Seagate Firecuda 530 Vs Sabrent Rocket Plus PCIe4 M.2 SSD Comparison

PCIe 4 NVMe SSD Comparison – Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530

The speed of more modern NVMe SSDs in 2021/2022 has been a hot topic of late and nowhere more than in the realm of PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSDs. No sooner had brands cracked through the 500K IOPS and 5,000MB/s read performance barrier, less than a year later we now have 7,000MB/s+ and 1 Million IOPS drives commercially available and two of the fastest drives available to buy right now in PCIe Gen 4 x4 M.2 are the Firecuda 530 from Seagate and the Rocket Plus from Sabrent. Now, I am willing to bet that 99% of you have heard of Seagate Technology – they have been in the business of data storage in one form or another for a little over 40 years! Whereas Sabrent is a comparatively unknown company, releasing numerous docking stations, hubs, memory card readers and enclosures in the last decade, who have seemingly taken all this knowledge from devices centred AROUND the storage and (presumably using 3rd party NAND manufacturers) designed their own series of SSDs. Despite the somewhat David vs Goliath nature of these two brands in this comparison, I will say that the Sabrent and the Rocket Plus brings quite an impressive range of hardware specifications, performance and choice to the table that challenges Seagate Firecuda 530 in a number of areas, though durability and endurance (as noted in earlier Sabrent SSDs over the years) is truly what let’s this drive down a tad. So, today I want to compare these two high performing NVMe SSDs to see which one deserves your data.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

PCIe Generation PCIe Gen 4 PCIe Gen 4
NVMe Rev NVMe 1.4 NVMe 1.4
NAND 3D TLC Micron B47R 176L B27 3D NAND 96L
Max Capacity 4TB – Double Sided 4TB Double Sided
Controller Phison E18-PS5018 Phison E18-PS5018
Warranty 5yr 5yr
 

Even a casual glance at the architecture of both the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus shows us that these two SSDs (released approx 3 months apart in 2021) have very similar base-line hardware on their respective PCB. With both using the latest NVMe 1.4 revision, both using that insanely high performing Phison E18 controller, are both available at 4TB (particularly rare right now in this storage tier) and really the only thing that stands out in the chart above is that NAND of choice in either SSD. The Sabrent features 96 layer 3D NAND, which is perfectly respectable, though somewhat dwarfed by the 176L 3D NAND in the Seagate Firecuda 530 – this NAND is precisely where the increased performance, durability and endurance will play out later in the comparison, but overall you still have to give props to these two drives for keeping it relatively cutting edge in 2021/2022. Let’s look at the price of these two SSDs and the storage options.

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Price & Capacity

In terms of available capacity, both the Seagate Firecuda and the Sabrent Rocket Plus arrive at a maximum 4TB, which is quite impressive for an m.2 form factor drive AND for a relatively new-gen PCIe 4 x4 drive too (with current;y only 2-3 commercially available 4TB drives comparable to these available from other brands). Though it is worth highlighting that 4TB on a drive like this will cost you quite a hefty sum. Oddly, despite the Sabrent being the relative underdog in this NVMe SSD comparison, they have opted to skip the 250GB/500GB tier on their Rocket Plus series, something available from both WD Black SN850, Samsung 980 Pro and just the 500GB on Seagate Firecuda 530. Given the current premium on PCIe Gen 4×4 SSD at this performance threshold, having a more affordable entry point for smaller-scale editors, gamers, console owners and more might have been a misstep by Sabrent here. Below is a breakdown of the respective prices of each:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013  
Price in $ and $ $139 / £119  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Price in $ and $ $239 / £199 $199 / £180
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Price in $ and $ $419 / £379 $469 / £419
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Price in $ and $ $949 / £769 $1099 / £999

One thing that should become very apparent as soon as you start comparing the price for TB of the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus (even the currency conversion too) is that right now there is practically no stability to the price models! Notwithstanding the effects of semi-conductor shortages, shockwaves in the industry of Chia and the effects of the pandemic on the supply chain, there is just little or no consistent pricing on the Sabrent Rocket Plus series, despite it being available since April 2021. This is not really the brand’s fault and although they are widely available from a large number of eShops worldwide, you will easily find that prices change on a dime! Seagate has only relatively recently launched the Firecuda 530 series and therefore the pricing is a great deal more stable. Additionally, the Price per GB/TB on each model as you rise through the capacity tiers (500GB>1000GB>2000GB>4000GB) becomes lower as you would expect. Overall, I would have to give this round to Seagate and the Firecuda 530 SSD.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported Read & Write Speed

After price, let’s be honest – THIS is the area that will garner the most attention when comparing the Sabrent Rocket Plus and Seagate Firecuda 530. It will not come as a massive surprise to find out that the Seagate Firecuda 530 is the higher performer here, even with Sabrent stating that the Rocket Plus can maintain the 7,000MB/s+ Sequential Read. As previously stated in other comparisons, the Seagate FC 530 500GB model write speed has always seemed a bit of an anomaly at 3,000MB (half the reported maximum of the 1TB model) but given Sabrent have ignored this capacity tier – it’s not massively relevant. However, it is still impressive to see how close the Sabrent Rocket Plus comes to the reported maximum Read/Write to the Seagate Firecuda 530:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7000MB  
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 3000MB  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7000MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6000MB 5500MB
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7100MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6850MB
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Sequential Read (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 7300MB 7100MB
Sequential Write (Max, MB/s), 128 KB 6900MB 6850MB

I mean, CLEARLY, the Seagate PCIe 4×4 m.2 drive wins overall here. However, if Sabrent can back up these claims on maximum performance, this is remarkably close in both Write (slightly less so on ‘Read). How this is played out in the SSDs life when you factor the endurance on the NAND on the Rocket Plus is still up for debate, but nonetheless, this is impressive. Real praise here needs to go to Phison and the E18 controller of course, but both Seagate and Sabrent have designed some great SSD architecture here to largely saturate the potential 8,000MB/s of PCIe 4×4. How does this reflect on individual operations? Let’s discuss the IOPS.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Reported IOPS

Despite the impressive specifications of these drives and how close the comparison of the Firecuda 530 and Rocket Plus have been up until this point, it has to be said that in terms of individual operations per second handled by these drives (more commonly referred to as the IOPS – input/output operations per second), the Sabrent NVMe drops the ball noticeably here. IOPs is a good indication of how the drive will behave in busy environments, being passed thousands of small instructions at any one time and although it is very much an industry metric, still holds significance in sustained operations. Although Seagate, WD and Samsung have surpassed 1,000,000 read and write random IOPS on their PCIe 4×4 drives, Sabrent peaks at 700,00 and is actually rather underwhelming at 350,000 random read IOPS (yes, read) at the 1TB tier – less than half of the Seagate Firecuda 530. See below:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 400,000  
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 700,000  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 800000 350000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1000000 700000
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 650000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700000
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Random Read (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 650000
Random Write (Max, IOPS), 4 KB QD32 1,000,000 700000

If you take a look at the reviews online for Sabrent’s rocket range of SSDs (both the PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 3.0 versions) you will see that there are notable examples of users being unimpressed by the consistent performance of their SSDs, even in single but sustained system usage. Part of this is detailed in the endurance and durability section below, but there is no avoiding that the low IOPS on these drives is less than you would expect – especially when you look at the Seagate Firecuda 530 utilizing the same Phison E18 controller. Part of this can be put down to memory management on the SSD (1GB DDR4), but the multi-layer NAND difference between the two drives is the biggest clincher. Once again the Seagate Firecuda wins this round. Let’s discuss the durability of these drives and the lifespan vs performance sustainability of the Firecuda 530 and Rocket Plus.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Endurance & Durability

Just because an SSD can reach a reported MB/s performance level, does not mean it can necessarily HOLD that performance over an extended time. There are many factors that govern this but the quality of the NAND + the handling of wear internally is a big, big part of it. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus are quite different in their workload/usage lifespan. The importance of SSD durability and endurance in 2021/2022 is actually pretty massive. Now that the devices we use all feature incredibly powerful processors, often cloud/network hybrid AI processes and graphical handling that will be instantly bottlenecked by traditional hard drives, SSDs are no longer just the ‘boot’ drive for our OS and are now the day to day working drive. This combined with SSD being used as caching and larger SSD capacities allowing suitable substitution for HDDs entirely means that the CONSTANT concern about SSDs lifespan and the durability of those NAND cells is now quite paramount. SSDs wear out – it’s as simple as that. The more you write, the more wear those individual NAND cells suffer – degrading performance over the years and inevitably leading to drive failure. Likewise, the smaller the drive, the greater likelihood that you will be writing, then rewriting, then rewriting, time and time again. The Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus are no exception and alongside massive research and development in better controllers and interfaces to improve performance, the way NAND is improved has led to SSDs lasting lover than ever before. However, SSDs and NAND are not built equally and there is actually quite a large difference in durability between the Sabrent Rocket Plus and the Seagate Firecuda 530. The Storage industry typically measures the predicted durability and endurance of an SSD as TBW, DWPD and MTBF. They are:

TBW = Terabytes Written, rated as the total number of terabytes that this SSD can have written to it in its warranty covered lifespan. So if the TBW was 300TB and the warranty is 5 years of coverage, that would mean that the drive can receive on average (with deleting/overwriting data each repeatedly) 60 Terabytes per year (or 5TB a month). After this point, the manufacturer highlights that durability, endurance and performance will decline. Often highlighted as an alternative to warranty length when gauging the predicted lifespan of a SSD.

DWPD = Drive Writes Per Day / Data Writes Per Day, this is a decimalized figure that represents what proportion of the capacity of an SSD (where 1.0 = 100% capacity) can be filled, erased and/or rewritten on a daily basis. This is provided using the warranty period and TBW figure. So, for example, if a 500GB drive has a 0.3DWPD rating, that is approx 150GB of data per day

MTBF = Mean Time Between Failure, which is the interval between one failure of an SSD and the next. MTBF is expressed in hours and most industrial SSDs are rated in the Millions of Hours. MTBF and MTTF (Mean Time to Failure) have largely become overlooked in recent years in favour of TBW and DWPD in SSDs, but are still stated on most Data Sheets.

So, now you know what those large Terbyte stats, hours and decimal point details are on the average SSD datasheet. So where do the Seagate Firecuda 530 and Sabrent Rocket Plus stand on this:

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

500GB Model ZP500GM3A013 N/A
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 640TB  
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000  
DWPD 0.7DWPD  
1TB Model ZP1000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-1TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 1275TB 700TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD
2TB Model ZP2000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-2TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 2550TB 1400TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD
4TB Model ZP4000GM3A013 SB-RKT4P-4TB
Total Terabytes Written (TBW) 5100TB 3000TB
Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF, hours) 1,800,000 1600000
DWPD 0.7DWPD 0.4DWPD

The MTBF figure, although different by around 200,000 hours, is less important. The real focus here needs to be that DWPD/TBW figure, as not only does that clearly indicate that the Seagate Firecuda 530 can comfortably be rewritten by more than half of its capacity daily (close to twice that of the Sabrent Rocket Plus), but this combined with the high IOPS ratings at 1M random R/W mentioned earlier mean that this is a drive that (based on these reported stats of course) is clearly going to be the longer-lasting drive in terms of both operation and performance. If your motivation for upgrading your storage and/or system to a PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 system was for faster task/operation completion in an environment where time = money, then the Seagate Firecuda 530 is clearly the better choice here over the Rocket Plus from Sabrent.

 

Sabrent Rocket Plus vs Seagate Firecuda 530 – Conclusion

In all of my Seagate Firecuda 530 comparisons so far, this is the one that has been the most one-sIded in its conclusion. The Sabrent Rocket Plus is an impressively designed drive and to introduce this drive into the market against bigger brands like Samsung, WD and Seagate in this highly Prosumer/Enterprise market (especially now NVMe Fabric is becoming a ‘thing’) cannot be ignored in it’s ambition Likewise, they have introduced the Rocket Plus series into the market before competitor drives in the MSI M480, Adata S70 and Gigabyte Aorus, managing to garner a huge amount of recognition and kudos. However, their high performance and architecture are let down by comparatively less ensuring NAND and internal handling that ends up hugely shadowed by the Firecuda 530. Likewise, I genuinely feel that Sabrent would benefit from offering consumers 250GB and 500GB models, to act as gateways into their brand, as well as facilitating end-users whose demands for daily rotational writes and sustained hour-by-hour performance will be much lower. However, one simply cannot ignore the specifications supplied by both official brands on the capabilities of their PCIe NVMe 4.0 M.2 SSDs and clearly the Seagate Firecuda 530 wins the day here comfortably.

Brand/Series Seagate Firecuda 530

Sabrent Rocket Plus

Best Performance  
Best Endurance/Durability  
Best Price for TB  DRAW DRAW
Best Extras  
Best Value  
Where To Buy

 

 


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