MyDigitalSSD business model revolves around drive sales based on Phison reference design. Like other smaller SSD brands, MyDigitalSSD does not have the resources to develop their own SSD controllers or even write their own firmware from scratch. The way MyDigitalSSD differentiates them from many competing brands is by offering drives for a much lower price and by being the first to market with new controllers from Phison. SBX checks both boxes: the price is below the Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD, and reaches the market in December 2017 as the first Phison E8 drive to ship and one of the earliest SSD retailers to feature Toshiba / SanDisk 64-layer 3D NAND.
As one of the cheapest NVMe SSDs in the retail market, MyDigitalSSD SBX is a good indicator of the advances made by NVMe to replace SATA SSDs, not just as premium high-end alternatives.
The Phison E8 controller is one of Phison's low-end options from the second generation of NVMe SSD controllers. The E8 has only two PCIe lanes instead of the usual 4 which are activated by the M.2 slot, and the four-channel interface to NAND - half that is typical for high-end NVMe SSDs. This restriction combined with a 40nm fabrication process allows the E8 to be a much smaller and cheaper controller than those leading to high-end market share. To cut costs further, drive makers can choose the Phison E8T variant that drops the external DRAM interface. E8T supports the NVMe Host Memory Buffer feature to reduce the impact of DRAMless performance SSDs typically suffer, but the E8T has not been caught in the consumer SSD market.
Despite its low-end role, Phison E8 is in some ways more advanced than Phison's E7, their first NVMe SSD controller. The large increase in error correction capability has enabled E8 to support 3D TLC NAND instead of being limited to the 15nm planar MLC used by the E7 drive. The E8 and E8T controllers will also be unified by the high-end E12 controllers later this year to complement the second generation of second generation NVMe controllers.
MyDigitalSSD SBX Specifications
This review will mainly compare SBX with other latest NVMe SSDs, but some SATA results are included for the context. As the cheapest NVMe SSD we've tested so far, SBX does not quite compete directly with all the compared NVMe compared SSDs. We have other NVMe SSD low-end reviews in the works including Kingston's A1000 (they took the Phison E8 platform), and the HP EX900 features the low-end Silence Motion SM2263XT controller. ADATA's SX6000 is the ultimate alternative for SBX to drive NVMe in this price range, but we have not had a chance to test the SX6000 or any other drive using the Realtek SSD controller.
We did not test the MyDigitalSSD BPX, the SBX precursor based on the Phison E7 platform with a 15nm NAND MAND planar. Instead, we got results from Patriot Hellfire and Team T-Force Cardea, two other M.2 drives based on the same reference design.
2017/2018 Consumer SSD Testbed
- CPU Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5
- Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
- Chipset Intel C232
- Memory 4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15
- Graphics AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz
- Software Windows 10 x64, version 1709
- Linux kernel version 4.14, fio version 3.1
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