The FX900 also has a faster sibling in the FX900 Pro, a drive we will review at a future date. For now, we want to see how this drive measures up not only against the older designs it’s replacing but even newer, high-end drives. Is it really fair to call this “entry-level” or even “mid-grade” in any meaningful use of those terms?
The HP FX900, manufactured with the assistance of BiWin, comes in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, and 2TB capacities. Unfortunately, we could only find the middle two SKUs available for purchase at the time of review. These are priced competitively but, as always, consider sales before making a purchase.
Performance tops out at 5/4.8 GBps for sequential read and writes, with IOPS hitting an astonishing 828,000/663,000 peak for read and write, both respectively. Astonishing because this drive is based on a quad-channel, DRAM-less controller pushing numbers that would put even the best PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives to shame. We suspect there’s a bit of fudging here as these numbers exceed what InnoGrit lists for the IG5220, especially as we similar high-balling with the FX900 Pro and IG5236 – although IOPS this extreme are not realistically achievable, anyway.
The specifications indicate this is an entry-level to mid-range NVMe SSD, DRAM-less but able to benefit from PCIe 4.0 bandwidth to a limited degree. There are some similarities to drives based on the Phison E16 controller, which has DRAM, but this is clearly newer technology. As such, it’s positioned more to compete with WD’s excellent SN770.
HP offers a 5-year warranty with 400 TBW per TB of capacity. This is less than typical for a standard NVMe drive but more than adequate for most users.
The HP SSDs have always been no-frills, although they do come with an M.2 screw. While it is not difficult to get M.2 screws and they should come with most motherboards and adapters, users nevertheless seem to always ask if a drive comes with the screw. It’s a bit like asking if a SATA SSD comes with a SATA cable — the answer is that most don’t. However, this one does come with the screw.
We see the controller, two NAND packages on the top side, and no DRAM — a minimalist experience, to be sure. The back label contains basic information about the drive. The top label serves a purpose, though, as hinted at in the pictures, it’s actually a graphene thermal pad that assists with the dissipation of excess heat.
The InnoGrit IG5220, also known as the RainierQX, is a 4-channel, DRAM-less PCIe 4.0 controller. It does have a DRAM-equipped sibling in the IG5221 RainierQ, but this has not commonly been seen in the wild. The IG5220 is very powerful and capable for what it is and should not be underestimated. Could it help herald a new era of super-capable DRAM-less drives? Some people even wonder if this much bandwidth is even necessary, but it is impressive for a 4-channel controller.
The flash is difficult to read but seems to be labeled BW29F4T08ENLEE. This would indicate BiWin-binned flash from Micron (MT29-equivalent) in 4Tb or 512GB packages, with 8-bit TLC flash of the 176-layer generation. This flash has been used to good effect on many drives utilizing the Phison E18 controller. Some commenters are eager to say that NAND flash has not improved much where it matters – Q1T1 random performance – but that overlooks just how far you can reach with this flash on the IG5220. Additionally, DirectStorage should help users take better advantage of this potential.