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

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

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

RATING: ★★★★ ½

PROS

+ Fast sequential performance
+ Competitive pricing
+ Large and consistent dynamic cache
+ Attractive design

CONS

- 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

OUR VERDICT

If you're looking for one of the fastest PCIe 4.0 SSDs on the market, Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus 1TB has you covered. Though its warranty coverage is a bit of a pain, it still offers a lot of bang for your buck.  

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Comparison Products

To see just how well it fares, we threw Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus up against top PCIe Gen4 competitors, the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850, as well as Team Group’s Cardea Ceramic C440. We also tossed in some PCIe 3.0 competitors, including Intel’s Optane SSD 905P, Samsung’s 970 Pro and EVO Plus, WD’s Black SN750 and Blue SN550, along with SK Hynix’s Gold P31

Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.

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Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus isn't quite as fast as its primary competition. While the SSD outperformed the WD Black SN750 and Team Group Cardea Ceramic C440, it scored eighth place in the Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers benchmark, lagging both the WD Black SN850 and Samsung 980 Pro.

Transfer Rates – DiskBench

We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with a custom dataset. We copy a 50GB dataset including 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos to a new folder and then follow-up with a reading test of a newly-written 6.5GB zip file.

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Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus scored third place in our copy test, lagging Samsung and WD by a moderate margin. While the SSD features a large SLC cache, the low QD random read performance may hold it back here, as it isn’t quite as fast as its competitors.

While reading back the large 6.5GB zip file, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus scores third place with a result that is similar to Samsung’s 980 Pro. The WD SN850 displays dominance in large file reads with a 100MBps advantage over both competing drives. 

Trace Testing – PCMark 10 Storage Tests

PCMark 10 is a trace-based benchmark that uses a wide-ranging set of real-world traces from popular applications and everyday tasks to measure the performance of storage devices. The quick benchmark is more relatable to those who use their PCs for leisure or basic office work, while the full benchmark relates more to power users.

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During basic computing tasks, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus delivers faster performance than its PCIe 3.0 competition, that is, except for Intel’s Optane SSD 905P. Touting the fastest responsiveness of any SSD we have seen due to its Optane storage media, it still retains its top-ranking position on our PCMark 10 leaderboards. It's too bad that Intel has discontinued the entire Optane desktop PC lineup, effective immediately. 

While Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus is fast, it wasn't as responsive as the Cardea Ceramic C440 (based on the older Phison PS5016-E16) in the Quick System Drive benchmark. When tasked with the heavier Full System Drive Benchmark, it edged out ahead by a few points, but ultimately fell into fourth place, ranking behind both the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN850 again.

Synthetic Testing - ATTO / iometer

iometer is an advanced and highly configurable storage benchmarking tool while ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. Both of these tools give us insight into how the device handles different file sizes.

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WD’s Black SN850 leads in reading and writing at smaller file sizes, but the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus rocket’s ahead in read performance from the 512KB file size and up. We measured peak throughput at roughly 7/5.3 GBps, although it took a larger 1MB block size than the normal 128KB block size.

Random performance is very strong, especially random write performance. At a queue depth of 1 we measured very low latency results of 0.056/0.015 ms read/write, but when hit with higher requests, read performance didn't scale as high as the WD Black SN850 or Samsung 980 Pro.

Sustained Write Performance and Cache Recovery

Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSDs implement a write cache, which is a fast area of (usually) pseudo-SLC programmed flash that absorbs incoming data.  Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We use iometer to hammer the SSD with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the write cache and performance after the cache is saturated. We also monitor cache recovery via multiple idle rounds.

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Out of the gate, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus delivers very fast sequential write performance that is second only to that of the WD Black SN850. However, once the Rocket’s cache fills at roughly the 333GB mark, write speeds tank from 5 GBps down to 666 MBps until full.

The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus's cache algorithm is optimized to provide a large fast cache that works well for most daily tasks, but the trade-off is that while it is faster out of that gate, it takes longer to fill the drive with data. With stronger sustained write performance at the 1TB capacity, Samsung’s 980 Pro and WD’s Black SN850, along with many of the top-ranking PCIe Gen3 SSDs, fill up faster than the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus. Those drives are notably faster than the Rocket NVMe 4.0.

After hitting the Rocket 4 Plus with tons of writes, we gave the SSD some idle time to see how well it can recover its cache. After idling for only a minute, Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus recovered roughly 50GB of its cache, which is a responsive pace compared to some competing SSDs that take hours or more to start flushing data from their caches. 

Power Consumption and Temperature

We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is an important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a laptop upgrade. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state more quickly, ultimately saving energy.

We also monitor the drive’s temperature via the S.M.A.R.T. data and an IR thermometer to see when (or if) thermal throttling kicks in and how it impacts performance. Bear in mind that results will vary based on the workload and ambient air temperature.

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Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus scores fairly high marks in efficiency, but it isn’t quite as efficient as the Samsung 980 Pro, WD Black SN850, or SK hynix P31 Gold with fourth place on our MBps-per-Watt chart. Average power consumption was middling, measuring roughly 4W during the 50GB file copy, and idle power consumption fell to low levels.

The SSD's S.M.A.R.T. data reported a peak temperature of 70 degrees Celsius after we hammered it with a few large write transfers totaling 450GB. When measured with our IR temperature gun, and the gun reported controller surface temps of 80-82 degrees Celsius. Although that's lower than some of the other SSDs we’ve tested, some thermal throttling occurred after 200GB-250GBGB of writes without airflow. The 70-degree Celsius threshold is a hard limit that the device will not surpass – it will scale down power/performance in order to remain below that temperature.

Under most use cases, the Rocket 4 Plus should maintain adequate temperatures when delivering its high-performance, but a heatsink wouldn’t hurt for those who really abuse their system and want it to deliver its full potential at 1TB. 

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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
  • escksu
    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.

    IMHO, don't go too crazy over benchmarks. Unless you have more than 1 drive in your system, you will only be either transferring from/to RAM or another partition within the same drive.

    You won't find windows or your apps loading much faster than even PCIE 3.0 drive (itself isn't really alot faster than SATA in daily usage cases.).
    Reply