MyDigitalSSD BPX Value NVMe SSD Review

Conclusion

As a reviewer, I'm not satisfied with testing a product and reporting on that single item. I've always found the practice to be shortsighted, and it detracts from why readers come to reviews sites in the first place.

I get frustrated when I shop for other products outside of the computer industry. For instance, I'm a big home theater fan. Now that my office sounds like an airport due to servers, switches and other components used to bring you our reviews, I spend a lot of time writing in the only noise-isolated room in the house. So far, it's been nearly impossible to find direct comparisons between home theater receivers. The lack of reviews with direct comparisons isn't isolated to just one market, but the reason why we rarely see these types of head-to-head reviews is the same--most companies don't like to have their products under such heavy magnification.

As a storage industry insider, I often hear and learn about many of the products that are coming to market before their release. When the ground started to vibrate with rumblings of a new entry-level NVMe class, I reached out to several companies for details of proposed and eventual retail product information. Intel was the first to break ground in this new category, but by the time we had products in for testing, we knew others were coming. We also knew nearly every detail surrounding the pending products.

Samsung's 960 series, which features both a prosumer Pro and a mainstream-focused EVO model, was the worst kept secret in the industry. The 960 EVO acts as a clamp on the mainstream due to Samsung's superior TLC V-NAND technology, but it limits the scope of entry-level pricing. Other aspects such as warranty, endurance and expected performance help to determine what the true value-focused products can get away with.

The Intel 600p set a very low bar for pricing, endurance, and performance. After we had published our review, Intel increased the endurance specification for all 600p capacities larger than the 128GB model. The 600p offers slightly more performance than premium SATA-based products, but it is well off the pace of other NVMe products.

The Patriot Hellfire M.2 suffers from the same problem that SSD manufacturers have had to contend with for several products generations; Samsung. Even though Samsung has not released it yet, the 960 EVO is the mainstream product that users will flock to. The 960 EVO pricing starts out at $129 for the 250GB model, then moves to $249 for the 500GB. The Hellfire M.2 currently retails for more than the EVO in both capacities at Amazon ($159.99 for the 240GB and $279.99 for the 480GB). We can write off the Hellfire M.2 after examining this price comparison.

While writing the Patriot Hellfire M.2, we received concrete information on the MyDigitalSSD BPX. MyDigitalSSD chose a combination of components designed to maximize performance-per-dollar. The company had planned this product before Intel released the 600p, and the company hoped to deliver the first entry-level NVMe SSD. The 600p took some of the thunder away, and we suspect it even lowered the price a little. The 600p didn’t affect MyDigitalSSD's decision to attack a new market segment, and the 600p may have actually made it a better product.

At this time, I don't have any more details on emerging products. We're waiting to see what Adata and Kingston bring to market, though. Adata announced the SX8000 NVMe SSD with the SMI SM2260 controller, which is the same controller Intel used in the 600p (and Micron planned to use with the canceled Ballistix by Micron TX3). We suspect the SX8000 will come to market with a mainstream to premium price. It will be one of, if not the first consumer SSD to ship with IMFT 3D MLC flash. Kingston has been quiet about consumer NVMe outside of trade shows where the company shows off both exciting consumer and enterprise SSDs using Phison PS5007-E7 controllers.

The MyDigitalSSD BPX SSD is the current entry-level NVMe SSD market leader. It matches the Intel 600p's pricing while delivering nearly the same performance as the higher-priced Patriot Hellfire M.2. The gap between the two Phison E7 products closes in the smaller 256GB-class capacity, but the real story is how close all of the MLC-based 256GB class drives are regardless of price. We found more performance variation in the larger 512GB-class products, but the MyDigitalSSD, with its aggressive pricing, still delivered more performance-per-dollar than any other product in our test pool.

MyDigitalSSD could have easily released this series with a two- or three-year warranty without remorse. Instead, the company chose to show confidence in the product and went with a premium 5-year warranty that rivals the best products on the market. The drive is not limited by a restrictive endurance rating, either; the 480GB model we tested sports a massive 1.4 PB (1,400 TB) endurance rating. That is 200 terabytes more than the premium Samsung 960 Pro 2TB NVMe SSD we just tested!

The BPX series is a good product, and it may be the NVMe SSD many people have waited for. Despite all of its positive traits, we're not sure if supply can meet demand. MyDigitalSSD is stocking up for a rush of orders, but during a NAND shortage companies without guaranteed NAND supply often see orders reduced or cut altogether. The shortage may become an issue, but I don't think we will see wait times move out to the six-month queue that we currently see with the Samsung SM961.

On the performance side, the MyDigitalSSD BPX is not the drive of choice for a notebook replacement. The drive runs cool and doesn't have any real-world thermal throttling issues, but the Phison E7 controller delivers less than desirable results on battery power in our Lenovo Y700-17. Phison doesn't see the same results while testing with Acer notebooks, and the company plans to debug on an identical Lenovo system to investigate the issue. If Phison and MyDigitalSSD can fix the notebook power issues we've seen, and keep a steady supply for shoppers, this drive may be the best overall NVMe SSD for consumers. It may even cut deep into Samsung's 960 EVO sales.

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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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jordan_72
    Thank you for the article, it will be very helpful for me when considering my next storage solution.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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...
  • LordConrad
    Looks like a great budget SSD for desktops.
  • Co BIY
    How much quicker are these entry level NVMe products compared to SATA SSDs in normal applications? Will I even notice the difference ?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
  • 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?