Samsung 980 Pro versus Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus

If you wanted the best consumer SSD out there for a long time, Samsung was the simple and short answer. However, in our 2019 SSD round-up, Sabrent emerged as the dominant newcomer looking to dethrone Samsung. We loved their Rocket 4 SSD which worked very well. What’s even better, it was significantly cheaper than Samsung’s 970 Pro series.

The following year, Sabrent drives grew in popularity and received consistently positive reviews. We noticed that our review of the Rocket 4 kept getting a lot of traffic from those who researched the drive before buying it, and they sold like crazy. With Samsung and Sabrent now with updated product lines that SSD 980 Pro and the Rocket 4 PlusWe’re back to see which drive is the best.

In a series of tests, we’ll compare the Samsung 970 Pro and 980 Pro, as well as the Sabrent Rocket 4 and Rocket 4 Plus. All drives were set up with the same Windows 10 image, and we used that Origin Neuron gaming desktop which we recently reviewed as a test environment. This configuration includes a Ryzen 7 5800X CPU, 16 GB of RAM and Asus’ ROG Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard.

We started with an extensive synthetic test of Anvil that measures speed, response time and IOPS in various configurations. The results are combined to give a final figure of merit.

Samsung 970 ProSabrent Rocket 4Samsung 980 ProSabrent Rocket 4 Plus
Anvil score18315228472325926082

We can assume that the Rocket 4 will deliver performance on par with the 980 Pro. The 970 Pro is about 20% slower and the Rocket 4 Plus ~ 10-15% faster.

Let’s now consider the standard read and write speeds for different file sizes. The 970 Pro has a maximum read speed of 3500 MB / s and a maximum write speed of 2700 MB / s. The Sabrent Rocket 4 (a PCIe 4.0 drive) reads 5000 MB / s and writes 4400 MB / s.

The new Samsung 980 Pro has a read and write speed of 7000 MB / s and a write speed of 5000 MB / s, while the competing Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus has a read and write speed of 7100 MB / s and a write speed of 6600 MB / s having. These numbers are exactly like Wi-Fi speed ratings in that they are only guidelines and you will never actually hit them.

Looking at our measurement results, the 970 Pro comes very close to the specification. The Rocket 4 is about 10% cheaper for both reading and writing. The 980 Pro is very interesting. The read test never exceeded 6300 MB / s, and our device had a strange performance drop with files of 2-4 MB. In the write test for 64 KB files, the rating was slightly exceeded, but for larger files it fell about 10% below the mark. The Rocket 4 Plus came very close to the specification rating in both tests and is the clear winner on paper. Note that these are best case scenario tests and the actual performance will be lower.

Next we check the response time. You can think of this as pinging your SSD. A fast internet connection doesn’t matter if your ping is too high to do anything useful.

The same concept applies to drives, indicating how long it takes for the drive to respond to a request. The results are displayed for both 4 MB and 4 KB files.

The 970 Pro struggles here compared to the newer drives and the Rocket 4 isn’t much better. This shows the generational improvements in memory controller design. The 980 Pro and Rocket 4 Plus are very close together, but Sabrent is slightly ahead. A fraction of a millisecond here and there doesn’t seem like much, but when a drive is processing thousands or more files per second it adds up.

That’s it for the synthetic tests.

Now we’re going to look at numbers for tests that are closer to real-world scenarios. The next two tests give the average time it took to copy a series of files from one partition on the drive to another.

For the game copy test, we used a standard installation of CS: GO. It has thousands of files of various sizes and takes up about 34 GB of storage space. For the media copy test, we used a few dozen movie clips that also took up 34 GB. A test like this will result in significantly lower performance than the drive’s rating because data is being read and written at the same time. You are effectively getting half the drive’s rated throughput in each direction.

Note that even though both tests copied the same amount of data, it took about twice as long to copy the game. This is due to the increased effort involved in finding and processing several thousand files.

Overall, the Samsung 980 Pro is the winner, with the Rocket 4 Plus just a few seconds behind in both tests. Comparing the previous generation drives, we can see that the Rocket 4 is faster when copying large files, while the 970 Pro is faster when copying smaller files.

The next test we ran is a script that encrypts data, writes results to a new file, decrypts it, and then checks the hash of the file. Encryption is a workload that occurs all the time on modern systems. This is also important as it is a task that requires sending data to the CPU for processing.

When you copy a file, the data never really has to leave the SSD for it to be cached. Encryption uses the interface between the SSD and the rest of the system. The results of this test were essentially identical. This is a case where the SSDs, while having vastly different performance numbers, are all doing the job at the same time. Some workloads simply do not benefit from increased storage performance.

The start time is a mixed bag. These numbers were calculated by averaging two cold boots (starting with power disconnected) and two warm boots (shutting down and restarting without removing power). All four drives terminated in less than 1.5 seconds.

Now let’s look at some game numbers.

We tested with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, a game known for having large files and environments. The first test was just starting the game from the desktop. We see a slight generational improvement here for both Samsung and Sabrent products. However, there isn’t much to win for a game that takes nearly two minutes to start. Loading the game mainly starts the game engine, something with a lot of small files. The larger textures are only loaded later when we select a map / mission. The 980 Pro takes a few seconds.

Once the game loaded, we next tested how long it would take to load and fly into a scenario. We used the Jackson Hole Landing Challenge Mission. The two Sabrent drives win here with an impressive 20% advantage. This would indicate that the Sabrent drives can handle some large files faster while the Samsung drives can handle many smaller files better.

We can add these two results together to get an idea of ​​how long it would take to get from the desktop to the game. Surprisingly, the Rocket 4, 980 Pro, and Rocket 4 Plus finished every 140 seconds, while the 970 Pro was just behind at 144 seconds. This shows that despite the large amount of data the game must load, there is no performance difference between the top three drives.

The last test we did was a torture test. Some drives can contain a small amount of very fast memory that caches data when it is under heavy use. This allows the manufacturer to use bulk storage at slower speeds and still appears to be fast on certain workloads. The 970 Evo uses such a design, among other things. It works very well for small file transfers, but once this cache is full the performance drops significantly.

In the test we ran copies, 100 GB files were randomly generated ten times, while they were deleted and regenerated with each iteration. These are reads totaling 1TB and writes totaling 1TB.

For reference, the 970 Pro has a nominal lifespan of 1200 TB, 1800 TB for the Rocket 4, 600 TB for the 980 Pro, and 1400 TB for the Rocket 4 Plus. It is interesting to note that the life of the newer drives is shorter than that of the older drives. We don’t know why this applies to the Sabrent drive, but in Samsung’s case, the 980 Pro is actually more of a successor to the 970 Evo, which also used 3-bit MLC.

If the drives use a cache or have poor thermal management, performance will be affected halfway through. Thankfully, none of the drives have this problem, but the 980 Pro has slowed down a bit after the 200GB mark. The Rocket 4 Plus finished the test in just over 400 seconds with the 970 Pro just behind. The 980 Pro finished third with just over 550 seconds. The Rocket 4 was very disappointing here and took twice as long as the next trip.

The final graph and data table to look at, and possibly the most important to consumers, is pricing. Here we see the cost per GB for each drive variant at the time of publication. The current price for each drive and capacity is shown in the table below the graphic.

The Sabrent Rocket 4 is the cheapest drive, followed by the Rocket 4 Plus per gigabyte. The 980 Pro is only slightly more expensive than Sabrent’s best, while the 970 Pro is the more expensive proposition due to the more expensive 2-bit MLC used on this drive. This was Samsung’s decision to go for the new series, where the 980 Pro will appeal to both high-end mainstream and performance-minded enthusiasts.

Choosing between the Samsung 980 Pro and the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus is difficult as both are aggressively priced and currently offer the best performance in any consumer SSD. Sabrent had the upper hand in terms of value and performance over the previous generation, but now Samsung has caught up and is very competitive. In fact, without the boost the new Rocket 4 Plus offers, it would be Samsung claiming the power throne.

The 980 Pro was slightly faster at copying files, but it was in line with the other tests. While the synthetic benchmarks show the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus to be faster, we doubt you will notice any differences in day-to-day use. Depending on the pricing, both are fine.

Looking at all four drives, the Sabrent Rocket 4 still offers the best value of any SSD on the market. If you’re on a tight budget for a 1TB SSD, just do it and you’ll be fine. However, we believe the overall winner here is the Rocket 4 Plus. The 1TB model is just $ 30 extra and is a great SSD for everyday use.

If you create a lot of content or work heavily on data and regularly move around large files, the extra $ 30 for the Samsung 980 Pro may be justified. For everyone else, it’s sure to save that money and use it on other components in your build.

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