Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime

Finally, the day that we have all been waiting for. Phison's flagship Gen5 SSD has reached its final retail form and is pumping out a massive 14,600 MB/s!

Published
Manufacturer: Phison (PS5026-E26 Max14um 2TB)
8 minutes & 1 second read time
TweakTown's Rating: 100%
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The Bottom Line

Strap yourselves in because this thing is over the top fast.

Pros

  • + Gaming
  • + User experience
  • + PS5 compatible

Cons

  • - None

Should you buy it?

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Introduction & Drive Details

If you follow the progression of solid-state storage at all, you know that Phison Electronics is the sole storage-controller company on the planet delivering retail PCIe Gen5 SSDs in the consumer space. For the E26 controlled SSD, its march toward its final 14,000 MB/s form has come in stages. This is due in large part to the progression of its partner Micron's 232-layer B58R flash to reach its final and fastest 2,400 MT form.

Since its introduction to the retail space, Phison E26-controlled SSDs have been and continue to be the highest-performing of their kind in the history of consumer storage. First came the 10,000 MB/s class E26 controlled SSDs arrayed with 1,600 MT B58R flash. Next came the 12,000 MB/s class E26 controlled SSDs arrayed with 2,000 MT B58R flash.

The march to its maximum 14,000 MB/s throughput has involved more than just flash speeds. There has been another speed bump along the way as well. The 11.55-watt power limitation of M.2 slots. This power limitation issue kept 14,000 MB/s just out of reach for around 6 months or so. However, Phison power delivery innovation has since made 14 GB/s throughput possible within that restrictive 11.55-watt power envelope, birthing with it the E26 Max14um SSD.

Back in August, just after Flash Memory Summit 2023, TweakTown had the honor of doing a world exclusive preview of Phison's earliest preliminary version of its Max14um SSD. Our 2TB Max14um engineering sample delivered even more than we were expecting, cranking out over 14,600/12,700 MB/s throughput:

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 45

Since then, we've been eagerly awaiting the day Phison would deliver the E26 Max14um in its final retail form or "Reference Design". Well today is that day and what we have in hand today is a more refined version that is cooler running, can downshift PCIe Link-State if thermal thresholds are being exceeded and does something we've been asking for since the inception of E26 controlled SSDs - it is now PlayStation 5 compatible when used in conjunction with an aftermarket heatsink specifically designed for PS5.

Phison has not only been working tirelessly at refining its reference design 14,000 MB/s + PCIe Gen5 offering but has also been improving its reference design active cooling solution. The updated design really does the job nicely, as evidenced by the following:

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 44

We could only get the Max14um to reach 53c no matter how hard we blasted it with heat-inducing sequential throughput in our zero-airflow test bench environment. Impressive. Additionally, the refined reference cooler is quiet, running even at full tilt, and is PWM-controlled.

14,000 MB/s is ready for prime time!

Drive Details

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 01
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 02
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 03Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 04
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 05Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 06

Jon's Test System Specifications

Intel Test System

AMD Test System

Because we at TweakTown like to be first at everything whenever we can, we will present our storage performance results for the test subject on both 14th Gen Intel and 7000 Series AMD platforms going forward for the foreseeable future. Because Intel still delivers the best real-world storage performance, (Look Here), our running chart will continue to be Intel-based until AMD can deliver better real-world storage performance than its rival.

Buy at Amazon

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Sony PlayStation 5 - M.2 Storage Expansion

PS5 Read Performance

With Sony's wildly popular 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.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 07
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 08

For SSDs that don't have an adequately sized PS5 compatible heatsink or other SSDs where the heatsink provided doesn't fit right and can be removed, we both use and recommend Sabrent's unparalleled PS5 heatsink available HERE.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 09
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 10

We only chart SSDs that can deliver a minimum of 5,500 MB/s read, which is Sony's original recommendation.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 11

6,535 MB/s is among the best we've recorded and a testament to its potential PS5 prowess. Outstanding.

Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO

CrystalDiskMark

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Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 13
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Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 15
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 16

We employ CDM as our standard measurement for both sequential throughput and Q1T1 random read. In terms of sequential throughput, we find our test subject fully capable of meeting and exceeding quoted up to E26 controller specifications. 14,600 MB/s sequential read and 12,700 MB/s sequential writes are the best we've ever recorded for any retail-ready consumer SSD. At 107 MB/s Q1T1 random read speed, our reference design juggernaut is delivering the second-best ever for a flash-based SSD. Stunning.

Anvil's Storage Utilities

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 17
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 18
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 19

14,400 is an incredible score, a first for any flash-based SSD, and because this is read performance, it gives us a clear and powerful indication that real-world performance has been significantly increased over previous iterations. Impressive.

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Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 21
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 22

We employ Anvil's random read test as our standard for measuring max random read IOPS. This test is very accurate as it at its core is Iometer skinned over. We test at QD128. At 1.46 million IOPS our E26 Max14um RD delivers the second highest we've recorded for a flash-based SSD and is close enough to its rated 1.5 million IOPS to call it good even when running in our highly demanding user state. Excellent.

ATTO

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 23
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 24
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 25
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 26

ATTO gives us a clear picture of what transfer sizes a particular SSD favors in terms of sequential throughput. We chart 128K transfers. At a queue depth of four, the 2TB Max14um favors sequential transfers of 2MB or larger when serving data to the host (reading) and 256K or larger when programming (writing) data. Write throughput here is especially impressive as it is by far the highest, we've attained to date. Read throughput is the second highest we've obtained, second only to the 4TB E26 controlled T700, which indicates to us that a 4TB Max14um could very well be even faster than the 2TB model we are testing today.

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

Transfer Rates

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Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 28
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 29

Our 100GB data transfer test is not your ordinary 100GB of data. Ours is a crushing mix composed of more than 62K files. Write performance, random or sequential, is an infrequent operation, and as such, we do not consider it to be an important performance metric in the consumer space. An example being how many times is a game installed vs. how many times it's played. As fully expected, our test subject again delivers a new lab record for a retail consumer SSD. Excellent.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 30
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 31
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 32

Unlike programming (writing) data, serving data to the host (reading) is always an important performance metric as it relates to the consumer space. Faster flash unsurprisingly delivers yet another lab record for a retail SSD.

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 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 SSD's 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.
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 33
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 34
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 35

Gaming is a performance metric that matters to most DIY consumers, especially for the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. Now we've reached the point where results start to matter as they are a direct reflection of user experience. This is gaming performance on another level. Additionally, and worthy of mention here is the fact that all E26 controlled SSDs come with Phison's exclusive I/O+ DirectStorage optimized technology baked right in. With it, a properly equipped PC can load up to 60% more gaming data with 99% less CPU utilization. Amazing.

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. These tests directly correlate with mainstream user experience.

PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark

This 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.

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Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 37
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 38

The most real-world performance where it matters the most is what Phison set out to deliver and has been doing on a continuous basis ever since its E26-controlled SSDs invaded retail channels across the globe. Unrivaled.

PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark

The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 39
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 40
Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 41
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Enough said.

Final Thoughts

As we see it, Phison's E26 Max14um RD (Reference Design) SSD is about promises fulfilled and expectations exceeded. For well over a year now, we've been staring at the E26 controller spec sheet:

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 47

Longing for the day when our PCIe Gen5 M.2 slots could be filled with 14,000 MB/s throughput. Well, the time is neigh, as Phison partners such as Crucial, Corsair, and Sabrent are readying themselves to unleash the full power of PCIe Gen5 storage throughput upon the masses. This is performance on another level.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 42

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. Before today, we considered a user experience score of 14K or more to verify an SSD as a TweakTown Elite performer. The E26 Max14um RD (Reference Design) has caused us to up that to 15K going forward. This means that of the 51 SSDs that populate our current user experience chart, only 2 non-Phison-controlled SSDs make the cut. This is a testament to what we've been saying for some time now - Phison-controlled/Micron B58R arrayed SSDs are the highest-performing consumer SSDs on the planet.

Phison E26 Max14um Reference Design 2TB SSD Review - 14,000 MB/s Ready for Primetime 43

We also want to point out that this is not an Engineering Sample (ES); this is a Reference Design (RD), so it is exactly what will be shipping soon from Phison partners. This is an unlabeled retail SSD. It is the world's highest-performing M.2 SSD, the best gaming M.2 SSD, and the fastest M.2 SSD all-in-one. Do you want the best? This is it. Editor's Choice.

Performance

100%

Quality

100%

Features

100%

Value

N/A

Overall

100%

The Bottom Line

Strap yourselves in because this thing is over the top fast.

TweakTown award
100%

Crucial T700 2TB Gen5 NVMe M.2 SSD

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$269.99$299.99$269.99
Buy at Newegg
$371.99$371.99-
* Prices last scanned on 2/28/2024 at 6:52 pm CST - 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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