The Corsair Force Series MP600 (starts at $139.99 for 500GB; $424.99 in the 2TB version tested here) was one of the very first PCI Express (PCIe) 4.0 SSDs to hit the streets, touting peak throughput claims above anything the previous 3.0 generation of M.2 SSDs could muster.
Featuring a chunky black heatsink and exceptionally quick transfer rates, the Corsair MP600 represents a strong early entry for the NVMe industry into the PCIe 4.0 world. Even though most desktop users won’t be able to leverage all that speed (reasons why to be discussed below), for those who do need it, the pricing and five-year warranty of the Corsair MP600 make it a solid option at this tier of performance.
Real Cool Speed, Decked in Aluminum
The Corsair Force Series MP600 is a PCIe 4.0 M.2 NVMe SSD, based on a second-generation, 64-layer 3D TLC NAND manufacturing process. (Check out our SSD dejargonizer to make sense of all that.) This Type-2280 (80mm-long) drive comes in in three storage-volume sizes: 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB.
Corsair rates the 2TB variant of the drive for peaks of 4,950MBps on sequential reads and 4,250MBps on writes, and the drive carries a five-year warranty. Here’s a summary of the pricing and various Corsair-cited ratings for the three available capacities…
One thing I’ve been noticing right off the bat with the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs we’ve gotten into our testing space: Their durability ratings (measured by lifetime terabytes written, or TBW) are often much higher than the average I’ve seen for PCIe 3.0 drives, often by a factor of two or more.
ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G
$57.99SEE ITat AmazonRead ADATA XPG Spectrix S40G Review
ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro
$74.99SEE ITat NeweggRead ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro Review
Samsung SSD 970 EVO
$79.19SEE ITat AmazonRead Samsung SSD 970 EVO Review
Seagate FireCuda 510
$188.99SEE ITat AmazonRead Seagate FireCuda 510 Review
TeamGroup T-Force Cardea II
Visit SiteSEE ITat TeamGroupRead TeamGroup T-Force Cardea II Review
WD Blue SN550
$110.39SEE ITat AmazonRead WD Blue SN550 Review
The only other drive we’ve tested so far that comes close to the Corsair MP600 in durability at the 1TB capacity rung is the TeamGroup T-Force Cardea II, another drive that comes with an equally chunky metal heatsink. (It’s a PCIe 3.0 drive.) Even the vaunted Samsung SSD 970 Pro at 1TB comes in at “just” 1,200TBW.
In general, at their respective capacity tiers, other PCIe 4.0 drives hover around the same price ranges that the Corsair MP600 does. Across the board, though, these PCIe 4.0 drives are considerably more expensive than their PCIe 3.0 M.2 equivalents, at costs per gigabyte exceeding 20 cents.
The Corsair Force Series MP600 comes with its own management software, Corsair SSD Toolbox. It carries with it a whole host of tools and diagnostics, including Secure Erase, manual overprovisioning (to maintain the health of the drive for longer at the cost of some effective space), checking the S.M.A.R.T status, and auto-scheduling of TRIM operations (to keep the drive operating at peak efficiency every day). That’s more or less table stakes for a modern internal SSD’s software, but not every SSD maker supplies a mature (or indeed, necessarily, any) utility.
PCIe 4.0: A Whole Lot of Speed (if You Need It)
Before we jump into the benchmarks, let’s talk a bit about PCIe 4.0. Launched in 2019 at the same time as the third generation of Ryzen desktop CPUs and the first AMD Navi-based graphics cards, PCIe 4.0 is the latest technical iteration on the channel that your motherboard uses to talk to expansion cards in your PC, including graphics cards, Wi-Fi cards, and the latest SSDs.
This version doubles the bandwidth ceiling of the last, taking the max theoretical throughput of PCIe 3.0 from 16GBps up to 32GBps. Now, we say “theoretical” because in real-world usage scenarios, the SSDs we’ll be testing won’t come close to that. (Today’s models max out right around 5,000MBps read and write, which is significantly higher than the approximate 3,500MBps peaks the best PCIe 3.0 SSDs are rated for.)
It’s also important to recognize that while PCIe 4.0 drives may have much higher bandwidth ceilings than PCIe 3.0 in straight-up sequential read and write speeds, during our testing we’ve found that the 4K read and write speeds don’t vary nearly as much. And 4K random read and write operations are tied to many more aspects of a system than sequential read and write, including how operating systems, applications, games, and certain creative projects are stored on the disk.
Just as important, though, is the actual applicability of these SSDs to today’s PCs: They’re relevant only for users, upgraders, and builders of late-model AMD desktops. Right now, PCIe 4.0-capable M.2 SSD slots are only found on AMD motherboards based on the AMD X570 (enthusiast-grade Ryzen), AMD B550 (newer mainstream Ryzen), and AMD TRX40 (high-end Ryzen Threadripper) chipsets. Until B550’s debut right around the time of this writing, none of these chipsets was known for its boards’ affordability, so keep that in mind before you make the plunge into a full-on upgrade involving PCIe 4.0. B550 boards from $100 to $150 are expected to hit the market any day now, so PCIe 4.0 compatibility is finally coming to more mainstream-priced platforms. But most X570 and TRX40 boards aren’t cheap.
Where does that leave Intel? Even on its latest desktops, not on the PCIe 4.0 map. The new-for-2020 Intel-based Z490 boards that rolled out with the company’s 10th Generation “Comet Lake-S” desktop processors don’t have support for PCIe 4.0, though the rumor mill has posited that support for PCIe 4.0 will be coming to this platform in the future. (Some Z490 board makers have advertised that their Z490 motherboards are PCIe 4.0 “ready,” while Intel is mum on the matter.) But as of today, none of the company’s in-market mainstream chips, 10th Generation or below, is capable of supporting the PCIe 4.0 spec.
To be clear, PCIe 4.0 SSDs should be backward-compatible with PCIe 3.0 M.2 slots (albeit limited to PCIe 3.0 speeds). But there’s not much point in opting for a premium-priced PCIe 4.0 SSD today if your system doesn’t explicitly support it. Expect them to be cheaper by the time the support is mainstream.
Testing the Corsair MP600: A Benchmark Battle
We test all of our PCI Express 4.0 SSDs on a new PCIe 4.0-capable testbed, built on an MSI Godlike X570 motherboard with an AMD Ryzen 9 3950X CPU. We use 16GB of DDR4 Corsair Dominator RAM clocked to 3,600MHz, and the system is using an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Ti Founders Edition as its discrete graphics card. Our PCIe 3.0 SSDs are tested on our main storage testbed, which is built on an Asus Prime X299 Deluxe motherboard with an Intel Core i9-10980XE CPU. We use the same RAM, clocked the same, and the same discrete graphics card.
The sequential-read and -write ceilings of 4,950MBps and 4,250MBps of the 2TB Corsair MP600, mentioned above, only represent about a third of what future PCIe 4.0 drives might, theoretically, be capable of. That theoretical max sequential read and write rating for these drives is 15,400MBps, or 15.4GBps. This is, of course, achieved in very specific conditions, however, and real-world results for all the other drives we’ve tested in this category all tend to hover right around the same marks as the Corsair.
This means the competition here is not so much between the Corsair MP600 and other PCIe 4.0 drives of the moment (we’ve tested two others, the Seagate FireCuda 520 and TeamGroup Cardea Zero Z440, reviews forthcoming), but rather between the drives it intends to succeed: PCIe 3.0 drives. (The rest of the drives in the charts below are PCIe 3.0.) To see just how much of a jump in performance buyers can expect, let’s dig into our testing.
PCMark 10 Overall Storage Test
First, there’s the overall PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark. This score represents how well drives do throughout the entire PCMark 10 run, and are the sanctioned scores presented by UL’s software at the end of each run. This score includes a weighted average of every simulated activity that the PCMark 10 storage test runs, from copying files to launching games, booting an OS to running creative applications. It’s a general indicator of how consistently a drive can perform through 23 different usage scenarios.
Here, the drive shows that the improvements made in PCIe 4.0 are substantial compared to some PCIe 3.0 drives, however it still gets beat by one newer PCIe 3.0 drive, the WD Blue SN550, and trails other PCIe 4.0 drives like the Seagate FireCuda 520.
Booting Windows 10
Next is a more granular measure derived from one of PCMark 10’s background “traces.” This and following PCMark 10-derived tests represent a simulation of how quickly a drive is capable of launching a particular program (or here, booting Windows 10) by recording how many megabytes per second the drive is reading what are known as “shallow-queue 4K random” blocks of data (i.e., of the kind in which most applications, games, or operating systems are stored). While UL recommends using the overall “read/write MBps bandwidth” metric in these tests, instead we dug a bit deeper to only include random 4K bandwidth in order to paint what we believe is a more specific picture of how well a drive can perform in these tasks.
The first test is the Windows 10 boot trace, which simulates a full operating system startup procedure and records how quickly the drive is able to feed the data required for that task.
Here, again, the drive is almost right in line with its PCMark 10 Overall result, on pace with the PCIe 3.0-based WD Blue SN550 and behind the other two PCIe 4.0 drives.
Next up is a game-launching set, which simulates how quickly a drive can read shallow-depth small random 4K byte packages. This is one of the more commonly used file sizes for game installations, though that composition does depend on the title you’re playing.
While the three games tested in PCMark 10 are stored in significant portions in small random 4K, tests from around the web have shown that MMORPGs can more often use the 16K file size, and other genres may go larger, with 32K up to 128K predominating. However, for the sake of these tests, 4K small random read is the most appropriate metric to measure the launch speeds of three popular FPS titles: Battlefield 5, Overwatch, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4.
PCIe 4.0 hasn’t quite made its way into consoles yet (though that is slated to change with the release of the upcoming Sony PS5), so many games are still designed to run off older hardware: the platter-based hard drives found in the Xbox One X, for example. Because of this current bottleneck, games won’t try and load much faster than at the rates you see here, which generally cap at about 200MBps. However once PCIe 4.0 drives become the standard in the next console generation, we might expect to see these numbers jump drastically in their PC-port counterparts, in years to come.
Launching Creative Applications
Here the drives are put through a very important test for creative types. As anyone who regularly works in programs like Adobe Premiere or Photoshop can tell you, a frequent pinch point is the time it takes for the program to launch. There are a lot of elements that creative applications need to load.
However, it should be noted, that these two tests don’t tell the whole story of how a drive will perform for all creative applications. For example, cinema rendering programs like Cinema 4D may need to load dozens of different types of files at once, rather than just one large file like you might have encased in a Photoshop project or a movie that’s being edited in Premiere.
Depending on the complexity of your work and the number of elements in a scene, your software may have to load 3D models, sound files, physics elements, and more. The overall PCMark 10 score of a drive will tell a better story for how a drive built to handle these types of programs will do than these numbers alone. But they’re nonetheless interesting fodder for folks who live and breathe these Adobe apps.
Most of the drives we test tend to score fairly evenly here, which makes it concerning that the MP600 trails a bit. If you work heavily in creative applications, you might want to consider alternative PCIe 4.0 drives like the TeamGroup T-Force Cardea Zero Z440 instead.
Finally come the copy tests. While at first these numbers might look low compared to the straight sequential-throughput numbers achieved in benchmarks like Crystal DiskMark 6.0 and AS-SSD, that’s due to the way these throughput scores are calculated and the differences in the actual sample files/folders.
Here, PCMark 10 is expressing the average bandwidth speed of a transfer when the file is being copied on the same drive.Corsair Force If you’re regularly moving files around on your drive from one folder to another, this test is a handy relative throughput measure.
Finally, the Force Series MP600 starts gaining steam in the PCIe 4.0 department, posting high sequential read and write scores that are just about on par with expectations for the generational leap that these drives provide over PCIe 3.0-based SSDs.
Crystal DiskMark 6.0
The Crystal DiskMark 6.0 sequential tests, meanwhile, simulate best-case, straight-line transfers of large files…
That last speed increase carries into our Crystal DiskMark 6.0 testing, where the drive, by a hair,Corsair Force posts top marks for sequential reads, and lands in an essential tie with the other PCIe 4.0 drives in sequential writes.
In contrast, the utility’s 4K (or “random read/write”) tests simulate typical processes involved in program/game loads or bootup sequences.
In 4K read and writes the drive keeps in pace with the other PCIe 4.0 drives (the FireCuda 520 and Cardea Zero Z440).
AS-SSD Copy Tests
Last up is a series of file and folder transfers done in the SSD benchmarking utility AS-SSD. This trio of tests involves copying large files or folders from one location on the test drive to another…
Finally, the Corsair MP600 leads again in ISO and game folder copy speeds, and loses only by a trivial amount in the program folder copy run.
PCIe 4.0 Puts Down Some Shallow Roots
So, in this new world of higher-than-ever throughput, how does the Corsair Force MP600 stack up? Well, it’s fast as all get-out in some circumstances, that’s for sure. But is it overkill? Almost definitely. Only a small subset of users might actually notice much benefit from upgrading to PCIe 4.0 right now, and even then, their work style wouldn’t be drastically cramped if they were “forced” into using a PCIe 3.0 system exclusively.
So far, the Corsair MP600 and other PCIe 4.0 drives like it are more of a “could”Corsair Force scenario, rather than a “should.” Plus, in most of our speed tests, the speed differences among the three PCIe 4.0 SSDs we’ve tested so far are trivial; they all scored close enough that only benchmarks will show the gaps between, not the naked eye.
If you’re intent on living at the absolute bleeding edge of storage tech, and you do a lot of high-volume, same-drive file transfers on a daily basis (to the point where a slower drive actually starts costing you money in lost productivity), the Corsair MP600, in that limited scenario, is a fine buy. The lofty TBW rating is especially attractive if you’ll be doing lots of same-drive writes day in and day out, such as many repeated saves of large video files you might be editing.
For most everyone else Corsair Force, the better move may be simply waiting until the gaming tech and creative applications catch up to the wild throughput promise of PCIe 4.0, unless you already own and run a spanking-new AMD Ryzen or Ryzen Threadripper system you want to keep as leading-edge as possible. For tip-top value, we’d recommend saving some cash and going with current all-stars in PCIe 3.0 NVMe storage, such as the ADATA SX8200 Pro, that will handle almost every task you can throw their way with ease.
Corsair Force Series MP600
- Very fast sequential and 4K results
- Five-year warranty
- Full-featured management software
- PCIe 4.0 ecosystem is currently AMD-only
- Most PCIe 4.0-capable motherboards, apart from B550 chipset, are pricey
- Speed gains mostly applicable in narrow use cases
THE BOTTOM LINE
The high bandwidth ceiling of the PCI Express 4.0 spec has yet to find a practical home outside the very latest AMD desktops, but Corsair’s Force Series MP600 represents a good first step into this new direction for M.2 SSDs.
Corsair Force Series MP600 Specs
|Internal or External||Internal|
|Interface (Computer Side)||M.2 Type-2280|
|Internal Form Factor||M.2 Type-2280|
|Capacity (Tested)||2 TB|
|Bus Type||PCI Express 4.0|
|Rated Maximum Sequential Read||4950 MBps|
|Rated Maximum Sequential Write||4250 MBps|
|Terabytes Written (TBW) Rating||3600 TBW|
|Warranty Length||5 years|
Best SSD Picks
- The Best External SSDs for 2020
- The Best PCI Express NVMe Solid State Drives (SSDs) for 2020
- The Best M.2 Solid-State Drives for 2020
- The Best Cheap SSDs for 2020
- More SSD Reviews
- More from Corsair
Originally Publish at: https://www.pcmag.com/