One of the advantages of having an AM4 chipset compatible motherboard is the innate support for PCIe 4.0, which, for several workstation applications, means a significant upgrade in data processing speeds. In fact, technology relating to the utilization of PCIe 4.0 has only been growing, so if you thought that Sabrent Rocket 4, for example, had impressive speeds, when compared to its PCIe 3.0 counterparts, wait till you see what the new Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and Samsung 980 Pro NVMe SSDs are capable of.
It must be stated, that these PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs are mostly optimized for workstation application, and hardly so for gaming. When it comes to the different types of SSDs, we have SATA based drives (in either 2.5” or M.2 form factors) and NVMe interface drives (which come solely in the form of an M.2 form factor). NVMe drives specifically utilize the power of PCIe lanes of the motherboard, and can thus reach much higher transfer speeds than their SATA counterparts – though particularly when it comes to the transfer of large amounts of files. These NVMe drives can achieve better 4K QD1 and QD32 speeds when compared to SATA drives, so they will initially load a game faster than a SATA drive, but the overall differences between the two interfaces when it comes to gaming is just about equal. This is proven in benchmarks carried out by NCIX Tech Tips, where we see that loading times are nearly identical between SATA and NVMe for the games they tested. Still, these upgraded NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSDs will constitute a very sizable upgrade for those working with applications that deal with the processing of large-sized files. However, if solely for gaming, they will most likely not be worth the extra cost.
Now, when it comes to PCIe 4.0 SSDs, Sabrent was for a long time at the top of everyone’s list as the best Gen4 NVMe SSD, until Samsung, one of the top-quality SSD manufacturers in the market, came along with their, almost equally priced, flagship SSD: The Samsung 980 Pro. Not to be outdone, Sabrent has recently announced the release of an updated version of the Rocket 4: The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus. Now, two questions arise: Firstly, how will the Rocket 4 Plus fair against Samsung’s 980 Pro? Also, is it worth the extra wait, or perhaps even cost?
Undoubtably, there has never been a better time to build a PC, whether it be workstation or a gaming computer. DDR4 RAM seems to have reached its peak, Nvidia is in the process of releasing their new RTX Ampere 30 Series GPUs (though not too many of them) and AMD is set to announce both their new Ryzen series CPUs as well as their RDNA2 GPUs within October. It would only make sense that Sabrent would also be releasing their Rocket 4 Plus in accordance with these release dates, as many enthusiasts will rightfully be looking into building a new PC setup. Therefore, it does seem possible that this SSD will be released around October or November of 2020, so the wait shouldn’t be too long.
To make a judgement on which of the two SSDs is better, let’s first take a look at their respective specifications.
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus vs Samsung 980 Pro – Specifications
Samsung 980 Pro
The Samsung 980 Pro (all values for both SSDS will be for their 1 TB versions) has an M.2 2280 form factor with a PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe 1.3c interface protocol; using Samsung’s own Elpis driver. The Elpis controller is based on Samsung’s 8 nm processing node, and can reach up to, an impressive, 128 queues simultaneously. The 980 Pro also features LPDDR4 DRAM, and TLC non-volatile memory. This time Samsung opted out of their 2-bit MLC NVM, seeing as it was unnecessarily expensive to manufacture for the overall speeds it was able to produce. Of course, this will also have an effect on the SSDs endurance, as the 980 Pro has a “terabytes written” (TBW) rating of 600 – compared to the 1,200 TBW of the 970 Pro. Thankfully, the 980 Pro does have a 5-year warranty, but for its price the overall endurance could be better.
With the use of Samsung’s 6th generation V-NAND, which has 100+ cell layers and makes use of charge trap flash (CTF) technology, one can expect speeds of 7,000 MB/s (sequential read), 5,000 MB/s sequential write, and up to 1,000,000 IOPS for both 4K random read and write speeds.
As is the case for most PCIe 4.0 SSDs, the 980 Pro is also backwards compatible with the previous generation PCIe 3.0; though, if used this way, it will throttle its read and write speeds to 3,500 MB/s and 3,450 MB/s respectively, while its 4K random read and writes speeds would cap at 690K IOPS and 660K IOPS as well. Still, it is a good option to have for those that, for example, are using incompatible Intel 10th generation CPUs, since they can use the NVMe drive until they upgrade to a PCIe 4.0 compatible motherboard.
To keep thermals as low as possible, the Samsung 980 Pro features nickel coating on the controller, and a heat spreader label on the chip. It also makes use of a thermal control algorithm so that the SSD can self-manage the heat and avoid any performance fluctuations. All this is great, but the 980 Pro will surely require at least a motherboard’s M.2 cover in order to not overheat.
Also included is Samsung’s Magician software, which allows you to view and manage aspects of the SSD like its temperature, its performance benchmarks, its drive health and TBW, its firmware updates, and its data encryption.
The SSD makes use of AES 256-bit Full Disk Encryption, TCG/Opal V2.0, and Encrypted Drive IEEE1667.
The 980 Pro comes in three storage sizes, 250 GB, 500 GB, and 1 TB.
Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Next, let’s take a look at the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus. Due to the fact that this NVMe SSD has not yet been released, the information we have for it is quite limited. What we do know is that it makes use of a BGA 132 3-bit TLC, NAND, flash (most likely Toshiba manufactured), an external DDR4 cache, and a Phison PS5018-E18 flash controller that is built on a TSMC 12nm processing node with a PCIe Gen4 x4 speed and a NVMe Rev. 1.4 protocol interface.
These components are what allow the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus to reach a sequential read speed of 7,000 MB/s and a sequential write speed of 6,850 MB/s. As is the case with the Samsung 980 Pro, this SSD will also be PCIe 3.0 backwards compatible, though, once again, the speeds will be capped to the maximum the third-generation lanes can muster.
Where the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus seems to shine, is their custom heatsink. The Rocket 4 Plus has an M.2 2280 form factor, and will include a heatsink similar to those available for the Rocket 4 (at an extra cost). This includes an aluminum tray, two layers of thermal tape sandwiching the SSD, an all-aluminum heatsink, copper heatpipes, and a top heat spreader. All-in-all, Sabrent is basically making use of the best materials available for each component, in order to attain optimal thermal conductivity and the most effective heat dissipation possible. With the use of this custom heatsink, you can place the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus into any M.2 slot of your motherboard, without having to worry about whether or not it has a cover. Cooling efficiency is incredibly important when it comes to reaching, and maintaining, a high level of performance in read and write speeds, and Sabrent did not go cheap on ensuring that the Rocket 4 Plus has the best thermal solution available. Whether or not this heatsink will ultimately cause an increase in price, however, is something we will have to wait to see. This is also the case for the SSD’s TBW and warranty, though the former should be on the level of the Rocket 4 at around 1,800 TBW (MTBF of 1.7 million hours), and the latter should be identical to the its Samsung counterpart at 5 years.
The Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus will come in three storage sizes, 500 GB, 1 TB, and 2 TB.
In most, if not all, specifications mentioned for the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, we see that it is equal or superior to the Samsung 980 Pro – with the only exception being the better 8nm processing node of the Elpis controller; though it makes use of the NVMe 1.3c protocol, versus the recently released NVMe 1.4 of the Phison controller.
In terms of speeds, both SSDs have sequential read speeds of 7,000 MB/s, though the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus can reach a sequential write speed of 6,850 MB/s (vs the 5,000 MB/s write speed of the Samsung 980 Pro). Sabrent has not released the 4K random read and write speeds of the Rocket 4 Plus, but if we judge from its Phison controller, it should be on par with the Samsung 980 Pro at 1,000,000 IOPS. Benchmarks of the Samsung 980 Pro (carried out by TweakTown) do show that it can reach its advertised speeds, both sequential and 4K random read and write speeds – achieving 880,488 IOPS and 837,677 IOPS respectively in their tests. It must be said that though the Samsung 980 Pro does beat the Sabrent Rocket 4 in most benchmarks, there are some where it still falls behind, like the ATTO Disk Benchmark v3.05 128 KB sequential read speeds, or the AS SSD 1.8.5611.39791 write scores.
Where the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus holds a distinct advantage, is its thermal solution. If its price is similar to the Rocket 4 with the heatsink included at $220, then its price will be equal to the Samsung 980 Pro, and the Rocket 4 Plus will hold much more value in comparison to its Samsung counterpart.
Also, though Sabrent has not yet released information in regards to the software that will be included, if it is identical to the Rocket 4 (Acronis) then it will be lacking the performance monitoring of the Samsung Magician software. Still, we shouldn’t assume that this will be the case, but something to be considered.
The Sabrent has also not released the TBW or MTBF of the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, but if it is similar to the Rocket 4 (1,800 TBW), then it will be far superior to the 600 TBW of the Samsung 980 Pro. 600 TBW is still massive, but for some professionals it may not be enough, and the Rocker 4 Plus’s endurance may be an important factor in making the decision between the two SSDs.
Additionally, the 2 TB version of the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, a storage size that is absent in the Samsung 980 Pro, will allow for a larger total storage of up to 6 TB separated into the usual three M.2 slots included with a higher-end motherboards – versus the 3 TB allowed by the Samsung 980 Pro. Important to this aspect is the price that the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus will be sold for, but for professionals in need of the most NVMe storage they can have, this is a considerable advantage of the Rocket 4 Plus.
Conclusion: Which PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is Best?
If you are looking for a powerful, stable, and reliable SSD capable of high storage capacities, then the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is definitely worth the wait till its release – especially for professionals looking for a workstation SSD. For those wanting to buy the “best” SSD money can buy for their personal computer that is used for anything from gaming and streaming, to content creation through video editing, then the Samsung 980 Pro will work just fine for their needs, and the difference between it and the Rocket 4 Plus will hardly be noticeable.
In the battle between Sabrent and Samsung in the PCIe 4.0 SSD market, the biggest winner is the consumer, as their competition has advanced both quality and capabilities of PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs, while still keeping prices relatively competitive.