Phison continues to work on the PS5007-E7, but I think everyone is tired of SSDs released in stages. "Here is this product, in a few months we will do something better," is becoming a tired refrain.
Unfortunately, firmware updates have been the norm since flash came to the mainstream. Some firmware improvements are subtle and improve performance, while others have fixed stability issues. In some cases, our SSDs were time bombs that would explode, taking data with it, and we needed a firmware fix to stop the clock (thanks, Crucial M4 SSD). Phison's approach is a little different, but just as annoying.
The Patriot Hellfire M.2 is a good NVMe SSD, and I have no doubt will it sell at an attractive price. But right now the Hellfire M.2 is a lot like the Zotac Sonix. There is no way anyone would have willingly signed off on the notebook battery life performance. The issue apparently slipped through a crack somewhere and early buyers will either stumble upon it or not even realize there is an issue. In a few years, the drive may come out of a desktop and move into a new notebook, where it will provide sub-par battery life.
Patriot may be able to fix the issue with a firmware update, but that doesn't mean we will see the firmware soon. Zotac hasn't released a firmware update for the Sonix even though we now know a faster firmware, that delivers a better user experience, is already available.
Low-QD random performance plays a significant role in the way our computers manipulate data. The Hellfire M.2 delivers just over 11,000 random read IOPS at QD1, which is only slightly faster than a Samsung 850 EVO. The performance represents a big leap over the Phison S10 products, but we expected the E7 to compete with the Samsung 950 Pro around the 14,000 IOPS mark.
At the time of writing, the Samsung 950 Pro retails for $317.99 at Newegg, which is a few dollars less than the MSRP of the Hellfire M.2 480GB. The 950 Pro is superior in every way, and it even comes with an industry-leading software package that includes a disk cloning utility. The Patriot Hellfire M.2 comes without any accessories, management or cloning software, so the drive has both a performance disadvantage and a software disadvantage. Patriot will need to undercut 950 Pro pricing, and perhaps even the new Intel 600p NVMe SSD (review coming soon), by a decent amount to be taken seriously.
The Hellfire M.2 480GB may end up being a great value if its pricing falls in line with the performance and accessory package. We hope to see a $270 price point after the "new" tax subsides. At that price, we would consider the Hellfire M.2 for desktop use.
Notebook users should avoid the Hellfire M.2 at this time; it consumes more power than a hard disk drive in our Lenovo Y700-17. We reached out to Phison, and the company is investigating the issue. Phison runs the same MobileMark 2014.5 test and indicates that it does not have the same issue. I would still steer clear of using the Hellfire in a notebook until a solution becomes available.