Introduction & Drive Details
GIGABYTE sent us the perfect SSD to debut our new Intel PCIe Gen4 SSD test system with. Going forward, at least for a while, we will be utilizing Intel's Rocket Lake platform for all our SSD reviews. We decided to change from AMD to Intel for the same reasons we did the opposite almost two years ago. When we ditched Intel for AMD, we did so because software patching for Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities absolutely killed SSD performance, and of course, Intel didn't have PCIe Gen4 available for consumers.
Intel's just-released Rocket Lake platform is PCIe Gen4 enabled. More importantly, it has hardware-level Spectre and Meltdown mitigation, meaning there is no longer a performance penalty incurred when running Intel. Now, there had to be one more all-important ingredient for Intel to lure us back to the dark side. Performance. We tested extensively and found that in almost every case, our Z590 platform with 11900K CPU outperforms our X570 platform with 5900X CPU in terms of SSD performance and overall user experience. It just feels faster in every way. So, for now, Rocket Lake has won us over.
Now back to GIGABYTE's fastest SSD to date. The AORUS Gen4 7000s 2TB SSD is capable of delivering over 7,000 MB/s sequential read and over 6,850 MB/s sequential write as evidenced by this pre-review CrystalDiskMark test result:
The AORUS Gen4 7000s offers cutting-edge Gen4 performance and excellent heat mitigation with its substantial integrated heat sink. It is definitely a sexy-looking piece of hardware with colors that will compliment any build. If you would rather not use the included heat sink and opt for your motherboard's heat sink, it is easily removable.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Maximus XIII Hero - Buy from Amazon
- CPU: Intel Core i9-11900K - Buy from Amazon
- Cooler: ARCTIC Liquid Freezer II 420 - Buy from Amazon
- RAM: Thermaltake TOUGHRAM XG RGB DDR4 4600MHz 16GB (8GB x 2) - Buy from Amazon
- Video Card: ASUS ROG STRIX GeForce RTX 2070 Overclocked 8G - Buy from Amazon
- Case: PrimoChill's Praxis Wetbench - Buy from Amazon
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
Free SSD Software
GIGABYTE SSD Toolbox
GIGABYTE offers a rudimentary SSD Toolbox to complement its SSDs, which you can download here.
If you need to clone, there is freeware for that right here.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
As with all Phison E18 powered SSDs, the AORUS 7000s 2TB delivers sequential performance that is out of this world good. The drive manages to deliver almost 200 MB/s more sequential read speed than factory specifications indicate. We come up 75 MB/s short of factory sequential write specification, but as always, this is due to our more demanding and realistic user state of OS Disk 50% full.
Sequential speeds are in line with what we get out of our AMD 5900X test system. However, the all-important random performance at Q1T1 has increased significantly, up from 75/332 MB/s to 79/422 MB/s on our new Intel test system.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Here again, we are getting more out of our Intel rig than we could get out of the best AMD has to offer. In terms of the overall score, we would see around 27.5K from the 7000s 2TB on our AMD system. On our Intel system, we can easily hit over 30K. That's a nice improvement as we see it, albeit the score increase is all coming from better write performance. Over 900K random write IOPS at QD16? Impressive.
The drive can hit a mind-bending 1.56 million random write IOPS at QD64 thanks to Intel's superior write performance delivery. Max random read performance comes in below spec, which is an unfortunate hallmark of SSDs that employ Micron 96L flash.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
There's nothing outstanding in terms of scoring improvement here. A few hundred points is about it. That said, the AORUS 7000s 2TB delivers a lab record for read scoring. It, like all Phison E18 powered SSDs, loves it some AS SSD.
We are looking for two things primarily when evaluating ATTO results. First, we are looking for 50 MB/s read/write at 512 B transfers. The AORUS 7000s gives us that and then some. More importantly, we are looking for full read speed at 128K transfers. Here again, we get what we want to see as only Phison can deliver. The AORUS 7000s 2TB sets a new lab record for 128K sequential write performance. Its sequential read performance is tops to date for our Intel test rig, but not a lab record that remains firmly in AMD's court.
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming
As we mentioned before, write performance has gone up significantly with our move to Intel. The AORUS 7000s 2TB does not disappoint by delivering the third-fastest write transfer rate we've seen from any consumer SSD. Impressive.
Read transfer rates have declined a bit with our move to Intel. We suspect this is due to our Intel system having 8-less threads to draw from than our AMD system. Nevertheless, 4,000 MB/s is still impressive.
Game Level Loading
Gaming is a performance metric that matters to the majority of DIY consumers, especially to the enthusiast crowd that TweakTown caters to. We will mention that here only results cannot be compared to our Ryzen test system. This is due to the fact that we are using a different graphics card, and even though it is also an RTX 2070, it's slower than the card we use for our Ryzen test rig.
Now back to the results, where we notice a shakeup in the pecking order we established with our Ryzen 5900X system. On AMD, Phison E18 powered SSDs ran in the middle of the pack, and on Intel, they can beat any other 7GB/s capable Gen4 SSD we've tested. The GIGABYTE AORUS 7000s 2TB specifically is our new Gen4 gaming leader among the hyper-class SSDs. Intel + Phison is making waves when it comes to gaming performance. Gamers take notice.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204 GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23 GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
Inexplicably, we encounter a bit of regression from E18 powered SSDs like the AORUS 7000s when running on our Intel rig. This is surprising as all others show significant to massive improvement. We believe it to be an anomaly of sorts and probably easily addressed with a future firmware tweak. Additionally, the AORUS 7000s is still delivering better than acceptable performance.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
More of the same here. Inexplicable performance regression on Intel. We are still within an acceptable range and don't find it to be much of a concern. However, we would like to see more appropriate performance here coming from a bona fide hyper-class SSD like the AORUS 7000s SSD.
GIGABYTE is doing SSDs and doing them right. The AORUS 7000s 2TB is a true hyper-class SSD fully capable of delivering lab records, as we witnessed several times during this review. Additionally, it is quite a bargain as currently priced, considering it comes fully equipped with a premium heat sink.
GIGABYTE does miss the mark a bit with their almost useless SSD Toolbox and lack of included cloning software. We would like to see improvements on the software side, but it's certainly not a deal-breaker.
We rank SSDs in terms of overall user experience (performance where it matters most) as expressed by PCMark 10 storage tests. The AORUS 7000s, like the other E18-powered SSDs on our chart, is coming in lower than expected on our user experience ranking. It's not a whole lot, 300 to 600 points less than on Ryzen. Still, we expected to see an increase, not a decrease, which is why we consider this an anomaly not worthy of concern, especially when we see a massive improvement in synthetic results and, most importantly, gaming performance.
Looking back at our results, we saw several standout performances worth noting again. Scoring over 30K on Anvils is something only E18 powered SSDs, as the AORUS 7000s can do. We cannot overlook 1.56 million random write IOPS either, as that is a new lab record for a consumer SSD and again only achievable with an E18 powered SSD like the AORUS 7000s. AS SSD and ATTO again saw the AORUS 7000s set lab records for read score and sequential 128K write performance. And finally, the big one, GAMING, where the AORUS 7000s 2TB paired with our Rocket Lake test rig snatched the crown from the WD Black as our hyper-class gaming performance leader.
In conclusion, we feel the need to express our user experience running on Intel again for the first time in 2 years. Despite what you may have heard from the usual talking heads, Rocket Lake is a beast. It is much faster than AMD for normal consumer use. You can feel it. There is no substitute for GHz in most consumer use case scenarios, and this is where Intel has a huge advantage over AMD. Take this any way you want, but if you try Rocket Lake, Ryzen 5000 series won't feel the same anymore.
- Sequential Speeds
- Write Performance
- Consumer Workloads
The Bottom Line
GIGABYTE is delivering the Gen4 goods with its 7000s series and it deserves a close look.