Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 Plus NVMe 4.0

Near the end of 2020 I reviewed the Sabrent 1TB Rocket NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD and praised how fast the SSD was, as such it has quickly become my most common recommendation to friends when building new systems or upgrading their current rigs. Following on the footsteps of the Rocket, Sabrent sent us the 1TB Rocket 4 Plus NVMe, an upgraded version of the previous drive built on the Phison PS5018-E18 Flash Controller claiming write speeds of up to 7000 MB/s and reads of up to 5300 MB/s. Sabrent also sells a 2TB version of the NVMe with 7100 read and 6600 write, but for the purposes of this review we’ve tested the 1TB to go head to head with the previous version we reviewed.

For our testing we used an intel Core i9 11900K running at stock, Aorus X 240 AIO, Z590 Aorus Pro AX, 32GB Aorus DDR4 3600MHz, Aorus RTX 3090 Master, 750W Cooler Master PSU and ran the latest version of Windows 10 Pro x64. Both the 1TB Sabrent Rocket and Rocket 4 Plus drives were inserted into two of the PCIe 4.0 x4 NVMe slots in the middle of the board and installed with the boards included heat spreader. As a reminder of how technology has progressed over the past few years, we included tests using a SATA 4TB Western Digital Purple 5400 RPM Hard-Drive.

We ran both synthetic benchmarks from ATTO and CrystalDiskMark and instead of just testing Game load times (which could be influenced by file caching) we created a real world scenario of read and write using a Large Document Format PSB file in Adobe Photoshop CC 2021.

ATTO Disk Benchmark (Synthetic) showed us results that were pretty expected of the drives in question. The 4TB HDD was able to sustain a peak read speed of 160 MB/s and write of 136 MB/s, the Sabrent Rocket achieved 5240 MB/s read and 3940 MB/s write, and finally the Sabrent Rocket 4 plus got a whopping max of 6590 MB/s in its read, and 4930 MB/s write. While these speeds were a bit off from the advertised 7000/5300 MB/s they were still extremely impressive nevertheless.

Moving onto CrystalDiskMark 8, we decided to include testing with the older Sabrent Rocket drive inside a Sabrent USB 3.2 Type-C Enclosure as the benchmark has “real world testing” built into it, and some users may want to transfer files externally and between systems from time to time. The enclosure supports 1000 MB/s reads, and while its peak clearly saturated the USB 3.2 port on our motherboard running at 966 MB/s, the real world test ran slower at 662 MB/s. Across the board all drives showed their write speeds practically matching the advertised speed from Sabrent with their peak, and even when running the real world test the drives all barely had any slow down leading to a very strong result of 5157 MB/s “Real World” Write on the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus, a 23% uplift in write speed from the Rocket to Rocket 4 Plus. The Read speeds unfortunately showed a very different result. While the Sabrent Rocket peaked at 4959 MB/s and the Rocket 4 Plus at 6901 MB/s, the real world speeds actually put the older Rocket ahead of the newer drive with 3214 MB/s and 3145 MB/s respectively. It’s clear that while these drives are seriously pushing the boundaries of file transfer speeds, real world limitations exist from the platform you’re using, all the way down to the operating system at times having huge overheads.

Our final test had us transfer a single 5.08GB, 732 Megapixel (you read that right) large format PSB file to each drive and then rename the file to ensure the OS would not cache the file when used on a different drive. We then tested the amount of time it took to open the PSB file and noticed something extremely peculiar. The slowest drive, being the 5400 RPM Hard-Drive opened the file in 54 seconds, the faster External in 41 seconds, but then both the Sabrent Rocket and Rocket 4 Plus had practically identical results of 39 seconds, with a few milliseconds between them. While it’s clear that there must be some form of limitation in the system being a bottleneck and us basically being at the edge of what is possible, there’s no practical improvement from going from the Rocket to Rocket 4 Plus. To test out how write speeds would effect a normal workflow, we then changed the image to black and white, and proceeded to save the file with a new random name in the same folder on each drive. The External was the slowest coming in at 84 seconds, the Hard-Drive at 74 seconds, and again both Sabrent drives were near identical at 58 seconds. While it would be impossible for us to recommend the Rocket 4 Plus as any form of upgrade path for improving workflow in Photoshop, it is however clear that having any form of NVMe would make a practical difference in your day to day workflow as up to 20 seconds were shaved off on every single event during our testing. Over time this really would add up in a busy schedule, and less time waiting means more time being productive.

To close off our testing we made copies of the edited files and noted a peak of 2.33 GB/s on the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus and 1.84 GB/s on the Rocket using Windows 10’s standard file transfer in explorer. This was the only real world test that actually showed an improvement on the “faster” drive, and as such could see noticeable gains for users who are making local backups or constantly transferring files between their drives.

While the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus could easily be a valuable asset to any datacenter installation due to its ridiculously fast write speeds, no amount of marketing hype could defend it when falling short in “normal” use cases due to the limitations of current software. With the average gaming or work-from-home system having a web browser, video calling and some productivity suite or game open at the same time your system is likely to have slow downs in other areas before even saturating the full speed of one of these drives. Real world applications clearly show little to no improvement going from the Sabrent Rocket to the Rocket 4 Plus, and as such we’d find it really hard to recommend purchasing the latter unless you’re a user who either just wants the bragging rights of a fast benchmark run, or actually have some form of practical use that is outside the boundaries of our testing. If you’re in the market for a fast and reliable NVMe we’d recommend you not purchase the higher priced $299 Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 Plus and rather pick up the “standard” $229 Sabrent 1TB Rocket PCIe 4.0 NVMe which still provides excellent [at times identical] speed and capacity for a lower price, making it our current top choice for any new system.

7.5/10

Sabrent 1TB Rocket 4 PLUS NVMe 4.0 Gen4

An extremely fast NVMe that struggles to keep up with its intended speed due to software limitations