Update 2/3/2021: We have updated this article with new testing for the 2TB Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 NVMe SSD on page 2.
Original Review published 2/2/2021:
Sabrent has brought PCIe 4.0 storage to the masses and in more style than most of its competitors, flooding the market with affordable, performant storage. In contrast to our recent reviews of the company’s SSDs more value-focused offerings, today we take a look at Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus, a highly anticipated M.2 NVMe SSD that's poised to take on the best. Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus is a viable alternative for those looking for Gen4 performance at a lower cost than WD’s Black SN850 or Samsung’s 980 Pro.
While Sabrent first announced the Rocket 4 Plus months ago in August, its release wasn’t fast enough to beat WD or Samsung to the market because Phison was a bit late to the party with the SSD controller that powers the Rocket 4 Plus. Last November, Phison sent us an engineering sample of the company’s newest creation, the Phison PS5018-E18 NVMe SSD controller. While the engineering sample’s performance left us with mixed thoughts, now it is in its retail form in the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus. Like our engineering sample, Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus comes packed with Micron’s B27B 96L TLC NAND flash but differs in that it comes with revised firmware.
|Product||Rocket 4 Plus 1TB||Rocket 4 Plus 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||1000GB / 1024GB||2000GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||M.2 2280|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4||PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4|
|Controller||Phison PS5018-E18||Phison PS5018-E18|
|Memory||Micron 96L TLC||Micron 96L TLC|
|Sequential Read||7,000 MBps||7,100 MBps|
|Sequential Write||5,300 MBps||6,600 MBps|
|Random Read||350,000 IOPS||650,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||700,000 IOPS||700,000 IOPS|
|Endurance (TBW)||700 TB||1,400 TB|
Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus is a PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 NVMe SSD that currently comes in two capacities of 1TB and 2TB at street prices of $200 and $400, but a 4TB model has been spotted in the wild and will potentially be released alongside a 500GB model soon, too.
Sequential performance clocks in at up to 7.1/6.6 GBps read/write, and the SSD can deliver upwards of 650,000/700,000 random read/write IOPS. Like the Rocket NVMe 4.0, the Rocket 4 Plus comes with a large dynamic SLC cache that spans one-third of the device’s capacity.
The Rocket 4 Plus controller leverages Phison’s fourth-generation LDPC ECC engine, end-to-end data path protection, advanced wear-leveling, bad block management, SmartECC, and the SSD is overprovisioned by nine percent to aid in its ability to withstand years of abuse while maintaining high reliability and endurance.
Sabrent rates the Rocket 4 Plus to endure 700TB of writes per 1TB of capacity within its warranty period. Make sure you register your SSD with the company within 90 days for the full five-year warranty, though. If not, you will only receive a measly one-year warranty.
Sabrent provides Acronis True Image for Sabrent software to its customers for free and simple cloning. The company also provides a download for Sabrent Rocket Control Panel to monitor the device and update the firmware, if applicable. It also has the Sabrent Sector Size converter, enabling users to re-format between either 512-byte or 4K-byte sector sizes.
A Closer Look
The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus comes in an M.2 2280 form factor that is single-sided at 1TB and double-sided at 2TB and 4TB. With a slickly designed two-tone copper heat spreader overtop of a black PCB, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is a looker for sure. Aesthetically, we think it is very appealing.
Phison’s PS5018-E18 powers the drive. The E18 is a top-of-the-line PCIe 4.0 x4 eight-channel NVMe 1.4 SSD controller manufactured on TSMC’s 12nm process for efficiency. It leverages five CPU cores in its design for high-speed address translation and optimized NAND control.
Three 32-bit Arm Cortex R5 CPU cores manage primary tasks, clocking in at 1GHz (36% faster than the Phison’s PS5016-E16’s cores) while the controller firmware offloads its proprietary Dual CoXProcessor 2.0 code to two lower-clocked cores to ensure consistent quality of service and efficiency. For further power management, the Rocket 4 Plus supports APST, ASPM, and the L1.2 standby power state as well as thermal throttling, currently with a 70 degrees Celsius hard limit.
Additionally, Phison’s E18 leverages a DRAM-based architecture to deliver responsive performance. For the task, Sabrent outfit the Rocket 4 Plus with SK hynix DDR4 DRAM ICs that operate at 1,600 MHz, the 1TB model having a single 1TB chip while the 2TB model comes with a 1TB chip on each side of the PCB.
Sabrent opted to use Micron’s 512Gb 96L TLC NAND flash for the Rocket 4 Plus. This flash isn't quite as fast as Micron’s new 176L flash, but it is still very responsive. While the company’s last-generation Rocket NVMe 4.0 leveraged the Phison PS5016-E16 and BiCS4 96L flash that operated at 800 MTps, Micron’s 96L B27B flash on the Rocket 4 Plus interfaces with the new PS5018-E18 at speeds of up to 1,200 MTps.
Other than increased interface speeds, Micron’s flash features double the plane count of BiCS4 flash that came on Sabrent’s Rocket NVMe 4.0. While quad-plane in design, optimal interleaving isn’t realized until the 2TB capacity. The 1TB model leverages sixteen 512Gb dies while 2TB uses 32 dies, attaining a higher level of parallelism for improved performance over the smaller capacity.
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