Zotac Sonix NVMe SSD Review: Our First E7 Tests

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Real-World Application Performance

PCMark 8 Real-World Software Performance

For details on our real-world software performance testing, please click here.

Real-world software rarely pushes fast storage devices to their limits. If you don't feel like you get a palpable boost after upgrading from one SSD to another, the following tests will help illustrate how upgrading affects the time to completion of several tasks.

Zotac's 480GB Sonix trails its NVMe-enabled competition in many of the tests. At least all of the drives in today's chart are faster than the SATA-attached SSDs we're used to reviewing. It's just a shame that the Sonix is not as fast as some of the other contenders in its class.

In this chart, we combine all of the tests and average the measured throughput in MB/s, giving us an easy way to generalize about overall performance. In that context, it's easy to see that the Sonix has some catching up to do before it's considered as venerable as the NVMe-attached Samsung and Intel drives.

PCMark 8 Advanced Workload Performance

To learn how we test advanced workload performance, please click here.

After all of our other benchmarks thus far, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see Zotac's 480GB Sonix behind the NVMe-enabled competition in application throughput.

Like many mainstream SSDs, the Sonix performs best in light workloads. And when it has time to clean its NAND cells, write performance improves. However, background activity seems to affect performance when utilization increases, even though the E7 has four cores to minimize the impact of maintenance tasks.

Total Access Time

Don't assume that just because an SSD employs an NVMe interface, it delivers low latency in all workloads. When we look at the best and worst performers in an access time chart, it's hard not to think of Phison's E7 as the world's first entry-level NVMe controller. We hope Zotac and Phison address latency under taxing loads, and bring performance in line with the competition.

The numbers we get from less demanding benchmarks are more likeable. The Sonix even outperforms Samsung's lauded NVMe SSDs after recovering from a heavy workload (then again, Samsung's drives take longer than most to fully bounce back from debilitating conditions, so this isn't as big of a win as it sounds).

We wanted to include our busy time tests to get a better idea of what power consumption might look like, since our notebook battery life test isn't compatible with add-in cards. This metric tells us how long (in seconds) each drive is actually working.

In the most demanding scenarios, Zotac's Sonix takes three times longer to finish than Intel's SSD 750 and twice as long as Samsung's NVMe-enabled drives. But under lighter workloads, the Sonix falls in line with the other SSDs. It seems as though the inconsistent performance observed in some of our synthetic benchmarks carries over to intensive real-world environments.

Chris Ramseyer
Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews consumer storage.