We already have seen Sabrent’s excellent results with their Gen4 x4 TLC and QLC drives last year so today’s review will cover in reverse chronological order, the Rocket Q model. When this range was launched it had an attractive price per GB ratio and appealing specs.
It has been covered multiple times the comparison of MLC vs TLC vs QLC NAND cells and the overall conclusion points to the choice of maximum endurance ratings. However, advancements in NAND cell development, firmware and intelligent controllers (like the ones from Phison) make that single compromise much easier to bear.
Furthermore, Sabrent offers this line-up in capacities up to 8TB(!) which is incredible and all of them all backed by a 5 years warranty.
Sabrent’s commitment is to offer the latest technology and the highest quality consumer electronic products at an affordable cost to everyone. Since its founding, Sabrent has consistently delivered to market a full line of computer peripherals and accessories that incorporate style, quality and the latest technologies available.
Prices and Availability
There are 5 options to choose from, capacity wise. Prices are competitive and the fact that you can choose a 4TB and even an 8TB M.2 is an achievement in its own!
*10.03.2022 Update – The video review is live as well!*
Highlights and Specification
*Courtesy of their website.
The Sabrent 2TB ROCKET Q NVMe PCIe M.2 2280 Internal SSD High-Performance Solid State Drive (SB-RKTQ-2TB) delivers all the advantages of flash disk technology with PCIe Gen3 x4 interface and it is fully compliant with the standard Next Generation Form Factor (NGFF), commonly-known as M.2.
Based on 3D QLC NAND Flash memory, its performance speeds can reach up to 3200 MB/s (read) and 2900 MB/s (write).
Power consumption is much lower than traditional hard drives, making it the best-embedded solution for new systems.
• Power Management Support for APST / ASPM / L1.2.
• Supports SMART and TRIM commands. Supports ONFi 2.3, ONFi 3.0, ONFi 3.2 and ONFi 4.0 interface.
• Advanced Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, and Over-Provision.
• All Sabrent SSDs come with FREE Sabrent Acronis True Image for Sabrent Software for easy Cloning, For more information please visit our website.
* Model – SB-RKTQ-2TB
* Interface – PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3
* Capacity – 2048 GB
* Controller – Phison PS5012-E12S
* Flash – Micron 96L 3D QLC
* Dimensions – 4 x 2.8 x 0.5 in
* Weight – 2.4 oz
* Warranty – 5-year warranty (with registration)
It has become a brand trademark for Sabrent because all of their products come shipped in an all metal enclosure. The outer packaging has excellent branding with all of the important specs printed on both sides. The sticker of the free included cloning software is highly visible as well.
Here is the aforementioned aluminium case that offers the main protection for the M.2 drive inside.
There is a quick users guide and the M.2 SSD is nicely protected with the help of foam and a cardboard spacer.
The Sabrent Q 2TB M.2 SSD is a single sided drive that has on the main side a mini copper heatsink.
Spec wise, the under the hood we have the Phison E12S NAND controller, 4GB DDR4 DRAM package and four Micron 96-layer QLC NAND flash modules (512GB each).
* Synthetic and real life big file transfer tests – a game folder of 109GB of mixed files and a single 13GB .mkv video file to test the burst speed and the SLC cache if present.
* All SSDs were secure-erased before our tests started
* Between tests, drives are left idle for 1 minute to allow them to flush and reorganise their internal data.
* Steps have been taken to ensure that the CPU’s power-saving features don’t interfere with any of our results. All of the CPU’s low-power states have been disabled.
* In order to minimise random variation, each of the real-life performance tests are run a few times with reboots in-between tests to reduce the impact of disk cache.
* (SATA SSDs only) Make sure you use a SATA 6Gbps capable motherboard and a matching cable to avoid bottle-necking. Then double check in the BIOS that you have the AHCI mode activated for another maximum performance tip.
* For the Gen4 x4 M.2s, you have to make sure you have a compatible motherboard that accepts and delivers the new bandwidth. Otherwise, it will work only in Gen3 x4 mode.
* All of the benchmarks for the internal drives were done with a 92mm side fan placed 2cm away and set at 60% RPM. Then the temperature scenarios and the heatsink were tested separately with an ambient temp of 17°C.
* For AMD users, make sure you update your motherboard chipset drivers from here.
– CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 5600x @ 4.0 GHz/1.05v
– CPU Cooler: Asetek 645LT 92mm AIO
– Motherboard: ASUS ROG STRIX B550-i Gaming mITX @ BIOS 2407
– RAM: 64GB Neo Forza MARS RGB 3200 MHz CL16
– Boot SSD: Samung 970 PRO 1TB M.2 Gen3x4 MLC PCIe NVMe 1.3
– Video card(s): ASUS GTX 1080 STRIX A8G
– PSU: Corsair SF750 SFX Platinum
– Case: DAN A4-SFX V4.1 ITX
– Case fans 92 mm: Noctua NF-A9x14 HS-PWM.chromax.black.swap
– Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus 1TB TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.4 Gen4x4
– Samsung 970 PRO 1TB MLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Samsung 970 EVO Plus 2TB TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Samsung 860 QVO 1TB QLC SATA 2.5″
– Crucial P1 M.2 1TB QLC PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Crucial P2 M.2 500GB TLC PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Team Group T-Force DELTA MAX RGB 500GB TLC SATA 2.5″
– Team Group T-Force Vulcan G 1TB TLC SATA 2.5″
– Team Group T-Force Cardea Liquid 512GB TLC PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Team Group T-Create Classic 1TB TLC PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Silicon Power 1TB US70 TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen4x4
– Silicon Power 2TB UD70 QLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Silicon Power 1TB A80 TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Silicon Power 1TB A60 TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Neo Forza eSports NFP075 2TB TLC M.2 PCIe NVMe 1.3 Gen3x4
– Windows 10 Pro x64 Version 21H1
– HD Tune Pro v5.70
– ATTO v4.01
– Crystal Disk Mark v7.0.0
– HWMonitor v1.43
Testing, Results and Analysis
Also to mention that all Sabrent drives have their own proprietary control panel which you can download from Sabrent’s website and with its help you can check various specs and update the firmware if required.
HD Tune Pro – which is a hard disk / SSD utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive’s performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more. The results are really good considering this is a QLC based drive.
Moving to the next utility – Crystal Disk Mark – this one is designed to quickly test the performance of the drives.
The “read” numbers confirm the advertised maximum possible speeds of the Sabrent Q 2TB SSD.
Moving to the “write” test, which is even more important in real life scenarios. Another home run of the drive in question.
To conclude the synthetic tests, here is ATTO which is another performance measurement tool to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host bus adaptors (HBAs), hard drives and SSD drives. This one just reconfirms what we got in the Crystal Disk Mark tests.
Now let’s see how practical it is in some other real life scenarios like app installation. Let’s take the full suite of Microsoft Office 2019 and time it.
Here are the loading times in Adobe’s popular photo editor, Photoshop.
Another performance test is to import a 5GB 4K60fps 70Mbps .mkv video sample file into Premier Pro CC and measure how much time it takes to process it in order to be ready to edit it in the timeline.
Now let’s check the level loading time for the Shadow Of the Tomb Raider game title.
The final practical test revolves around some real life copy tests. Firstly, we will copy to the SSD a single 13GB .mkv video file to test the burst speed followed by a copy of the same file, from the SSD onto itself. Then the same process is repeated but with a big 109GB installation folder from the Red Dead Redemption 2 game.
For the burst single file test, these are one of the best numbers we have seen for any Gen 3.0 x4 M.2 drives!
Usually, most QLC/TLC based M.2s at 1TB/2TB in size will exhaust their SLC cache and then write at their native NAND speeds. This SLC cache rarely approaches 80GB in size, hence our test of 109GB. But the Sabrent Q 2TB drives, kept on pushing all the way through, so it must have an even bigger SLC reserve. As you can see, there was no large “dip” in performance and the SSD maintained a respectable write speed.
Now let’s inspect the operating temps especially in a small form factor build like the DAN A4-SFX enclosure. Thus below we have a benchmark run in Crystal Disk Mark for 2 different scenarios in the following order:
1) No side fan/airflow/extra heatsink
It’s obvious that at this temperature the Sabrent Q 2TB drive is thermal throttling and thus it basically drops around 34% from its true write potential. The max temperature reached was 70°C. This is a worst case scenario which was employed on purpose – more details below.
2) Side fan @ 60% RPM
The extra airflow makes a huge impact so we shave off exactly 33°C of the peak recorded temperature and thus no more thermal throttling occurred. Again the ambient was around 17°C and the case’s side panel was installed.
Most high performing NVMe drives will thermal throttle. Here it had extra challenges like the fact that the drive was installed in the ‘hot box’ which is the Dan A4-SFX case because it has no airflow on the CPU side whatsoever, plus there is always extra heat coming from the motherboard’s chipset.
Alas, in any minimal ventilated case you shouldn’t encounter any problems and don’t forget that Sabrent even sells their excellent heatsink upgrade kit that will fit any single and double sided M.2.
This is one of the best surprises to date despite its age, since it outperformed TLC based drives in our tests even in the real life copy tests. Sabrent did a home run here in creating such an excellent performing M.2 that has a great price tag. This is possible thanks to the excellent Phison controller and the highly generous SLC NAND cache that is at least 120-150GB in size. It suffered in the hot test torture test which is expected for any drive with such high speeds but that’s an easy fix with some airflow or with the heatsink upgrade.
+ One of the best sustained transfer speeds for any Gen 3.0 x4 M.2s
+ Generous SLC cache (>120GB)
+ Included Acronis True Image Cloning Software
+ 5 years warranty (with online registration)
– Lower native endurance (QLC vs TCL)
– Some thermal throttling depending on application if no airflow
Glob3trotters “Editor’s Choice” Award 5 out of 5