Seagate Firecuda 520 Gen4 M.2 SSD
M.2 2280 1TB PCIe Gen4 x4, NVMe 1.3
|Price history for Seagate Firecuda 520 1TB Performance Internal Solid State Drive SSD PCIe Gen4 X4 NVMe 1.3 for Gaming PC Gaming Laptop Desktop (ZP1000GM3A002)|
As of early 2020, lots of manufacturers are offering high-end M.2 solid state drives that take advantage of the PCI Express 4.0 interface (which is thus far only available on AMD’s most recent motherboards). What they all have in common so far, however, is that they use the same controller/NAND combo. Seagate was relatively late to the party with the Firecuda 520, but makes up for the late arrival by including a custom firmware for the controller.
Overview: Memory Type, Controller, and Cache
The entire range of PCIe 4.0-enabled M.2 drives launched in 2019 and early 2020 use the same combination of controller and memory chips: the Phison E16 and 96-layer TLC (triple-level cell) BiCS4 NAND flash chips from Toshiba. This includes the Gigabyte Aorus Gen4, Corsair MP600, Sabrent Rocket Gen4 and an assorted range of SSDs from smaller brands. They also come with a DDR4 DRAM buffer and, like all TLC-based SSDs, employ an SLC-mode cache to reach the advertised transfer rates.
As a consequence, the entire first generation of PCIe 4.0 SSDs offers roughly the same performance across the board. Seagate’s Firecuda 520 is slightly different though, as Seagate has taken the time to develop custom firmware for the drive, which separates it from the throng of other E16 SSDs. But since it’s still the same hardware, the difference is anything but dramatic.
Seagate Firecuda 520 Vs. Sabrent Rocket Gen4
|Seagate Firecuda 520|
Vs. Sabrent Rocket Gen4
|512GB (Rocket)||500GB (Firecuda 520)||1TB (Rocket)||1TB (Firecuda 520)||2TB (Rocket)||2 TB (Firecuda 520)|
|Sequential Read||5,000 MB/s||5,000 MB/s||5,000 MB/s||5,000 MB/s||5,000 MB/s||5,000 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||2,500 MB/s||2,500 MB/s||4,400 MB/s||4,400 MB/s||4,400 MB/s||4,400 MB/s|
|Random Read||400K IOPS||430K IOPS||750K IOPS||760K IOPS||750K IOPS||750K IOPS|
|Random Write||550K IOPS||630K IOPS||750K IOPS||700K IOPS||750K IOPS||700K IOPS|
As you would expect from a drive with the same controller and NAND, the Seagate Firecuda 520 is very similar to the Sabrent Rocket Gen4 in terms of performance. The maximum theoretical sequential read and write speeds are identical, but there is some difference in the IOPS area, which might be an indication of the different firmware. However, all of the Phison E16 PCIe 4.0 drives seem to differ slightly in this area and these differences should be unnoticeable outside of synthetic benchmarks.
Like most SSDs, the Firecuda 520’s performance increases with capacity, but are roughly equal in the 1TB and 2TB capacities. Also like the other PCIe 4.0 SSDs at the time of writing, there is no 4TB model of this drive.
Gen4 drives tend to run quite hot during heavy workloads, so some of them come with pre-attached heat spreaders. This is not the case with the Firecuda 520, as Seagate seems to be counting on the fact that most premium PCIe 4 motherboards include some form of heatsink for their M.2 slots.
Power Consumption (Laptop Suitability)
From left to right, the 2TB model uses a bit more power than the 1TB variety, which in turn is slightly more demanding than the 512GB model.
Warranty and Endurance Rating
Seagate offers a 5-year warranty with the Firecuda 520, which is an industry standard. The terabytes written (TBW) endurance ratings are excellent at 850 TBW (512 GB) 1,800 TBW (1TB) and 3,600 TBW (2TB).
… we love that the FireCuda 520 delivers unrivaled sequential speeds, but even more than that, we love that it delivers real performance where it matters most.
Performance is undeniably strong in the right scenario, however the real-world benefit remains questionable during regular use.
Specification: Seagate Firecuda 520 Gen4 M.2 SSD