The musty Ares solid-state expostulate (SSD) comes to us from Drevo, a singular sum visitor to a Computer Shopper contrast lab. Yes, we’ll be a initial to admit: It’s a initial SSD that we have any correlation of job “funky.” SSDs are customarily a undisturbed lot, yet this one stands out, initial and foremost, for a “armored unicorn” pattern theme. (Yeah, we know. We’ll empty that in a moment.)
Drevo creates a accumulation of PC-peripheral and storage gear, including a set of ornate PC keyboards, yet a flagship SSD is a initial of a products that we’ve had a eventuality to exam and review. (Also pattern a examination of a company’s Drevo Calibur RGB gaming keyboard in a entrance weeks.) The association creates a handful of Serial ATA-bus SSDs, yet a Ares is a usually PCI Express model. The PCI Express train support creates it a de facto flagship SSD a association offers, yet it’s accessible only in one capacity: a rather parsimonious 256GB. That’s a extraordinary brew of interface and tip capacity.
Despite this dichotomy, a Ares’ form cause and specifications array it opposite some of a best SSDs a marketplace has to offer right now. It also includes some engaging hardware, and it looks one-of-a-kind. And it’s bootable too, of course.
Could it be a subsequent SSD to residence your OS? Let’s unbox it and check it out.
The Ares is a half-height PCI Express card, radically an M.2-format gumstick SSD mounted on an enlargement label surfaced by a fancy, radical feverishness sink. The backplane pre-installed on a card is for a full-size PC case, yet Drevo also includes a brief influence bar for installing it into a slimline PC.
Having a SSD mounted to a heatsink and a label like this allows any desktop user with a gangling PCI Express container to implement and run a SSD; usually late-model motherboards tend to have M.2 slots. True to a name, a heatsink also absorbs heat, cooling a SSD and preventing performance-punishing throttling. (In theory; we’ll see.) Because many desktop-PC motherboards on a marketplace have a PCI Express container yet miss an M.2 slot, a Ares can work with flattering many any PC done or built in a ’10s. Most mint motherboards will have M.2 slots on a house proper, and regulating that container will be a space- and money-saving choice to an add-in-board (AIB) SSD resolution like a Ares. (For some-more on M.2 and a several kinds of SSDs on a marketplace today, review a decoder, Buying an SSD: 20 Terms You Need to Know.)
The Ares is not usually a PCI Express x4 SSD, yet it also supports a newer NVMe protocol, instead of a comparison AHCI. (Early PCI Express SSDs did not indispensably support NVMe.) NVMe is faster all around, but despite a support for both PCI Express and NVMe, a Ares has specifications that are closer to the fastest SSDs of 2016 than what we see in today’s top-of-the-line drives.
To wit, a Ares’ limit sequential-read speed is 1.4GB per second, given a expostulate like a Samsung SSD 960 ProSamsung SSD 950 Pro. That expostulate was rated review during 2.5GB per second and write during 1.5GB per second. It’s still utterly a bit faster, yet a closer match.
The storage silicon inside a Ares is a multiple of 3D MLC NAND, that is a new hotness in a SSD universe these days. Having a pieces of peep built vertically, or in 3D-defined layers as it were, has a side advantage of augmenting expostulate endurance. 3D MLC is used to good outcome here: This 256GB expostulate has a extravagantly high rated continuation (350TB of writes), that is many lifetimes of expostulate use for many home users. The 3D MLC NAND is interconnected with a controller from Silicon Motion (SMI). An SMI controller of some ribbon is a flattering common go-to these days for SSD manufacturers like Drevo, who are incompetent to make their possess controllers in a approach marketplace personality Samsung can.
Easily a many engaging charge of a Ares (arguably, that is, detached from a spiky unicorn logo) is a hardware switch on a behind of a drive. You can crack it to one of 3 positions: “S,” “D,” or “P.” This is a power-saving feature, and a 3 settings are for “gaming,” “daily leisure,” or “power saving,” respectively. We’re not certain because a “S” environment is a one for gaming, yet it’s a fastest. [Maybe a “S” is for “speed”? -Ed.]
Just for kicks, we put a switch into a “P” position for some tests, and it forsaken a Ares to roughly a same speeds as a slower SATA-bus SSD, in a doubtful eventuality we wish to totter your drive.
In practice, a suspicion of an SSD power-saving environment is eminent yet impractical. Inclined to spend a reward for a performance-minded SSD, and savvy adequate to heed between an customary SATA SSD and a PCI Express one? We usually can’t see many such speed-minded users regulating a expostulate during any turn yet “S.” Also, a idea of reaching behind your desktop PC to change a three-position switch for your SSD is equal tools untimely and puzzling. We can’t fathom a unfolding where we would wish to do such a thing, given that many other components in a PC would be distant bigger energy hogs. (And a suspicion of, “Gee, we consider my SSD is too fast” has never crossed a minds.)
So, while a switch looks cool, 99 percent of users will leave it during “S” and never demeanour back. It reminds us of a Turbo buttons from a days of yore, that we also always left “enabled.”
One other interesting hardware feature, switch aside, is a conspicuous quarrel of capacitors manifest on tip corner of a PCB, tighten to a backplane. Drevo says these capacitors yield backup energy in box a complement loses energy while information is in-flight. They should theoretically send adequate energy to a SSD to let we finish any write operation you’re in a center of, presumption it’s roughly complete. Between a capacitors, a heatsink’s aluminum alloy, a unicorn theme, and “breathing” blue-triangle LEDs along a heading edge, a Ares conquers normal SSDs in a fight for visible coolness.
Drevo covers a Ares with a three-year warranty, yet no module comes in a package. When we wrote this in Oct 2017, a 256GB Ares was labelled during $150 on Amazon. (The list cost is $189.99.) That’s about normal or a little below, for this ability in an AIB-style PCI Express SSD. The drive’s categorical AIB SSD competition, the Plextor M8SeYSamsung SSD 960 EVO, regulating a PCI Express bus. It runs about $130, and that SSD is a loyal nemesis of this one if we can implement a unclothed M.2 PCI Express SSD. Meanwhile, reduce down a cost spectrum, 250GB/256GB SATA M.2 drives can be found for reduction than $100. So, on a whole, this drive’s pricing (assuming it sticks around a $150 point) is during best normal in a PCI Express expostulate space, or rather improved than average, yet not aggressive. It all depends on either we can put a cost on unicorns and tributary LEDs.
If you’re new to a universe of solid-state drives, a few things are value observant when it comes to performance.
For starters: If you’re upgrading from a customary spinning tough drive, any complicated SSD will be a outrageous improvement, speeding adult foot times and creation programs launch some-more quickly. Most of today’s mainstream SSDs make use of a Serial ATA 3.0 interface (also called “6Gbps SATA”) and a AHCI expostulate protocol. The expostulate we’re looking here, though, is an M.2 expostulate (installed on a PCI Express conduit card), and not one that uses a SATA bus. This requires that we implement it in a concordant PCI Express expansion-card slot.
The tangible name of a customary it uses is PCI Express 3.0 x4, a third iteration of PCI Express, and it uses a container that has entrance to at least 4 lanes. You can put it in a x16 slot, yet it will usually use 4 of those lanes. In other words, be certain to deliberate your motherboard primer to make certain we can take advantage of it regulating an accessible container before spending any money. This is not a new standard, however, so any complicated motherboard should be means to run this SSD during full speed, presumption there’s a concordant container free.
AS-SSD (Sequential Read Write Speeds)
This exam uses a AS-SSD benchmark utility, that is designed to exam SSDs (as against to normal tough drives). It measures a drive’s ability to review and write vast files. Drive makers mostly quote these speeds, as a fanciful maximum, on a wrapping or in advertising.
Sequential speeds are critical if you’re operative with unequivocally vast files for picture or video editing, or we play lots of games with vast levels that take a prolonged time to bucket with normal tough drives. We secure-erase all SSDs before regulating this test.
The Drevo Ares is rated for 1,400MB per second in consecutive review speeds, and it indeed ran faster than that in this test, that is a good thing. We apparently don’t pattern it to strike a 2GB per second of many heading drives given that rating, so yet it’s not a fastest SSD, 1.6GB per second in review speeds is 3 times faster than a SATA SSD during a best, and it does surpass a specification, so we can’t ask for many some-more than that. Overall, it’s about a same speed as previous-generation M.2 PCI Express SSDs, as we indicated earlier.
Now, as for writes on this test…
In this exam a Ares once again outperformed a spec, another pleasing surprise. It’s rated to perform consecutive writes during 600MB per second, yet in this “worst-case scenario” test, it was means to strike a decent 678MB per second, improved than we expected. Still, in comparison to leading-edge PCI Express SSDs, it’s about mid-pack, and it trailed some year-old or comparison drives, such as a Toshiba OCZ RD400. It’s still faster than a SATA drive, of course, yet many behind a leaders here.
AS-SSD (4K Read Write Speeds)
This test, also a partial of a SSD-centric AS-SSD benchmark, measures a drive’s ability to trade little files. Often overlooked, 4K performance, utterly 4K write performance, is critical when it comes to foot speed and module launch times.
When booting adult and rising programs, many little files get accessed and edited frequently. The faster your expostulate can write and review these (especially energetic couple library, or DLL, files in Windows), a faster your OS will “feel.” Since little files like these get accessed many some-more mostly than vast media or game-level files, a drive’s opening on this exam will have a larger impact on how quick a expostulate feels in bland use.
As expected, a Ares incited adult mid-pack again in this test, display once again that it’s significantly faster than a SATA SSD, yet not many foe for a lot of current-gen PCI Express-based SSDs. To a credit, though, a measure of 38MB per second is usually 1MB per second slower than a brutal Intel SSD 750 Series, that was a pioneering expostulate in a time, a fastest SSD in existence when it was launched in 2015. Times have changed, though, and as we can see from a chart, that turn of opening is now passe.
Moving on to 4K writes…
The Ares achieved utterly good in this test, alighting right subsequent to a SSD industry’s reigning champion, a Samsung SSD 960 Pro. Its measure of 153.3MB per second put it in a tip tier of drives we’ve tested. So, notwithstanding a parsimonious ability and midrange scores elsewhere, it was during a tip of a container on little writes. Once again, a Ares has delivered a measure we did not anticipate.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
Anvil’s Storage Utilities is, like AS-SSD, an SSD-optimized set of expostulate benchmarking tests. We’ve recently combined it to a contrast suite, and we’ll news here a Overall Score, that is subsequent from a Read and Write scores with a application regulating during default settings. (That is, with 100 percent incompressible data.)
The Ares landed in a center of a draft once again, disposition toward a bottom of a second tier of PCI Express SSDs here yet still faster than even some newer PCI Express SSDs, such as a Corsair Force MP500Kingston HyperX Predator. There’s zero inherently wrong with that; all PCI Express SSDs “feel” unequivocally quick in operation and are befitting for fan PCs and workstations. Still, it is peculiar that a new-in-2017 expostulate would exaggerate previous-gen performance.
Crystal DiskMark (QD32 Testing)
Crystal DiskMark uses incompressible information for testing, that stresses many complicated SSDs utterly a bit given they rest on information application to grasp their limit turn of performance. This sold exam is designed to replicate a duties of an SSD located inside a Web server, as it’s asked to perform a smattering of little reads, that are 4K in size. While it’s reading these files, there is a reserve of 32 superb requests lined up. That’s customary of a high-volume Web server, that has to perform requests that come in during a same time from several clients.
The Ares stumbled in this exhausting benchmark, alighting nearby a bottom of a draft with a buddy, a SATA-based HyperX Savage. That’s not good; a Ares achieved some-more like a SATA expostulate in this exam than a PCIe drive. We’re not certain if it was an curiosity with a exam or a drive, yet a Ares landed a homogeneous of a swell wave in a low pool this time around. In a defense, this is not a customary bid for this kind of drive.
The Ares redeemed itself in a write apportionment of this test, rejoining a PCI Express brethren nearer a tip of a benchmark chart. Oddly enough, a review selection is many faster than a write selection (at slightest as distant as PCIe SSDs go) so a formula on this exam were quirky. Still, a Ares achieved well, radically restraining a well performing Samsung SSD 960 EVO.
Overall, a Ares is a decent midrange SSD, and it generally achieved during or above a expectations in a benchmark suite. Its specs are comparatively low for a PCI Express/NVMe SSD, though, generally given it also uses tried-and-true 3D MLC NAND. It has all a right tools for a fire-breathing SSD, yet is simply a midrange effort, a homogeneous of a top-of-the-line PCIe SSD from 2015.
Now, that’s no sin, deliberation it still offers a enormous jump in opening compared to a SATA SSD. Plus, no denying: It looks unequivocally cool, some-more blinged-out than any other AIB-style SSD we’ve ever met. Why don’t manufacturers creates SSDs demeanour cooler, like this one? Why not make them RGB knockouts like some video cards? Just sayin’…
Now, notwithstanding a cold factor, given a cost per gigabyte, we can’t come adult with many clever arguments in preference of selling a Drevo Ares underneath most circumstances. That is, of course, unless we simply wish something opposite than a customary Samsung, Crucial/Micron, or Kingston/HyperX accumulation of SSD. There’s that newness factor, along with a fact that it’s a usually SSD on a marketplace ornate with a unicorn. That’s got to be value something, right? We consider it is, yet given that we can get a better-performing expostulate like a M.2 SSD 960 EVO and an aftermarket PCI Express M.2 label for less, we have to be selling this one for a bling factor.
In a end, a genuine offering indicate of a Drevo Ares, over a bling, is that it’s accessible pre-installed on a half-height PCI Express card, so it’s concordant with flattering many any desktop done in a new past. That said, a little ability of 256GB is rather of a head-scratcher. We’ve never seen an inner SSD offering during usually one capacity—especially not one as little as this—so it’s not an ideal collect for energy users.
That begs a question, then: Who is this SSD unequivocally for? We’re not sure; yet it looks like a flagship power-SSD, it’s usually a midrange, single-capacity drive. Throw in a fact that there’s no bundled module (and omit a oddity opening switch), and it’s some-more of a newness than a clever SSD alternative. It’s not a bad drive, mind you, yet if we contingency have an SSD on a half-height PCI Express card, a Plextor M8SeY makes for a improved understanding with some-more capacities, tighten pricing during a 256GB ability point, a module presence, and some-more determined guaranty support. We’d demeanour again during a Ares were a pricing to undercut a Plextor’s during 256GB by $30 or more; during this writing, it was some-more like $15.
An add-in-card SSD from visitor Drevo, a Ares is singular in pattern among PCI Express drives. (Anyone for a speed switch on a back, LEDs on a edge, and a unicorn on a side?) But a sole close ability and intermediate opening for an NVMe indication make it a tough sell.
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