Typically when we think of high-end PCIe storage solutions, these are designed for Intel’s HEDT platform – users with X299 motherboards and up to 18-core CPUs. However, at its press event in Amsterdam, MSI showed off its Gaming Storage card, bringing ultra-fast PCIe RAID 0 performance to its mainstream desktops.
At first glance, the Gaming Storage add-in card may look like a typical blower-style GPU – it has a black shroud, PCIe x16 connector and is roughly the size of a graphics card. However, there is more to this card than what meets the eye.
Essentially, the Gaming Storage card is a way for consumers on the Z370 platform to combine two M.2 PCIe SSDs in RAID 0 for ultra-fast performance. It does this by interfacing directly with a CPU’s PCIe lanes – instead of using the PCH – for uncompromised performance.
And uncompromised performance is certainly what you get. We saw a live demo of the Gaming Storage card – equipped with two Samsung SM961 SSDs – hitting over 6600MB/s sequential read speeds and almost 3000MB/s sequential write speeds. A single drive, by comparison, only offers around 3000MB/s reads and 1100MB/s writes.
According to MSI’s testing, this has a real-world benefit for loading large 4K videos and also for loading files into Photoshop. MSI tested the total time taken to load a 48GB 4K video file, and with a single M.2 PCIe SSD it took 5:40, while that was cut to just 1:59 with the Gaming Storage drive. Similarly, loading a 39GB file into Photoshop took the Gaming Storage card just 4:06, while a single SSD took 7:21.
At the moment, however, the Gaming Storage card is only available in select Aegis 3 and Aegis Ti desktop models, depending on configuration, so you can’t buy the card on its own. It also requires the Z370 chipset to allow for the CPU’s PCIe lane allocation to be divided between the Gaming Storage card and any installed GPU.
Nonetheless, I think it looks like a very interesting product, the likes of which we have not really seen before. For content creators on the Z370 platform in particular, the additional speed could prove a real benefit, so perhaps we will see MSI releasing a standalone model in the future.
KitGuru says: While it doesn’t look like consumers will be able to buy the Gaming Storage card by itself, I think its a very clever idea that would appeal to many content creators who can’t afford to buy into the X299/X399 platforms. How would you benefit from the Gaming Storage card if you had one?