Final Words & Conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
MSI Most certainly has a winner at hand with the new Spatium M480. The numbers are breathtaking. I do want to quickly point out that the 2 TB model as tested is the fastest, as when we look at writes, the 1 TB model tumbles from 6800 MB/sec towards 5500 MB/sec and the 500GB model even drops to 2850 MB/sec. Keep that in mind as these are serious differences. Reads however all remain above 6500~7500 MB/sec with linear en sequential activity. But yeah, Holy Mozes, each time we test a new generation controller on an NVMe SSD, we get a little shocked and awed more. This Phison controller PS5018-E18 based product just offers a stupendous amount of performance. That said, in this conclusion, we are going to talk a little about relativity, though, as breaking that 7 GB/sec marker isn't necessarily going to make your gaming PC a lot faster, and that is a simple truth. The good news, MSI is making this very extraordinary product not super expensive either. Yes, you pay a premium for this 7 GB/sec NVMe SSD, but at 18~19 cents per GB I am not disappointed. This is a super-fast SSD, TLC written, plenty of endurance, and a 5-year warranty. At that money, you'd be hard-pressed to not like this product, eh?
Do we really need 7000MB/sec storage units?
Um no. This is a premium performance product, often synthetically measured, and you'd need serious workloads to get the best out of it. Your PC isn't going to boot faster as your OS is the bottleneck, your PC games might load a fraction of a second faster, your application load up just as quickly as an NVMe SSD with reads/writes in the 2 GB/sec marker. Guys, this is the honest truth. However, the same folk that purchases a GeForce RTX 3090 or Radeon RX 6900 XT combined with some sort Core i9 or Ryzen 9 series processor, it's for those guys where that last sniff of performance matters, whether that is realistic or not, I'll leave open to discussion. In retrospect, however, we do have new technologies coming up like DirectStorage. This will allow the graphics card to load textures directly from the SSD bypassing the processor, freeing up processor cycles for other tasks, and speeding up texture load times. In this way, if they have a fast M.2 disk, they will be in the game in less than 5 seconds even on large maps, a negligible time compared to the loading times we are used to today. That technology will be released in the Windows 11 timeframe.
We talked so much about this in the past already, endurance, the number of times NAND cells can be written before they burst and shatter into small pieces (well, they just die and are mapped out, any data present on that cell is written to a healthy one). Bigger volume sizes mean more NAND cells; more NAND cells thus increase endurance. For the 2TB model, you'll get a rated 1400 TBW; the 1 TB model marks 700 TB written. So how long does a 1400 TWB storage unit last before NAND flash cells go the way of the dodo? Well, if you are a really extreme user, you might be writing 50 GB per day (normal users likely won't even write that per week), but based on that value, 50GB x 365days= 18.25 TB per year written. So that's over 76 years of usage, half that for the 1TB SSD. And again, writing 50 GB per day is a very enthusiastic value.
The MSI Spatium M480 is an extremely fast product. Overall read performance increases from 3GB to nearly 7GB/sec. However, trace testing revealed that performance was somewhat lower, and I'll have a guess as to why. The more NAND layers there are, it appears that access times become slower. We're talking milli-fractions of a second here, the access time for the fastest SSD we've ever tested was an average of 46 microseconds. The earlier generation, having fewer stacks, clocked in at (at most) 41 microseconds. It's a pattern we've been observing a while now, the number increases as more additional layers are added; latency.
Aside from DirectStorage and even then, relatively speaking, you won't need 7 GB/sec SSD reading and writing performance on your storage unit anytime soon, but if you want it, you can... and the best part is, MSI does provide it for 18~19 cents per GB. That pricing is comparable to Samsung's 980 PRO 2TB SSD series, which is currently slower and has less durability. The quality of this SSD is exceptional, and the performance (when used with the appropriate workloads) is stunning. This is the 4th in a series of evaluations on the 7 GB/sec devices, and we are not disappointed. MSI passes the Samsung 980 PRO. As previously said, we believe you will not notice the real-world effect and difference between a 3GB/sec and a 7GB/sec SSD anytime soon. If an application loads in a fraction of a second, it will be quicker in that fraction of a second. Other than that somewhat personal remark, all lights are green, TLC, high endurance, price, warranty. Please do seat the SSD under a mobo-supplied heatsink. It's running extremely hot without it, with a heatsink which prevents thermal throttling. Of course, to get the best out of it, you'll need a PCIe Gen 4 infrastructure, and at the time of writing, that means a compatible Ryzen processor on, say, a B550 or X570 chipset-based platform. In March 2021, Intel will start with PCIe gen 4.0 support as well. The Spatium M480 has sufficiently been buffered by a pseudo-SLC write cache and 1 GB of DRAM buffer for the 1TB model, 2GB for the 2 TB model. The unit makes you shiver in performance given the right conditions, and for the rest of them, you are down to high-end class NVMe performance on some workloads. NVMe protocol v1.4; this SSD is among the first to utilize the new NVMe 1.4 protocol. You do not need to install any new drivers; just make sure your OS is updated. Then install and format the SSD, and you're ready to go full throttle.
We'll say it again: MSI stands behind the storage unit with a valid five-year warranty / or the claimed TBW value. At 18~19 cents per GB (street price), MSI's first SSD enthusiast product range is appealing. One question remains: will you ever require this level of performance? The good news is that as performance advances, things will move quicker in the lower end and mainstream areas as well. Think about it: 3 GB/sec NVMe SSDs are becoming the standard these days and are already considered reasonably widespread; consider that for a moment. If you want it, this is an appealing deal with a major brand behind it up; if prices decrease more in the future, I'd even give it a value award. However, for the time being, highly recommended.