HighPoint has a very powerful direct-attached system for users in need of faster and more spacious storage. HighPoint's other NVMe RAID devices cut into the number of users for the SSD6540 system leaving this a product that only makes economic sense for a few. Disk availability can also be an issue.
On a pure performance basis, the HighPoint SSD6540 sits at the top without a rival. There is a reason for that, though. Before we get into the fine details let's first talk about the storage capabilities and fully understand where this system has an advantage.
The SSD6540 essentially moves 128Gbps of PCIe bandwidth to an external enclosure. This is four times the bandwidth of Thunderbolt 3's data capabilities (32Gbps of data bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3 and 8Gbps for video unassociated with the data path, i.e. from a video card but sent over the same cable).
Most NVMe SSDs utilize a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface for 32Gbps, the same bandwidth for Thunderbolt 3. That's why the PCIe add-in card from the HighPoint SSD6540 uses a PCIe 3.0 x16 lane slot and makes use of the full available bandwidth. The system is more or less the same as adding four NVMe SSDs to your system without placing the drives inside the box.
HighPoint sells other products that utilize the same 128Gbps bandwidth but operate inside the system. The SSD7101A-1 fits four M.2 SSDs in a single add-in card, but the largest M.2 SSD widely available is only the 2TB. That limits the SSD7101A-1 to 8TB. The SSD7120 features four U.2 ports if you are willing to install the drives in your host system and have room for the drives. Both of these add-in cards sell for less than $400 compared to the $1000 needed to build an external system with the SSD6540 (prices without drives). Moving drives outside of the host system carries a $600 premium.
Currently, there are very few U.2 SSDs available to retail shoppers. M.2 SSDs flourish, but the market largely ignored U.2 for consumer storage other than Intel pushing the specification with 2 retail series, 750 and 900P/905P. Both are limited in capacity to roughly 1TB at the time of writing.
Intel and others sell larger capacity U.2 drives but you really have to seek them out. The Intel DCP4510 comes in a massive 8TB size but each drive costs $5,083 at Newegg at the time of writing. Micron and Samsung U.2 drives are more elusive from traditional channels, but we often spot them on EBay from gray market sellers either dumping new old stock (a new drive that is in the box, but an older or unused model) or a server pull (used but with flash life left).
If you have a requirement to move the storage outside of the host, yet still keep the highest performance possible, the HighPoint SSD6540 is the only option available.
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