The big picture: Solid state drives using the PCIe 5.0 standard are still relatively new and often feature high prices and massive heat sinks. However, Gigabyte’s latest product shows notable advances and hints at potential improvements based on the SSD controller.
Gigabyte released a new iteration its Aorus Gen5 PCIe 5.0 NVMe SSD. The new drive arrives just a few months after the company’s first PCIe 5.0 drive, with the latest model offering roughly 20 percent faster read and write speeds.
The 2 TB Aorus Gen5 12000, as the name suggests, supports sequential read speeds of 12.4 GB/s and write speeds of 11.8 GB/s. Even the 1TB variant, which offers 11.7GB/s read and 9.5GB/s write speeds, outperforms the 2TB Aorus Gen5 10000 that Gigabyte launched in April.
While these performance numbers are remarkable, other specs have remained consistent. The previous model’s warranty – either five years or 1,400 terabytes written – remains in place, as does the use of Micron’s 3D TLC NAND flash. Gigabyte has not yet announced pricing or availability for the new drive. However, the original 10000 model is currently priced at $290, which is a reduction from the original $340 MSRP.
The performance of the Gen5 12000 appears to take full advantage of the 12GB/s read speed of the widely used Phison PS5026-E26 8-channel controller, matching the performance of the Crucial T700 and outperforming most competing PCIe 5.0 drives. However, Tom’s Hardware has reported that the E26 can hit 14GB/s, suggesting that Gigabyte may still have room for improvement.
While PCIe 5.0 SSDs are still somewhat of a rarity, models that can reach 14GB/s are even rarer. A notable exception is Adata’s forthcoming NeonStorm, which will use Silicon Motion’s NVMe 2.0-compatible SM2508 controller and will be available in capacities up to 8TB. As recent benchmarks of the Crucial T700 show, all PCIe 5.0 drives require heatsinks that are close to the size of the primary unit to prevent significant performance degradation. However, the NeonStorm takes SSD cooling a step further by integrating dual fans and liquid cooling.
The size of these heatsinks fundamentally limits the number of motherboards that can fully support PCIe 5.0 drives. When it comes to the Aorus Gen5, Gigabyte is being cautious provided a list of incompatible motherboards. As expected, Mini-ITX systems do not make it. Other non-compatible motherboards include the B550, B560, B660, B790, and B760 Micro-ATX variants.
Since these are typically budget boards, owners are unlikely to be early adopters of PCIe 5.0. It remains unclear how and when the technology will mature enough to enable smaller and less expensive systems. One sign to watch out for could be that the two most popular SSD brands, Samsung and Western Digital, are moving to the new standard.