Tech review: Aorus NVMe Gen4 is a solid-state drive for the future

The Aorus touts a sequential read speed of up to 5,000MB/s and a sequential write speed of up to 4,400MB/s.
The Aorus touts a sequential read speed of up to 5,000MB/s and a sequential write speed of up to 4,400MB/s.PHOTO: AORUS

The Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is one of the first solid-state drives (SSD) in the market to support the latest PCIe 4.0 interface.

This interface is used to connect expansion cards such as graphics cards and storage drives in computers. The new 4.0 standard basically doubles the bandwidth of its predecessor, which should significantly benefit storage devices such as SSDs.

The Aorus, for instance, touts a sequential read speed of up to 5,000MB/s and a sequential write speed of up to 4,400MBps. In comparison, a typical PCIe 3.0 SSD such as the Samsung 970 Evo Plus offers a sequential read speed of up to 3,500MBps and a sequential write speed of up to 3,300MBps.

But there is a catch. AMD's X570 chipset is currently the only platform that supports the PCIe 4.0 interface. Rival Intel is only expected to have PCIe 4.0 support from early next year.

I tested the 2TB version of the Aorus SSD, which is also available in 500GB and 1TB capacities. It comes in the M.2 form factor and is housed in a relatively bulky copper heatsink. From the side, it looks like a single Kit Kat chocolate bar. It uses a Phison controller that supports the PCIe 4.0 standard. This controller is responsible for managing the SSD's memory.

Inside the Aorus are 96 layers of flash memory from Toshiba. It has a warranty of five years or up to 1,800 terabytes written (TBW) - whichever comes first. This 1,800 TBW rating is one of the highest endurance ratings for a 2TB SSD.

Aorus has included a software tool to monitor the health and status of the SSD. Besides showing key information such as the temperature of the SSD, this tool can also securely erase all the data on the SSD.

In the CrystalDiskMark benchmark, the Aorus lived up to its performance claims. It took the top spot for sequential read speed and sequential write speed over its PCIe 3.0 competitors - and with a significant lead too. For instance, its sequential write speed of 4,236MBps was 21 per cent faster than the Samsung 970 Evo Plus (3,357MBps).

The Aorus did not fare too well in tests involving small data blocks. For blocks of 4KB size, it was slower than the Samsung 970 Evo Plus, with a write speed of 347MBps compared with the latter's 398MBps.

But the Aorus caught up for larger data blocks, thanks to its faster PCIe 4.0 standard. It managed a write speed of 3,960MBps for 8MB blocks compared with 3,090MBps for the Samsung SSD.

The Aorus' large heatsink seems to be doing a good job. Operating temperatures peaked at around 50 to 60 deg C. The Samsung 970 Evo Plus, which lacks a heatsink, hit temperatures of around 75 deg C.

As one of the first PCIe 4.0 SSDs available, the Aorus has the first-to-market advantage. It also performs well for sequential reads and writes, which should improve workloads that involve large file transfers. And to my surprise, it is priced competitively, especially the 2TB version.

On the other hand, you will need a compatible AMD system to get the best performance out of it, which may limit its appeal.

This content first appeared on hardwarezone.com.sg


FOR

Fast sequential read and write speeds

Supports latest PCIe 4.0 standard

Heatsink keeps SSD cool

Good price point

AGAINST

Fast speeds only evident with large file transfers

Currently supported only by AMD

Heatsink might be too large for smaller chassis

SPECS

PRICE: $199 (500GB), $385 (1TB), $699 (2TB, version tested)

INTERFACE: PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.3

FORM FACTOR: M.2 (2280)

WARRANTY: 5 years

RATING

FEATURES: 4/5

PERFORMANCE: 4/5

VALUE FOR MONEY: 4.5/5

OVERALL: 4/5