ZOTAC Sonix PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 480 GB SSD Review

  1. About the ZOTAC Sonix PCIe NVMe Drive...
  2. Observations and Impressions...
  3. Test Setup and Methodology
  4. Anvil Benchmarks
  5. AS SSD Benchmark
  6. ATTO Benchmark
  7. CrystalDisk Mark Benchmark
  8. Futuremark Benchmarks
  9. IO Testing
  10. Access Test
  11. Conclusion
  12. Online Purchase Links

Disclosure: This unit is provided by ZOTAC

The Evolution of Storage

Storage is rapidly evolving, and its not about users shifting from mechanical hard drive to a solid-state drive. Many form factors and interface types have come for multiple computing devices as desktops. While SATA Express, eSATA and mSATA didn’t really pick up, we have seen M.2, U.2 and PCIe-based storage devices. Feasible SATA-based SSDs have hit the wall, which gave a reason to explore other opportunities.

And then comes the NVMe protocol. Typically expected in storage devices, the non-volatile memory express (hence- NVMe) is a standard developed for many computing workloads- from data centers to your DIY PC builds. It helps to provide high bandwidth and low latency.  The best part about NVMe is that this enables us to be a step closer towards micro-second level latency/load times. NVMe has a serious backing as the consortium has more than 100 members and have been worked upon since 2011.  The latest development in NVMe standards is to provide access over fabrics like RDMA and Fibre Channel. For enterprise workloads, SAS might even become a thing of the past. However, unlike the SATA-based SSDs, adoption of PCIe 3.0 x4-based cards would be limited towards primary OS and programs. At least for now.

About the ZOTAC Sonix…

This is the first PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD that I get to review. While these have been around for a while along with Intel 750 series.

ZOTAC Sonix PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 480 GB SSD comes in a time when many SATA-Based SATA III drives have hit the wall due to its transfer limitation. The SATA III interface offers 600 MB/s theoretical bandwidth, while PCIe 3.0 x4 offers up to 3.94 GB/s bandwidth. The extra breathing room gives manufacturers plenty to push its SSD offerings. They also provide extra breathing space for your pockets as such drives cost a premium. But as we seen it happen with SATA-based SSDs, in the long run the PCIe cards should get cheaper depending on the number of people adopting such tech.

As a result, there should be a much better loading times with the programs and operating systems. Both M.2 and PCIe 3.0 based cards reduce couple of wirings that SATA connectors require. While most motherboard manufacturers rarely provide PCIe 3.0 x4 slots, PCIe 3.0 x4 cards are compatible with PCIe x1 slots. If you wonder what can you possibly use the last PCIe 3.0 16 in x4 mode for? A PCIe x4 card is one of its usefulness. Throughout PCIe 3.0 x4 reviews, this will be installed in the second PCIe x16 slot running at x16 mode.

Packaging and Specifications

The packaging is adequate to protect the PCIe x4 card. In the package, ZOTAC advertises that its card can deliver speeds up to 2600 MB/s read and 1300 MB/s write. The rear shows some of its features and contents. ZOTAC Sonix is accompanied with a three-year warranty. The only accessory you get is the low profile PCIe bracket and a couple of reading materials.

  • Form FactorPCIE Add-in-Card
    InterfaceNVME 1.2 PCIE Gen 3 x 4
    Flash TypeMLC
    DRAM Cache512MB DDR3
    Sequential ReadUp to 2,600 MB/s
    Sequential WriteUp to 1,300 MB/s
    Random Read
    Random Write
    Power ConsumptionRead: 5.57W
    Write: 7.27W
    Idle: 0.5W
    Supported OSWindows, Linux
    MTBF (hours)2,000,000
    AccessoriesBundled low-profile bracket

ZOTAC didn’t provide random read/write performance or its dimension specifications.

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