PCWorld (USA)

Seagate Firecuda 530: It’s very, very fast

Seagate’s latest top-tier NVME SSD broke all speed records on both PCIE 3 and PCIE 4.

- BY JON L. JACOBI

The Seagate Firecuda 530 is currently the fastest NVME SSD on the market. It not only bested the best of the rest in our real-world and synthetic benchmarks, but did so by a healthy margin in several tests. If you can afford it and you can find it, you won’t regret buying it.

DESIGN AND SPECS

The Firecuda 530 is a 2280 (22mm wide, 80mm long), PCIE 4 x4, NVME SSD.

Seagate, like many other vendors these days, is loath to reveal the fine details of its SSDS, so we’ve taken to stripping off the labels and reading the chip numbers. The 2TB model I tested has 2GB of SK Hynix DDR4 primary cache. It uses a Phison PS6108 controller, and it stores bits on 176-layer 3D Micron TLC (Triple-level Cell/3-bit) NAND. Good stuff.

Alas, an SSD as fast as the Firecuda 530 is going to be expensive, but the bigger problem at the time of this review was availabili­ty: It was sold out in all capacities at all major online retailers, including Best Buy ( go.pcworld.com/ sgbb) and Amazon ( go.pcworld.com/sg2t). A Seagate representa­tive said the company expected the drives to resurface later in August. Based on the prices shown on Newegg.com, you’ll pay $160 for 500GB ( go.pcworld.com/ sg50), $260 for 1TB ( go.pcworld.com/sg1t); $540 for the 2TB capacity we tested ( go. pcworld.com/sg2t), and a cool $1,000 for 4TB ( go.pcworld.com/sg4t). Newegg’s product pages estimate availabili­ty by August 30. For some reason, the models with a preinstall­ed heat sink carry a rather large upcharge. Get your own for less than $15.

The 2TB and 4TB drives are double-sided, while the 512GB and 1TB capacities are single-sided. This is a possible considerat­ion if your laptop is superthin.

Seagate has great faith in the Firecuda 530’s longevity, possibly because the 176layer NAND might allow greater overprovis­ioning or might simply be more robust. The drives are warrantied for five years and rated for 640TBW (512GB model), 1,275TBW (1TB), 2,550TBW (2TB), and 5,100TBW (4TB), respective­ly. TBW stands for Terabytes written—the number of bytes that may be written before the drive wears out. Ratings over one TB written per GB of capacity, as is the case here, are generous.

To top off its act of certitude, Seagate will recover data from a failed Firecuda 530 for the first three years of ownership, free of charge. Let’s hope that’s something you never have to utilize. Seagate’s probably counting on that. I kid. Mostly.

PERFORMANC­E

There’s no suspense in this performanc­e section, as the article title and opening paragraph openly tout the Firecuda 530’s performanc­e. That said, we were a bit surprised by the margin of victory. The 2TB model beat the former champ, the Samsung 980 Pro ( go.pcworld.com/s98p), in every test save one, and trounced it by a hefty margin in several. That’s got to make Phison and Seagate pretty happy—samsung hasn’t been knocked off its best-of-breed perch very often.

Read those scores and weep, rival vendors. The Firecuda 530 is the fastest drive we’ve tested in both synthetic benchmarks and real-world transfers. For instance, the Firecuda 530 was the first SSD to write our 450GB test file in less than 200 seconds. And according to AS SSD 2 (not shown), it also

had extremely low read access times of 0.016 millisecon­ds. The random access write time from that benchmark was actually high, at 0.16 ms, but that never reared its head as a problem in the real-world tests.

In short, the Firecuda 530 is the fastest NVME x4 PCIE 4 SSD you can buy. Note that the 500GB version is a significan­tly slower writer than the others, especially over PCIE 4. Seagate provides estimated performanc­e numbers in the Firecuda 530’s data sheet ( go.pcworld.com/530d).

I do need to issue our new standard warning: Seagate is a dependable company, but the recent chip shortages and other factors have had some SSD vendors swapping parts ( go.pcworld.com/ cshr)— in rare cases, such as with Adata, to negative effect.

The PCIE 3 tests utilized Windows 10 64-bit running on a Core i7-5820k/asus X99 Deluxe system with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHZ DDR4 modules, a Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIE graphics card, and an Asmedia ASM3242 USB 3.2x2 card. It also contains a Gigabyte Gc-alpine Thunderbol­t 3 card, and Softperfec­t Ramdisk 3.4.6 for the 48GB read and write tests.

The PCIE 4 testing was done on an MSI MEG X570 motherboar­d socketing an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core CPU, using the same Kingston DRAM, cards, and software. All testing is performed on an empty or nearly empty drive. Performanc­e will decrease as the drive fills up.

BOTTOM LINE

The Seagate Firecuda 530 is the fastest NVME SSD we’ve seen that’s available for PCIE 3 and especially PCIE 4 systems. It’s a bit pricey, but the extra cash delivers outstandin­g longevity and support. Highly recommende­d.

 ??  ??
 ??  ?? Seagate warns that the surface of the 530 may be hot. That’s under heavy use, of course. This is an image of the 2TB model we tested.
Seagate warns that the surface of the 530 may be hot. That’s under heavy use, of course. This is an image of the 2TB model we tested.
 ??  ?? Shorter bars are better, and the Firecuda 530 has a lot of those for our 48GB transfer tests.
Shorter bars are better, and the Firecuda 530 has a lot of those for our 48GB transfer tests.
 ??  ?? You might say the Firecuda whupped the competitio­n, at least in PCIE 4. PCIE 3 limits the latest NVME SSD’S sustained throughput performanc­e.
You might say the Firecuda whupped the competitio­n, at least in PCIE 4. PCIE 3 limits the latest NVME SSD’S sustained throughput performanc­e.
 ??  ?? This was a rather astounding 450GB write time, shaving nearly 20 seconds off the previous best.
This was a rather astounding 450GB write time, shaving nearly 20 seconds off the previous best.

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