases exceeding) 7,000MB/s performance. Both of these drives are able to exceed pretty much all of the understood maximums thanks to several key factors in their architecture. That said, that very modern architecture varies quite wildly as soon as you take even a casual glance at the specifications and its impacts on performance, durability and capacity is actually quite significant. So, today I want to take a good look at the Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 SSD to see whether they excel, where they fall short of their competitor and, ultimately, which one deserves your data! First up, let’s take a look at the early architecture here:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L BiCS4 96L TLC
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 2TB
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 WD_BLACK G2
Warranty 5yr 5yr
 

So, one of the earliest differences between each drive as we can see is the NAND being utilized and laters. Both use TLC 3D Memory (par of the course for 2021 – finding a good line between capacity, performance and durability over MLC/QLC on either side of the scale) but there Seagate Firecuda 530 uses the higher-performing 176L vertically stacked layers, allowing greater performance and greater capacity per physical cell (with the Seagate Firecuda 530 SSD having a current capacity cap of 4 Terabytes and the WD Black at 50% less on 2TB). For those confirmed with endurance (which we will touch on later on) the 176L over the 96L does not result in negatives on durability (quite the opposite in fact) and both of these SSDs are managed by impressive top tier controllers. The Seagate uses the late 2020 formally revealed Phison E18-PS5018 controller (also used by a few other SSD manufacturers), whereas WD has its own massive in-house R&D manufacture available and has ait’s own unique WD Black G2 controller. We talk in a moment about how this impacts their respective performance, but fair play to WD for continuing to keep their SSD development 100% in house with this one. Both drives arrive with 5 years of warranty (though their DWPD/TBW do differ noticeably) which is quite standard, but it is worth highlighting that the Seagate Firecuda 530 also arrives with 3years of data recovery services included. Know as the Seagate Rescue Service, it allows you to access professional data recovery services in the event of accidental deletion, reversing corruption and recovery services at no additional cost (there are T& course). It’s a small extra on the face of it, but for anyone that has lost key data (in the case of this drive utility, I am talking 4K raw video, savegames, editing projects, etc), this is a very noticeable extra to have thrown in!

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

For many users, the size of an SSD and the price tag is going to be the most compelling argument one way to another on the best drive for their needs. Though the price you pay and the total storage ARE important, SSD like the WD Black SN850 and Seagate Firecuda 530 are much more than that. That said, it is fair to say that the WD Black SN850 provides the best price per GB/TB on every tier (500GB, 1TB and 2TB). Although there are regional differences that go beyond currency conversion (see the 2TB in £ vs $) and recent hardware shortages because of semiconductor shortages and Chia also played their part, the fact the WD Black arrived on the market 6+ months early has resulted in the price being a little more flexible right now – leading to it being at the lower price.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119 $119 / £99
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $249 / £169
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $399 / £339
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 N/A

However, there capacity differs slightly, with the Seagate Firecuda 530 NVMe SSD arriving at the larger 4TB – though at an eye-watering price point! If the cost of the SSD is an absolutely huge factor in your decision, the WD BLACK SN850 SSD clearly wins here, however it is worth taking a moment to read further to see what you get for your money – as, in some of the higher tiers, the difference between Price and Value is a great deal clearer.

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

Whereas the WD Black SN850 took a remarkably strong and clear early lead over the Seagate Firecuda 530 in terms of price, things take an immediate reverse in terms of performance between them. The reported maximum sequential Read and Write throughput on these drives from either brand is almost completely a win for Seagate and the Firecuda 530 in all but the 500GB. Now some of this credit can clearly be dedicated to that Phison E18 controller and 176 layer 3D NAND, but also the 2TB and 4TB SSDs feature double-sided cells (ie the chips are on either side) disturbing the read/write activity a bit. That NAND also provides some great durability (will touch on later) but the clear increase on the Firecuda 530 over the WD Black SN850, especially in the write activity as you rise through each capacity tier is remarkably impressive and only really rivalled by similar SSDs like the MSI Spatium, Sabrent Rocket Plus and Gigabyte Aorus Gen4 7000s.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB 4100MB
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5300MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 5100MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB N/A
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB N/A

The WD Black NVMe PCIe 4×4 SSD certainly holds its own, maintaining that solid 7000MB/s write, but reported write speeds to seem a tad inconsistent at each GB/TB tier and fall behind significantly at each comparable Firecuda 530 drive (with the exception of the 500GB WDS500G1X0E model).

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

A much more SSD specific measurement, IOPS, shows us a much more even playing field on the reported performance, with advantages and disadvantages on both sides. One immediate plus for both the WD Black SN850 and Seagate Firecuda 530 is that they both break the 1 Million IOPS threshold respectively at the 1 Terabyte tier, with even the lowly 500GB WD Black SN850 managing to hit the 1M Random Read IOPS, more than double the reported Random Read IOPS of the Firecuda SN850. However the Seagate Firecuda 530 then maintains the 1M IOPS breakpoint, first in Write at the 1TB level and then continues to provide 1,000,000 Read and Write on the Terabyte tiers – with the WD Black capping at 1M/700K on those same tiers.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000 680,000
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 720,000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 1,000,000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 710,000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 N/A

Although IOPS are a tough and extremely relative-to-file’ method of measurement in real-world practice, the benefits of that E18 controller and NAND choice by Seagate here on the 530 are another win – though only JUST!

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Unlike the other points in this comparison of the Firecuda 530 and SN850, the Endurance and Durability of an SSD is an area that is overlooked often enough that I wanted to take a moment to focus a little more on this – you can thank you years from now! The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and WD Black SN850 are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the WD Black SN850 and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

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

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

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

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

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 WDS500G1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB 300TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 WDS100T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 600TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 WDS200T1X0E-00AFY0
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1200TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1,750,000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.3DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013  
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB N/A
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 N/A
DWPD 0.7DWPD N/A

And that is a very clear win for the Seagate Firecuda 530, with its significantly longer predicted lifespan for writing in its 5-year reported warranty period. Of course, if you are not going to be fully replacing the data on your drive on a regular basis, then you may not be concerned about the 0.7DWPD on the Firecuda 530 over the 0.3DWPD on the SN850, which is understandable. However, I would highlight that for Seagate to state that this SSD will maintain the reported performance benchmarks, as well as that durability is no small thing and although they cost more per GB/TB, you can see that this is where that extra money is seemingly going.

 

WD Black SN850 vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

Comparing two SSDs like the Seagate Firecuda 530 and the WD Black SN850, although very similar in base architecture, may seem a little mean-spirited. There is clearly more than half a year of difference in when these two SSD were introduced to the market and in terms of technology, that is pretty huge. However, now that more and more affordable motherboards are integrating PCIe Gen 4 in their systems, modern home gaming consoles like PS5 are featuring storage expansions for PCIe 4×4 m.2 and even NAS brands are slowly approaching PCIe 4 in their servers, I think more people are going to compare these two high-end drives. the WD Black SN850 is very well priced right now, providing PCIe 4.0 Speeds at the same price as many PCIe 3.0 drives, with blanket 7,000MB/s Read performance on all models, cracking the 1Million IOPS threshold even on smaller capacities and getting head start on the PCIe4x4 M.2 NVMe market. However, given the large number of 7,000MB/s Read and 6,500-6,800MB/s Write drives that have been unveiled in the last 3 months, the WD Black may have arrived the tiniest bit TOO early to the party, before manufacturers could properly catch up (blame Covid, blame shortages, blame trade wars, blame Chia, you name it, it happened!). the Seagate Firecuda 530 on the other hand has arrived at the time when the latest generation on the kit that desires this kind of storage has been re-tooled and means it is very well placed. That isn’t to say that the Firecuda 530 gets by on luck, no, the incredible durability increase, consistent high performance on R/W and even arriving with a 4TB model off the bat make it a very convincing choice to ultimately win in this comparison. The data recovery stuff (for the few people that may actually use it) is a cherry on the cake too.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

WD Black SN850

Best Performance  
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  
Best Extras  
Best Value DRAW DRAW
Where To Buy

 

 


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


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

 

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Need Advice on Data Storage from an Expert?

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

Seagate Firecuda 530 Vs Sabrent Rocket Plus PCIe4 M.2 SSD Comparison

2 août 2021 à 01:52

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530

The speed of more modern NVMe SSDs in 2021/2022 has been a hot topic of late and nowhere more than in the realm of PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs. No sooner had brands cracked through the 500K IOPS and 5,000MB/s read performance barrier, less than a year later we now have 7,000MB/s+ and 1 Million IOPS drives commercially available and two of the fastest drives available to buy right now in PCIe Gen 4 x4 M.2 are the Firecuda 530 from Seagate and the Rocket Plus from Sabrent. Now, I am willing to bet that 99% of you have heard of Seagate Technology – they have been in the business of data storage in one form or another for a little over 40 years! Whereas Sabrent is a comparatively unknown company, releasing numerous docking stations, hubs, memory card readers and enclosures in the last decade, who have seemingly taken all this knowledge from devices centred AROUND the storage and (presumably using 3rd party NAND manufacturers) designed their own series of SSDs. Despite the somewhat David vs Goliath nature of these two brands in this comparison, I will say that the Sabrent and the Rocket Plus brings quite an impressive range of hardware specifications, performance and choice to the table that challenges Seagate Firecuda 530 in a number of areas, though durability and endurance (as noted in earlier Sabrent SSDs over the years) is truly what let’s this drive down a tad. So, today I want to compare these two high performing NVMe SSDs to see which one deserves your data.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L B27 3D NAND 96L
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 4TB Double Sided
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018
Warranty 5yr 5yr
 

Even a casual glance at the architecture of both the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus shows us that these two SSDs (released approx 3 months apart in 2021) have very similar base-line hardware on their respective PCB. With both using the latest NVMe 1.4 revision, both using that insanely high performing Phison E18 controller, are both available at 4TB (particularly rare right now in this storage tier) and really the only thing that stands out in the chart above is that NAND of choice in either SSD. The Sabrent features 96 layer 3D NAND, which is perfectly respectable, though somewhat dwarfed by the 176L 3D NAND in the Seagate Firecuda 530 – this NAND is precisely where the increased performance, durability and endurance will play out later in the comparison, but overall you still have to give props to these two drives for keeping it relatively cutting edge in 2021/2022. Let’s look at the price of these two SSDs and the storage options.

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

In terms of available capacity, both the Seagate Firecuda and the Sabrent Rocket Plus arrive at a maximum 4TB, which is quite impressive for an m.2 form factor drive AND for a relatively new-gen PCIe 4 x4 drive too (with current;y only 2-3 commercially available 4TB drives comparable to these available from other brands). Though it is worth highlighting that 4TB on a drive like this will cost you quite a hefty sum. Oddly, despite the Sabrent being the relative underdog in this NVMe SSD comparison, they have opted to skip the 250GB/500GB tier on their Rocket Plus series, something available from both WD Black SN850, Samsung 980 Pro and just the 500GB on Seagate Firecuda 530. Given the current premium on PCIe Gen 4×4 SSD at this performance threshold, having a more affordable entry point for smaller-scale editors, gamers, console owners and more might have been a misstep by Sabrent here. Below is a breakdown of the respective prices of each:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013  
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $199 / £180
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $469 / £419
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 $1099 / £999

One thing that should become very apparent as soon as you start comparing the price for TB of the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus (even the currency conversion too) is that right now there is practically no stability to the price models! Notwithstanding the effects of semi-conductor shortages, shockwaves in the industry of Chia and the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain, there is just little or no consistent pricing on the Sabrent Rocket Plus series, despite it being available since April 2021. This is not really the brand’s fault and although they are widely available from a large number of eShops worldwide, you will easily find that prices change on a dime! Seagate has only relatively recently launched the Firecuda 530 series and therefore the pricing is a great deal more stable. Additionally, the Price per GB/TB on each model as you rise through the capacity tiers (500GB>1000GB>2000GB>4000GB) becomes lower as you would expect. Overall, I would have to give this round to Seagate and the Firecuda 530 SSD.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

After price, let’s be honest – THIS is the area that will garner the most attention when comparing the Sabrent Rocket Plus and Seagate Firecuda 530. It will not come as a massive surprise to find out that the Seagate Firecuda 530 is the higher performer here, even with Sabrent stating that the Rocket Plus can maintain the 7,000MB/s+ Sequential Read. As previously stated in other comparisons, the Seagate FC 530 500GB model write speed has always seemed a bit of an anomaly at 3,000MB (half the reported maximum of the 1TB model) but given Sabrent have ignored this capacity tier – it’s not massively relevant. However, it is still impressive to see how close the Sabrent Rocket Plus comes to the reported maximum Read/Write to the Seagate Firecuda 530:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB  
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5500MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7100MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6850MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7100MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6850MB

I mean, CLEARLY, the Seagate PCIe 4×4 m.2 drive wins overall here. However, if Sabrent can back up these claims on maximum performance, this is remarkably close in both Write (slightly less so on ‘Read). How this is played out in the SSDs life when you factor the endurance on the NAND on the Rocket Plus is still up for debate, but nonetheless, this is impressive. Real praise here needs to go to Phison and the E18 controller of course, but both Seagate and Sabrent have designed some great SSD architecture here to largely saturate the potential 8,000MB/s of PCIe 4×4. How does this reflect on individual operations? Let’s discuss the IOPS.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

Despite the impressive specifications of these drives and how close the comparison of the Firecuda 530 and Rocket Plus have been up until this point, it has to be said that in terms of individual operations per second handled by these drives (more commonly referred to as the IOPS – input/output operations per second), the Sabrent NVMe drops the ball noticeably here. IOPs is a good indication of how the drive will behave in busy environments, being passed thousands of small instructions at any one time and although it is very much an industry metric, still holds significance in sustained operations. Although Seagate, WD and Samsung have surpassed 1,000,000 read and write random IOPS on their PCIe 4×4 drives, Sabrent peaks at 700,00 and is actually rather underwhelming at 350,000 random read IOPS (yes, read) at the 1TB tier – less than half of the Seagate Firecuda 530. See below:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000  
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 350000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 700000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 650000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 650000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700000

If you take a look at the reviews online for Sabrent’s rocket range of SSDs (both the PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 versions) you will see that there are notable examples of users being unimpressed by the consistent performance of their SSDs, even in single but sustained system usage. Part of this is detailed in the endurance and durability section below, but there is no avoiding that the low IOPS on these drives is less than you would expect – especially when you look at the Seagate Firecuda 530 utilizing the same Phison E18 controller. Part of this can be put down to memory management on the SSD (1GB DDR4), but the multi-layer NAND difference between the two drives is the biggest clincher. Once again the Seagate Firecuda wins this round. Let’s discuss the durability of these drives and the lifespan vs performance sustainability of the Firecuda 530 and Rocket Plus.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Just because an SSD can reach a reported MB/s performance level, does not mean it can necessarily HOLD that performance over an extended time. There are many factors that govern this but the quality of the NAND + the handling of wear internally is a big, big part of it. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus are quite different in their workload/usage lifespan. The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the Sabrent Rocket Plus and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

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

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

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

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus stand on this:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB  
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000  
DWPD 0.7DWPD  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 700TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1400TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB 3000TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD

The MTBF figure, although different by around 200,000 hours, is less important. The real focus here needs to be that DWPD/TBW figure, as not only does that clearly indicate that the Seagate Firecuda 530 can comfortably be rewritten by more than half of its capacity daily (close to twice that of the Sabrent Rocket Plus), but this combined with the high IOPS ratings at 1M random R/W mentioned earlier mean that this is a drive that (based on these reported stats of course) is clearly going to be the longer-lasting drive in terms of both operation and performance. If your motivation for upgrading your storage and/or system to a PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 system was for faster task/operation completion in an environment where time = money, then the Seagate Firecuda 530 is clearly the better choice here over the Rocket Plus from Sabrent.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

In all of my Seagate Firecuda 530 comparisons so far, this is the one that has been the most one-sIded in its conclusion. The Sabrent Rocket Plus is an impressively designed drive and to introduce this drive into the market against bigger brands like Samsung, WD and Seagate in this highly Prosumer/Enterprise market (especially now NVMe Fabric is becoming a ‘thing’) cannot be ignored in it’s ambition Likewise, they have introduced the Rocket Plus series into the market before competitor drives in the MSI M480, Adata S70 and Gigabyte Aorus, managing to garner a huge amount of recognition and kudos. However, their high performance and architecture are let down by comparatively less ensuring NAND and internal handling that ends up hugely shadowed by the Firecuda 530. Likewise, I genuinely feel that Sabrent would benefit from offering consumers 250GB and 500GB models, to act as gateways into their brand, as well as facilitating end-users whose demands for daily rotational writes and sustained hour-by-hour performance will be much lower. However, one simply cannot ignore the specifications supplied by both official brands on the capabilities of their PCIe NVMe 4.0 M.2 SSDs and clearly the Seagate Firecuda 530 wins the day here comfortably.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

Best Performance  
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  DRAW DRAW
Best Extras  
Best Value  
Where To Buy

 

 


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

19 juillet 2021 à 01:13

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

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

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

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Intended Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

NVMe 1.3

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

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

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

 

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Capacity

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

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

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

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

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

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – IOPS Rating

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

BarraCuda Q5

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

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

Seagate Firecuda, Barracuda and Ironwolf NVMe SSDs – Conclusion

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

  Seagate Firecuda 530

Seagate FireCuda 520

Seagate FireCuda 510

Seagate IronWolf 510

Seagate BarraCuda Q5

Best For User 4K/8K Professional Editing

Professional Gamer

eSports

Current-Gen Consoles

4K Professional Editing

Semi-Pro Gamers

eSports

AI Tasks

1080p / Compressed 4K Editing

Prosumer Gamers

Professional Computing

NAS Server Caching

Virtual Machine Caching

SAN/Shared Storage

Office Computers

Home Gamers

Operating Sytems

Where To Buy

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

 


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