MyDigitalSSD's business model revolves around selling drives based on Phison reference designs. Like any other small SSD brand, MyDigitalSSD lacks the resources to develop their own SSD controller or even write their own firmware from scratch. The way MyDigitalSSD distinguishes themselves from the many competing brands is by offering drives for substantially lower prices and by being one of the first to market with new controllers from Phison. The SBX checks both boxes: it is priced below the Samsung 860 EVO SATA SSD, and it hit the market in December 2017 as the first Phison E8 drive to ship and one of the earliest retail SSDs to feature Toshiba/SanDisk 64-layer 3D NAND.

As one of the cheapest NVMe SSDs on the retail market, the MyDigitalSSD SBX is a good indicator of the progress NVMe drives have made toward replacing SATA SSDs instead of merely coexisting as a premium high-end alternative.

The Phison E8 controller is one of Phison's low-end options from their second generation of NVMe SSD controllers. The E8 features just two PCIe lanes instead of the usual 4 enabled by an M.2 slot, and a four-channel interface to the NAND—half what is typical for high-end NVMe SSDs. These restrictions combined with a 40nm fabrication process allow the E8 to be a much smaller and cheaper controller than those aiming for the high-end part of the market. To cut costs even further, drive makers can opt for the Phison E8T variant that drops the external DRAM interface. The E8T supports the NVMe Host Memory Buffer feature to mitigate the performance impact DRAMless SSDs usually suffer from, but the E8T hasn't caught on in the consumer SSD market yet.

Despite its low-end role, the Phison E8 is in several ways more advanced than Phison's E7, their first NVMe SSD controller. Major improvements to the error correction capabilities have allowed the E8 to support 3D TLC NAND instead of being confined to the 15nm planar MLC used by E7 drives. The E8 and E8T controllers will also be joined by a high-end E12 controller later this year to round out Phison's second generation of NVMe controllers.

MyDigitalSSD SBX Specifications
Capacity 128 GB 256 GB 512 GB 1 TB
Form Factor M.2 2280
Interface PCIe 3.1 x2, NVMe 1.2
Controller Phison PS5008-E8
NAND Toshiba BiCS3 64-layer 3D TLC
Sequential Read 1600 MB/s
Sequential Write 1300 MB/s
4KB Random Read 240k IOPS
4KB Random Write 180k IOPS
Max Power 5 W
Write Endurance 120 TB
0.5 DWPD
200 TB
0.4 DWPD
375 TB
0.4 DWPD
800 TB
0.4 DWPD
Warranty 5 years
Amazon Price $52.99 (41¢/GB) $84.99 (33¢/GB) $157.99 (31¢/GB) $309.99 (30¢/GB)

This review will primarily compare the SBX against other recent NVMe SSDs, but a few SATA results are included for context. As the cheapest NVMe SSD we have tested so far, the SBX isn't quite in direct competition to all the NVMe SSDs it is being compared against. We have other low-end NVMe SSD reviews in the works including Kingston's A1000 (their take on the Phison E8 platform), and the HP EX900 featuring Silicon Motion's low-end SM2263XT controller. ADATA's SX6000 is the main alternative to the SBX for a NVMe drive in this price range, but we have not had the chance to test the SX6000 or any other drives using Realtek's SSD controller.

We did not test the MyDigitalSSD BPX, the SBX's predecessor based on the Phison E7 platform with 15nm planar MLC NAND. Instead, we have results from the Patriot Hellfire and Team T-Force Cardea, two other M.2 drives based on the same reference design.

AnandTech 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
AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • dgingeri - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    For $53 for a 128GB one, with a 5 year warranty? That's now the boot drive of my server.
  • dgingeri - Monday, May 7, 2018 - link

    It has worked remarkably well as a server boot drive. I highly recommend it.
  • vailr - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    An external USB 3.0 connected PCIe M.2 type NVMe adapter would be faster than any USB thumb drive, and would be ideal for a bootable external "Windows to Go". Is such a device available yet?
    Something like this: but compatible with PCIe NVMe M.2 80mm drives, such as this MyDigitalSSD, or the Samsung 960 NVMe, for example.
  • MajGenRelativity - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    The only ones I've seen are Thunderbolt adapters, which require a Thunderbolt port. They all come populated with an SSD too. The "cheapest" I've seen is the TekQ Rapide, which while priced below others and with decent performance, isn't exactly cheap at $250
  • PeachNCream - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    Since NVMe SSDs still command a price premium even with low cost drives like the SBX out there, it may just not make a lot of sense to build NVMe-to-USB drive enclosures. After all, SATA 3.0 is rated to 6 Gbit/s and USB 3.0 is rated at 5 Gbit/s which means you're already going to be at the saturation point of USB 3.0 with a SATA SSD in a USB enclosure at a relatively low cost for a removable boot drive. I've been doing something like that with a 2.5 inch SATA to USB 3.0 enclosure and a spare 120GB Patriot Torch. Ubuntu happily boots from it and I can't really discern much difference (responsiveness, performance, read/write speed, etc.) between using the drive in the external enclosure and using that same drive on my laptop's internal SATA connector.
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link
    This explicitly states PCIe (and is out of stock), all others just state SATA M.2. But as Peach described, USB 3.0 is already saturated by SATA 3.0.
    You could frankenstein something. Get one of those PCIe slot to USB things the mining community uses, then a PCIe to M.2 NVME adapter and then hope it somehow works. :D Not pretty though. ;)
  • MajGenRelativity - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    The PCIe slots to USB cable just repurpose the pins on the connector to carry PCIe signals. They do NOT follow USB communication protocols
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    Thanks for that info and sorry for my misinformation. :)
  • MajGenRelativity - Thursday, May 3, 2018 - link

    No problem. I also checked out the drive you linked, and it only supports the one Samsung OEM drive that uses PCIe with the AHCI protocol, not NVMe. Not sure why it doesn't support NVMe, but it says it doesn't, so good idea to keep an eye on that.
  • dgingeri - Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - link

    That would presume that there is a USB to PCIe adapter chip, which there isn't. Thunderbolt, as previously mentioned, is available, but that is because Thunderbolt is based on PCIe anyway. So, no bridge chip is required.

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