Launched just last Sunday, AMD's 3rd generation Ryzen processor platform has quickly taken over the hardware enthusiast world as THE topic being talked about. Besides our individual processor reviews for the Ryzen 7 3700X and the Ryzen 9 3900X, we have, through separate feature reviews, made a case for saving money by pairing these new processors with cost-effective AMD 400-series chipset motherboards instead of shelling out at least $170 for X570. The X470 + Ryzen 3000 review showed that CPU and memory performance isn't all that different between X570 and X470. We even paired the Ryzen 9 3900X with a cheap B350 chipset motherboard, the results of which pleasantly surprised us. We then set out to explore whether the new Radeon RX 5700 XT graphics card, which debuts PCI-Express 4.0 x16, shows any performance difference on older generations of PCIe, which it doesn't. Last but not least, we looked at how DDR4 memory scales on Zen 2, with results confirming that you don't really need to spend a ton of money on fast memory for the Ryzen 3000 platform.
The above test cases leave us with only one compelling argument for X570 at this time—the NVMe SSD upgrade path. AMD's Zen 2 Ryzen 3000 processors are the world's first client desktop CPUs to support the PCI-Express version 4.0 interface, which once again doubles bandwidth over PCIe 3.0. This results in a per-lane speed of 16 Gbit/s, or 2 GB/s, bringing the four-lane interface speed limit for M.2 NVMe SSDs to 8 gigabytes per second. At Computex 2019, we saw many new M.2 NVMe SSDs from popular brands which support PCI-Express 4.0, offering sequential transfer rates reaching 5,000 MB/s or above. Such performance numbers are beyond PCIe gen 3.0 x4, which has a theoretical limit of 4 GB/s when a x4 interface is used, with the reality being closer to 3.5 GB/s. Growth in SSD transfer rates is always welcome as storage continues to be one of the slower components in the modern PC.
We hence set out to test one of the recently announced M.2 NVMe SSDs that offer PCI-Express 4.0 on our Ryzen 3000 test system. The SSD in question is the GIGABYTE AORUS NVMe SSD Gen4, an M.2-2280 drive that combines a Phison PS5015-E16 controller with Toshiba-made 3D TLC NAND flash memory and DRAM cache. On paper, this drive offers up to 5000 MB/s reads and up to 4400 MB/s writes. Interestingly, every client-segment PCIe 4.0 drive launched so far appears to be based on this controller.
In this review, we test the GIGABYTE AORUS NVMe Gen4 SSD on our ASRock X570 Taichi motherboard using the current AMD Ryzen 9 3900X flagship processor, and investigate how real-life performance scales at PCIe 4.0, 3.0, and 2.0. We specifically focus on real-life tests as we don't want to just run a program that can spit out the more eye-pleasing sequential transfer-rate numbers. The test suite is the exact same as in our 2019 SSD Review Test Suite, ported to the AMD system of course.
As an additional data point we tested the ADATA SX8200 Pro on the AMD system using PCI-Express 3.0, as that's as fast as it can go. These numbers will show how performance looks when an older Gen 3 SSD with a different controller is used (Silicon Motion SM2262ENG).
If you are looking for the flashy synthetic numbers, find them below. These also serve as validation that PCI-Express 4.0 is indeed running great on our system and that speeds scale accordingly when adjusting the PCI-Express version.