Asus unveils 240GB PCIe solid-state drive

You won’t guess who’s entered the SSD market this time. Yes, it’s Asus—and the company hasn’t made its entry half-heartedly. Say hello to the RAIDR Express, a 240GB SSD with a PCI Express 2.0 x2 interface, dual SandForce controllers, and a sexy-looking shroud that’s stamped with the Asus Republic of Gamers logo.

The drive’s two SandForce controllers are each hooked up to a pool of 19-nm Toshiba MLC NAND, and they join forces in RAID0 mode to enable blisteringly fast transfer rates. Asus quotes peak sequential read and write speeds of 830MB/s and 810MB/s, respectively, as well as peak 4K random read and write rates of “up to 100,000” IOps. That’s quite a step up from single Serial ATA drives, which usually top out south of the that interface’s 600MB/s peak.

The RAIDR Express has other tricks up its sleeve, too. Asus has made sure to implement TRIM support, so performance shouldn’t degrade as blocks get written over, and there’s a physical DuoMode switch that lets the drive work with either newer, UEFI motherboards or legacy, BIOS-driven ones. The bundled software includes a RAMDisk utility as well as ROG HybriDisk, a tool that can turn the RAIDR Express into a cache for “high-capacity hard drives up to 4TB.” Oh, and the drive is apparently “built to last,” with a mean-time-between-failures rating of 620,00 hours. (The press release doesn’t quote the warranty length, though.)

Best of all, the RAIDR Express is the star of its own cheesy promotional video, which includes superhero music and two disembodied arms each mashing the enter key as a Battlefield 3 level loads. What’s not to like?

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    I wish they would ditch the fancy shroud/EMI shield. Adds unnecessary cost to an already expensive device.

    • ronch
    • 6 years ago

    This is one of the reasons why it’s a good idea to grab a board with a couple of x16 slots (even if the slot has just 4 or 8 lanes) even if you don’t plan to do SLI or CF.

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      Yup. Though I do SLI, so I need more :D.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 6 years ago

    GUYZ! DOES THIS HAVE TEH TRIMS ENABLED??

    • Bensam123
    • 6 years ago

    Mmm… those arms look female if I’ve ever seen them. I prefer the one on the left though. Check out that stamina! Almost no hiccups while pounding that enter key.

    In a more related bit, this just another ‘meh’ product. We’re on the edge of SATAe and these drives aren’t THAT fast. You could simply buy two SSDs and run them in raid 0. It’d be cheaper and you’d get to control what kind of SSDs actually go in.

    • BIF
    • 6 years ago

    240 GB is nowhere near enough for me to consider taking up a PCIe slot. With GPU folding and UAD processors, my PCIe slots are like gold. Would Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark park a Citation in their garages?

    Comeon, Asus, show us you really really mean it. Choices of .5, 1, 2, 4, and 8TB, in a form factor that will fit in an SFF box.

    Give me a GOOD reason to use a PCIe slot! Go big or stay home and just phone it in and offer us another Intel/Vertex/M4/M500 SATA drive bay competitor and be done with it.

    • albundy
    • 6 years ago

    you won me over with the stylish shroud. Almost looks like a Fatal1ty super-dork platinum edition.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 6 years ago

    Too bad about those Sandforce controllers. They were THIS close to something that could be great if it’s priced right.

    Then they picked Sandforce and well, that was that. I’m sure the RAIDR Express Solo or RAIDR Express Extreme will have a Marvel controller. Just wait and see. There’s only one company that’s been able to make Sandforce mostly reliable in a consistent manner and that’s the wizards over at Intel. And they spent a year debugging Sandforce’s problems for Sandforce before they felt they could release their product.

    Now you have not one but TWO of these chipsets built by the makers of the Asus Phoebus (Where’s the drivers?) in a combo card that’s just destined to have problems.

    LSI must be selling them Sandforce chips cheap now.

      • 5150
      • 6 years ago

      Nothing wrong with Sandforce chips if they’re utilized correctly. Example: Intel

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        He said so, trouble is, this ain’t Intel…

      • johnsmith7
      • 6 years ago

      Not sure why you would make such comments. Sandforce is the number one controller from what I can see, and I don’t see any problems being reported in the forums.

        • Airmantharp
        • 6 years ago

        You haven’t been around long…

    • Noigel
    • 6 years ago

    I’m confused. Does spamming the Enter key make BF3 load faster?

      • cygnus1
      • 6 years ago

      They’re apparently avoiding an FMV sequence that shows right after the level load.

    • Chrispy_
    • 6 years ago

    Waiting on a genuine, modern solution using a native PCI Express controller, not a kludge using a bridge chip and outdated sandforce in RAID.

    • Coran Fixx
    • 6 years ago

    Benchies:

    [url<]http://us.hardware.info/reviews/4263/6/asus-raidr-express-240gb-pci-express-ssd-review-is-this-the-future-atto-disk-benchmark[/url<] also available in 120gb. I'd buy if were close to other ssds but wouldn't pay a huge premium. (ie wouldn't pay over $140 for the 120gb)

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 6 years ago

      I think the conclusion summarizes it best.
      [quote<]It's a known fact that the Serial ATA 600 bus have become the performance bottleneck of SSDs. And it's also known that we can't expect to see Serial ATA 1200 in the near future. We'll first get the SATA Express, where storage devices are basically connected to the much faster PCI-Express bus. You can read an in-depth article about it here. The ASUS RAIDR doesn't do that yet. Since there aren't any suitable controllers yet, ASUS had to rely on a tried-and-true recipe by combining two normal Serial ATA SSDs with two normal SATA RAID controllers on a single card. ASUS did implement this solution in the best possible manner (with the legacy and UEFI modes), but it's still a make-shift solution. The use RAID adds extra latency and extra overhead. Real significant performance gains will be achieved only when native PCI-Express SSD controllers become available. The ASUS RAIDR is not faster than the fastest SSDs of the moment, such as the Samsung 840 Pro. There are clear performance gains for sequential read and write speeds compared to SATA600 products, while in other tests it's about the same. More importantly, the ASUS RAIDR Express 240 GB will cost about twice as much as a Samsung 840 Pro 256 GB. If you really need the high sequential transfer rates, you could buy two 840 Pros and put those in RAID 0. You're still much better off then in price per gigabytes. While we applaud and encourage ASUS' entry into the SSD market, and nomatter how much we like the design, hardware and software of the ASUS RAIDR Express 240GB, all things considered we cannot recommend the product.[/quote<]

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        Just slight addendum to quoted article:
        SATA12 apparently won’t happen, because it would require costly hardware in drives. (SAS12 exists)
        That’s why we got alternatives.

    • Umbragen
    • 6 years ago

    I’d be interested, but using the lone slot capable of running a 2x (or 4x) pcie card means shutting down ALL the other 1x slots, way to plan ahead Asus. Or maybe it’s my fault for not anticipating the need for a 2x slot?

    • indeego
    • 6 years ago

    Ugh… “Cool red LED.”

    No thanks. I want my money going towards nerds in the back room, not marketing.

    • sircharles32
    • 6 years ago

    I didn’t see “bootable” in the article.
    Is it?

      • Deanjo
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<]and there's a physical DuoMode switch that lets the drive work with either newer, UEFI motherboards or legacy, BIOS-driven ones.[/quote<] That is what the Duomode is for. It allows the booting to either setup.

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      Yes, there is a video of it booting and it shows compatibility with BIOS/EFI as a feature.

    • south side sammy
    • 6 years ago

    PCI-e is okay but the future brings PCI-e SATA interface so you can’t say good-bye to cables.
    But in doing so the inside of your pc will still look cleaner. No big cards to take up room. The interface will cut down on expense for us and manufacturing. With the right controller it should even be faster.
    Power supplies…………… biggest mess inside any case. It really needs to be addressed, but as components get smaller so will the need for big PSU’s. The electronics world really is shrinking.
    As far as “big” video cards…………. they are near their end. Look at the APU…………… it’s the future. Like it or not. I was kind of hoping for a separate chip like a processor instead of all in ones but you can’t have everything.

      • BIF
      • 6 years ago

      [quote<] PCI-e is okay but the future brings PCI-e SATA interface so you can't say good-bye to cables. But in doing so the inside of your pc will still look cleaner. No big cards to take up room. The interface will cut down on expense for us and manufacturing. With the right controller it should even be faster.[/quote<] Yeah, but they didn't make it worthwhile, with not even a half-terabyte of capacity. [quote<] As far as "big" video cards............. they are near their end. Look at the APU............... it's the future. Like it or not. I was kind of hoping for a separate chip like a processor instead of all in ones but you can't have everything. [/quote<] I would agree with you except for the GPU compute capability of modern graphic cards. Folding is just the beginning. I predict that we will see more and more applications that take advantage of "spare GPU cycles" and such. Maybe even a whole new class of application. Some of us might use the APU for our graphics, but still install a GPU or two for their compute capabilities, not unlike the "math coprocessor" silicone we were installing in the 90's. Whatever happened to Cyrix?

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 6 years ago

    I would enjoy seeing a tech report review. Is this one of the only consumer level PCIE drives on the market?

      • paulWTAMU
      • 6 years ago

      Newegg only listed 5 or 6 PCIE drives and they were mostly very expensive (there was an 800 gig intel one for 4 grand for instance).

    • jdaven
    • 6 years ago

    With optical drives going away and PCIe SSDs becoming more popular, the days of the cable ‘rat’s nest’ inside a PC are numbered. Now if they can just figure out how to reduce/remove the PSU cable problem. Modular helps but does not get rid of the problem completely.

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      What rat’s nest?

      Did you buy a case that doesn’t allow you to route cables behind the motherboard?

        • Klimax
        • 6 years ago

        Depends when he got tower and how expensive it was. Mine was relatively cheap EATX big tower by Spire during 920 introduction without any routing. (Although it would be useless, because EATX MB covers almost entire space under PSU.

      • Krogoth
      • 6 years ago

      Optical media isn’t going away for one simple reason, cost. Optical media still beats flash media for mass production in physical media distribution. It is pennies per disc versus a few dollars per unit to throw together a low-density flash drive.

      PCIe SSDs aren’t replacing their 2.5″ and 3.5″ SSD brethren for similar reasons. PCIe SSDs are going to be remain as high-end, enterprise-level data storage for the foreseeable future.

    • tbone8ty
    • 6 years ago

    How is the longevity on these PCI express ssds? They got trim support yet?

      • Scrotos
      • 6 years ago

      Sweet Jesus do you even read these things before posting?

      [i<]Asus has made sure to implement TRIM support[/i<]

      • bcronce
      • 6 years ago

      “Asus has made sure to implement TRIM support, so performance shouldn’t degrade as blocks get written over”

      • Alexko
      • 6 years ago

      “Asus has made sure to implement TRIM support”

      Edit: whoops, too late.

      • maxxcool
      • 6 years ago

      paragraph 3 line 1 -“”Asus has made sure to implement TRIM support””

      • BIF
      • 6 years ago

      Hey…guys, has TRIM support been added yet? I really was hoping for another confirmation or two.

      HAH! 😀

    • LukeCWM
    • 6 years ago

    It appears from the video that this is bootable. Are we absolutely certain this can be used as a boot drive? I don’t know that I’d have use for this much speed in 2013 if it couldn’t be a boot drive.

    Edit: with the distinction between UEFI and BIOS motherboards, does that mean it can be a boot drive on UEFI and not BIOS?

      • indeego
      • 6 years ago

      I wonder if there was a huge video embedded in the story that actually showed you if it was booting or not?

        • LukeCWM
        • 6 years ago

        I watched the video, but I want to know if that is only done in a specialized way that the average user can’t achieve.

        I’m not fluent in these things, but I seemed to gather the idea at one point that PCI Express SSDs had issues functioning as boot drives. Asking for clarification seems like a safe way to address my ignorance. =]

          • indeego
          • 6 years ago

          The average user isn’t installing SSD drives, let alone PCIe drives.

          You plug this in, put the switch to the right platform type, and move on. UEFI will almost certainly be the right setting for most modern computers in the past two years. They will set that as default and it’s just as easy as SSD. Easier, in fact, as with SSD drives you have three connection points that if are loose you risk the device not working. PCIe (in this case) is one connection, and you are done.

    • Sunburn74
    • 6 years ago

    Not having to run sata cables is a real joy. Imagine an ultra clean build with a modular PSU and one cable for your GPU, a mobo 8pin, and thats it.

    Still don’t understand why pcie cards are that more expensive than sata SSDs in this day and age

      • jdaven
      • 6 years ago

      I think the expensive comes from the raid type setup on these PCIe SSDs. In order to take advantage of the PCIe bandwidth, chips need more than one controller like a RAID 0 setup. This adds to the price. Anyone please correct me if I’m wrong about this.

        • RdVi
        • 6 years ago

        On top of that they also have a bridge chip to make the controllers work with PCI-E. They may become a little cheaper (and deliver more consistent performance) once new controllers are released that work natively with PCI-E.

    • OneArmedScissor
    • 6 years ago

    Anyone know if this is native PCIe or does it do the SATA bridge thing?

      • mesyn191
      • 6 years ago

      Considering the controllers used it sounds like it uses a bridge.

    • Krogoth
    • 6 years ago

    It is not much faster than the current crop of performance 2.5″ SATAIII SSD in most applications. That’s why ASUS don’t bother testing against this guy against its actual competition. They threw in a second-generation SSD PCIe card from OCZ and some run of the mill HDDs. 😉

    They didn’t even bother to show this card’s true strength. How it handles a ultra-high bandwidth/multi-user I/O workload. This is where it can outpace its 2.5″ brethren and utterly destroy most nested HDD RAIDs.

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 6 years ago

      I’d like to see it benchmarked against [url=http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226226<]this.[/url<] I really doubt it's much faster, if at all, considering overhead of Raid, and bridge chips. Also, isn't it true that lower size SSD's are slower than larger, and this drive is combining two 120's in raid to get 240? I think there is more downsides than up here. The only real benefit I see, is the loss of needing an extra sata cable.

        • Scrotos
        • 6 years ago

        I thought the reason that higher capacity SSDs had higher performance was that, say, a 256 MB drive was internally RAIDing 4 x 64 MB banks of memory. Once it got above X capacity, the chip’s memory channels/bus was saturated so you didn’t see an increase in performance.

        I don’t know if it’s appropriate to call it a RAID or just multiple channels accessing at the same time like the old “dual ported Windows RAM (WRAM)” on the Matrox Millennium video cards waaaay back in the day.

          • l33t-g4m3r
          • 6 years ago

          Right. It’s like having 256-bit ram vs 128-bit ram. This product is SLI-ing two 128-bit 650’s on a single card with a bridge chip, and saying that’s better than a 780. [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvdf5n-zI14<]Nope.[/url<] Native 256-bit should be superior, and with much less overhead. Not to mention fault tolerance should be higher on a single drive vs Raid 0. edit: It does appear this approach does have some serious speed potential if implemented correctly. Mushkin's [url=http://poweredbymushkin.com/catalog/item/36-scorpion-deluxe/837-scorpion-deluxe-240gb<]Scorpion Deluxe[/url<] claims to have 2 GB/s bandwidth. [url=http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Mushkin-OWC-PCI-Express-SSDs,14510.html<]Tom's[/url<] appears to have more info on it, albeit slightly outdated.

    • internetsandman
    • 6 years ago

    As long as it performs better in gaming oriented scenarios than OCZ’s Revodrive did

    • Elsoze
    • 6 years ago

    That’s a rich feature set for a high end drive. Nice to see. Any word on price?

      • kravo
      • 6 years ago

      €319 in Austria:
      [url<]http://geizhals.at/asus-raidr-express-240gb-90mb0g60-m0eay0-a981315.html[/url<] I´ll rather wait till the new Samsung EVOs hit the market.

    • Grigory
    • 6 years ago

    “Cool red LED” and “Stylish shroud” Really? These are the first features they mention? At least they also mentioned the Interface at the same time. Then later… Oh, we also have some sort of chips in there! Well, look at that!

      • Scrotos
      • 6 years ago

      Yeah, but be honest. How many of your XTREME gamer pals really know wtf is going on in their computers? Most I’ve encountered know that higher model number = MORE BETTER and they like windows on their PC to show off the lights and how neat the stuff inside looks like.

      Which is fine but then realize why Asus is mentioning how k-rad kewl the shroud looks. A good portion of the enthusiast market cares.

        • Grigory
        • 6 years ago

        I know. I still would like to exert my right to be consternated.

          • Waco
          • 6 years ago

          Agreed. 🙂

      • Prestige Worldwide
      • 6 years ago

      The red LED is so cool….. shut up and take my money!

    • Prestige Worldwide
    • 6 years ago

    I’ll be the FIRST to say that that is one fast drive!

      • Airmantharp
      • 6 years ago

      It’s really not all that fast- I’m kinda disappointed. The PCIe SSD that Samsung built for Apple, currently shipping in Macbook Air laptops, can read faster, and it’s tiny!

      Asus’s new card really just looks awkward. The singular advantage I see is that they’ve used a custom firmware setup to get the card to appear as a single volume to the UEFI, so that the system can boot faster.

      But that’s not really an advantage- the only reason they need to do that is because they are using two controllers to get the bandwidth; they could do the same with a controller that has more NAND channels.

      I expect real PCIe (NGFF) SSDs to put this one to shame both in speed and in size.

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