Best PCIe SSDs of 2016

Best PCIe SSDs – 2016

Best PCIe SSDs
When we work with computers, we expect them to work smoothly and fast, always demanding more. Hard drives are a big part of that and there is always room for improvement in them. But the speed of hard drives is starting to reach the maximum of what the SATA connection can take, so engineers have started developing hard drives that work with the PCI port. Their motto is “break the bottleneck”. Today, the most popular version of SATA is SATA 3.0, which can handle 600MB/s, but the newest version of PCIe – PCIe 3.0 has a bandwidth of close to 1 GB/s per lane, meaning that a x4 (4 lane) slot can handle almost 4GB/s of information, which is a huge difference. Even the older PCIe 2.0 can handle more than SATA, considering it is approximately half as fast as PCIe 3.0. 
Accompanying this new technology is a new standard – M.2, which is being implemented into more and more computers, and, accompanied by the new NVMe interface, it will support hard drives with speeds we could not imagine a few years ago. The main idea behind it is a unified, fast and simple access to computer buses. To learn a bit more about PCIe SSDs and M.2, check out our article about PCIe SSDs HERE.
Right now this is relatively new technology and only a handful of companies have decided to take on the challange of making it. That is why the prices of these drives are relatively high for now, but it is also an investment into the future, considering You won’t have to worry about Your drive being too slow. Below is our comparison of the most popular PCIe-based hard drives at the moment.

Intel 750 Series Review

(Amazon discount link)

Intel 750 Series Review
Intel just loves to be a part of new breakthroughs, and PCIe hard drives is not an exception. Intel 750 Series is available in 400GB version for $404.06/$409.99, 800GB version for $869.99 or 1.2TB version for $1049.99/$1062.35 (check prices HERE), prices are a bit lower for the standard PCIe add-in card version, which is discussed below. Intel promises read speeds of up to 900MB/s for the 400GB version, 1200MB/s for the 1.2TB version and write speeds of up to 2200MB/s for the 400GB version, 2400MB/s for the 1.2TB version. You can also choose what form factor the drive should have and, accordingly, the connection. Intel 750 Series can be a HHHL (half-height, half-length) add-in card, which would go directly into Your PCIe slot as any other PCIe-based card would. The other option is a 2.5 inch x15mm drive, which connects to the PCI interface via the U.2 connector. But be careful! U.2 is a new standard, so right now there aren’t that many computers that support this connection right out of the box. Check Your device specifications before buying the 2.5′ version! Intel 750 series has 5 year warranty. Product dimensions: 2.8 x 4 x 0.6 inches (7.1 x 10.16 x 1.5 cm) and weighs 4.5 ounces (0.13 kg). 
  • Available in PCIe HHHL adapter version for the PCI Express Gen. 3 x4 slot or 2.5 inch version for the M.2 (SFF8643) connector
  • Sequential read speed up to 900MB/s; sequential write speed up to 2200MB/s for the 400GB version
  • Sequential read speed up to 1200MB/s; sequential write speed up to 2400MB/s for the 1.2TB version
  • Random 4K read speed up to 430’000 IOPS for the 400GB version, up to 440’000 IOPS for the 1.2TB version
  • Random 4K write speed up to 230’000 IOPS for the 400GB version, up to 290’000 IOPS for the 1.2TB version



OCZ RevoDrive 350 Review

OCZ RevoDrive 350 Review
OCZ is a Toshiba Group company and are one of the pioneers in the PCIe hard drive field. RevoDrive uses PCIe 2.0 x8 slot. It is available in three capacities – 240GB for $449.99, 480GB for $659.99 and 960GB for $1099.99 (check prices HERE). OCZ has promised read/write speeds of around 1000MB/s for the 240GB version and up to a staggering 1700MB/s for the 480GB and 960GB versions. Unfrotunately for Mac users, this drive will only work with Windows and has Linux support planned. It has a 3 year warranty. The form factor of RevoDrive 350 is FHHL (full-height, half-length) It currently has only 24 Amazon customer reviews, but almost all of them are positive, the drive is rated 4.2 out of 5 stars. Product dimansions are 7.1 x 5 x 0.8 inches (18.1 x 12.6 x 2 cm) and it weighs 10.9 ounces (0.31 kg). Shipping weight is 1.7 pounds (0.77 kg).
  • Sequential read speed up to 1000MB/s; sequential write speed up to 950MB/s for the 240GB version
  • Sequential read speed up to 1800MB/s; sequential write speed up to 1700MB/s for the 480GB and 960GB versions
  • Random 4K read speed up to 45’000, 90’000, 135’000 IOPS (for 240GB, 480GB and 960GB versions accordingly)
  • Random 4K write speed up to 80’000 IOPS for the 240GB version, 140’000 IOPS for the 480GB and 960GB versions
  • Uses PCI Express Gen. 2 x8 slot

Kingston Digital Hyper-X Predator Review

Kingston Digital Hyper-X Predator

Kingston is also one of the companies leading the PCIe hard drive revolution with the Hyper-X Predator. It comes in two capacities – 240GB for $244.99/$232.94 and 480GB for $469.49/$449.99 (check prices HERE). Kingston has promised read speeds up to 1400MB/s and write speeds up to 600MB/s for the 240GB version and 1000MB/s for the 480GB version. Similarly to the Intel 750 series, Predator is available in the conventional PCIe version (slightly more expensive), or the M.2 SSD version. The conventional PCIe adapter version uses PCIe 2.0 x4 slot and has HHHL form factor. The M.2 SSD version has 2280 form factor, so be careful! Even if Your computer has the M.2 SSD connector, some notebooks might not have enough space on the system board for this SSD, as it is the biggest form factor of M.2 SSDs that go directly into the slot. The second two digits define the length of the card in mm and 80 is the longest. Check Your device specifications before purchasing this version of Predator! This drive has a 3 year warranty. Product dimensions: for the PCIe adapter version 7.1 x 0.8 x 4.8 inches (18 x 2 x 12.2 cm) and weighs 2.6 ounces (74 grams), for the M.2 SSd version 3.2 x 0.8 x 0.9 inches (8 x 2 x 2.3 cm) and weighs 1.6 ounces (45 grams). 

  • Available in PCIe HHHL adapter version for the PCI Express Gen. 2 x4 slot or 2280 M.2 SSD version
  • Sequantial read speed up to 1400MB/s for both capacities; sequential write speed up to 600MB/s for the 240GB version, 1000MB/s for the 480GB version
  • Random 4K read speed up to 160’000 IOPS for the 240GB version, up to 130’000 IOPS for the 480 GB version
  • Random 4K write speed up to 119’000 IOPS for the 240GB version, up to 118’000 IOPS for the 480 GB version



OWC Mercury Accelsior E2 Review

OWC Mercury Accelsior E2 Review
Other World Computing (OWC) enters our list with Mercury Accelsior E2. E2 is available in 4 capacities – 120GB for $247, 240GB for $329, 480GB for $479 and 960GB for $747 (check prices HERE). Read speeds go up to 820MB/s for the 120GB and 240GB versions, and up to 758MB/s for the 480GB and 960GB versions. Write speeds go up to 600MB/s for the 120GB and 240GB versions and up to 743MB/s for the 480GB and 960GB versions. E2 uses PCIe 2.0 x2 slot. The main characteristic that sets this drive apart from others is the two integrated eSATA ports, which allow You to easily expand Your storage by up to 32TB of memory with SATA based drives. Note that only the E2’s own memory will have the greater speeds and the SATA ports will work simply as practical connectors to the SATA interface. This is more important for Mac Pro users, as the eSATA ports can handle 600MB/s as opposed to the default FireWire, which has a bandwidth of 100MB/s. There is also the 0GB version for $27, which is basically an upgrade kit for the older Accelsior card. It allows You to have the two extra eSATA ports, which the older version didn’t have. All You have to do is pluck the two SSD blades from the old drive and put them right back into the new one (tutorial on OWC homepage HERE). E2 has low profile form factor. This drive works with Windows, Mac and Linux. Product dimensions: 0.8 x 7.1 x 4.7 inches (2.1 x 18 x 12 cm) and weighs 3 ounces (85 grams). Shipping weight is 11.4 ounces (0.32 kg). 
  • Available as working cards or as an upgrade kit for the older version
  • Low profile form factor, uses PCIe Gen. 2.0 x2 slot
  • Two integrated eSATA ports allow up to 32 GB of extra storage
  • Sequential read speed up to 820MB/s; sequential write speed up to 600MB/s for the 128GB and 240GB versions
  • Sequential read speed up to 758MB/s; sequential write speed up to 743MB/s for the 480GB and 960GB versions
  • Random 4K read and write speeds up to 100’000 IOPS for all versions



ASUS ROG RAIDR Express Review

ASUS ROG RAIDR Express Review
Worlds first PCIe SSD compatible with both Legacy and UEFI BIOS – that is how ASUS present their RAIDR Express drive. It is available only in one capacity – 240GB for $349.99. This drive an provide read speeds up to 830MB/s and write speeds up to 810MB/s. RAIDR uses PCIe 2.0 x2 slot. This drive has two BIOS chips, meaning You can choose what BIOS You want it to work with via a mechanical switch on the drive. Older computers work with the Legacy BIOS, which starts up devices (HDD, RAM, PCI SDDs etc.) one by one and then finishes booting. Newer computers use UEFI, which starts up all devices simultaneously, shortening boot times. The ability to choose the BIOS optimizes boot up and allows the drive to work efficiently. RAIDR has other useful tools too, such as RAMDisk, HybriDisk and SSD Tweakit to improve the drives performance. Product dimensions: 8.8 x 2.1 x 7.1 inches (22.4 x 5.3 x 18 cm) and it weighs 8.6 ounces (0.25 kg). Shipping weight is 1.2 pounds (0.54 kg). 

  • DuoMode supports both Legacy and UEFI BIOS
  • RAMDisk allows RAIDR to use available memory to speed up loading times
  • HybriDisk uses SSD caching to increase the speed of Your HDD
  • SSD Tweakit optimizes how RAIDR works to give up to 5% increased performance
  • Sequential read speed up to 830MB/s; sequential write up to 810MB/s
  • Random 4K read and write speed up to 100’000 IOPS



Conclusions

PCIe SSDs are the future so they will definitely improve in time, but for now the prices are high so the demand isn’t too big. Companies are only getting used to this technology so bugs and issues are almost guaranteed. From the SSDs we looked at, Kingston Hyper-X Predator, OWC Accelsior E2 and Intel 750 Series had the lowest price per GB with Predator at $1.02 for the 240GB and $0.98 for the 480GB versions, E2 at $1.00 for the 480GB and $0.78 for the 960GB versions, 750 Series at $1.02 for the 400GB and $0.88 for the 1.2TB versions. If speed matters to You the most, then Intel 750 Series provided the greatest random 4K speeds and write speeds, OCZ Revodrive provided the greatest sequential speeds with Kingston Predator not far behind. As these are SSDs, capacity is not the priority, but Intel stands out with 1.2TB available.
Our opinion is that Intel 750 Series is the best drive on this list, considering its relatively higher speeds and relatively low price per GB combined with the 1.2TB capacity. The fact that it’s made by Intel and has a 5 year warranty ensures quality. A bit more than a thousand dollars is quite an investment but if You’re looking for a futuristic upgrade then high prices are guaranteed. We hope our list of best PCIe SSDs of 2015 helped You choose the most suitable drive for Your needs.

About The Author
ExternalHDD
ExternalHDD
He's fanatic tech lover with degree in electrical engineering. Hobbies? To buy, test, break and write about newest gadgets. Also, the CEO of HDDmag.com.
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