Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB review

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB review
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Can you load 4K games in Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB? It offers an impressive amount of storage capacity in a pocket-sized package. You can carry it alongside your smartphone every day, or throw it in a backpack for travel. With its anodized aluminum case, it’s tougher than most external drives, enough to take a beating. Even better, there’s no external power supply. Find more benefits in Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB review.

In the box

• Rocket XTRM-Q 8TB External NVMe SSD.
• Thunderbolt 3 cable.
• USB Type-C to Type-A cable.
• Quick user guide.

Pros & Cons – Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB

Pros

  • Type-C port: Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.2 compatible
  • No drivers or external power needed
  • Extremely fast data transfer
  • Excellent heat dissipation
  • Small compact design/form factor
  • Well made from quality materials

Cons

  • Somewhat finicky on what connection cable I used
  • Did not work with any of my USB 3.2 or TB3 docks
  • Wasn’t compatible with my wife’s 5 yr old iMac or the Gadgeteer Kid’s 4 yr old gaming PC

Key Features

  • USB mode transfer speed up to 900 MB/s.
  • Solid aluminum construction for durability and maximum heat dissipation.
  • Automatically detects USB or Thunderbolt 3 connections.
  • Thunderbolt 3 mode transfer speed up to 2700 MB/s (Actual performance varies by capacities, host device, user applications, and other factors).
  • Integrated temperature and health monitoring system.
  • Plug and play. No drivers and no external power supply needed.

Compatible

Compatible with Windows, Mac and Android devices and sporting both USB 3.2 Gen 2 and Thunderbolt 3 controllers, Sabrent’s Rocket XTRM-Q is great for those who want speed and capacity across platforms. And with a shell crafted out of solid aluminum, the drive is not only durable, it’s also the smallest and lightest Thunderbolt 3 SSD we’ve tested yet, too.

Price

The Rocket XTRM-Q SSD comes in a variety of capacities: 500gb/1TB/2TB/4TB/8TB. The 4 and 8 terabyte versions definitely get pricey, at $800 and $1600 respectively. Sabrent backs the Rocket series of SSDs with a 2 year warranty. As I mentioned above, the XTRM-Q is truly plug and play (as long as you’re using the provided cable with a modern computer and is compatible with Windows / Mac / Linux / iOS.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB (review) comparison

ProductRocket XTRM-Q 2TBRocket XTRM-Q 4TBRocket XTRM-Q 8TB
Capacity (User / Raw)2000GB / 2048GB4000GB / 4096GB8000GB / 8192GB
Interface / ProtocolUSB-C / Thunderbolt 3; USB 3.2 Gen 2USB-C / Thunderbolt 3; USB 3.2 Gen 2USB-C / Thunderbolt 3; USB 3.2 Gen 2
Included27-inch Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable; 20-inch USB Type-C to Type-A (10GBps) cable27-inch Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable; 20-inch USB Type-C to Type-A (10GBps) cable27-inch Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable; 20-inch USB Type-C to Type-A (10GBps) cable
Thunderbolt 3 Sequential Read2,700 MBps2,700 MBps2,700 MBps
USB 3.2 Gen2 Sequential Read900 MBps900 MBps900 MBps
Interface ControllerThunderbolt 3 – Intel JHL7440;Thunderbolt 3 – Intel JHL7440;Thunderbolt 3 – Intel JHL7440;
USB – Realtek 9108BUSB – Realtek 9108BUSB – Realtek 9108B
NAND ControllerPhison E12SPhison E12SPhison E12S
DRAMDDR3LDDR3LDDR3L
Storage MediaMicron 96L QLCMicron 96L QLCMicron 96L QLC
Default File SystemexFATexFATexFAT
PowerBus-poweredBus-poweredBus-powered
SecurityN/AN/AN/A
Dimensions (L x W x H)105 x 45 x 14 mm105 x 45 x 14 mm105 x 45 x 14 mm
Weight129 g129 g129 g
Part NumberSB-XTMQ-2TBSB-XTMQ-4TBSB-XTMQ-8TB
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB review

Design & build

The Rocket XTRM-Q’s smooth, sandblasted finish and beveled edges make for a beautifully designed hunk of metal that is also functional. The drive weighs 129 grams and measures 105mm x 45mm and is only 14mm thick. The solid aluminum construction not only keeps the SSD cool, it’s very durable and gives it some solid protection against drops

Ports

The SSD comes with two very long cables, one being a 27-inch Thunderbolt 3 (40Gbps) cable and the other a 20-inch USB Type-C to Type-A (10GBps) cable.

Interface

A blue power indicator is on the opposite end of the Thunderbolt 3 / Type-C port. The Rocket XTRM-Q manages the host interface connection via a few PCIe switches and some bridge chips. Managing the Thunderbolt 3 interface is an Intel Titan Ridge JHL7440 40Gbps controller. As for the USB interface, Sabrent opted for Realtek’s RTL9210B USB 3.1 Gen 2 to PCIe 3.0 x2 controller. 

File format

The portable SSD comes formatted as exFAT drive out of the box and dishes out read performance figures of up to 2.7 GBps. While not specified by Sabrent, the Rocket XTRM-Q’s sequential write performance peaked at 1.8 GBps in our testing. However, being powered by QLC NAND flash, that write speed will degrade once the SLC cache fills and the drive is forced to write directly to QLC.

Data transfer speed

When backing up 4TB of data from my main computer to the Rocket XTRM-Q over a USB 3.2 Gen 2 controller, the performance was great, hovering at roughly 900 MBps for the first 2TB transferred. But, once the 2TB cache on our 8TB sample filled, speeds degraded to 150 MBps on average, even over the slower interface. 

Cache

Sabrent’s Rocket XTRM-Q features a large dynamic SLC cache that spans one-quarter of its available capacity. That means if the drive is empty, the cache should absorb roughly 2TB of writes on our 8TB sample before degrading to much lower speeds. It also means that if the drive is 75% full, the SLC cache will only measure roughly 60GB. We will go into more detail on just how write performance degrades later in the review.

Hardware

At the heart of the Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q is the company’s Rocket Q, an M.2 2280 SSD. Powered by Phison’s new E12S PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 SSD controller, it is quite capable. It is built on a 12nm process node, boasts dual Cortex R5 CPUs operating at 666MHz, alongside a pair of co-processors, and leverages a DRAM-based architecture for consistent performance. However, with just two of 1GB DDR3L 1,600MHz DRAM chips for buffering the FTL mapping data, the controller must implement a form of table compression. 

Heat dissipation

First, there’s a built-in thermal pad that helps dissipate heat evenly throughout the case. There’s also a temperature monitoring system that’s designed to keep the drive cool. 

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB Setup

The Rocket XTRM-Q SSD is 100% plug and play, no drivers and no external power supply needed. I was able to plug the drive into my 16″ MacBook Pro, 15″ Dell XPS, and iPad Pro and all three immediately recognized the drive. Though I should say, it works with the provided cable and with modern computers. When I tried other USB-C cables or USB-C to USB-A cables none of them worked nor did connecting the drive to any of my USB-C dongles or Thunderbolt dock work either.

The Sabrent Rocket NVME goes in your computer’s PCIe slot, with a low profile that fits in most PC cases. It’s obviously not portable, but it’s a great way to expand your computer’s on-board storage.

Sabrent Rocket XTRM-Q portable TB3 SSD 8TB performance review

Scoring second place here, Sabrent’s Rocket XTRM-Q is very responsive to PCMark 10’s Data Drive Benchmark. Samsung’s X5 exceeds it by a hair over the TB3 interface, and LaCie’s Rugged SSD did well outpace it slightly when connected to our test bench’s USB 3.2 Gen 2 controller. So, not only is the Sabrent drive going to serve up and copy your data quickly, it will respond to your application requests very quickly, too.

DiskBench is a storage benchmarking tool that allows us to test the transfer or copy performance of a storage device with real data. We test external drives with three file transfers that consist of 25GB of photos (10GB of jpgs and 15GB of RAW photos), 50GB of movies, and 25GB of documents. First, we transfer each folder from a 1TB NVMe SSD to the external device; then we follow up by reading a 3.7GB 7-zip file and a 15GB movie back from the device.

Alternate

LaCie’s Rugged SSD Pro gives the Rocket XTRM-Q a good run for its money. Both feature USB and TB3 compatibility, but overall device design differs quite a bit. LaCie features a Phison E12-based FireCuda 510 NVMe SSD with TLC NAND flash, which wipes the floor with the XTRM-Q once the cache runs out. Alternatively, G-Technology’s G-Drive mobile Pro SSD offers some incredible write performance, but lacks the USB compatibility of the Sabrent and LaCie Rugged SSD Pro, and its interface controller can be dodgy with older TB3 host chips.

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