BiWin’s licensing of the HP brand for its own memory and storage likely brings name recognition to a target market that is unlikely to have any connection to the legacy brand’s desktop PCs. That sounds like a win-win, so to speak. Or, as the firm’s name implies, a Bi-Win. With that out of the way, let’s consider how the brand competes!
|HP FX900 1TB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280||Controller||InnoGrit IG5220|
|Capacity||1.0TB||Flash||Micron 176L TLC (B47R)|
|Interface||PCIe 4.0 x4 (NVMe 1.4)||Cache||HMB|
|Max Sequential Read||Up to 5000 MBps||4KB Random Read||Up to 828,000 IOPS|
|Max Sequential Write||Up to 4800 MBps||4KB Random Write||Up to 663,000 IOPS|
Inside the box are the drive with a metal-backed logo sticker and a quick start guide with warranty statement. HP warranties its drives for five years or 400 Terabytes Written, and the later likely helps to explain why the FX900 is rated at half the TBW of the Viper VPR400: FX900 buyers pay approximately 25% less for what everyone says is the same controller and flash.
The logo sheet’s metal backing adds heat spreader functionality to a part that would otherwise have been a hindrance to conductivity. We took the opportunity to peel it while that could still be done without significant damage. The INNOGRIT IG5220 text underneath is plain for everyone to see, matching that of the competing RGB SSD.
Zooming in for a side-by-side of the ICs, we noticed that the flash ICs are labeled BW29F4T08ENLEE. Everyone we’ve turned to has told us that this is relabeled Micron B47R, but we can’t think of a good reason for BiWin to do that: While the relabeling scenario sounds more realistic from a technical perspective, any company capable of copying so complex an IC within the product’s useful lifetime would likewise deserves some credit.
Either way, both the FX900 and VPR400 have the same cacheless controller using up to the same 64MB of host memory as a buffer while reading from and writing to two 176-layer 512MB NAND ICs, so we should expect the same performance, no?
|CPU||Intel Core i9-12900K, Fixed at 4.8/4.0GHz, 1.275V|
|CPU Cooler||Alphacool Eisblock XPX CPU, VPP655 with Eisbecher D5 150mm, NexXxoS UT60 X-Flow|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z690 Taichi LGA 1700|
|Graphics||Gigabyte GeForce RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8G: 1410-1725 MHz GPU, GDDR6|
|Power||be quiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W: ATX12V v2.3, EPS12V, 80 PLUS Platinum|
|Memory||Patriot Viper Venom RGB DDR5-6200 C40 2x 16GB (32GB) Kit|
|Sound||Integrated HD Audio|
|Graphics Driver||GeForce 496.49|
We’re sticking to our 2022 storage testing system until we’ve collected more data using our newer 13900K CPU and 6750 XT. That meant putting the 12900K back onto this board and re-pasting the water block. It’s a good thing, then, that Arctic recently resupplied us with its MX-4.
Luck of the draw perhaps? The FX900 did very well in Sandra and very poorly in AIDA64 compared to the VPR400.
The FX900 prevails in both 3DMark and PCMark over the VPR400, though the Legend 960’s extra cache gives it the performance edge.
The FX900 looks good overall in file transfer benchmarks, though the Legend 960 shows us just how much farther the same configuration of 176L NAND can go when backed by a gigabyte of local cache.
The FX900 beat the VPR400 by 5% even though it has the controller/NAND organization, while trailing the cache-enhanced Legend 960 by 23%. Moreover, the $35 difference in price between the FX900 and Legend 960 accounts for 37% of the average price for all four drives, and 37 is greater than 23.
The FX900 1TB looks like a spectacular value for anyone who doesn’t basically overwrite the entire drive more than 80 times per year. The problem for some users who like to leave their drives nearly full is that wear leveling algorithms will need to move some of that stored data around every so often just to prevent the drive from wearing out the remaining cells. The 400 TBW rating that would have looked great three or four years ago merely looks adequate today.
|HP FX900 1TB|
|The FX900 could be a bargain for those who want a storage drive that doesn’t get written much, or those who want a system drive that’s not constantly near its capacity limit.|
The fun part is trying to figure out how fragile a 400TBW drive might be a few years after many of us replaced our old, failed 150TBW drives. It’s unlikely that we’ll be writing three times the data, but many of those drives were only warrantied for three years. Whether or not the 400 TBW rating outlasts the FX900 1TB’s five-year warranty period will depend upon how it gets used, including how much empty capacity remains. In the end, we’re going to assume that 400 TBW will take the average reader of this article far longer than five years to reach.
Though possible, we don’t believe that BiWin is using inferior components compared to its higher-TBW competitors. On the contrary, we find it more likely that the firm is applying a lower endurance rating to identical hardware simply to eliminate the cost of exchanging the few parts that do fail. At its current price, the FX900 should be a bargain for buyers who are equally stingy, and we’re confident enough in that assessment to give it an award for value.