In brief: M.2 2230 SSDs aren't particularly easy to find at most retailers, but that changes with Sabrent's introduction of the Rocket 2230. The new solid-state drive won't be the speediest PCIe 4.0 SSD around when it arrives on the Amazon store but it will fit in many devices where larger form factors simply won't, such as Valve's Steam Deck and Microsoft's Surface products.
Sabrent has unveiled a new solid-state drive designed specifically for small form-factor devices like ultrabooks, 2-in-1 laptops including the Microsoft Surface series, and compact desktop PCs and handheld consoles like the Steam Deck.
As its name suggests, the Rocket 2230 SSD uses the M.2 2230 form factor and has a single-sided design that makes it an ideal candidate for people who want to upgrade the storage on devices like the Steam Deck, where space and battery life are extremely limited. A few months ago, some Steam Deck owners were successful in installing larger M.2 2242 SSDs via a DIY hack, but Sabrent's new SSD is a safer choice as it's a simple drop-in replacement for the original drive.
The Rocket 2230 will come in three capacities --- 256 gigabytes, 512 gigabytes, as well as a 1-terabyte model. Thanks to the use of a Phison E21T PCIe 4.0 NAND controller and what the company calls "exceptional 3D TLC flash," the new drives will be capable of sequential read and write speeds of up to 5,000 megabytes per second and 4,300 megabytes per second, respectively.
Of course, performance varies depending on the capacity of the drive. The 176-layer Micron TLC NAND is capable of up to 4,650 megabytes per second in sequential reads and 1,900 megabytes per second in sequential writes. The read speeds are only marginally higher on the bigger siblings, but the 512-gigabyte model can achieve almost double the write speed of the base model while the 1-terabyte version can go as fast as 4,300 megabytes per second.
Sabrent's internal testing against the original Kingston drive inside the Steam Deck shows a significant performance improvement with the 1-terabyte Rocket 2230 model. The latter drive can achieve 45 percent higher sequential read speeds and is also more than 150 percent faster in sequential writes.
That said, there likely won't be a discernible difference between a good SD card and Sabrent's SSDs in most games you're going to play on a Steam Deck. That may change as developers start implementing DirectStorage technology into their games, but we'll have to wait and see. Forspoken, one of the first titles to use the new technology, is planned for a January 2023 release.
The Rocket 2230 has an endurance rating of 200 TBW on the base model and 600 TBW on the 1-terabyte version, both of which are adequate for most consumer use cases. Upon registering the drive on the official website, users will have their drives backed by a 5-year warranty. Additionally, the company will include a free copy of Acronis True Image to help with cloning an older drive to the Rocket 2230.
Sabrent wouldn't say anything about the pricing of the new drives but the company has promised that sufficient stock will be available shortly on its Amazon storefront.