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Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB review: Early mover advantage?

By Wong Chung Wee - 13 Jan 2020
Launch SRP: S$699

Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB

PCIe 4.0, the next generation bus standard

The Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is one of the first SSDs to support the new PCIe 4.0 interface.

The Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB is the first PCIe 4.0-based SSD from Gigabyte and it’s parked under the prestigious Aorus gaming brand. For now, only the AMD X570 chipset boards and the accompanying 7nm AMD Ryzen 3000 series Zen 2 processors support PCIe 4.0 devices.

The PCIe 4.0 standard doubles the bandwidth of its predecessor, PCIe 3.0. For a typical PCIe x16 interface, the new standard effectively doubles its bandwidth from 16GB/s to 32GB/s, due to the new standard’s support of data transfer rates of up to 2GB/s per lane.

Graphics cards like the AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT and RX 5700 will benefit from the increased bandwidth. Other add-on devices like PCIe-based SSDs will point to speedier file transfer as well as application loading. In fact, AMD claims that PCIe 4.0-based storage adopters will experience performance gains up to 42% when compared to previous-gen PCIe 3.0 drives. This is certainly a lofty claim that we have to check out in review of the Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB.

 

Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB

The heatsink increases the size of the drive a little and might not fit if space is tight.

The Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is housed in a copper heatsink; its profile reminds us of a single Kit Kat chocolate bar. The drive comes in the M.2 form factor and measures 23.5- x 80.5- x 11.4mm (L x W x H). As a result, it's a bit larger than your typical M.2 2280 SSD.

With the heatsink removed, we can see the Phison controller.

However, if you remove the heatsink, the drive is just like any typical M.2 2280 form factor PCIe-based SSD. More specifically, you'll want to note that this drive supports the PCIe 4.0 x4 interface with NVMe 1.3 support. From the image above, you can also clearly see its Phison PS5016-E16 controller. It's one of the earliest controllers to support PCIe 4.0 and it's built on a 28nm process and features two 32-bit ARM Cortex R5 processors and supports up to 8 NAND channels. This controller also supports 256-bit AES encryption with support for TCG Opal 2.0 and Pyrite.

Our review unit's model has a drive capacity of 2TB and it features 3D TLC Toshiba BiCS-4 (96-layer) NAND flash memory. Its rated sequential read speed is up to 5,000 MB/s, while its sequential write speed is rated up to 4,400MB/s. The sequential numbers appear impressive on paper, and in terms of life expectancy, the Aorus drive has a rated write endurance of 1800TBW and a 5-year warranty — one of the highest endurance ratings among 2TB SSDs.

The Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD is also available in 500GB and 1TB capacities.

 

Aorus SSD Tool Box

The Aorus SSD Tool Box is a simple but functional SSD utility.

The Aorus SSD Tool Box is the software management tool for the Aorus drive. Its dashboard allows for monitoring of the health and status of the drive.

Secure Erase makes sure all your data is properly deleted.

There's also a dedicated secure erase tool to wipe sensitive data from the drive.

 

The comparison lineup

Before we dive into our results, do note that we are comparing the Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB against a bunch of high-end, previous-gen PCIe 3.0 SSDs. Their general specifications can be compared against the Aorus drive in the table below.

Test SSDs compared
  Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus (1TB) Samsung 970 Pro (512GB) WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD (500GB)
  Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD 2TB Samsung 970 Evo Plus (1TB) Samsung 970 Pro (512GB) WD Black SN750 NVMe SSD (500GB)
Launch SRP
  • From S$699
  • From S$189
Latest Price
  • From S$362
  • From S$296
SSD Capacity
  • 2TB
  • 1TB
  • 512GB
  • 500GB
Flash Memory Type
  • Toshiba 96-layer 3D TLC NAND
  • 96-layer TLC V-NAND
  • Samsung 64-layer 3D MLC V-NAND
  • SanDisk 64-layer 3D TLC NAND
Controller
  • Phison PS5018-E18 controller
  • Phoenix
  • Samsung Phoenix
  • Western Digital in-house controller
Onboard Cache
  • 2GB DDR4 DRAM
  • 1GB LPDDR4 DRAM
  • 512MB LPDDR4 DRAM
Advertised Sequential Read/Write Speeds
  • Read: Up to 5,000MB/s
  • Write: Up to 4,400MB/s
  • Sequential read: Up to 3,500MB/s
  • Sequential write: Up to 3,300MB/s
  • Read: 3,500MB/s
  • Write: 2,300MB/s
  • Read: Up to 3,430MB/s
  • Write: Up to 2,600MB/s
Advertised Random Read/Write Speeds
  • Read: 750,000 IOPS
  • Write: 700,000 IOPS
  • Random read: Up to 600,000 IOPs
  • Random write: Up to 550,000 IOPs
  • Read: Up to 370,000 IOPS
  • Write: Up to 500,000 IOPS
  • Read: 420,000 IOPS
  • Write: 380,000 IOPS
SSD Format
  • M.2 2280
  • M.2 2280
  • M.2 2280
  • M.2 2280

8.5
  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 8
  • Value 8.5
The Good
Fast sequential read and write speeds
PCIe 4.0 support
Heatsink helps keep chips cool
Good price point
5-year warranty
High endurance rating
The Bad
Speed only evident with large data blocks and files
Heatsink must be removed if space is tight
Performance advantage limited to AMD X570 platforms for now