Cheap, Effective Option for Windows Install USB5/3/2021 11:03:41 AM

Pros: Plugged it in, started installing Windows Install Media to it, went to eat dinner, and the download was done when I came back. No stability issues, and it worked out of the box perfectly without any fiddling. After that, it only took about 10 minutes for me to get a clean windows install on my Samsung 980 Pro M.2 drive. If you're looking for a USB drive to install software to a whole server room's worth of computers, the speeds on this one might not do it for you, but for someone just looking to get the job done once or twice as cheaply as possible, this is a great budget buy.

Cons: The drive has slow write speeds (about 35 MB/s). Not an issue for me, since the read speed is a solid 225 MB/s. The coating also scratched noticeably after first use, a somewhat humorous tamper-seal in a USB-slot pattern. Doesn't affect performance at all.

Overall Review: If you're looking for a cheap drive to install Windows or some other program from, this would do the job perfectly fine. If you're looking for a drive to do a bunch of large transfers to/from, you should probably not be looking at budget USB drives because the write life on these is usually pretty short. That said, having installed windows exactly once from this drive, I've seen no problems.

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Truth in Advertising5/3/2021 10:29:36 AM

Pros: This is an extremely fast SSD that is actually capable of pushing well beyond the limits of PCI Express 3.0 x 4, being advertised as 7000 MB/s read and 5000 MB/s write. As the attached benchmark picture shows, it pushes right up to those numbers, and man is it fast: this is one of few SSDs on the market which can actually use PCI Express 4.0 x 4 speeds. I upgraded from an old hybrid SSD/donut drive because Windows 10 processes such as Update and Windows Defender would periodically saturate the drive for 10+ minutes, especially on boot; Now, I boot from cold in 15 seconds (Fast-boot is enabled in Bios) and don't ever see the drive get above even 5% usage, allowing me to actually use that expensive hunk of silicon on my desk without issue (even while downloading games, updates, etc.) without seeing any drive-related performance hits. The difference is night-and-day, and since updates are bottlenecked by internet speed (which I somehow doubt will ever reach near the absurd write speed on this drive for most people), using one of these as your primary drive should give you a super-smooth computing experience for years to come. As an added bonus, game load-screen times have been slashed to around 5 seconds or less on average for me, even using graphics hardware from 2013 (hang in there R7 260x! I'm not done with you yet...).

Cons: Runs warm: if you slot it above your primary GPU slot (which is the only PCI 4.0 M.2 slot on many mid-tier motherboards), you might expect to see GPU, CPU, and VRM temperatures creep up a few degrees C. This can be mitigated by using an intake on the top of the side panel, but many modern cases forgo this fan slot for solid tempered glass panels. This shouldn't break the deal for a vast majority of people, considering the huge benefits this drive gives your computing experience, but for someone who is trying to go for some very high overclocks, you might wish to add additional cooling here or find a board which can slot the M.2 on the bottom and still run at PCI Express 4.0 speeds.

Overall Review: This is a great product which I would happily recommend. You get what you pay for, and this SSD puts out speeds that are quite literally triple those of the lower-end M.2 drives. While pricey, most users won't need more than 1 GB for programs, games, files, etc. If you're looking for a drive just to boot from, the 250GB should be plenty without breaking the bank and you'll get most of the benefits of the M.2 PCI Express 4.0 slot while freeing up disc bandwidth for your larger SATA drives. Notes for potential buyers: the 1TB drive I got is single-sided, and M-keyed. This guarantees wide compatibility, but you will likely have to add a second (smaller) thermal pad on top of the pre-installed one on your motherboard before slotting it in. Your experience may vary. Check your motherboard manual before installation to make sure that you are installing this drive in a PCI 4.0 slot; on my Asus B550M-Plus board, for example, the heatsink and thermal pads were pre-installed on the M.2 PCI 3.0 chipset slot, instead of the faster PCI 4.0 CPU slot. I had to remove the thermal pad and heatsink after installation and move them over to the proper slot after already installing it on the 3.0 slot and realizing the speeds were off. Not an issue with the SSD, but something you should be aware of regardless to potentially save some time.

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