Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q USB / Thunderbolt 3 Twin Mode Exterior SSD Evaluation: Yin and Yang

The exterior storage market has proven renewed vigor in recent times, thanks partly to development fueled by bus-powered flash-based storage options. The introduction of 3D NAND, coupled with the rising confidence of producers in QLC (4-bits per cell) has introduced down the price of these drives to the purpose the place even a fairly spacious exterior SSD could be had for an equally cheap value. And although which means that NAND producers like Western Digital, Samsung, and Essential/Micron have an inherent benefit when it comes to vertical integration, the supply of low cost flash within the open market has additionally enabled different distributors to give you progressive options.

In the present day, we’re taking a look at a novel product within the exterior SSD market – the Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q. A real dual-mode Thunderbolt 3/USB drive, the Rocket XTRM-Q could be natively used with each Thunderbolt 3 and USB hosts. Which means it could ship speeds over 2GBps on a Thunderbolt 3 connection, or fall again to USB mode and nonetheless ship 1GBps or extra with a USB 3.2 Gen 2 connection. In comparison with most exterior SSDs available on the market, that are nearly all the time USB-only or Thunderbolt-only, this enables Sabrent’s drive to supply USB-style common compatibility whereas nonetheless taking advantage of the host it is linked to, utilizing USB when it is out there, or upgrading to Thunderbolt as applicable to let the drive run as quick as it could.

In the meantime, not in contrast to their efforts with inside (M.2) merchandise, Sabrent can be on the modern of storage capability with the Rocket XTRM-Q, providing variations of the drive with as much as 8TB of storage. General, the Rocket XTRM-Q is out there in capacities starting from 500GB as much as 8TB, with Sabrent utilizing QLC NAND throughout the household to hit their value and capability targets.

For this assessment we’re taking a look at two of the mid-tier Rocket XTRM-Q fashions – the 2TB and 4TB fashions – with a view to measurement up the efficiency of the drives and see how they stack up towards the opposite merchandise available in the market.

Introduction and Platform Evaluation

Exterior bus-powered storage gadgets have grown each in storage capability in addition to speeds over the past decade. Due to speedy developments in flash know-how (together with the appearance of 3D NAND and NVMe) in addition to sooner host interfaces (akin to Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 Gen 2×2), we now have palm-sized flash-based storage gadgets able to delivering 2GBps+ speeds. Relying on the efficiency profile and the parts used, these flash drives fall into considered one of six classes:

  • 2.5GBps+ class: Thunderbolt SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives
  • 2GBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives
  • 1GBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSDs with PCIe 3.0 (x4 or x2) NVMe drives
  • 500MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSDs with SATA drives
  • 400MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 1 SSDs with SATA drives
  • Sub-400MBps+ class: USB 3.2 Gen 1 flash drives with direct flash-to-USB controllers

Nearly all exterior SSDs presently available in the market can slot into one of many above classes. Nonetheless, the Sabrent XTRM-Q we’re taking a look at at present is exclusive in falling into two classes within the above listing. It’s each a Thunderbolt 3 SSD and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 SSD.


The XTRM-Q makes use of the Intel JHL7440 (Titan Ridge) Thunderbolt 3 controller to interface with the host system. Much like the JHL6xxx Alpine Ridge host controllers, Titan Ridge additionally has a built-in xHCI controller that permits it to behave as a USB 3.2 Gen 2 host. When utilized in a tool configuration (i.e, in docks or peripherals), Titan Ridge has an additional function not out there in Alpine Ridge – a USB 3.2 Gen 2 downstream interface. Sabrent has taken benefit of this with a nifty tweak in the usual Thunderbolt 3 SSD reference design. The USB 3.2 Gen 2 downstream port is linked to the upstream interface of a USB to NVMe bridge chip (a Realtek 9210PD in all probability, although Tom’s {Hardware} experiences it as Realtek 9108B). Relying on the host to which the drive is linked (reported by the JHL7440), the PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes of the NVMe SSD are linked to both the JHL7440’s downstream PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes or the Realtek bridge chip’s PCIe 3.0 x4 lanes.

The Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q’s compatibility with each Thunderbolt 3 and USB ports whereas offering totally different efficiency profiles made for an fascinating analysis train. The SSD additionally occurs to be the primary we have now evaluated with Intel’s Titan Ridge controller. Primarily based on these points, we evaluated the XTRM-Q fashions in addition to a bunch of different SSDs with the next host controllers:

  • Thunderbolt 3 : Intel Alpine Ridge (JHL6540)
  • Thunderbolt 3 : Intel Titan Ridge (JHL 7540)
  • USB 3.2 Gen 2 : ASMedia ASM2142

Further particulars can be found additional down within the sub-section coping with our testbed setup and analysis methodology.

The assorted graphs on this piece evaluate and distinction the efficiency of various exterior SSDs when used with totally different host ports. The entire listing is supplied beneath, with the host laid out in brackets. Some entries don’t have a bunch entry – the numbers offered for these are from its analysis with our normal testbed utilizing the Alpine Ridge (JHL6540) host.

  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB [JHL6540]
  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB [ASM2142]
  • Essential Transportable SSD X8 2TB
  • DIY TB3 SSD [TEKQ Rapide – WD Black SN750] [JHL6540]
  • DIY TB3 SSD [TEKQ Rapide – WD Black SN750] [JHL7540]
  • OWC Envoy Professional EX TB3 2TB [JHL6540]
  • OWC Envoy Professional EX USB-C 2TB
  • Plugable TBT3-NVME2TB 2TB [JHL6540]
  • Sabrent Rocket Nano Rugged 2TB
  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 2TB [ASM2142]
  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 2TB [JHL6540]
  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 2TB [JHL7540]
  • Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q 4TB [JHL7540]
  • SanDisk Excessive PRO Transportable SSD v2 2TB [ASM3242]
  • SanDisk Excessive PRO Transportable SSD v2 2TB [JHL6540]

A fast overview of the interior capabilities of the storage gadgets is given by CrystalDiskInfo.

Drive Data

The Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q makes use of normal PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe drives internally. The bridge chip configuration permits for S.M.A.R.T passthrough and the SSDs assist TRIM to keep up  optimum efficiency. The inner SSD is definitely the Sabrent Rocket Q that was reviewed earlier this month.

Testbed Setup and Testing Methodology

Analysis of DAS items on Home windows is finished with a Hades Canyon NUC configured as outlined beneath. We use one of many rear USB Sort-C ports enabled by the Alpine Ridge controller for each Thunderbolt 3 and USB gadgets. Nonetheless, to pressure the utilization of the USB 3.2 Gen 2 interface within the Rocket XTRM-Q, the SSD was linked to the entrance USB Sort-C port enabled by the ASMedia ASM2142 controller.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration (JHL6540 and ASM2142 Hosts)
Motherboard Intel NUC8i7HVB
CPU Intel Core i7-8809G
Kaby Lake, 4C/8T, 3.1GHz (as much as 4.2GHz), 14nm+, 8MB L2
Reminiscence Essential Expertise Ballistix DDR4-2400 SODIMM
2 x 16GB @ 16-16-16-39
OS Drive Intel Optane SSD 800p SSDPEK1W120GA
(118 GB; M.2 Sort 2280 PCIe 3.0 x2 NVMe; Optane)
SATA Gadgets Intel SSD 545s SSDSCKKW512G8
(512 GB; M.2 Sort 2280 SATA III; Intel 64L 3D TLC)
Chassis Hades Canyon NUC
PSU Lite-On 230W Exterior Energy Brick
OS Home windows 10 Enterprise x64 (v1909)
Due to Intel for the construct parts

We additionally evaluated the efficiency of among the Thunderbolt 3 SSDs with a Titan Ridge host – the Ghost Canyon NUC. These SSDs carry a JHL7540 tag of their graph entries. The configuration of the Ghost Canyon NUC used for benchmarking functions is specified beneath.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration (JHL7540 Host)
Motherboard Intel NUC9i9QNB
CPU Intel Core i9-9980HK
Espresso Lake-H, 8C/16T, 2.4 (5.0) GHz, 14nm (optimized), 16MB L2+L3, 45W TDP
Reminiscence Corsair Vengeance DDR4-2666 SODIMM
2 x 16GB @ 18-19-19-39
OS Drive Intel SSD 905p Optane SSDPEL1D380GA
(380 GB; M.2 Sort 22110 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; Optane / 3D XPoint)
Secondary Drive Kingston KC2000 SKC2000M81000G
(1TB; M.2 Sort 2280 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe; Toshiba 96L 3D TLC; Silicon Movement SM2262EN Controller)
Chassis Ghost Canyon NUC
PSU FSP 500W 80 PLUS Platinum Inside Energy Provide
OS Home windows 10 Enterprise x64 (v1909)
Due to Intel, Kingston, and Corsair for the construct parts

Our analysis methodology for direct-attached storage gadgets adopts a considered mixture of artificial and real-world workloads. Whereas most DAS items focusing on a specific market section promote comparable efficiency numbers and likewise meet them for frequent workloads, the true differentiation is introduced out on the technical facet by the efficiency consistency metric and the effectiveness of the thermal answer. Industrial design and value-added options might also be necessary for sure customers. The remaining sections on this assessment sort out all of those points after analyzing the options of the drives intimately.

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