We put the HighPoint 4TB SSD7101B-040T up against our group of 1TB NVMe SSDs. This group of products spans a wide range of price points. The Intel 600p is the only true low-cost drive in the group. Most of the other products fall in the middle of the price spectrum. The Corsair Neutron NX500 and Samsung 960 Pro are the most expensive drives in this class, but the latter delivers the highest performance. We used the Samsung 960 Pro 2TB instead of the 1TB. Now that we have 960 Pro 1TB drives in the lab for testing, we will add them to the charts for future reviews.
To fully utilize the HighPoint SSD7101 we brought back the Intel Core i9-7900X system with the X299 chipset. We introduced the system in our Aplicata Quad M.2 PCIe x8 Adapter review. The system allows us to run the SSD7101 in full PCIe 3.0 x16 mode.
HighPoint and Samsung sent us four 960 Pro 1TB NVMe SSDs to load the adapter. That creates the SSD7101B-040T, a $4,000 SSD that's guaranteed to outperform every SSD we've ever tested.
Sequential Read Performance
The HighPoint SSD7101B-040T 4TB SSD sets a strong tone for this review. With a single worker, it delivers over 9,000 MB/s of sequential read performance. The exceptionally high result comes at a queue depth (QD) of 16, which is well beyond what you would see with a typical desktop workload. The drive delivered lower performance than a single 960 Pro at low QDs, but the throughput shot up significantly when we reached QD4.
Sequential Write Performance
The sequential write performance test shows a different result. QD1 performance is in line with the single 960 Pro SSD, but by QD2 the SSD7101 again pulled away from the rest of the products. The HighPoint leveled off around 8,000 MB/s at QD8 and held solid through the remainder of the workload.
Random Read Performance
The random read performance test shows us how poorly software-based RAID scales as we ramp up the workload. The HighPoint array still delivered very good low queue depth performance, but it's slightly slower than a single 960 Pro. We see good scaling up to QD8, but the array loses momentum at that point. It eventually holds steady at just over 115,000 IOPS.
Random Write Performance
Random write performance takes the brunt of the software RAID inefficiency; the array only mustered around 100,000 IOPS. The saving grace is that the array can reach that level of performance at just QD4. The SSD7101 array will not feel slow by any means; you just have to match it to the correct workload. This isn't a product for databases or transactional workloads.
80% Mixed Sequential Workload
Now that we've established that the HighPoint SSD7101 accelerates sequential workloads, we can shift our focus to what you should use the drive for. Most sequential workloads feature large-block transfers. Audio and video creation/editing are the obvious target market for this product, but to take full advantage of the system, you have to go above and beyond what a home studio is capable of. This is the perfect storage device for real-time editing on local storage.
80% Mixed Random Workload
Again, the random read performance isn't bad with this product in the configuration. You're not missing a lot of performance over a single drive, but you are not gaining anything in these workloads.
The sequential steady-state test writes 128KB sequential data for ten hours to fill the drive several times before we measure performance. This is the worst case scenario for the SSDs with sequential data. It's also a common workload for studios recording at high bit rates.
You may start to doubt what we said about random performance. The results look very good, but for the same money you could buy an enterprise SSD designed for random workloads and extract more performance.
We don't publish RAID articles too often, but we examine performance consistency because it has a direct relation to RAID. The single 960 Pro 2TB delivers a flat performance line with slight variation between its highest and lowest points. As you add drives, you magnify the variation by the number of drives in the array. You can see the minor differences in the single drive, and visually see the array with roughly four times the variation.
PCMark 8 Real-World Software Performance
For details on our real-world software performance testing, please click here.
The lower random performance carries over to traditional desktop performance. We expected to see the HighPoint SSD7101 lead the heavy Photoshop test. We went back to Futuremark's technical guide to see if we could spot the reason the HighPoint didn't break away. The test consists primarily of heavy sequential writes, but it also sprinkles in a healthy dose of random reads. The random access during the test hurts the total overall score.
Application Storage Bandwidth
The HighPoint SSD7101B-040T 4TB array still managed to outperform most of the other NVMe SSDs that we tested, but you can see the performance is slightly lower than a single 960 Pro when the drives aren't full.
PCMark 8 Advanced Workload Performance
To learn how we test advanced workload performance, please click here.
We fill the drives again, reduce the idle time for the heavy section of the test, and then give the drives five minutes of rest for the recovery stages. The steady performance during the tests shows the array is virtually immune to workload fatigue.
Total Service Time
Many of us will buy a larger SSD than we need to maintain high performance. With the HighPoint SSD7101, you can have your capacity and actually use it, too.
Disk Busy Time
The results really shouldn't come as a surprise. HighPoint took the best consumer SSD available and combined several to supersize performance.
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