Introduction & Drive Details
DRAMless Gen4 SSDs are currently all the rage. This statement may have you doing a double take because the words DRAMless and SSD used in the same sentence have traditionally indicated a storage offering no enthusiast would even consider employing, let alone even waste two seconds looking at. Well, with the newest wave of Gen4 DRAMless SSDs, it's time for enthusiasts to take another look.
For enthusiasts, speed is traditionally the primary factor for determining hardware selection, especially as it relates to NVMe storage. However, companies like Biwin, InnoGrit, and HP are bringing forth DRAMless Gen4 SSDs that are not only fast where it matters most; they are cheap and super power efficient. In fact, on the performance front, the SSD we have on the bench today delivers performance that can be equal to and, in some cases, even better than many full on 7,400 MB/s capable Gen4 Hyper-Class SSDs.
HP's FX900 is the third SSD we've had come through the lab featuring an InnoGrit IG5220 PCIe Gen4 DRAMless 4-channel controller in front of a Micron B47R flash array, so we are intimately familiar with what this hardware combo has to offer. First came the ATOM 50, then Patriot's P400, and now the FX900. All have delivered stunning performance and a hard to ignore value proposition, but the FX900 might be the best yet. Let's get into the review so we can show you exactly why Gen4 DRAMless SSDs deserve a close look.
Right away, we are impressed with the FX900's pricing and stated random read performance. As we've explained countless times, random read is performance that matters most in the consumer space. Not sequential. The FX900 is spec'd at more than 800K max random read, which is by far the highest we've seen from any DRAMless offering. Still, at this point, we will take it with a grain of salt because stated performance and actual numbers can be quite different, especially when it comes to this performance metric.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Z690 HERO
- CPU: Intel Core i9-12900K
- Cooler: Alphacool Eissturm Hurricane Copper 45 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: TeamGroup T-Force Delta DDR5 6400MHz 32GB - Buy from Amazon
- Graphics Card: MSI SUPRIM X RTX 3080 12GB - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Thermaltake Toughpower GF1 1000W 80+ Gold - Buy from Amazon
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro 64-bit - Buy from Amazon
- Console: Sony PlayStation 5 - Buy from Amazon
- Console Heatsink: Sabrent Heatsink for PS5 Console - Buy from Amazon
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO
Sequential specs are verified to be spot on, as demonstrated by our CDM testing. As expected, we find the FX900, ATOM 50, and P400 stacked together on our charts. The FX900 demonstrates the best random read numbers of the bunch. In fact, at a whopping 104 MB/s QD1 random read, the FX900 ties for the best we've seen from any flash-based SSD we've ever tested. Impressive.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
A total score of 9,900 becomes even more impressive when we consider just how much of the score here comes directly from sequential speeds, where the 7,000 MB/s capable SSDs have a huge advantage. Even so, the FX900 still outscores many 7,000 MB/s 8-channel fire-breathing SSDs.
A quick look at our max random read IOPS demonstrates the 1TB FX900 has by far the most on tap for any flash-based DRAMless SSD ever made. It's not quite at stated factory specs, because we are testing with a partition and as system disk.
Sequential 128K read is where InnoGrit controlled SSDs tend to struggle a bit, and the FX900 is no exception. Even the best performing flash-based SSD we've ever tested, another InnoGrit controlled SSD, the Plextor M10P, gets low marks at sequential 128K transfers. This is just more proof that sequential speeds are not an important performance metric in the consumer space.
Real-World Testing: Transfers, 3DMark SSD Gaming Test, PCM10 Storage
Our write transfer test is 100GB of a crushing mix of data composed of more than 62K files. 1,450 MB/s is stunning for a DRAMless 4-channel SSD, and in fact, better than a good number of Hyper-Class SSDs can deliver. Impressive.
The FX900 1TB delivers the most here we've seen from this hardware combo.
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.
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. We would like to see better results here for sure, but totally expected for this hardware configuration. In terms of performance for this hardware combo, the FX900 does significantly better than its direct competitors.
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
We are looking for a score of 3,000 and 500 MB/s storage bandwidth here, and we get that and more from the FX900 in spite of its inherent handicap of 4-channels and no onboard DRAM cache.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Here we go. The HPFX900 1TB is an absolute beast when it comes to standard-type consumer workloads. It's easily the best performing IG5220 controlled SSD we've tested to date. Take a close look, and you will find that for day-to-day typical consumer usage, it can deliver a user experience that is surprisingly as good as the mighty Kingston KC3000. Wow.
It's been a long time coming for HP to jump on the PCIe Gen4 NVMe train, but obviously, they care more about getting it right than being first. And they got it right with both of their new Gen4 SSDs. HP's FX900 Pro 2TB is the third-best performing flash-based SSD we've ever tested and the FX900 1TB is the second-fastest DRAMless SSD we've ever tested. Excellent job, HP.
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. As expected, this little power sipping 4-channel DRAMless SSD can't quite get there. Nevertheless, 10.1k puts it way in front of many expensive, hot-running 8-channel 7,000 MB/s SSDs, which is impressive no matter how you slice it.
HP's new Gen4 FX series delivers top-of-the-food chain performance, and that alone makes them easy for us to recommend, but there is more to it than just performance alone. Both the FX and FX Pro are priced so well that we could easily consider them value SSDs. This doesn't often happen where we have the lowest priced in its class, delivering some of the best performance we've ever seen. HP's FX900 1TB has earned our highest award and our full endorsement.
- Random Read Performance
- Consumer Workloads
The Bottom Line
Value priced, super-fast, single sided, cool running, and power efficient. HP's FX900 is one of the best fast-storage options on the planet.