The first images of the ASUS ROG RAIDR Express tipped up at CES, but very few details were available. ASUS set the drive free for the media to talk about with official specifications and information at Computex, six months later. Since then, ASUS has been quiet about the drive other than a single, scathing review.
We've dished out our own scathing reviews over the years with SSDs. Most of them revolved around TRIM, or other concerns issues with TRIMs use. The ASUS ROG RAIDR Express doesn't have a TRIM issue. The RAIDR uses a new Marvell RAID controller that's able to pass the TRIM command to the two SSDs in RAID. This is only the second RAID TRIM product we've used, the first being the Intel chipset RAID that works quite well.
TRIM plays a vital role for consumer SSDs. When data is deleted from operating system, a signal is sent to the drive telling it to clear the data when possible. Eventually, the SSD moves in to clean the data, but other data in the same area needs to move to a new location. This takes time, but with TRIM it can happen in the background, and doesn't need to happen in real-time. Doing a read, erase, write cycle in real-time slows the SSD, so you want TRIM working to keep areas of the drive clean.
In the image above, we see a Mushkin Scorpion Deluxe, another RAID / SATA SSD combo drive like the ASUS RAIDR, but without the ability to pass TRIM to the SSDs. The drive's advertisement material states up to 2,000 MB/s and one review gave the drive a glowing award, calling it great and so on. Is this the level of performance you think deserves an award? We didn't even think it was worthy of an exclusive review.
There is no shortage of companies rushing these products to market. The truth is, everyone wants to jump on the PCIe bandwagon, and it started several years ago when Fusion-io launched the io-Drive. Most of these products are half-baked after you've written to all of the LBAs. The only way to keep the drive's performance up is with TRIM, and most don't have it.
As mentioned, the ASUS RAIDR does have working TRIM thanks to a Marvell RAID controller. That doesn't mean this product is without issues though. Many new Intel based motherboards support RAID, and with it, RAID TRIM. The Intel PCH RAID controller is a lot faster than every Marvell controller we've ever tested. If your computer comes from the X58 era, or before, then you don't have Intel RAID with TRIM, and that's where the ASUS RAIDR becomes a step-up over what you can build with your existing hardware, and a pair of lower priced SSDs.
There is another group of people who will love that the ASUS ROG RAIDR Express comes from the fashion scene: label whores. If you have an ASUS ROG motherboard, an ASUS ROG video card, matching DRAM painted case, and the matching tattoo, then this product is right up your alley. If that touches home, then it doesn't matter what I say in this review. For the rest of us: read on.