Introduction

When it comes to Memory solutions, ADATA is a well-known brand famous for their all-around coverage of market with different solutions that start from budget segment to as high as enthusiast segment. ADATA offers complete memory solutions including DRAM modules, USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives and portable hard drives. Xtreme Performance Gear (XPG) was founded by ADATA and is dedicated to providing high performance products for gamers, e-sport pros, and tech enthusiasts.

The market is continuously being populated with the PCIe Gen 4 based M.2 NVMe SSDs taking the storage game to the next level of achieving high transfer rates. One would need to have a supported motherboard (AMD X570/B550 chipset) and a compatible CPU (Starting from AMD Ryzen 3000/5000 series CPU). Intel’s Rocket Lake will support the PCIe Gen 4 hardware. So, PCIe Gen 4 is still in its infancy and has a long run before saturating itself. PCIe 4.0 based devices are backward compatible with the PCIe 3.0 interface.

ADATA has launched GAMMIX S50 Lite series M.2 NVMe (1.4) SSDs based on PCIe Gen 4×4 interface. These drives are available in only two densities 1TB and 2TB. These drives have mediocre transfer rates as compared to the other M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 drives having higher transfer rates. The idea behind the S50 Lite is to give the user a fair play on the PCIe 4.0 interface without breaking wallet and ADATA has exactly achieved this. The maximum sequential read speed is up to 3900 MB/s and sequential write speed is up to 3200 MB/s. This is the brink of data transfer speeds that we have on high-end M.2 NVMe SSDs using PCIe 3×4. These drives are using 3D NAND flash technology to boost system performance and provide higher reliability. The GAMMIX S50 Lite is equipped with Intelligent SLC Caching and DRAM Cache Buffer functions to accelerate the read/write performance. To ensure data integrity and the safety of data transmission, the GAMMIX S50 Lite features LDPC ECC. We will be looking at 1TB variant today. These drives have a sleek heatsink with thermal pad pre-installed.

  • Product:               GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB
  • Manufacturer:      XPG
  • Price:                    $145 [At the time of the review]

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The drive is shipped in a paperboard packing box.

Salient features of the drive are:

  • PCIe 4.0
  • NVMe 1.4
  • SLC Caching
  • 3D NAND

The GAMMIX S50 Lite is a M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4×4 SSD.

The salient features are printed in 22 languages. The maximum performance is mentioned to be 3900MB/s for the read and 32MB/s for the write speeds. There is a note cautioning the user to check the datasheet of the product for actual performance with more details.

We have a 1 TB variant on our hands. There is a serial number and part number sticker pasted.

There is a transparent container inside the packing box with the SSD tucked in the center. One would need to exercise care while taking out the SSD from the container as it is seated there giving an impression that it is stuck. There is nothing else in the box.

Closer Look

The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4×4 SSD has a M.2 form factor of 2280. It is an M Key type SSD compatible with the majority of the M.2 slots on the modern motherboards. Here is what XPG is saying about their S70 SSDs. “Take advantage of PCIe Gen4x4, the latest iteration of the PCIe interface, with the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite PCIe Gen4x4 M.2 2280 solid state drive. Delivering read/write speeds of up to 3900/3200MB per second and sporting a host of other great features, the GAMMIX S50 Lite will bring your system to the next level.”

We are continuously seeing more and more options in M.2 NVMe SSDs based on PCIe 4×4 interface and even in higher densities. Though the pricing of these SSDs is still high as compared to the standard 3.5” HDD which is understandable given the technological differences. These SSDs are using either of SLC, MLC, TLC and now QLC. Each has its own Pros and Cons in terms of the endurance and better performance and very much related to the pricing. TLC is employed in the majority of the consumer grade solution in the SSDs. While the real benefit of the having a TLC (3 bits per cell) is its relatively lower pricing and more data storage capacity, the considerations are lower performance over a period of time, lower endurance in particular.

The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB is taking advantage of the 3D TLC NAND flash on SLC caching. 3D NAND is a response to the scaling or density challenges of the planar NAND to have higher densities in the smaller physical space though this adds to the manufacturing cost of the 3D NAND. 3D NAND flash is a type of flash memory in which the memory cells are stacked vertically in multiple layers. 3D NAND can deliver a greater level of performance and endurance.

The dimension of the SSD is 80x22x4.3mm (LxWxH) and it has a weight of 10g. The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite series SSDs don’t need dedicated driver on the Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. Since, these SSDs are using operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated software either by the manufacturer. We have a XPG branded sleek aluminum cover on the top which is rested on the components using a thermal pad. Interesting enough, these SSDs have components on both sides of the PCB which makes a cooling task a bit challenging. There are white color stenciling or lining on the heat sink. We have a black color PCB.

The operating temperature of these drives is 0°C to 70°C whereas the storage temperature requirement is -40°C to 85°C. These have a shock resistance of 1500G/0.5ms. The MTBF is mentioned to be 2,000,000 hours. The SSD comes with a 5 year warranty though there is a note on that aspect saying that the SSD is based on 5 years warranty or TBW. The TBW (Terrabytes Written) value is mentioned to be 740 TB. This figure of 740TB is calculated using MSI X570 Gaming Plus motherboard on Windows 10 1909 version at XPG lab. Please, note that the TBW value of 1480TB is for the 2TB variant. This SSD can be used on PCIe 3.0 based motherboards where the maximum sequential read speed is up to 3400MB/s and maximum sequential write speed is up to 3000 MB/s. There is not much of a margin between the rated 3400MB/s on PCIe 3.0 and 3900 MB/s on PCIe 4.0. What makes this SSD compelling is the pricing and good random read speed (from our testing) which would benefit the gamers. Speaking of the Radom read and random write, this SSD is rated for up to 390K IOPs using 4KB Random Read and 490K IOPs using 4KB Random Write for 1TB variant.

There is a white color large size sticker on the back. It has a part number and serial number of the drive printed. The drive is rated to draw 3.3V. There is an XPG branding on the top of the sticker. Removing this sticker would void the warranty. The power consumption is 0.33W Active (Typical) and 0.14W Slumber (Typical).

This is effectively a DUAL sided PCB where components are used on both sides of the PCB. It seems like the same PCB is being used for all the densities of the SSDs in this line up.

Speaking of features, the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe4x4 SSD is capable of TRIMM DEVSLP, Garbage Collection, ECC, S.M.A.R.T, SLC Caching (which accelerates the sequential and 4K random read/write speeds), Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Over-Provision, RAID Protection. The addlink S70 M.2 SSD is engineered with a RAID engine and LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) coding, a powerful ECC algorithm, to keep data secure. A 2,000,000 MTBF is an indicator of NAND’s reliability in this SSD along with the 5 years of the Warranty that the XPG is offering.

We removed the heatsink from the top of the SSD. The thermal pad’s removal was a bit painful experience. You can see the residue of the pad in the picture. We have two NAND Flash chips along with the DRAM chip and the controller.

We removed the sticker from the SSD (Voiding its warranty). Two more NAND flash chips are on this side. We mentioned above that this SSD is dual-sided one meaning it has components on both sides.

The above picture shows the close up of the NAND Flash chip. We have a total of 4x these chips making up a total of 1TB. Each comes to 250GB size approximately. ADATA is using their own branding on these chips but these are Micron’s 3D TLC NAND particles.

The XPG S50 Lite 1TB is using SK Hynix H5AN 8G6 NDJ-RXNC DDR4 memory chip rated at 2133Mhz. This is an 8GB capacity DRAM for the caching purpose.

Surprisingly, XPG has used Silicon Motion’s SM2267 controller on the XPG S50 Lite 1TB. This is a 4-channel controller. Usually on high-end SSDs, you will find 8-channel controller from Phison or Samsung. Combining with the SLC caching would improve the writing speed.

The above picture shows the ADIA64 Extreme’s S.M.A.R.T status of the XPF S50 Lite 1TB.

The above picture shows the AIDA64 Extreme’s read-out of the supported commands and features of the XPG S50 Lite 1TB.

Toolbox

XPG has provided comprehensive software to control the various aspects of the GAMMIX S50 Lite. It is called Toolbox and can be downloaded  from their website.

The software will check and show the summary status of all NVMe drives on the startup. Please, note that we have used Toolbox on the Intel test bench using PCIe 3.0 motherboard.

Clicking the S.M.A.R.T button will load the SMART Detail information window.

Clicking the Drive Details button will load the drive’s detail information window.

You can use the Diagnostic Scan to identify any issues with the drive.

We have more functions listed under Utility tab. One can update the firmware of the drive as well as the Toolbox upgrade. Security Erase function is also provided though use it on your own discretion. If going this route, you may have to hot unplug and replug the drive if it goes in the Freeze state. Also, it will prompt for the password which can be found in the User Manual of the Toolbox. The User Manual can be downloaded from the link given in the System Information.

The System Optimization will run the TRIM command on the SSD.

The System Information does what the name indicates. It is showing the summary of the system along with the useful links for the user.

Testing

The following configuration was used for the PCIe 4.0 testing:

  • AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
  • X570 AORUS PRO WIFI
  • Corsair Vengeance RED LED 16GB @ 2667MHz DDR4
  • Noctua NH-U12A
  • HyperX 120GB SSD [OS Drive]
  • Colorful iGame GeForce GTX 1050Ti 4G [For Display]
  • Cooler Master MWE650W Gold PSU

The following configuration was used for the PCIe 3.0 testing:

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
  • EK-AIO Basic 360
  • T-Force NightHawk RGB 16GB @ 3200MHz DDR4
  • Addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD [OS Drive]
  • bequiet! Straight Power 11 850W Platinum PSU

We have used the following software:

  • AS SSD 1.8.5636.37293
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 3.05
  • CrystalDiskMark 6
  • Anvil Pro Storage Utilities 1.1.0
  • Performance Test
  • DiskBench

We will be showing the snapshots of the respective software run on PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 testing.

The sequential read speed and sequential write speed validated the XPG mentioned rated speed for PCIe 3.0 based testing. The sequential read speed was 3804 MB/s for the PCIe 4.0 and 3237MB/s for the sequential write speed. This is closer to the rated (up to) sequential speeds on PCIe 4.0. Overall, we have improvement in speeds on PCIe 4.0 as compared to the PCIe 3.0.

Next, we run the AS SSD software to test the performance of the drive. Please, note that each stress testing software works differently and there would be variations between software and between two runs even on a same SSD.

The above picture shows the comparison of PCIe 3.0 with PCIe 4.0 using IOPS. The drive is below the rated speeds.

Surprising to see the low speed and high timing in the Programs category on PCIe 4.0 interface. For Games, this SSD is clearly favoring the PCIe 4.0 with almost double speed and half timing when compared with the results on PCIe 3.0.

The above pictures show the result of Compression benchmark run.

Next, we ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the drive’s performance. We have used QD of 10 for both runs. We have a consistent Read speed in 3200MB/s range for the transfer size of 16 KB to 24 MB in PCIe 3.0. The read speed declines with more transfer size. On the PCIe 4.0 we almost have a consistent speed starting from 64 KB transfer size going up to the 24MB transfer size. The maximum read speed on PCIe 4.0 is 3853MB/s and write speed of 3257MB/s. This is almost within the range of the rated speed.

Next, we ran the Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark to test the performance of the drive. On the default test size of 1GB, the tested read speed was 3277.80MB/s with 1.2207s of response time. The write speed was 3121.95MB/s with 1.2813s response time for PCIe 4.0

The above picture shows the result from Performance Test run using both configurations.

Real World Testing

We have used DiskBench in multiple scenarios to check the real world data transfer rates to and from the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB and 2.5” SATA 6 SSD, 3.5” HDD and USB 3.0 based Flash drive. Here are the results:

Directory Copy

The Gaming folder of Far Cry 5 consisted of roughly 30 GB was transferred from USB 3.0 Flash Drive (WD My Passport 1TB). The folder has large size to small size multiple files and sub-folders. Here is the result:

The data transfer rate was 85 MB/s.

Next, the same folder was copied from 2.5” SATA 6 SSD on the X570 test bench. We have this result only from PCIe 4.0 interface. The data transfer rate was 454 MB/s.

Next, the same folder was copied from 500GB Seagate Barracuda 3.5” HDD on the X570 test bench. We have this result only from PCIe 4.0 interface. The data transfer rate was 109 MB/s.

Next, the same folder was copied from the addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD on the Intel test bench. Here we have the result only for the PCIe 3.0. The data transfer rate was 1355 MB/s.

Large Size File Copy

We selected a single file of roughly 12GB size and repeat the tests.

The data transfer rate was 88 MB/s from USB 3.0 drive to the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB.

Next, the same file was copied from the HyperX 120GB 2.5” SATA SSD. The data transfer rate was 431 MB/s.

Next, the same file was copied from the Seagate Barracuda 3.5” SATA HDD to the XPG drive. The data transfer rate was 109 MB/s.

Next, the same file was copied from addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD to the XPG drive. The data transfer rate was 1724 MB/s.

Small Size File Copy

Next, we selected a small size file of approximately 354MB.

The data transfer rate was 85 MB/s on PCIe 3.0 and 91 MB/s on PCIe 4.0 from USB 3.0 drive to the XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB.

Next, the same file was copied from the HyperX 120GB 2.5” SATA SSD. The data transfer rate was 454 MB/s. We have a slightly higher transfer rate as compared to copying a single large size file.

Next, the same file was copied from the Seagate Barracuda 3.5” SATA HDD to the XPG drive. The data transfer rate was 109 MB/s which is same as for the single large size file.

Next, the same file was copied from addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD to the XPG drive. The data transfer rate was 1705 MB/s which is slightly lower than the speed for the single large size file.

Gaming Load Time

We copied Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on the SSD and measures the load time from double clicking the game exe file till it gives control to the user. It took approximately 10 seconds to load the game.

Conclusion

The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite is available in two capacities; 1TB and 2TB. The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe4x4 SSD has a M.2 form factor of 2280. It is an M Key type SSD compatible with the majority of the M.2 slots on the modern motherboards. The XPG S50 Lite is utilizing 3D TLC NAND. The SSD’s dimension is 80x22x4.3mm (LxWxH) with a weight of 10g. Since, these SSDs are using operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated driver provided by the manufacturer. This is a dual sided PCB with components on both sides. Take a note of this in case you’d buying this SSD and hooking it up with aftermarket heat sink cover for better thermal performance. The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite is using NVMe 1.4 and PCIe 4×4 interface for fast storage speeds. It is backward compatible with PCIe 3.0 as well.

The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB comes with sleek and stylish aluminum heat spreader. It has XPG branding along with geometric lining giving it a subtle look and feel. The XPG GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB is rated for up to 3900 MB/s sequential read and 3200 MB/s sequential write speed on PCIe 4.0 interface. The rating on PCIe 3.0 is up to 3400MB/s sequential read and 3000MB/s sequential write. The 4KB Random Read is listed at 380K IOPS and 4KB Random Write is listed at 490K IOPS for the 1TB variant. The S50 Lite is rated for 2,000,000 hours of MTBF. It has TBW rating of 740 TB for the 1TB variant.

The XPG S50 Lite 1TB is using Silicon Motion’s SM2267 controller which is a 4-channel controller. This can have effect on the data read/write speeds since the high-end SSDs are using 8-channel controller. This SSD is using SK Hynix 8GB DRAM memory chip. We have 4x Flash chips each of roughly 250GB capacity. These are from Micron.

The XPG S50 Lite 1TB M.2 PCIe4x4 NVMe SSD is feature rich storage solution. It is capable of TRIMM DEVSLP, Garbage Collection, ECC, S.M.A.R.T, SLC Caching (which accelerates the sequential and 4K random read/write speeds), Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Over-Provision, RAID Protection. The S50 Lite M.2 SSD is engineered with a RAID engine and LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) coding, a powerful ECC algorithm, to keep data secure.

The XPG S50 Lite 1TB is listed at $145 at the time of the review. The SSD has performed well during our testing and it has shown good performance for random reads making it suitable for the related tasks. The game runs faster on this SSD and it roughly takes 10 seconds to load the Witcher 3 which is a good response from the SSD. Under load the maximum temperature reported on the SSD was 66°C with an ambient of 19.2°C. The reading was taken from HWInfo64.

The gaming community would love this budget friendly performance packed SSD from XPG in particular. XPG is offering 5 years warranty on their GAMMIX S50 Lite SSDs. Don’t expect high transfer rates on the value oriented GAMMIX S50 Lite 1TB as it gives one, a flair of PCIe 4×4 without breaking the wallet achieved by using the SM2267 4-channel controller. If you are looking for a high-end high-performance PCIe 4.0 based SSD then take a look at GAMMIX S70 series from the XPG.

We are thankful to XPG for sending in GAMMIX S50 Lite NVMe PCIe4x4 1TB SSD for the review.

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