When dealing with NVMe drives the first thing I think when I pick when up is usually “My gosh, it’s so small and light”. That certainly was NOT the case with the new AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD. I’m sure there’s a light and delicate PCB on the inside but it’s fully encased in an extremely hefty and solid piece of copper. I couldn’t decide how I felt about the looks at first but ultimately decided that I rather enjoy the aesthetic of a big chunk of shiny copper, glistening in it’s M.2 slot on my AORUS motherboard. This is our review of the AORUS NVMe Gen4 PCIe 4.0 SSD.
- MSRP: $259.99 ($459.99 for 2TB)
- Form Factor: M.2 2280
- Interface: PCI-Express 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3
- Total Capacity: 1TB (2TB also available)
- Sequential Read Speeds: up to 5000 MB/s
- Sequential Write Speeds: up to 4400 MB/s
- Wear Leveling, Over-Provision technologies
- TRIM & S.M.A.R.T. supported
- Full Body Copper Heat Spreader
- NAND: 3D TLC Toshiba BiCS4
- External DDR Cache: DDR4 1GB
- Random Read IOPS: up to 750k
- Random Write IOPS: up to 700k
- Dimension: 80.5 x 11.4 x 23.5mm
- Mean Time Between Failure: 1.77 million hours
- Power Consumption: Read: 6.6W; Write 6.4W || 18.8mw idle
- Operating Temperature: 0 to 70 Celcius
- Warranty: Limited 5-years
Outside of being one of the first PCIe 4.0 drives, promising insane transfer speeds on the new feature of this generation of Ryzen CPUs, you can see that one of the biggest copper heat spreaders ever put on a drive is a main feature. In Gigabyte’s internal testing they found that this dual sided copper cooler kept the drive 16% cooler than without it. Given that these drives can thermal throttle I think this is a good move on Gigabyte’s part, though if you don’t like the appearance you can always remove the enclosure and use the small conductors usually found on the motherboard. Inside the copper enclosure the M.2 SSD is sandwiched between two Thermal Pads for the most heat conductivity to the copper exterior.
If you’re into the technical specifications of products (and since you’re reading this I can safely assume you are), the AORUS PCIe NVMe features the world’s first PCIe 4.0x4 controller - the Phison PS5016-E16. Phison’s controller is made with a 28nm process and ensures the controller can handle ECC processing on high speed 3D TLC NAND flash storage. The PS5016-E16 features eight NAND channels and a whopping one gigabyte DDR4 cache. The NAND flash itself is Toshiba’s BiCS4 with 96 layers and features 800MT/s throughput, dwarfing the 400-530ish MT/s achieved on PCIe 3.0. All of this combines to deliver read and write speeds VASTLY superior to PCIe 3.0 drives. For comparison your normal PCIe 3.0 SSD has a read speed in the 3500MB/s while the AORUS PCIe 4.0 SSD boasts speeds up to 5000MB/s (and comes darn close in our real-world benchmarking).
Finally with the AORUS PCIe 4.0 SSD you get access to the AORUS SSD Tool Box software. It’s nicely designed but it’s utility is questionable. It’s able to give you your ‘Drive Health’, though metrics on how that’s calculated aren’t evident, as well as the temperature of your drive and information about your drive - like firmware, serial number, and model. The only real stand out feature is the secure erase function that securely erases all the data on the drive. I have software that I use and prefer for all these functions so I don’t have room for the extra piece of software in my life, but for basic monitoring it does it’s job just fine.
Test System: Motherboard: AORUS X570 Pro Wifi, CPU: AMD Ryzen 3700x, Cooler: Cooler Master ML240p, RAM: 32GB HyperX Predator DDR4-3200 RGB, GPU: MSI RTX 2080 Duke 8GB, Boot Drive: AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD 1TB, Power Supply: ThermalTake 800W Gold PSU
First up for the drive is the classic ATTO Disk Benchmark tool. ATTO uses RAW compressible data and is always the first stop for me when testing a new drive. We tested with a file size of 256mb broken up into part ranging from 512 bytes to 64 megabytes. Without bypassing the cache everything gets pushed through that 1GB of DDR4 cache discussed earlier. Results really concerned me as I wasn’t getting anywhere close my ‘up to’ speeds. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the speeds were so slow in ATTO because as you’ll see in Crystal Disk Mark the promised speeds are clearly evident. The only conclusion I can draw is that there’s a big difference in how the NVMe handles compressible data and non-compressible data (Crystal Disk Mark).
Crystal Disk Mark 6 is next up at bat and brings our first set of comparisons and the return of promised speeds. The AORUS NVMe reached a blistering 4936MB/s read, nearly the 5000Mb/s cap in the specifications, and write fell about 300MB/s short of 4400MB/s. An interesting realization is the 300MB/s it feel short is quite literally ¾ of the total write speed of a 2.5” SATA SSD. The AORUS is 38% faster than the KC2000 in read operations and 23% faster in write operations. That gap only grows as we go down the list of tested drives. It goes without saying that PCIe 4.0 wipes the floor with any of the 3.0 options and if you’re craving speed there’s really no other option.
While synthetic benchmarks are great, here at MMORPG.com we know that real world results are just as important and quite often paint a more realistic story. I have two graphs back to back for your to take a look at. The first up my standard file transfer test where we transfer a 36.2GB Witcher 3 GOG folder. Unless you’re a video editor transferring around 4k video, most real-world transfer experiences will include smaller file sizes which affects the overall transfer speed and being, a gaming site, I think nothing is more appropriate than a game folder. As expected, the AORUS PCIe 4.0 NVMe dominates the competition with an average speed of 320MB/s.
Last up are our MMO transfer speeds. The graph was beginning to get really crowded so I had to trim down the game selection a little bit for display purposes. To keep things brief I tested Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert Online and the ever popular World of Warcraft. The AORUS NVMe performed exceptionally well in real world load testing, cutting load times by a substantial amount and getting you into the game faster.
My first taste of a PCIe 4.0 NVMe has been sweet and quite possibly ruined my love of my other drives. This is easily the fastest drive I’ve ever experienced and it’s so much faster than the previous generation that you can even perceive the difference when not paying attention to how long things take. I was blown away by the increase in speeds in other games I didn’t list, like my 250 mod Skyrim setup where load times were nearly cut in half. When it comes to loading large video files you can expect those same kind of results. The fact is if you have a need for speed (can they sue me for that?) and the budget to upgrade your motherboard and buy the newest generation of drives I can’t imagine you’ll be disappointed.
- Incredibly Fast Transfer Rates
- Included heat spreader is nice for keeping temperatures down
- Solid storage capacities available
- Heat spreader is large and heavy - may be a turn off for some
- A lot more expensive than similar sized PCIe 3.0 options
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.