MyDigitalSSD BPX Value NVMe SSD Review

For weeks, I've teased you with talk of more entry-level NVMe solid-state storage products coming to market to compete with the Intel 600p. We can finally unveil a Phison E7-powered MyDigitalSSD BPX that we feel is a solid value-focused SSD if you are looking to move beyond SATA, but are still shopping on a SATA budget. The BPX doesn't compromise on endurance thanks to 2-bit per cell (MLC) flash technology, and that also leads to increased performance. The best part is the MyDigitalSSD BPX matches Intel's 600p pricing in all three available capacities. 

MyDigitalSSD does not have the same name recognition as many other SSD manufacturers, which some may see as a disadvantage. The company wants to build a brand by making products that sell for excellent prices rather than by throwing advertising dollars around. I've known the CEO for nearly a decade, which spans back to when he imported early SSDs from Asia into the US.

Many early netbook products used SSDs, but upgrade hardware was rarely available. These early SSDs were simply not available in the US, so MyDigital catered to underserved markets. The company would tediously design and manufacturer specialty SSDs that would only work in one or two models, like the Dell Inspiron Mini 9. These products, and the company, never received the glory of releasing the fastest consumer SSD. However, they were heroes to a small community of users looking to get the most out of low-cost consumer products that the manufacturers never intended to be opened or modified.

In recent years, MyDigitalSSD focused on mainstream products with the BulletProof (BP) series. Occasionally the company gets a product positioned at the right price and at the right time. We've tested and even recommended a few BP products before, and we've steered users away from some others.

The new BPX is the company's first NVMe SSD. MyDigitalSSD plans to use it to attack the Intel 600p in the emerging entry-level NVMe space. The little company taking on the giant international conglomerate sounds like a chapter straight out of David versus Goliath, but the tactics used are just as old. MyDigitalSSD plans to offer a superior product that is faster and more robust, and then follow with competitive pricing. Let's see where the stone hit.

Specifications

The MyDigitalSSD BPX will come to market in three capacities of 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB. A Phison PS5007-E7 controller is at the heart of each drive. The E7 is the same controller utilized in the Zotac SONIX add-in card ($348) and Patriot Hellfire M.2 (240GB $160 and 480GB $280). The BPX's big attraction is pricing, but we will get to that in a minute.

NVMe over PCIe allows you to achieve higher performance than you could attain over the SATA bus. The emerging entry-level NVMe products put pricing on par with premium SATA SSDs, but deliver higher performance. The MyDigitalSSD BPX lists all performance data in "up to" numbers that are identical for all capacities, but the performance specifications may change when the drives come to market. The sequential read performance tops 2,600 MB/s while sequential write breaks 1,300 MB/s. Random read performance surpasses 150,000 IOPS using four workers with four threads and the company used the same settings to achieve 265,000 random write IOPS.

Features

  • Phison PS5007-E7 Controller
  • 2D MLC 4-Plane NAND Flash
  • NVM Express 1.2 Interface
  • PCI Express Gen 3 x4
  • End-to-End Data Path Protection
  • Static & Dynamic Wear Leveling
  • SMART, TRIM, & RAID Support
  • Smart ECC RAID ECC
  • Windows & OSX Support
  • Slim: 22 x 80 x 3mm

The Phison PS5007-E7 is a modern and feature-rich SSD controller that uses eight channels to maximize data flow. The flip chip design allows the controller to run cool, thus minimizing thermal throttle conditions. Historically, firmware and programming have always been Phison's weak link. The 2.1 firmware release we tested on the Patriot Hellfire M.2 increased real-world application performance, but it also decreased the synthetic benchmark results. The MyDigitalSSD BPX ships with the same 2.1 firmware. Many of the optimizations seem to increase background operations. The processes work to keep a drive performing at high speeds, but the synthetic workloads that most users run to measure performance suffer slightly. The obvious choice is for a tuned environment based on what you run most of the time, rather than what you will run just a few times to verify performance.

MyDigitalSSD paired the controller with Flash Forward (Toshiba / SanDisk) 15nm 2D MLC flash. MLC holds a strong advantage over 3-bit per cell (TLC) flash because it can sustain a high level of write performance before dropping into a lower steady state. MLC also doesn't require an SLC buffer to increase endurance or deliver high burst performance during write workloads.

Pricing And Accessories

The new MyDigitalSSD BPX series will initially sell for $69.99 (120GB), $114.99 (240GB), and $199.99 (480GB). The printed circuit board has provisions for an additional DRAM module so we may eventually see a 1TB model, but MyDigitalSSD has not confirmed nor announced a 1TB model at this time. The problem with such a product is the cost associated with sourcing NAND packages with higher die counts; they are currently in short supply. The current flash shortage has impacted high-density packages more than those with only two, three or four die bundled together. The BPX 480GB features eight die per package, a combination that is in short supply.

The BPX series doesn't ship with any accessories. At the time of writing, the company was preparing retail packaging, but it was not available for this review. We expect the BPX to ship in a blister pack similar to the BP5e M.2 series.

Warranty And Endurance

The MyDigitalSSD BPX ships with a 5-year limited warranty. The "limited" distinction comes from the terabytes written (TBW) endurance measurement, which serves as a general indication of how much data you can write to the flash before the warranty expires. We have finally moved into products with petabyte-class endurance. The BPX 480GB ships with a 1,400TBW endurance rating, which is the highest endurance of any consumer NVMe product on the market. The endurance number drops by half with each decrease in capacity, with a rating of 350TB for the 120GB SSD. For comparison, that is nearly a 5x increase over Intel's 600p 128GB NVMe SSD.

A Closer Look

Physically, the MyDigitalSSD BPX is identical to the Patriot Hellfire M.2 we recently reviewed. We compared the drives side-by-side and found that the NAND part numbers are slightly different. Phison packages the flash but does not provide media with a working decoder like Micron and Intel.

The drive ships in the M.2 2280 form factor. It features components on both sides of the PCB, so you need to check compatibility for specific notebooks. Desktop motherboards and adapter cards provide ample space for dual-sided M.2 components. 

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  • JakeWearingKhakis
    Look at the 2nd to last picture of the Phison chip. Whatever they did to make it look that cool, needs to be a standard thing!
    3
  • Game256
    This is actually not a bad budget NVMe SSD. This SSD is more like what Intel 600p should look like. Because Intel 600p is a disgrace for a NVMe drive.

    However Samsung 960 EVO will cost about the same, especially 250 Gb version.
    1
  • InvalidError
    Anonymous said:
    Look at the 2nd to last picture of the Phison chip. Whatever they did to make it look that cool, needs to be a standard thing!

    What is so special about that picture? The "wavy" pattern? Nothing special about that, it is just an uneven wafer cut, possibly caused by a worn diamond saw blade, insufficient lubrication/flushing, uneven pressure through the cut or any number of other flaws in the wafer cutting process.
    1
  • shrapnel_indie
    It's just frustrating when you find a review someplace and all it turns out to be is pretty much the marketing description verbatim (or nearly so) and no hands-on testing, lab or otherwise. (You see this quite a bit with products unfortunately.)

    It's one reason sites like this can be, and are, valuable tools. Keep up the good work.
    2
  • Jordan_72
    Thank you for the article, it will be very helpful for me when considering my next storage solution.
    0
  • Xajel
    I wonder how these will compare against Samsung 960 Evo, for the 512GB part, Samsung is $50 pricier than this with a little higher performance than this on paper, but with less endurance
    0
  • CRamseyer
    It will be interesting to see for sure. We tested the PM961 (results are in the 512GB charts) and its a close battle. It really depends on your workload but as they say, $50 is $50.
    0
  • Bruce427
    Thanks for the great review, Chris.

    I was all set to order the 240GB version as a place holder until the Samsung 960 drives are delivered (looks like Samsung is going to significantly miss their "October" target -- especially on the EVOs).

    But the exceptionally low notebook battery life spoiled the deal for me.

    You said Phison has been unable to replicate your low notebook battery life results with the E7 controller. Is it possible that the drive might exhibit better battery life performance in a notebook other than a Lenovo?
    0
  • nebun
    where is the heatsink....these things get really hot under load....they really need to do something about it....not throttle it down...that's a patch, not a fix
    -1
  • Brian_R170
    The listed price doesn't quite match the Intel 600p street price, but maybe when it hits retailers, it'll be closer.

    Not many reviews of MyDigitalSSD products or service compared to better-known brands, though.
    0
  • RedJaron
    Anonymous said:
    where is the heatsink....these things get really hot under load....they really need to do something about it....not throttle it down...that's a patch, not a fix
    It's hard to fit a heat sink on an M'2 drive because most mboards have them between card slots, where they'd have to fit under double-slot GPUs and other cards. Not that I don't agree with the idea of heat sinks, or at least different placement on the mboard that puts them under better airflow, but it would restrict the product on the market.
    0
  • CRamseyer
    Anonymous said:
    where is the heatsink....these things get really hot under load....they really need to do something about it....not throttle it down...that's a patch, not a fix


    It doesn't need a heatsink. The controller never got over 49C in our tests.

    We have some new test methods coming up for 2017 and one of them monitors the temperature and takes a measurement once every second. We will publish the thermal results. Right now we're in the development phase with the software but stay tuned. For now, we are just posting thermal and thermal throttling issues if we find them.
    0
  • Nuckles_56
    If I was after a NVMe SSD right now, I'd probably pick one of these up, as they look like damn good value
    1
  • HERETIC-1
    Hi Chris,
    Like the separation of the sizes-easy to read-not too cluttered.
    This comment"Phison packages the flash"really surprised me,
    I was under the impression this was all done by Toshiba-like
    with their SATA drives.

    Perhaps I'm wrong but I thought nearly all FF-S10 SATA drives
    were made by Toshiba and re-labled with different firmware tweaks...
    0
  • LordConrad
    Looks like a great budget SSD for desktops.
    0
  • Co BIY
    How much quicker are these entry level NVMe products compared to SATA SSDs in normal applications? Will I even notice the difference ?
    0
  • CRamseyer
    In the Intel 600p review we added a section with the 600p against the fastest SATA SSDs. The 600p was faster in many applications. The Samsung 850 EVO 500GB delivers 308 MB/s in the Storage Application test. The MDD BPX 480GB delivers 567 MB/s. It is a healthy increase and one you will notice with a properly configured system.
    2
  • CRamseyer
    Anonymous said:
    Thanks for the great review, Chris.

    I was all set to order the 240GB version as a place holder until the Samsung 960 drives are delivered (looks like Samsung is going to significantly miss their "October" target -- especially on the EVOs).

    But the exceptionally low notebook battery life spoiled the deal for me.

    You said Phison has been unable to replicate your low notebook battery life results with the E7 controller. Is it possible that the drive might exhibit better battery life performance in a notebook other than a Lenovo?


    That is the hundred Dollar question right now. I only own Lenovo notebooks that support NVMe and I don't have access to any others. NVMe support is still fairly new and expensive. Phison doesn't see the same gap testing with Acer systems running the same test.
    0
  • Bruce427
    ** [Chris] Phison doesn't see the same gap testing with Acer systems running the same test. **

    If further testing by Phison turns up battery life issues that just affect *some* notebooks, is this something that could be fixed/addressed by a future firmware update?
    0
  • Bruce427
    Chris,

    On the 240GB version the factory specs on Sequential Write say 1300MB/s. But your test is showing about 800MB/s.

    Am I reading this incorrectly, or did the drive not meet specs?
    0