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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Bus-Saturating Performance in Style (Updated)

Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus shatters write records and undercuts Samsung and WD pricing

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 2TB
Editor's Choice
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

Sabrent’s 2TB Rocket 4 Plus delivers even faster performance than the 1TB model, and is a solid pick that ranks it alongside the best, for less.

For

  • Fast sequential performance
  • Competitive pricing
  • Large and consistent dynamic cache
  • Attractive design
  • Up to 5-year warranty

Against

  • 1-year warranty without registration
  • Not quite as responsive or efficient as Samsung / WD
  • No AES 256-bit encryption
  • Slow write speed after write cache fills

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.

Specifications

ProductRocket 4 Plus 1TBRocket 4 Plus 2TB
Pricing$199.99$399.99
Capacity (User / Raw)1000GB / 1024GB2000GB / 2048GB
Form FactorM.2 2280M.2 2280
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4PCIe 4.0 x4 / NVMe 1.4
ControllerPhison PS5018-E18Phison PS5018-E18
DRAMDDR4DDR4
MemoryMicron 96L TLCMicron 96L TLC
Sequential Read7,000 MBps7,100 MBps
Sequential Write5,300 MBps6,600 MBps
Random Read350,000 IOPS650,000 IOPS
Random Write700,000 IOPS700,000 IOPS
SecurityN/AN/A
Endurance (TBW)700 TB1,400 TB
Part NumberSB-RKT4P-1TBSB-RKT4P-2TB
Warranty5-Years5-Years

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.

Software

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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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

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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
Image 3 of 3

Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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.

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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)
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Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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 Rocket 4 Plus

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

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.

MORE: Best SSDs

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  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    Remember when Samsung drives were the fastest AND the cheapest? 2021 and still well above the $100/TB level...
    Reply
  • Chris Fetters
    Spends much of the review (& most of the conclusion) talking about how the 2TB model is able to get significantly more performance out of the new Phison E18 controller and as such, THAT'S the one you should buy... to then go and EXCLUSIVELY only show benchmark results of the 1TB drive in the review itself... -_- ... I am not amused.
    Reply
  • seanwebster
    Chris Fetters said:
    Spends much of the review (& most of the conclusion) talking about how the 2TB model is able to get significantly more performance out of the new Phison E18 controller and as such, THAT'S the one you should buy... to then go and EXCLUSIVELY only show benchmark results of the 1TB drive in the review itself... -_- ... I am not amused.
    I reviewed both capacities at once, but the 2TB results will show in an update soon, painting a better picture.
    Reply
  • prolfe
    seanwebster said:
    I reviewed both capacities at once, but the 2TB results will show in an update soon, painting a better picture.
    Sean,
    It sounds like you're saying you did all the work required to make a complete review, but decided to hold some back and get a second article out of it for those sweet sweet clicks. I'm a longtime toms reader and that won't change anytime soon. Also note that I didn't accuse you but rather said it sounds like a certain thing. If I'm correct it does sound a little shady. You didn't call the article "Rocket 4 Plus 1 TB Review" and didn't mention anywhere in the article that there was more data for the 2 TB coming. Also, it's not like the 2TB isn't out yet, so you can't say you're holding it back til the 2 TB comes out. I appreciate your work and thank you for writing this article. Please take the comment in the spirit it is given: as constructive criticism of a potential business practice that I personally find distasteful. I hope you'll consider refraining from this in the future.
    Reply
  • seanwebster
    prolfe said:
    Sean,
    It sounds like you're saying you did all the work required to make a complete review, but decided to hold some back and get a second article out of it for those sweet sweet clicks. I'm a longtime toms reader and that won't change anytime soon. Also note that I didn't accuse you but rather said it sounds like a certain thing. If I'm correct it does sound a little shady. You didn't call the article "Rocket 4 Plus 1 TB Review" and didn't mention anywhere in the article that there was more data for the 2 TB coming. Also, it's not like the 2TB isn't out yet, so you can't say you're holding it back til the 2 TB comes out. I appreciate your work and thank you for writing this article. Please take the comment in the spirit it is given: as constructive criticism of a potential business practice that I personally find distasteful. I hope you'll consider refraining from this in the future.
    I typically review one capacity at a time and then release another capacity at a later date because it takes longer to test. The 2TB's results were mostly done when I wrapped up the review, but I was having a little trouble with something, hence the delay. But, since the 2TB results will be published soon, and again, I already had the majority of my data, I wrote the conclusion based on both capacities from the getgo.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    Not liking the endurance drop from E16 drives at 1TB that do 1,800 TBW to now 700TBW.

    also the E16 Corsair MP600 has AES 256-bit encryption.

    Waiting for your review of the Corsair Core and Pro models.
    Reply
  • prolfe
    seanwebster said:
    I typically review one capacity at a time and then release another capacity at a later date because it takes longer to test. The 2TB's results were mostly done when I wrapped up the review, but I was having a little trouble with something, hence the delay. But, since the 2TB results will be published soon, and again, I already had the majority of my data, I wrote the conclusion based on both capacities from the getgo.
    Thanks for the explanation and glad to hear it was something completely understandable. You keep making good articles and I'll keep reading!
    Reply
  • RedCat888 (HIGUYS9090)
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    Remember when Samsung drives were the fastest AND the cheapest? 2021 and still well above the $100/TB level...

    I mean you can get a 1TB NVME for $100, and even a 1TB sata drive for 80-90 bucks, it's just that the increase in speed makes it more expensive
    Reply
  • thdm
    Nice review update. I'd been looking at the 2TB Rocket 4 plus for a little while.

    My interest in this SSD was at least in part because I was planning to run it in a laptop (MacBook Pro 2015) and being PCIe 3.0 was hoping that even though it's overkill and has more cores driving high performance for PCIe 4.0, that being a 12nm finfet design fabbed at TSMC that it might pull off nicely reduced overall power than other solutions for PCIe3.0.

    The Sabrent site seems to indicate one needs a heatsink if running with a PCIe4.0 board, implying PCIe3.0 does/might not?

    Any chance you can run some comparisons on PCIe3.0 with power consumption numbers? One would hope that it beats at least well proven PCIe3.0 designs on 28nm
    Reply