Introduction & Drive Details
As it stands today, there are basically two paths fabless SSD retailers are taking for their highest performing enthusiast-level PCIe Gen4 SSDs. The first path is the one everyone is most familiar with and that one involves the most prolific Gen4 7,000 MB/s capable controller, Phison Electronics’ potent E18 8-channel controller. The other path we see more and more of is what we have here today; an InnoGrit IG5236 Gen4 x4 controller codenamed Rainer.
Now, both paths we mentioned have one thing in common as of late, and that’s being placed in front of a Micron 176 Layer B47R Fortis Grade flash array. Micron’s potent B47R flash has enabled both popular enthusiast-level options to breathe, so to speak. By “breathe,” we are referring to performance that matters most, or more specifically, random read performance.
HP’s newest enthusiast SSD has been a long time coming but is most certainly well worth the wait. The HP SSD FX900 Pro Gen4 NVMe SSD we are reviewing today has supplanted its EX950 Gen3 NVMe SSD as its most potent consumer storage solution. The most obvious performance upgrade on offer from HP’s newest is its massive sequential throughput that more than doubles what the EX950 is capable of, as demonstrated by the below benchmark run on our AMD-based SSD test platform:
VIEW GALLERY – 35 IMAGES
There you have it, more than double the throughput of the EX950. The FX900 Pro, like the EX950 it is supplanting, is a collaborative effort between HP and BIWIN. BIWIN builds SSDs, many of which are sold under major OEM names like Acer and HP, so this team effort makes perfect sense. BIWIN brings the ability and expertise to manufacture SSDs, and HP brings its prestigious branding. This sounds like it will be spectacular. Let’s see what this new Gen4 contender can do for you by the numbers.
Across the board, these are by far the highest “up to” random IOPS factory ratings we’ve seen for any flash-based SSD. Impressive.
The FX900 Pro has kind of an odd thermal enhancement label. It’s a plastic and graphene foam label that is compressible in nature. We’re not exactly sure what to make of it, other than to pass along that BIWIN/HP claims it to be highly effective, capable of reducing working temperatures by about 18 degrees Celsius.
HP SSDs don’t come with value-add software which helps them keep costs lower than much of its competition. We are fine with this simply because there is plenty of readily available freeware for cloning and monitoring SSD health.
Jon’s Test System Specifications
HP SSD FX900 Pro 2TB NVMe PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD
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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. We are utilizing the newest PS5 hardware and software versions.
For SSDs like HP’s FX900 Pro that don’t have an adequately sized PS5 compatible heat sink or other SSDs where the heat sink provided doesn’t fit and can be removed, we both use and recommend Sabrent’s unparalleled PS5 heat sink available HERE.
We only chart SSDs that can deliver a minimum of 5,500 MB/s read, which is Sony’s original recommendation. We note that with the latest PS5 software update, even SSDs that only do 4,200 MB/s no longer trigger a low-performance warning; nevertheless, we are sticking by Sony’s original recommendation of 5,500 MB/s minimum read requirement.
The FX900 Pro does well enough here as 6,200 MB/s is quite good for an IG5236 powered SSD. However, 6,200 MB/s is not as good as what the IG5236 powered Plextor M10P can do. This is attributable to the difference in flash arrays between these IG5236 controlled powerhouses. B47R is very good, but BiCS is even better.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM, Anvil, ATTO
Right out of the gate, the FX900 Pro delivers two lab records for a flash-based SSD running on an Intel-based system. Most impressive is the drive’s massive 104 MB/s QD1 random read performance, which is the best we’ve ever received from any flash-based consumer SSD. Outstanding, as this is a very good indication that consumer workload performance will be stellar.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
A read score of 10K or more is always nice to see from any SSD. HP’s newest enthusiast offering delivers the second-best score we’ve received from an SSD controlled by an IG5236. Impressive. Moving over to our MAX Random Read IOPS testing at QD128, the FX900 Pro delivers another lab record. It’s not 1.3 million RR IOPS as is claimed by factory specs, but this is likely because factory specs for IOPS are established with an unpartitioned empty state. Wow.
InnoGrit powered SSDs have always struggled with 128K sequential read performance, and the FX900 Pro is no exception. As always, we see no cause for concern here as sequential performance is not much of a factor as it relates to user experience. Almost all data is random in nature.
Real-World Testing: Transfers, 3DMark SSD Gaming Test, PCM10 Storage
Our 100GB data transfer test is not your ordinary 100GB of data. Ours is a crushing mix composed of more than 62K files. Anytime a test subject gets 1,400 MB/s or better, here we are completely satisfied.
Serving data to the host is something B47R based SSDs do very well. This is performance that matters.
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 in fact 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 SSDs 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.
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. Very good gaming performance for this hardware configuration. It’s the second-best we’ve ever recorded for an IG5236 powered SSD. Here again, we see that although B47R is awesome flash, BiCS is still better, as demonstrated by Plextor’s IG5236 powered M10P.
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. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with mainstream user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
Earlier, we predicted its stellar QD1 random read performance would translate to superior consumer workload performance. Well, there you have it. The 2TB FX900 Pro delivers one of the best consumer workload performances we’ve ever seen, placing fifth on our chart of 51 drives. Impressive.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Again, stellar performance here where it matters most. It is by far the best we’ve seen from any IG5236/B47R based SSD. The best performance to date for any non-BiCS arrayed SSD.
HP’s newest enthusiast NVMe SSD, the FX900 Pro, is overall one of the top four performing flash-based SSDs ever made. Period. We applaud HP for going with this potent hardware configuration as it’s not only essentially as good as it gets in terms of performance that matters, it’s also priced oh so right. An SSD with the kind of real-world performance the HP SSD FX900 2TB has to offer for a little over 12 cents per gigabyte is what we have to call the complete package. Amazing really.
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. We consider a user experience score of 11K or more to verify an SSD as a TweakTown Elite performer. A user experience score of 12.5K speaks volumes as it’s the fourth-best of the 51 SSDs that comprise our chart. This is a testament to the prowess of InnoGrit’s IG5236 controller. Powerful.
We had to wait for years for HP to get onboard with PCIe Gen4 SSDs, but the wait turned out to be well worth it, as exemplified by the FX900 Pro 2TB SSD we had the pleasure of testing today. HP’s newest is overall the fourth-best performing flash-based SSD we’ve tested to date, making it TweakTown Elite and earning it our highest award.
- User Experience