Introduction & Drive Details
Things move quickly in the world of consumer storage. It seems like just yesterday that Phison dropped its 7GB/s capable E18 SSDs into the ring. Through its partners like Sabrent and others, Phison's E18 has become the most prolific hyper-class SSD in the consumer space today. We are coming up on 2-years since we first got our first glimpse of Phison's second-generation PCIe Gen4 controller in action at Flash Memory Summit pre-COVID.
A lot of changes have happened in the past two years concerning the evolution of Phison's E18 as an end product for consumers, and the journey to where we are at today with what may be the most powerful consumer SSD ever made, just so happens to go through this very site, TweakTown.com. How so? Chris Ramseyer, our former senior storage editor, was tapped by Phison to take its E18 platform to its highest potential. What we have here today is some of the fruit of Phison's high-profile hire, Chris Ramseyer, bringing his talents to the table. So here we are with what could be aptly described as the Chris Ram SSD 2.0.
Between the Chia crypto craze, Phison, the rise of Sabrent, and the explosion of PC gaming, just to mention a few, there is an insatiable demand for fast Gen4 storage that is growing exponentially by the day. Bigger, better, faster, and more affordable is what consumers are demanding for their storage needs, and what we have here on our test bench today may very well be the finest example to date of an SSD that delivers all that.
The latest iteration of Phison's consumer flagship offering pairs its familiar 12nm based PS5018-E18 eight-channel Gen4 controller with Micron's newly minted 176-Layer B47R "Fortis" flash at speeds of 1600 MT/s per channel. The end result of this match made in heaven includes the highest overall sequential speeds ever attained by a consumer SSD as demonstrated by the following benchmark as delivered by our Ryzen 5900X Gen4 test bench:
Phison rates its E18 with B47R flash combo for up to 7,400/7,000 MB/s sequential performance. Those factory specs make the E18 the world's first 7,000/7,000 MB/s capable consumer SSD. Wow. And those numbers are a statement of fact, as we just demonstrated by exceeding those factory specs. Amazing.
Now, just as Phison is always looking for more performance, we at TweakTown are always doing the same. This is the reason you will notice that we've moved back to Intel for our main consumer SSD test platform. Our pursuit of performance dictates this move for us, as Intel's new Gen4 enabled Rocket Lake platform has proven to deliver overall superior storage performance, as you will see by the numbers in this preview.
Okay, now that we've briefly touched on what Phison is about to unleash in the consumer space, let's see what those numbers look like for both Intel and AMD's most powerful PCIe Gen4 platforms.
Our preview SSD came outfitted with a substantial heat sink. Apparently, Phison likes the dangerously fast look so much they decided to do it this way even though a heat sink is not required for throttle-free performance in most consumer use-case scenarios.
We notice that this 2TB model has a different controller location than the previous 2TB models. Now, the controller takes up residence on the center of the PCB, just like we've seen on 4TB models. Optimal controller placement. Nice.
The E18 controller can manage up to 8TB of flash using 32CE (chip enables). We expect to see capacities spanning 1TB to 8TB from Phison's retail partners hitting retail channels in the near future. If anyone will do 8TB, you know it will be Sabrent.
Jon's Intel Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 420 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: Thermaltake TOUGHRAM XG RGB DDR4 4600MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 Overclocked 8G - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Jon's AMD Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair Hero VIII Wi-Fi (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 5900X
- Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 420 (buy from Amazon)
- Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 4000 (PC4-32000) C19 (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: GIGABYTE GeForce RTX 2070 WINDFORCE 8G (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- Case: InWin X-Frame
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
Our AMD 5900X test bench is dishing out sequential read performance (lab record) that is up significantly over E18 powered SSDs with 96L flash arrays. The opposite is true for our Intel 11900K test bench, where we see an over 200 MB/s increase (lab record) in sequential write performance.
While the sequential increases are nice to see from a pure marketing perspective, we love the massive performance increase where it really matters, 4KiB Q1T1. Here, we are getting 25% more performance with the new 176L flash. This will undoubtedly manifest itself as far better gaming performance and overall user experience. Performance where it matters most.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Our Anvil's testing reveals that overall read performance is up by a massive amount. This is what we want to see. Read performance is what really matters for consumers, especially random read performance, and the E18 with B47R is serving it up at a near-record clip.
Overall write performance is up as well. Our Intel test bench dishes out our first 21K write score (lab record). Overall scoring comes in at a jaw-dropping 31.7K for Intel and 29.9K for AMD (both lab records). Impressive.
Max write IOPS are indeed eye-catching, but that's not what impresses us here. It is the Max random read performance that turns our heads. Not because it is a record (it's not), but because it is up roughly 200K over E18 SSDs with 96L flash. Additionally, this is by far the best random read performance ever delivered by a Phison SSD. Nice work, Chris. Performance where it matters.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
As always, our primary focus is read performance. Here we are rewarded with a massive scoring increase for both our Intel and AMD test benches (lab records). Look at that 4K QD1, 105, and 108 MB/s? Incredible. Write scoring remains about the same as E18 with 96L flash. Overall scoring produces our first 12K plus (both lab records) scores for both platforms.
We are looking for two things primarily when evaluating ATTO results. First, we are looking for 50 MB/s read/write at 512 B transfers. We get that and then some. More importantly, we are looking for full read speed at 128K transfers. We get what we want here also, as only Phison powered SSDs can do this. In fact, Phison based SSDs are out in front of everyone else by 40 to 50% at 128K sequential transfers. Amazing.
Dissecting our results a bit further, we find both platforms topping our sequential 128K write chart (both lab records).
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming
Our Intel system has proven to be a write juggernaut, as evidenced by this massive 1,700 MB/s plus (lab record) transfer rate.
The same goes for our AMD platform when serving data to the host. We hit a head-turning 4,600 MB/s (lab record) transfer rate.
Game Level Loading
Performance where it matters most. Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of consumers, especially for the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. Here we see the E18 with B47R demonstrating that IT IS the flash-based gaming performance leader.
Of all the benching we've done to this point, this is where the new E18 SSD shines the brightest (both lab records). Here we find the E18 with 176L flash delivering a massive 1-second faster performance than it could do with 96L flash. Impressive is an understatement here.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
This particular test writes over 204GB data and covers a broad range of common consumer tasks, including booting Windows 10, file transfers, Adobe and Office applications, and startup times for games including Battlefield V, COD Black Ops 4, and Overwatch. Unlike synthetic numbers, this is comprehensive real-world data which is why we use it to rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience.
This is where we wanted to see a massive improvement, and the B47R grants us our wish yet again. Look at that, more than 110 MB/s of storage bandwidth improvement over the E18 with 96L flash. Nipping at the heels of the Gen4 WD Black and soundly defeating the 980 Pro. Performance where it matters most.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Performance remains a bit elusive for E18 powered SSDs here. The B47R model shows a massive increase over the current 96L model, which is great to see. Now it's running neck in neck with the 980 Pro, which is quite an accomplishment, all things considered.
Maxed Out Performance
Here at TweakTown, we are enthusiasts above all, which is why we decided to give enthusiasts out there that still use Windows 7 some love. All the above benchmarks were run on our 11900K test bench. We were not able to run PCMark 10 storage tests on Windows 7 due to restrictions placed on its usage by UL. So, we used PCMark 8 instead.
By the numbers, we are getting record-breaking performances out of Phison's speedster.
As you can plainly see, there is a good reason that some enthusiasts still hold Windows 7 near and dear, as it can dish out performance in certain scenarios that are vastly superior to Windows 10.
What a difference flash makes. Micron's new 176L flash behind Phison's Gen4 E18 controller is a force to be reconned with. We will go as far as saying that it, all things considered, is overall the best flash-based SSD we've tested to date. This time, we are factoring in more than just user experience as the basis of our stated opinion. We are looking at what has proven to be by far the best flash-based gaming SSD we've ever tested. The fact that it can and will do 4TB and 8TB capacity and has class-leading endurance are more factors we are tossing into our equation.
Except PCMark 10, the Phison E18 with Micron 176 Layer B47R Fortis 1600 MT/s flash bested every flash-based SSD we've tested. Period. Even its performance with PCMark 10, although not record-breaking, is essentially the second-best for any flash-based consumer SSD we've tested. If we could only have one SSD to chose from, it would be this SSD, hands down.
As we take a quick look back at our test results, we see record-breaking performance after record breaking-performance. It doesn't matter if we are looking at our Intel platform or our AMD platform; this drive is a highlight reel. So, we will keep it simple this time and focus our attention on what we consider the E18 B47R's finest achievement. Gaming.
For the first time ever, a flash-based SSD completed the measured portion of our gaming test in under 7 seconds. This is performance where it matters most and the most compelling reason why we are giving the 2TB Phison E18 with Micron 176 Layer B47R Fortis 1600 MT/s flash our highest award even though this is a preview and not an official review.
- Sequential R/W
- Consumer Workloads