Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus NVMe SSD review: Fast on PCIe 4, fast on PCIe 3

The 2TB version of this SSD is nearly as fast with large files as Samsung's 980 Pro, and considerably less expensive.

Credit: Sabrent

Sabrent must’ve read some of my articles and discovered my love of the color copper. The heat-spreader and the metal carrying case for the brand spanking new Rocket 4 Plus PCIe 4 NMVe SSD feature the color in copious amounts. I like it. Even if copper leaves you flat, the drive’s stellar performance will grab your attention—it bested the Samsung 980 Pro in many tests.

Specs and pricing

The NVMe SSDs we review all use the M.2 connector, and are 22 mm wide by 80 mm long (2280). The Rocket 4 Plus is an x4 PCIe 4.0 device featuring a Phison PS5018-E18 controller and 96-layer, Micron TLC NAND. Sabrent promises not to change to slower components, as has happened with a couple of SSD vendors recently. There’s also 2MB of DRAM cache. NAND is treated as SLC for secondary caching to the tune of 25 percent. 

Beyond that, the drive is enveloped in coppery goodness (the label) and is available in two flavors: 1TB ($199.98 on Amazon) and 2TB ($400 on Amazon). A 500GB model exists but is hard to fine online, and a 4TB flavor will ship eventually.

sabrent rocket 4 plus hero Sabrent

Sabrent’s Rocket 4 Plus lives up to its name, rivaling the best across both the PCIe 3 and PCIe 4 buses.

The drives carry a 5-year warranty, and are rated for 350TBW per 500GB of capacity. TBW is the number or terabytes that may be written before the drive warranty lapses. It’s quite likely capable of writing more, but that’s the company’s cut-off point for replacement. Most users are unlikely to come close to that in a decade. 

Performance

All that coppery goodness would mean nothing if the Rocket 4 Plus didn’t haul the freight. The 2TB version I tested delivers. The Rocket 4 Plus’s CrystalDiskMark 6 sustained throughput numbers are impressive indeed, trading first place between writing and reading with the Samsung 980 Pro.

sabrent rocket 4 plus cdm6 IDG

The Rocket 4 Plus’s CrystalDiskMark 6 sustained throughput numbers are impressive indeed.

The Rocket 4 Plus couldn’t quite match the 980 Pro’s overall real world performance in our 48GB transfer tests, but it took a solid second place.

sabrent rocket 4 plus 48gb IDG

The Rocket 4 Plus turned in a very good performance with 48Gb Windows transfers though it couldn’t match the Samsung 980 Pro.

CrystalDiskMark’s 4K tests showed another story—the Rocket 4 Plus lagged significantly.

sabrent rocket 4 plus cdm6 4k IDG

As you can see, the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus was no match for the Samsung 980 Pro with 4K files. It was also bested in writes by the Seagate Firecuda 520.

Where the 2TB Rocket 4 Plus really rocked was in our 450GB sustained write tests. Note however, that the 980 Pro Samsung sent me was only a 1TB model. Though it’s not shown in the charts, the 1TB version dropped to around 675MBps (PCIe 3) at around the 350GB mark in the copy and took 386 seconds, compared to the 2TB version’s 250 seconds on PCIe 3 and 209 seconds over PCIe 4. Yes, cache makes a difference.  

sabrent rocket 4 plus 450gb IDG

The 2TB Rocket 4 Plus wrote 450GB faster than its 980 Pro rival, though the latter was only 1TB. The 1TB Rocket 4 Plus took 358 seconds. 

I should also mention that in general, it’s never a good idea to run an SSD close to capacity. Write speeds will slow down tremendously without NAND available as cache. Always overbuy in terms of capacity.

The PCIe 3 tests utilized Windows 10 64-bit running on a Core i7-5820K/Asus X99 Deluxe system with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (NVidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card, and an Asmedia ASM2142 USB 3.1 card. It also contains a Gigabyte GC-Alpine Thunderbolt 3 card, and Softperfect Ramdisk 3.4.6 for the 48GB read and write tests.

The PCIe 4 testing was done on an MSI MEG X570 motherboard socketing an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core CPU, using the same Kingston DRAM, cards, and software. All testing is performed on an empty, or nearly empty drive. Performance will decrease as the drive fills up.

A nice buy at 2TB

Though there’s room for improvement in small- and 4K file performance, there’s little else to complain about with the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus in its 2TB incarnation. That it can wrestle at all with the 980 Pro at this price point is a feather in Sabrent’s (and Phison’s) cap.

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Jon L. Jacobi

PC World (US online)
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