The MyDigitalSSD SBX SSD Review: NVMe On The Cheapby Billy Tallis on May 1, 2018 8:05 AM EST
MyDigitalSSD's business model revolves around selling drives based on Phison reference designs. Like any other small SSD brand, MyDigitalSSD lacks the resources to develop their own SSD controller or even write their own firmware from scratch. The way MyDigitalSSD distinguishes themselves from the many competing brands is by offering drives for substantially lower prices and by being one of the first to market with new controllers from Phison. The SBX checks both boxes: it is priced below the Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD, and it hit the market in December 2017 as the first Phison E8 drive to ship and one of the earliest retail SSDs to feature Toshiba/SanDisk 64-layer 3D NAND.
As one of the cheapest NVMe SSDs on the retail market, the MyDigitalSSD SBX is a good indicator of the progress NVMe drives have made toward replacing SATA SSDs instead of merely coexisting as a premium high-end alternative.
The Phison E8 controller is one of Phison's low-end options from their second generation of NVMe SSD controllers. The E8 features just two PCIe lanes instead of the usual 4 enabled by an M.2 slot, and a four-channel interface to the NAND—half what is typical for high-end NVMe SSDs. These restrictions combined with a 40nm fabrication process allow the E8 to be a much smaller and cheaper controller than those aiming for the high-end part of the market. To cut costs even further, drive makers can opt for the Phison E8T variant that drops the external DRAM interface. The E8T supports the NVMe Host Memory Buffer feature to mitigate the performance impact DRAMless SSDs usually suffer from, but the E8T hasn't caught on in the consumer SSD market yet.
Despite its low-end role, the Phison E8 is in several ways more advanced than Phison's E7, their first NVMe SSD controller. Major improvements to the error correction capabilities have allowed the E8 to support 3D TLC NAND instead of being confined to the 15nm planar MLC used by E7 drives. The E8 and E8T controllers will also be joined by a high-end E12 controller later this year to round out Phison's second generation of NVMe controllers.
|MyDigitalSSD SBX Specifications|
|Capacity||128 GB||256 GB||512 GB||1 TB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280|
|Interface||PCIe 3.1 x2, NVMe 1.2|
|NAND||Toshiba BiCS3 64-layer 3D TLC|
|Sequential Read||1600 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||1300 MB/s|
|4KB Random Read||240k IOPS|
|4KB Random Write||180k IOPS|
|Max Power||5 W|
|Write Endurance||120 TB
|Amazon Price||$52.99 (41¢/GB)||$84.99 (33¢/GB)||$157.99 (31¢/GB)||$309.99 (30¢/GB)|
This review will primarily compare the SBX against other recent NVMe SSDs, but a few SATA results are included for context. As the cheapest NVMe SSD we have tested so far, the SBX isn't quite in direct competition to all the NVMe SSDs it is being compared against. We have other low-end NVMe SSD reviews in the works including Kingston's A1000 (their take on the Phison E8 platform), and the HP EX900 featuring Silicon Motion's low-end SM2263XT controller. ADATA's SX6000 is the main alternative to the SBX for a NVMe drive in this price range, but we have not had the chance to test the SX6000 or any other drives using Realtek's SSD controller.
We did not test the MyDigitalSSD BPX, the SBX's predecessor based on the Phison E7 platform with 15nm planar MLC NAND. Instead, we have results from the Patriot Hellfire and Team T-Force Cardea, two other M.2 drives based on the same reference design.
|AnandTech 2017/2018 Consumer SSD Testbed|
|CPU||Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC|
|Memory||4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz|
|Software||Windows 10 x64, version 1709|
|Linux kernel version 4.14, fio version 3.1|
- Thanks to Intel for the Xeon E3 1240 v5 CPU
- Thanks to ASRock for the E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
- Thanks to G.SKILL for the Ripjaws DDR4-2400 RAM
- Thanks to Corsair for the RM750 power supply, Carbide 200R case, and Hydro H60 CPU cooler
- Thanks to Quarch for the XLC Programmable Power Module and accessories
- Thanks to StarTech for providing a RK2236BKF 22U rack cabinet.
Post Your CommentPlease log in or sign up to comment.
View All Comments
Mikewind Dale - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - linkI'd like to see a low performance M.2 PCIe to USB enclosure just to make it easier to format and transfer drives. E.g., suppose you have a laptop with one M.2, and you want to upgrade. You'll have to make a disk image from M.2 PCIe, copy it to a SATA USB drive, then install the new M.2 drive and copy the image. You need a third drive in between. It'd be nice to copy straight from one M.2 drive to the other.
dgingeri - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - linkWell, as far as that goes, it would be nice if laptop makers would replace the 3.5" bay with two m.2 slots so it wouldn't be so much trouble for those very things. However, it seems laptop makers have their heads about as far up their behinds as is possible.
peevee - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkYou will have zero benefit from NVMe on USB 3.0. Maybe USB 3.2.
Samus - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - linkIs there some reason the WD Black NVMe results are missing from all your charts, when you just did a review of that drive?
Seems kind of weird considering it's this drives natural competitor.
Billy Tallis - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - linkThe new WD Black is more of a high-end NVMe drive in both price and performance. I didn't want to make the graphs too large, and I only have 1TB samples of the WD Black so it wouldn't be a fair comparison against the 512GB and smaller SBX.
Dragonstongue - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - linkseems that Crucial MX500 is a VERY good drive taking everything into account
price is "reasonable" performance is also "reasonable" given the price.
to each their own, I kind of like the good ol 2.5" sata drive, they do not seem to have any throttle from heat related crud that so many of the u2 or m2 (whatever version you want to call them)
as pretty much all mobo put them really close to massive heat producing parts such as cpu or gpu and those stupid heatshields 9/10 are useless as crud ^.^
the other side of NVME based is not only does your motherboard have to support such (from OS as well as mobo point of view) seems there are many of them out there that are not as plug and play as they should be considering the cost IMO.
I am ok with a corvette over a station wagon (i.e SSD vs HDD) I do not have need to pay that extra $$$$$$ for a ferrari (that seems that given the proper workload are obviously WAY faster, but, run of the mill race, SSD are already fast enough and much more costly than a standard HDD to begin with)
moheban79 - Wednesday, May 2, 2018 - linkAnyone know if these nvme drives come with legacy option roms?
peevee - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - linkLooks to me the drives were not in NVMe mode. Random performance should not be so much lower than SATA drives.
MajGenRelativity - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - linkNVMe is not a "mode", and random performance is dependent on the drive, not the interface (up to a point)
dgingeri - Friday, May 4, 2018 - linkActually, yes, NVMe is a mode. The other mode is AHCI under PCIe, and all NVMe drives can operate in AHCI mode, and yes it does hurt random performance because the instruction parallelism allowed isn't nearly as wide under AHCI mode.