Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q Thunderbolt 3 NVMe 8TB External SSD Review – Speechless

TSSDR TEST BENCH AND PROTOCOL

SSD testing at TSSDR differs slightly, depending on whether we are looking at consumer or enterprise storage media. For our Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 8TB NVMe PCIe 3 External SSD testing today, our goal is to test in a system that has been optimized with our SSD Optimization Guide. To see the best performance possible, the CPU C states have been disabled, C1E support has been disabled, and Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) has been disabled.

SYSTEM COMPONENTS

The components of this Test Bench are detailed below.  All hardware is linked for purchase and product sales may be reached by a simple click on the individual item. As well, the title is linked back to the individual build article where performance testing can be validated.

TSSDR ASROCK Z370 TAICHI TEST BENCH   (link)

PC CHASSIS: Corsair Graphite 760T Arctic White Window Chassis
MOTHERBOARD: ASRock Z370 Taichi
CPU: Intel Coffee Lake Core i7-8770K
CPU COOLER: Corsair Hydro Series H110i GTX V.2
POWER SUPPLY: Corsair RM850x 80Plus
GRAPHICS: MSI Radeon RX570
MEMORY: Corsair Vengeance RGB 32GB DDR4 3600Mhz C18
STORAGE: Intel Optane 900P 480GB SSD
KEYBOARD: Corsair Strafe RGB Silent Gaming
MOUSE: Corsair M65 Pro Gaming
OS Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit

BENCHMARK SOFTWARE

The software in use for today’s analysis is typical of many of our reviews and consists of Crystal Disk Info, ATTO Disk Benchmark, Crystal Disk Mark, AS SSD, Anvil’s Storage Utilities, and TxBench. Our selection of software allows each to build on the last and to provide validation to results already obtained.

CRYSTAL DISK INFO VER. 8.3.1

Crystal Disk Info is a great tool for displaying the characteristics and health of storage devices. It displays everything from temperatures, the number of hours the device has been powered, and even to the extent of informing you of the firmware of the device.

Crystal Disk Info validates that our external SSD is running in PCIe 3.0 x4 (four lane), and also that NVMe 1.3 protocol is in use.

ATTO DISK BENCHMARK VER. 3.05

ATTO Disk Benchmark is perhaps one of the oldest benchmarks going and is definitely the main staple for manufacturer performance specifications. ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we use a set length of 256mb and test both the read and write performance of various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb. Manufacturers prefer this method of testing as it deals with raw (compressible) data rather than random (includes incompressible data) which, although more realistic, results in lower performance results.

Sabrent advertises that the Rocket XTRM-Q will reach speeds of 2.7GB/s and we can see that here.  Write speeds are a bit lower than expected at 1.8GB/s but all is good right off.

13 comments

  1. Hey Les just a quick question. Any word on when finally any drives based on the Phison E-18 will actually go to retail. Would be nice to get a drive with the potential for 7GB read and writes :}

  2. I think this might be one of the first external drives that uses a Titan ridge chip vs. an Alpine Ridge chip.

    Good to see someone finally using a TB3 controller in an external device that supports auto-switching between TB3 and USB3.

  3. Any idea how these are manufactured such that they can only be opened destructively? It’s hard to imagine that there exists no way for Sabrent to examine a faulty drive without a Dremel. (I own four of their 4TB XTRM PROs and have one of these on order for the 30th.)

    • First off, I might normally chance the destruction but this product is not worth that chance. It is put together by a plate on the top but I cannot find any way to remove that plate, as it is so tightly set. It is a very fine cut. Similarly, there are no screws and the only way to get in there, IMO, would be to wedge a knife in causing visible damage. I contacted Sabrent and they stated that it cannot be opened without destroying the drive. Doesn’t really matter though as we know the drive inside…

  4. Does it get hot? Too hot? Which temperature? And most importantly, does it suffer Thermal Throttling? Does it reduce then the speed? How much? Thanks!

    • Rather unusual question for a ThunderBolt 3 device.Gets a bit warm but nothing that merits temperature readings. I have never known any Tbt3 device to thermal throttle as it doesn’t reach anywhere near the max capability of the drive ever because of TbT 3 overhead. If you know of or have experienced TbT 3 thermal throttling, please send a link my way. I would love to see the post.

    • I looked at your links and there are so many questions as to what they are doing that I don’t know where to start. What was the type of data used and how much data was pushed through before that write drop in the SSD? Did it fill? Was it being pushed into steady state which caused that? How and why did they maintain a steady transfer speed of 2000MB/s. I can’t speak to what they test but to say that your purchase should match your specific need. If you bought this SSD, what are you going to use it for that you think might push it into thermal throttling? We also have to remember that they are testing SSDs without any thermal protection on them as hthis SSD does. Much like an enclosed data center ssd, this SSD would have its heat moved to the outside of the drive where it would dissipate naturally.

      • The purpose of the thermal throttling test is twofold:

        1. Worst-case scenario with 512 K sequential read or write over a relatively small area (a few GB) to prevent the SLC cache overload (if present).

        2. Performing also a Thermal Limits test, using a fixed write rate.

        Why? Just to check the thermal throttling of the SSD. Some users may be in the scenario 2, but others may be in the scenario 1, or just want to know about it. That includes large corporate orders in which SSD may be used for extreme continuous loads.

        Imagine that someone wants to fill the 8 TB external SSD with small, large o mixed files as soon as possible. Would that be possible, or would de device slow down so much as to take days, or even freeze, crash or reboot the Mac, as we have experienced with some SSD in the past? If working, how long would it take to fill the 8 TB drive?

        Devices should be tested as they are sold by manufacturers, which may include or not thermal protection. So, the only way to know if a particular SSD has thermal throttling is to test it. Both with low and extreme high load. Then, let the users decide, depending on their use and preferences. Information is good and it is great when such information shows on reviews. Choices are good. That is the reason of my question.

    • I understand what the purpose is very well but there is no need as this is a portable Tbt3 device that has more than sufficient passive cooling atttached to it. The tests others have done are simply on bare SSDs. Sorry that I cannot assist any further. Trust me when i say that if there was any thermal throttling to be seen, I would have seen it in my testing. None. I have never seen such out of ANY TbT 3 SSD and this is because it is significantly lower in reads and especially writes than SSDs installed in systems.

      • Thanks for the information. In our experience, most thermal throttling issues arise with external devices (and mostly with PCIe NVMe than with SATA), since internal ones usually have better cooling aids, including the complete computer enclosure. Think for instance on a MacBook or iMac aluminium body, actually working as giant heat sinks, besides the large volume and big fans inside.

        I have been talking to some SSD manufacturers these days, and they say that they do not have released such large-capacity external portable SSD yet because of such thermal throttling problems. They are thinking on doing it with SATA disks first, which are less prone to thermal throttling than PCIe NVMe, and then with the latter, once they fix the thermal throttling problems, but they are not sure that they could do it. So, it seems that there is a real technological problem here.

    • It gets extraordinarily hot. I had two occasions on which to clone my MacBook Pro’s 8TB SSD to the QTRM-Q. The first occasion resulted in the failure of the drive, whose case reached temperatures as high as 171F. I bought a second XTRM-Q – which, fortunately, seems to work just fine – however case temperatures during large transfers consistently reach ~160F.

      Yes, those readings are accurate.

      Real world transfers over Thunderbolt 3 max out in the 1900s MB/s, both read and write. For comparison, the 4TB XTRM max out around 2,500 MB/s read, 2,400 MB/s write.

      DriveDx reports that the disk does not thermally throttle, and I have not found that transfer speeds are in any way related to heat…. aside from, of course, heat killing the controller. Or whatever happened with my first 8TB XTRM-Q.

      The failed drive went back to Sabrent. The exchange was accompanied by an unasked-for and surprisingly generous goodwill gesture by Sabrent, and I asked that they let me know what they find with the failed drive.

      We’ll see.

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