First PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSDs Are Now Available, Predictably Expensive

Gigabyte Aorus Gen5 10000 SSD
(Image credit: Gigabyte)

We've been hearing about PCIe 5.0 for years now, and even though the first PCIe 5.0 capable PCs began shipping with Intel's 12th Gen Alder Lake CPUs in late 2021, we still haven't seen any drives for sale... until now. For the past several years, the best SSDs (or at least the fastest) have typically used a PCIe 4.0 interface, and plenty of good drives are still available with 'just' a PCIe 3.0 connection. But the fastest SSDs have been hitting the throughput ceiling on a PCIe 4.0 x4 connection for over three years, with only incremental improvements, so it's high time for something faster.

There are multiple M.2 PCIe 5.0 SSDs slated to ship this year, and the first model looks to be the Gigabyte Aorus Gen5 10000, which as the name inventively implies can deliver up to 10,000 MB/s. Earlier rumors suggested the drive would be able to hit 12,000 MB/s reads and 10,000 MB/s writes, so performance was apparently reigned in while getting the product ready for retail.

The Gigabyte Aorus SSD uses the Phison E26 controller, which will be common on a lot of the upcoming models. Silicon Motion is working on its new SM2508 controller that may offer higher overall performance, but it's a bit further out and may not ship this year. The other thing to note with the Aorus is the massive heatsink that comes with the drive, which seems to be the case with all the other Gen5 SSD prototypes we've seen as well. Clearly, these new drives are going to get just a little bit warm.

The Gigabyte drive is currently listed on Amazon and Newegg, though the latter is currently sold out while the former is only available via a third-party marketplace seller — at a whopping $679.89 for the 2TB model. That's almost certainly not the MSRP or a reflection of what MSRP might end up being once the drive becomes more widely available, which should happen in the coming month or two.

The other PCIe 5.0 M.2 SSD that's now available is the Inland TD510 2TB, available at Microcenter for just $349.99 — assuming you have a Microcenter within driving distance. Inland is Microcenter's own brand of drive, and while the cooler that comes with the SSD isn't quite as large as the Aorus, it does feature a small fan for active cooling. Word is that the fan can be quite loud for something this small, so not a great feature in other words.

Like the Aorus 10000, the Inland TD510 uses the Phison E26 controller and has the same 10,000 MB/s reads and 9,500 MB/s writes specification. Where Gigabyte doesn't currently list random read/write speeds, the Microcenter page lists up to 1.5 million IOPS read and 1.25 million IOPS write for the Inland drive. Both drives also have an endurance rating of 1,400 TBW, with read/write power use of around 11W.

How will the drives perform in real-world use? That's something we can't assess yet, though we're working to get these new and upcoming M.2 Gen5 drives in for review. Perhaps with DirectStorage also coming to more games later this year, there may actually be some benefit to the additional speed for more casual users.

Jarred Walton

Jarred Walton is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on everything GPU. He has been working as a tech journalist since 2004, writing for AnandTech, Maximum PC, and PC Gamer. From the first S3 Virge '3D decelerators' to today's GPUs, Jarred keeps up with all the latest graphics trends and is the one to ask about game performance.

  • Gam3r01
    With a heatsink like that, it seems like storage tech might be pushing the limits in some wrong directions.
    We dont need an FX9590 situation, where the on paper specs had to be carefully balanced with absurd power and cooling.
  • Makaveli
    Too expensive and run to hot and first gen 5.0 controllers no thanks. By the time i'm ready to move up to AM5 they should have better drives out so sticking to PCIe 4.0 for now.
  • peachpuff
    Rather than increasing storage size they're just making them faster with little real world difference. Good luck with that...
  • pointa2b
    peachpuff said:
    Rather than increasing storage size they're just making them faster with little real world difference. Good luck with that...

    I'm sure its a considerable market to sell hardware to people chasing one number/metric without knowing how it affects their actual use case. Not saying its right, just the way things are. The conversations that happen at places like this aren't an accurate representation of the average consumer.
  • TechieTwo
    The gen 5 SSDs were so over-hyped and they are at least 6 months late. I won't buy any until the price drops. They will only be a minor improvement in speed for most uses unless you are transferring large or a lot of files at once.
  • CRamseyer
    The large heatsinks are mainly for people that don't have heatsinks that ship with motherboards. Everyone is trying to make coolers for early adapters and that mainly covers people that need to use the performance available for long periods of time without thermal throttling. The motherboard heatsinks were designed very well and they are much smaller than the aftermarket and included (with drive) designs in most cases.

    The big difference between the previous generation and the new generation really comes down to workloads. Everyone is hating on these heatsinks and saying Gen5 runs hotter but it doesn't. The M.2 power limits are the same, the lithography node is the same, but the workloads have changed. There hasn't been a reasonable way for you guys to run a DirectStorage game for a few hours. The DirectStorage workload is more like an enterprise workload than what we had before on the consumer side. Before, we would burst data and then the drive would go back to sleep or move to a lower power state. With DirectStorage, the workload will request data from the drive at several gigabytes per second and for as long as you play. That can be several hours!

    To avoid throttling in this workload, you need a larger heatsink and that is true for Gen5, Gen4 and even Gen3 drives. Just because you are not worried about DirectStorage now doesn't mean we will ignore it. If we ignored it then people would complain when they played a DirectStorage game later on. This is one of those things where we just need to say, "Trust us, we know what we are doing and why we are doing it."
  • hotaru251
    best hope your m.2 are nowhere near your pcie slots..

    these large heatsinks will NOT function with triple/quad slot GPU's.

    CRamseyer said:
    . If we ignored it then people would complain when they played a DirectStorage game later on.
    we have played one....Forspoken.
    & its benefit was minuscule.
  • CRamseyer
    Forspoken didn't take advantage of GDeflate. In my personal opinion, they used just enough DS features to call it a DS game, but that is just my personal opinion as someone that has never built a game before. You really can't say you played a full feature DS game yet.

    As far as the heatsinks not being compatible with GPU, that is also false. Gen5 boards moved to primary M.2 slot above the GPU. For the M.2 slots under the GPU, the motherboard makers have made those heatsinks either extra wide or extra long. As long as you have decent air movement coming into the case, those heatsinks are more than adequate.
  • Jaxstarke9977
    Sheesh. I've been waiting for PCIe 5.0 drives to be released before I completely finish up another build but at those prices I might just buy a new 4.0 and call it a day.
  • CRamseyer
    The current price of $650 on Amazon and Newegg is from a scalper. I'm not even sure if the company has any to ship. Microcenter has drives in stock though.