Reviewed: MSI Spatium M480 1TB PCI-e 4.0 NVMe SSD

Traditionally associated with products like GPUs and motherboards, a lot of folks don’t realize that MSI entered the SSD market last year- I certainly didn’t. Today we’ll be looking at MSI’s 1TB Spatium M480, which is currently the fastest PCI-e 4.0 SSD they offer.

Technical Specifications

Unit ModelMSI Spatium M480 1TB (also available in 500gb and 2tb)
Form FactorM.2 2280
InterfacePCIe 4.0 x4/NVMe 1.4
Rated Sequential Read/Write7,000/5,500 MBps
Rated Random Read/Write350,000/700,000 IOPS
Security256-bit AES
ControllerPhison PS5018-E18
Endurance700tb (1tb), 350tb (500gb), 1,400TB (2tb)
Warranty5 years

Packaging

The M480 comes in a small, light cardboard box, protected by sealed plastic. While MSI does offer a version of this unit that comes with a heatsink, this unit contained a stand-alone SSD.

Comparison Drives & Test Setup

To ensure that thermal bottlenecking did not negatively influence the results of my testing, I ordered QIVYNSRY m.2 SSD heatsinks to use with the SSDs I tested.

SSDs tested1TB MSI Spatium M480 (PCI-e 4.0)
1TB Kingston Fury Renegade (PCI-e 4.0)
500 Sabrent Rocket 4.0 (PCI-e 4.0)
1.5 TB Intel Optane 905p (PCI-e 3.0)
MotherboardMSI z690 A PRO DDR4
CPUIntel i5-12600K
CPU CoolerNoctua NH-U12A

How I tested

I’ve been thinking of different ways to show the differences between storage drives for a while. For this review I tested the drives with a few “synthetic” benchmarks such as PerformanceTest and CrystalDiskMark. For a “real life” benchmark, I used Final Fantasy’s loading time benchmark. Lastly, I also ran 3 tests – a DiskMark test with 10,000 iterations, HD Tune’s Error Scan, and HD Tune’s Zero Fill. Each benchmark was run at least 5 times to ensure consistency.

I’m currently looking at better ways to benchmark game loading times, and will have a larger number of both game and application benchmarks in future storage reviews.

Final Fantasy – Game Loading Times

In this game loading benchmark, the “old” Intel Optane drive lead the pack with a total loading time of 6.78s. At 9.39s, MSI’s M480 was slightly faster than the Sabrent Rocket 4 – but slower than Kingston’s Fury Renegade.

Crystal Disk Mark

The CrystalDiskMark benchmarks were curious. In many tests the Kingston Fury outperformed MSI’s M480, but there were many results where the M480 was equal to or better than the Kingston Fury in performance.

HD Tune Error Scan

I choose the Error Scan & Zero Fill options in HD Tune to test complete reads and writes of the drives. I only tested the MSI & Kingston drives in this test, as I felt the results from these tests with the other drives would not be comparable due to size differences.

The time it took to complete a Zero Fill of each drive was virtually identical, however the Kingston Fury Renegade completed the Error Scan nearly 3 minutes 6 seconds faster than MSI’s Spatium M480!

PerformanceTest – Disk Mark

DiskMark

For DiskMark, I used 10k iterations with 128 IOs/8MB per Iteration. The results of this testing were a bit unexpected. In the reading test, MSI’s Spatium M480 was 23% faster than the Kingston Fury – but in the writing test, MSI’s M480 was 25% slower.

Conclusion

MSI’s Spatium M480 is a well performing PCI-e 4.0 drive that will satisfy the needs of most users. While it falls behind the more expensive Kingston drive overall, in certain tasks it is equal – or even better – in performance.

Would I recommend this drive? Pricing for SSDs has been extremely volatile lately, varying +-30% depending on various factors. While the Spatium M480 performs well enough, this volatility complicates a recommendation. As of this writing, the MSI M480 Spatium is available for $149.99 on Amazon – at that price, I think it’s a good deal.

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