A few weeks ago at CES, we were surprised by the paucity of PCIe 5.0 drives at the show. The technology has been talked about for at least a year, it’s now supported by both AMD and Intel, and we, the speed-obsessed PC-building crowd, have our wallets out. Sadly, we were left to conclude that PCIe Gen 5 SSDs needed a few more months in the oven. That still might be true, but at least one drive is finally for sale to the gaming public. It’s in Japan, so not ideal, but it’s a start.
The drive is being sold by a company named CFD Gaming, which is a new one to us. It’s a 2TB model that offers up to 10GB/s sequential read speeds. For sequential writes, it can deliver up to 9.5GB/s. That’s in contrast to around 7GB/s offered by today’s PCIe 4.0 drives. That’s a decent amount of uplift from current drives, but on the low end for a Gen 5 SSD overall. Some of the SSDs at CES boasted up to 14GB/s in sequential reads.
The spec itself tops out at around 16GB/s as well, but it’ll never go that high in the real world due to overhead. Random read and write speeds are listed as 1.5 million and 1.25 million IOPS, respectively. According to HotHardware, the drive will be offered in 1TB and 4TB capacities. It was originally supposed to have launched in November but was delayed for some reason.
The drive includes a notably huge active cooling solution. This was anticipated for these next-gen drives, as they were rumored to get toasty. The cooler is reportedly permanently attached too, and the vendor warns against installing it in cases with poor airflow. Sorry ITX builders, you might have to stick with PCIe 4.0 drives for a while.
The drive uses a Phison E26 controller and an X4 PCIe 5.0 connection. HotHardware previously tested the drive and it showed mixed results. Though it was almost able to hit its listed 10GB/s speeds in sequential tests, it was mid-pack in random access benchmarks. That could lead to benefits for consumers, as most of us aren’t running random access tasks at high queue depths. Overall, though, what will most likely happen is the average user won’t feel any difference between it and a PCIe 4.0 drive.
Pricing is also a concern. The drive is listed as costing 49,980 Japanese Yen. That works out to $383 or so, which currently is about twice the cost of a 2TB PCIe 4.0 drive. Given the steep increase in motherboard costs as well as DDR5 prices, we can see many users passing on these drives at first. Maybe in a year or two when they’re priced competitively with older drives, they’ll be a more compelling purchase.
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