MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection

MSI has a brand-new variant of its hugely popular Spatium M480 SSD. The B47R arrayed Spatium M480 Play is PC or PS5 perfection.

@JonCoulterSSD
Published Thu, Mar 31 2022 2:00 AM CDT
Rating: 94%Manufacturer: MSI (S78440Q300P8310210000003)

Introduction & Drive Details

Last year we reviewed MSI's first Phison E18 powered SSD the Spatium M480 Heatsink Model. The Spatium M480 model we reviewed came pre-fitted with a highly effective oversized heat sink and was arrayed with what at the time was the most prevalent flash, Micron 96 layer. Back then, Phison E18 controlled SSDs all came arrayed with Micron 96 Layer flash. Now, Micron 96 Layer flash was sort of a one-trick pony, so to speak. It did one thing good, produce high sequential speeds. Other than that, it's probably one of the worst or maybe even the worst-performing flash iterations in the history of flash. Total garbage, but hey, it produced the meaningless sequential speeds that everyone is so enamored with.

So here we are again with another MSI SSD powered by the same Phison E18 controller as its older sibling. This time, however, the Spatium M480 Play is arrayed with different Micron flash, and this time the flash is excellent. Micron's B47R Fortis Grade 176 layer flash has supplanted its 96 Layer flash and, for all intents and purposes, has caused, much to our satisfaction, the extinction of Micron's 96 Layer trash flash. Excellent. Micron's B47R Fortis Grade Flash not only produces the highest, although meaningless in terms of performance that matters, sequential throughput, but it also delivers exceptional performance where it matters most, random read, which we will thoroughly explore later in the review.

For now, let's take a quick look at the eye candy sequential speeds that come inherently with B47R flash. As it is with all Phison E18 controlled SSDs arrayed with Micron's exceptional B47R Fortis grade flash, MSI's Spatium M480 Play can crank out more than 7,400 MB/s throughput under the right conditions:

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 34 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 34 IMAGES

We ran this test on our AMD X570 system with a 5900X 12-core CPU. This hardware combo is capable of extracting every drop of sequential throughput from Phison E18 powered SSDs arrayed with B47R flash. How's that for some eye candy?

As we stated earlier, sequential throughput is overall a meaningless indicator of real-world performance. It's Random Read performance that matters. Specifically, low queue depth random read performance is a much better indicator of how fast an SSD really is. So that 88.35 MB/s number on the above benchmark is, in fact, the best synthetic indicator of how well an SSD can perform typical consumer tasks such as gaming. Micron's 176 Layer B47R Fortis grade flash is close to 20 percent faster here than the 96 Layer flash found arrayed on its older sibling. Unlike those flashy sequential speeds, this is performance that matters.

So now MSI's Spatium M480 comes arrayed with great flash transforming it from an average to below-average performer into a TweakTown Elite performer. But wait, there's more. That "Play" in its name, that stands for PlayStation. By now, most of you are aware that Sony's PlayStation 5 console has onboard storage expansion via an M.2 slot. Sony has laid out recommendations for said storage expansion, with the following suggestions: The SSD must be PCIe Gen4, is recommended to have a PS5 compatible heat sink, and be capable of delivering a minimum of 5,500 MB/s read throughput as measured by the PS5.

Its older sibling, with its too large for PlayStation heat sink, was not a good contender for PS5 usage for obvious and not so obvious reasons, hence the need for a PS5 compatible version which is what we have in the new Spatium M480 Play we are testing here today. As we see it, MSI's newest solid-state storage offering is PS5 Perfection, in addition to being one of the overall best performing M.2 NVMe SSDs ever made.

Drive Details

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 01 | TweakTown.com

Please note, these performance specs are based on our results while benching the 2TB MSI Spatium M480 Play as well as other similarly configured SSDs and are not MSI's official performance specs. MSI sent over its factory performance specs, and they were, unbeknownst to them, specs for the now extinct 96 Layer arrayed Phison E18 controlled SSDs. Our numbers are real and can be taken as legit "up to" performance capabilities. However, TBW may not be what MSI will warranty the drive for but are what Phison recommends as a maximum for its E18/B47R 1,200 MT SSDs.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 02 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 03 | TweakTown.comMSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 04 | TweakTown.com
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MSI offers no complimentary software with its SSDs. We are fine with that simply because there is plenty of readily available freeware for cloning and monitoring SSD health.

Jon's Test System Specifications

Buy at Amazon

MSI SPATIUM M480 PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 2TB HS Internal SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$338.60$338.54$359.00
* Prices last scanned on 5/16/2022 at 8:07 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Sony PlayStation 5 - M.2 Storage Expansion

PS5 Read Performance

With Sony's PlayStation 5 console now enabled for M.2 NVMe SSDs to be used as fast storage expansion, we include results for PS5 compatible SSDs we test as a part of our reviews going forward. We are using the newest PS5 hardware and software versions.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 07 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 08 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 09 | TweakTown.com

As you can see from our above photo, the Spatium M480 Play fits perfectly into the PS5's M.2 storage expansion slot.

Our PS5 chart is exclusively populated by SSDs that can deliver a minimum of 5,500 MB/s read, which is Sony's original recommendation. We note that with the latest PS5 software update, even SSDs that only do 4,200 MB/s no longer trigger a low-performance warning; nevertheless, we are sticking by Sony's original recommendation of 5,500 MB/s minimum read requirement.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 10 | TweakTown.com

6,383 MB/s is exactly what we expect from a 2TB SSD controlled by a Phison E18 and arrayed with B47R 1,200 MT Fortis Grade flash. Excellent. Compare that with the 5,898 MB/s we get from the original Spatium M480 if we go ahead and stuff it in there.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO

CrystalDiskMark

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 11 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 12 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 13 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 14 | TweakTown.com

Sequential throughput is as expected among the best ever recorded for a PCIe Gen4 x4 SSD. Phison's E18 controller remains the only controller that can propel an SSD to sequential write speeds of 7,000 MB/s. The M480 Spatium lights up our charts nicely in terms of sequential throughput, but when looking for a number indicative of what we can expect in terms of real-world performance, we are looking at that QD1 random read speed of 97 MB/s. Compare that with the 82 MB/s the older model Spatium M480 gets. 18% more performance where it matters most. Outstanding.

Anvil's Storage Utilities

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 15 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 16 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 17 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 18 | TweakTown.com

Impressive. The newly arrayed Spatium M480 Play cranks out the best-read score we've ever received from an SSD arrayed with 1,200 MT B47R flash. Notice how the new M480 is hovering around close to the top of our chart, and its older sibling arrayed with 96 Layer flash is hovering near the bottom. More of the same as we look at our Max IOPS at QD128 chart.

ATTO

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 19 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 20 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 21 | TweakTown.com

The Spatium M480 2TB cranks out 128K sequential performance as good as any consumer SSD ever made. Nice.

Real-World Testing: Transfers, 3DMark SSD Gaming Test, PCM10 Storage

Transfer Rates

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 22 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 23 | TweakTown.com

Our write transfer is not your ordinary 100GB of data. Ours is a crushing mix of data composed of more than 62K files. Even though we don't place a whole lot of value on write performance, this is nonetheless impressive as it's the highest we've recorded for any SSD arrayed with 1,200 MT flash.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 24 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 25 | TweakTown.com

This is elite performance, especially when we consider it is within 88 MB/s of the best we've ever recorded. This is performance that matters.

3DMark SSD Gaming Test

UL's newest 3DMark SSD Gaming Test is the most comprehensive SSD gaming test ever devised. We consider it superior to testing against games themselves because, as a trace, it is much more consistent than variations that will occur between runs on the actual game itself. This test is in fact the same as running the actual game, just without the inconsistencies inherent to application testing.

In short, we believe that this is the world's best way to test an SSDs gaming prowess and accurately compare it against competing SSDs. The 3DMark SSD Gaming Test measures and scores the following:

  • Loading Battlefield V from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Call of Duty Black Ops 4 from launch to the main menu.
  • Loading Overwatch from launch to the main menu.
  • Recording a 1080p gameplay video at 60 FPS with OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) while playing Overwatch.
  • Installing The Outer Worlds from the Epic Games Launcher.
  • Saving game progress in The Outer Worlds.
  • Copying the Steam folder for Counter-Strike Global Offensive from an external SSD to the system drive.
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 26 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 27 | TweakTown.com

Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. Exactly the kind of result we want to see from an SSD marketed at the gaming community. Again, the M480 Play bestows us with the highest score we've recorded for any SSD arrayed with 1,200 MT B47R flash. Wow.

PCM10 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 mainstream user experience.

PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 28 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 29 | TweakTown.com

This particular test writes 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 user experience.

We are looking for a minimum 500MB/s storage bandwidth along with 3000 points here. The Spatium M480 Play produces an impressive score of 3,419 along with an equally impressive 557 MB/s bandwidth. Compare that with the paltry score of 2,880 coming from its older 96 Layer arrayed sibling. This is performance that matters as it translates directly to user experience.

PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 30 | TweakTown.com
MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 31 | TweakTown.com

E18 controlled SSDs, with the exception of those arrayed with 1,600 MT flash, for whatever reason, severely underperform when tested against PCMark 10 Quick System Drive test. As expected, and although far better than the older model M480 gets, it's still underwhelming to say the least.

Final Thoughts

When we first saw MSI's spec sheet for its new PlayStation 5 compatible Spatium M480 Play, we feared the drive could be arrayed with inferior 96 Layer Micron Flash. Instead, what we got was the good stuff, and we are finally all but certain we've seen the last of the 96 Layer Micron nightmare.

MSI is well known across the hardware universe as a purveyor of premium hardware, and its newest SSD, the Spatium M480 Play, upholds this well-deserved reputation. Even if MSI didn't exactly know what they had on their hands, it all worked out anyway due to the extinction of 96L. In talking with MSI, we believe a revised spec sheet will be forthcoming to avoid confusion for the tech-savvy consumer.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 32 | TweakTown.com

We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage and 3DMark gaming storage tests. We consider a user experience score of 11K or more to verify an SSD as a TweakTown Elite performer. Amazing gaming and heavy consumer workload performance push the Spatium M480 Play 2TB into Elite territory. Gotta love that.

MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD Review - PS5 Perfection 33 | TweakTown.com

Its overall elite gaming performance and highly effective heat sink perfectly designed for PC or PS5 have earned the MSI Spatium M480 Play 2TB SSD our highest award.

Pros

  • Gaming
  • PS5 Heatsink
  • Consumer Workloads

Cons

  • None

Performance

95%

Quality

100%

Features

90%

Value

90%

Overall

94%

The Bottom Line

PS5 perfection and a PC performance juggernaut all rolled into one. What more could you want?

TweakTown award
94%

MSI SPATIUM M480 PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 2TB HS Internal SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$338.60$338.54$359.00
* Prices last scanned on 5/16/2022 at 8:07 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Jon joined the TweakTown team in 2013 and has since reviewed 100s of new storage products. Jon became a computer enthusiast when Windows XP launched. He was into water cooling and benching ATI video cards with modded drivers. Jon has been building computers for others for more than 10 years. Jon became a storage enthusiast the day he first booted an Intel X25-M G1 80GB SSD. Look for Jon to bring consumer SSD reviews into the spotlight.

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