ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade M.2 PCIe Gen4x4 NVMe 1 TB SSD Review


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XPG Gammix S70 Blade Feature
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Feature

In February, we reviewed ADATA’s XPG Gammix S70 SSD. Today we’re back with ADATA’s latest model, the XPG Gammix S70 Blade. This M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen4x4 SSD shares a similar nomenclature as the Non-Blade, but is this the same drive with a new slimmer heatsink? The answer to that question is actually yes, and no. Before we dive into that, let’s first look at the listed specifications and features of the Gammix S70 Blade.

ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade
ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade

Specifications and Features

XPG manufactured the S70 Blade in the M.2 2280 form factor measuring 22 mm wide and 80 mm long and uses the “M” key for motherboard compatibility. The heatsink measures only 1 mm thick making it one of the thinnest on the market which gives it an extremely low profile of just 4.3 mm which should allow for clearance under or near GPUs or large CPU Coolers.

The Gammix S70 Blade uses Innogrit’s IG5236 controller, which provides some of the fasted recorded SSD speeds to date. It has 8 NAND channels that can run at up to 1200 MT/s with sequential read speeds over 7 GB/s, very close to the upper limit of the PCIe 4.0 x4 capabilities.

It also utilizes multi-layered TLC 3D NAND flash memory with hybrid SLC caching which is generally regarded as the “go-to” flash for high capacities without sacrificing read and write times. The S70 Blade is available in 1 TB and 2 TB models.

The following Specifications were sourced from the XPG website and the downloadable datasheet.

ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade Specifications
Model Name Gammix S70 Blade
Model Number AGAMMIXS70B-1T-CS
AGAMMIXS70B-2T-CS
Capacity 1 TB / 2 TB
Heat Sink Material / Color Aluminum / Black
Form Factor M.2 2280
Flash ADATA 3D NAND
Controller Innogrit IG5236 “Rainier”
Dimensions (L x W x H) 80 x 22 x 4.3mm / 3.15 x 0.87 x 0.17inch (with heatsink)
80 x 22 x 3.3mm / 3.15 x 0.87 x 0.12inch (without heatsink)
Weight 10g / 0.35oz (with heatsink)
7g / 0.24oz (without heatsink)
Interface PCIe Gen4x4
Sequential Read (Max*) Up to 7400MB/s
Sequential Write (Max*) Up to 6800MB/s
4KB Random IOPS Read (Max*) Up to 750K IOPS
4KB Random IOPS Write (Max*) Up to 750K IOPS
Operating Temperature 0°C – 70°C
Storage Temperature -40°C – 85°C
Shock Resistance 1500G / 0.5ms
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
Endurance (TBW)

1 TB: 740TB

2 TB: 1480TB

Warranty 5 Year Limited
EAC Code

4711085933065

4711085933072

Pricing 1 TB $149.99 at Amazon and Newegg (currently not available)
2 TB $299.99 at Amazon and Newegg
Notes 1. This product is compatible with the latest Intel and AMD platforms and must be used with a motherboard that supports PCIe 4.0 to achieve optimal performance. Actual performance may vary depending on the hardware and software configurations.
2. This product is backward compatible with PCIe 3.0. If a third-generation PCIe motherboard is used, this product will be able to achieve sequential read/write speeds of 3400/3000MB per second.
3. Test system configuration : Motherboard ASRock X570 Taichi, CPU AMD Ryzen 7 5800X, CrystalDiskMark 7.0.0
4. The SSD is based on the TBW or Warranty period.
5. Visit www.adata.com/us/support/xpg?tab=warranty&warranty=warrantyService for more details.

Packaging

Much like the original Gammix S70, the Blade ships in a shimmering red box. The cardboard used is lightweight but adequate for protecting the contents during shipping. The front displays a large image of the SSD and lists the key features including, PCIe 4.0, 3D NAND, NVMe 1.4, SLC Caching, Advanced LDPC, and the optional heatsink. The back of the box lists these features in multiple languages along with the drive’s maximum performance ratings, and a 5-year warranty. Inside is a single vacuum-formed plastic holding tray for keeping the precious cargo secured.

Package Front
Package Front

Package Rear
Package Rear
Internal Packaging
Internal Packaging

The Gammix S70 Blade

The drive itself looks nearly identical to the original S70. The Innogrit IG5236 Rainier controller, located close to the M.2 connector, keeps the traces short, allowing for faster communication with the CPU. It is always recommended to install M.2 NVMe drives in the closest slot to the CPU (assuming it’s the fastest slot on your board – which, in most cases, is correct). On the 1 TB drive, there are a pair of DRAM chips located between the controller and the NAND chips with one on top of the PCB and one on the bottom. Finally, at the far left are the four ADATA 3D NAND chips. There are two on the top and two at the bottom hidden under the product sticker.

XPG Gammix S70 Blade Front
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Front

XPG Gammix S70 Blade Back
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Back

Controller

The Innogrit IG5236 Rainier controller is fabricated using a 12 nm FinFET CMOS process using eight channels, PCIe 4.0 and NVMe 1.4 protocols for blazing fast speed. It has a maximum capacity of 8 TB, far beyond the 2TB capacity of the current Gammix S70 series. The IG5236 features NVM Open Channel, 4K LDPC ECC, ECC Protection, NAND Interface up to 1200MT/s, and AES 128/256.

Innogrit IG5236 Controller
Innogrit IG5236 Controller

DRAM and 3D NAND

The XPG Gammix S70 Blade is equipped with two modules of Samsung DDR4-2400 MHz (C17-17-17) 4 GB, for a total of 8GB of DRAM storage. The Samsung DRAM is the primary difference between the original S70 and the new Blade as the original featured SK Hynix DRAM ICs. This change is likely due to the massive chip shortage plaguing the computing industry for nearly a year now. Many manufacturers have been swapping out components without updating the device’s specifications; it’s good to know that XPG has created a new SKU altogether.

ADATA has opted to use its own branded NAND modules. It is unknown if these are manufactured for ADATA or if these were made in-house. There is very little information about these modules online. What we were able to confirm is that the four ADATA flash chips are 3D TLC NAND. Each chip has a capacity of 256 GB for a total of 1 TB, while the 2 TB version will have four 256 GB modules.

Front DRAM Close-up
Front DRAM Close-up

Rear DRAM Close-up
Rear DRAM Close-up

Front 3D NAND Close-up
Front 3D NAND Close-up

Rear 3D NAND Close-up
Rear 3D NAND Close-up

Heatsink

The heatsink for the Gammix S70 Blade is black painted aluminum and features a few etched lines along with the XPG logo stenciled in white yielding an attractive appearance. It measures approximately 1 mm thick with the adhesive thermal tape included. This tape is a set it and forget it application. If you manage to attach it slightly crooked, as I did, it’s best to leave it, as you risk damaging the drive.

There are a couple of reasons XPG decided to offer a slimmer heatsink than the massive one that came with the original S70. One reason is the large heatsink creates potential clearance issues with the GPU or even a CPU Cooler. This was highly documented in several online reviews and is likely a contributing factor in the change. Another reason could be that large heatsinks aren’t practical for most SSDs. Most users will never saturate a normal-sized heatsink. With that said, if you are one of the few that hammer your storage device with applications like CHIA mapping for days or frequently work with huge files, then yes, you will want a larger heatsink to maintain write speeds.

Heatsink
Heatsink

Heatsink Tape
Heatsink Tape

Testing Method and Test System

We have reviewed all of the components that make the S70 Blade what it is. Now it’s time to put it to the test. We know what the rated speeds are, but how does it perform? Is it still just as fast as the original S70? We have compiled an extensive list of benchmarks that will stress each aspect of the drive. After each benchmark, the drive is sanitized from the motherboard and formatted to NTFS with default settings for Windows 10. We will then compare the results with other M.2 PCIe Gen4x4 NVMe drives to see how well the new Blade fares.

Below are the tests we run with a brief description.

  • Crystal Disk Mark v 7.0.0 x64 – Run at Default Settings (5 Passes)
  • AS SSD v 2.0.7316 – Run at Default Settings
  • ATTO v 3.05 – Run at Default Settings except for the QD Set to 10
  • Thermal Testing – 5 passes back-to-back of Crystal Disk Mark.
  • DiskBench v2.7.0.1 – Use predefined 120 GB transfer file
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Benchmark – Run at Default Settings
  • Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark v 1.1.0 – Default Settings
Testing System
Motherboard ASRock X570 Phantom Gaming X
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
CPU Cooler be quiet! Dark Rock 4
Memory G.SKILL Trident Z RGB 16GB (2×8) 3200MHz CL16-18-18-38
OS SSD MSI Spatium M470 1 TB
Power Supply be quiet! Pure Power 11 500W
Graphics Card Gigabyte RTX 2070 Gaming OC 8 GB

All tests will be performed with the Gammix S70 Blade installed in the top M.2 slot to utilize the direct CPU interface. After each test, the drive is left to cool to at least an idle temperature before running the next benchmark.

Benchmark Results

CrystalDiskMark

XPG Gammix S70 Blade CDM Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade CDM Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade CDM Write
XPG Gammix S70 Blade CDM Write

CrystalDiskMark is the premier benchmark for verifying an SSD’s advertised speed. With a sequential read of 7475 MB/s, this makes the XPG Gammix S70 Blade the fastest drive we’ve tested to date. Unfortunately, the sequential write speeds did fall short of their rated speed but are still among the fastest drives, with the MSI Spatium M480 slightly higher. Even in the random read and write portions, the S70 Blade outperforms the competition.

AS SSD

XPG Gammix S70 Blade ASS SSD Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ASS SSD Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ASS SSD Write
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ASS SSD Write

Similar to CrystalDiskMark, AS SSD tests the drive’s abilities in sequential and 4K read and write tests. The S70 Blade performed at the top of the class except for the 4K 64 thread benchmark. Overall it is performing admirably against some very good competition. Something to note is the original S70 fell way behind in the Read 4K-64Thrd testing. This is one area the Blade version made significant gains, nearly besting the M480.

ATTO

XPG Gammix S70 Blade ATTO Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ATTO Read
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ATTO Write
XPG Gammix S70 Blade ATTO Write

The ATTO benchmark utilizes a file size spectrum to gauge speeds based on the file’s relative size. Here we see another impressive performance with the large files. ADATA is doing a fine job in the read portion of this test, but the MSI M480 owns the write portion.

Thermal Testing

For thermal testing, we used an AMPROBE TMD-52 digital thermometer. A K-Type thermal probe was taped to the heatsink located directly above the controller. This provides the most accurate results possible. We don’t rely on software as we have found it is not as precise or repeatable, not to mention, manufacturers sometimes locate the sensors at poor locations. To stress the drive, we first record the maximum idle temperature, then run through 5 passes of CrystalDiskMark and report the peak temperature normalizing the results to an ambient temperature of 23°C.

XPG Gammix S70 Blade Thermal Testing
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Thermal Testing
Thermal Testing
Thermal Testing

These results are beyond outstanding. They are, in fact, a little hard to believe. The drive only gained 11°C during full stress testing from idle. This leads me to believe the thermal tape is hindering the ability of the heatsink. The test was repeated two more times to verify the results, and they each came back the same. Either this heatsink is defying physics, or something is preventing the heat from getting to the heatsink. Sadly, attempting to remove the heatsink could damage the drive, so we need to accept these results for what they are. The good news is the drive never thermal throttled throughout this review, so it is staying cool enough.

DiskBench

Moving on to DiskBench provides us with a great, real-world test. It was designed to determine actual file transfer time. Using a 120 GB file composed of random data, we transfer the file from the primary (OS) drive to the test drive, recording the actual transfer time. If you do a lot of large file transfers, this is the test to pay attention to.

XPG Gammix S70 Blade DiskBench
XPG Gammix S70 Blade DiskBench

Once again, the Gammix S70 Blade rises to the challenge and completes the file transfer in only 51.34 seconds. Not much more needs to be said as these results speak for themselves.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Game Load Test

We use the scene loading metrics to the Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers benchmark. This test renders 3D game scenes and evaluates the overall system performance. These aren’t the results we’re after; this benchmark also records the time it takes to load each scene. This portion of the benchmark indicates how game performance (load time) can be affected by the drive’s speed.

XPG Gammix S70 Blade Final Fantasy XIV
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Final Fantasy XIV

Here the S70 Blade provides the fastest load times, though as with all NVMe drives, the per scene difference is generally less than a second. While the S70 Blade is the fastest, any NVMe drive will provide blazing fast load times, and we’re seeing this benchmark is becoming somewhat irrelevant.

Anvil Storage Utility

Anvil’s Storage Utility is another benchmark that measures read and write speeds, similar to CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD. The main difference with ASU is that it produces a performance score for comparison rather than an actual speed. This performance score is more of an all-encompassing overview of the drive’s capabilities.

XPG Gammix S70 Blade Anvil
XPG Gammix S70 Blade Anvil

The MSI Spatium M480 is the big winner of this test, though the S70 Blade scores are very respectable, beating out every other drive in this testing spectrum.

Conclusion

ADATA and XPG put together a highly capable PCIe Gen4x4 NVMe drive. The Innogrit IG5236 controller is one of the leading controllers on the market and is, in part, responsible for the great results we just went over. The change to the Samsung DRAM ICs doesn’t seem to affect the performance. Add in the updated firmware, and we see, in fact, quite a notable improvement over the original Gammix S70. The ADATA TLC 3D NAND with the SLC Caching also plays a significant role in the read and write benchmarks.

If there were an area to be picky over, it would be the included heatsink. We were unable to determine if the adhesive was interfering with the transfer of heat or not, but since the drive never thermal throttled, we really can’t give it negative marks. I would, however, recommend using your motherboard’s M.2 heatsink if it comes with one, to be sure.

The price of PCIe Gen4x4 NVMe drives has fluctuated recently with the chip shortage. But we see products finally coming to market at reasonable prices. The XPG Gammix S70 Blade is a prime example of this. Selling for $149.99, the 1 TB model is $70 less than the MSI Spatium M480 and $40 less than the slower MSI M470. This makes the 1 TB S70 Blade an incredible value. The 2 TB model sports a heftier price tag at $299.99. In comparison, the MSI Spatium M480 2 TB is a staggering $439.99, and the slower M470 has an MSRP of $319.99 and is still not available for purchase. In the end, ADATA and XPG have managed to create one of the fastest SSDs we’ve tested and done so while keeping prices below its competitor’s slower products. The XPG Gammix S70 Blade is definitely Overclockers.com Approved.

Overclockers Approved
Click this stamp for a complete explanation of what this means.

-John Nester (Blaylock)

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