Our review took quite a bit longer than most others already published. We ran into an issue with the RGB portion of this product and wanted to figure it out before proceeding.
About that RBG thing. If you don't have a newer 300-Series Intel chipset motherboard from GIGABYTE, the LEDs are not addressable. The drive will light up, do a color-changing pattern and that's it. Even GIGABYTE's new AMD-based systems cannot adjust the pattern or set a static color. This severely hampers the overall usability of the product for most shoppers.
With that in mind, the GIGABYTE AORUS RGB M.2 is a niche product within a niche. It does work as a color changing RGB SSD in any desktop system, and it does provide additional cooling that allows the drive to work for longer before thermal throttling, but it's not what we completely expected.
Performance wise, the 256GB AORUS RGB M.2 delivers the goods for this capacity. In a later review, we will test the 512GB model and compare it to the similar priced models shipping today. The performance difference between the 256GB and 512GB drives is night and day with the 512GB seeing a significant performance increase.
The main issue with the AORUS RGB M.2 SSD is its price. The MSRP for this drive is $79.99, and that was a good price for SSDs last year. I hope that the price changes rapidly once these hit Newegg and Amazon. Other 256GB Phison E12 drives with similar baseline performance cost quite a bit less, some are even the cheapest NVMe SSDs on Amazon today.
The heat sink is a nice add-on, but most users will never see thermal throttling with the E12 controller. The heat sink on the AORUS RGB M.2 pretty much ensures it will never happen, but it's a high price to pay for a few seconds of slightly less throughput.
The Bottom Line
There is more to this drive than it appears. Full addressable RGB support only comes from a couple of motherboards. The rest of us will need to settle for color changing effects. The heat sink does a good job, but you pay a lot for it.