250GB & 500GB NVMe M.2 2280 Review
Today in another peoples review we will be looking at some rather unheard of NVMe drives from a largely unfamiliar Chinese manufacturer in these parts of the world called Shenzhen Jiahejinwei Electronics, they seem to have split their business in to several names including Asgard, Gloway, and POWEV. Information is patchy but POWEV seems to be the name used for their NAND manufacturing, Asgard appears to be used for their higher end M.2 SSD and DDR manufacturing, and finally Gloway which appear to be the name used for generally more budget minded SATA SSDs and DDR memory solutions.
With that slightly rough around the edges introduction it is time to push on and start taking a look at the Asgard AN Series M.2 NVMe drives I have here today, the 250GB retailing for £26 and the 500GB retailing for £42 the drives represent an interesting proposition, will Asgard reign supreme or crumble and fall just like in Thor Ragnarok? Let’s find out.
Right so let’s see what these here Asgard drives look like.
Is it just me or am I the last reviewer that still likes to include packaging shots? It’s all about being thorough. First impressions are certainly impressive the drives come well protected with an additional clear plastic lid over top and even a little screwdriver and screw. It’s not much, but I don’t see any manufacturers over here giving people anything like that so Asgard get points for trying. Installation and warranty information can be found in the little booklet so nothing out of the ordinary there but top marks for presentation.
Time for a close up, we can see that as far as M.2 drives go you don’t really get better looking than this, whatever that font is for the “Asgard” wording really works.
Knowing exactly what is under the hood of these drives is difficult, conflicting information is quite abundant and neither the POWEV or Asgard websites work properly or contain many details about these NVMe drives so there is only one thing for it... FOR SCIENCE!
Starting things off we see what appears to be a one size fits all PCB design likely meaning these Asgard drives are using TLC 3D NAND given the drives are available in up to 2TB capacity, there is nothing definitive to confirm it is TLC NAND but working on appearances and available information it is a reasonable conclusion to come to. I did also check the 500GB drive and there were no blank spaces for ICs so it would look like the 250GB drive is a cut down 500GB model.
Whipping that gorgeous front sticker off (which is not just stuck on any old how it is graphene/graphite based meaning it will act as a heatsink to a degree) reveals POWEV 3D NAND made in Taiji, no surprises here given how Shenzhen Jiahejinwei seem to operate but beyond those details I can’t tell you anything about these ICs further information just does not exist as far as I could find.
Finally we get to the controller for the Asgard drives which is the Silicon Motion SM2263XT which is a mightily impressive controller so for reference let’s dig up those specs for you all.
The SM2263XT specs help fill in some blanks and doubts, we see there is a maximum of 280K IOPS Read and 250K IOPS Write, which is very impressive, the 500GB Asgard drive is advertised to do 2100MB/s Read and 1800MB/s write while the 250GB model is rated for 2000MB/s Read and 1200MB/s Write, not the fastest NVMe drives on paper but substantially faster than any SATA based SSD all for SATA SSD prices, an interesting combination.
It will also be interesting to see if the 500GB drive can live up to the promised 1800MB/s Writes given the SM2263XT falling short being capable of 1700MB/s. Given how difficult reliable specifications have been to find for these Asgard drives I think it would be fair to say they support up to 1700MB/s Writes based on the controller specs and not other sources which quote 1800MB/s for the 500GB drive so I won’t be judging too harshly if the drive doesn’t make 1800MB/s.
CPU: AMD Zen 1700 @ 3.85GHz
Mainboard: MSI X470 Gaming Pro Carbon
RAM: 2x8GB G.Skill Ripjaws V 3200MHz 15-15-15-35 @ 3466MHz CL16
GPU: Sapphire Radeon RX580 8GB @ 1425 / 2200
Storage: 250GB Hynix SL301, WD 120GB M.2, Asgard 250GB & 500GB M.2 NVMe
Opticals: 24x Lite-On iHAS324 DVD-RW, 16x HP BH40N Blu-Ray
Sound: Xonar DX 7.1, Realtek ALC1220
PSU: EVGA 1000w Supernova G2
OS: Windows 10 Pro x64 build 1709 and all updates
Case: NZXT Phantom 530
Now we get to the good stuff, measuring performance of these Asgard NVMe drives. I like to use tests that everyone can use as a reference point for themselves for comparison which means I hold little value in such tests as boot times and file copy tests as such things can and do vary based on platform and chipset, whether the drive is limited by the interface it is connected to (PCIe 2.0 compared to an intended interface of 3.0 for instance), etc so we will focus on the tests that can be used for direct comparison much more easily.
First up the 250GB Asgard drive.
Well right off the bat in Crystal Disk Mark the Asgard drive reaches the promised advertised speeds with Reads and Writes both empty and with data on the drive, Q32T1 and Q1T1 results are suitable but a bit disappointing to be honest.
Moving to AS SSD the Asgard drive returns very good results which comparatively in overall score makes this drive faster than the likes of the Corsair MP300, OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 Pro and Team Group Cardea Zero, that is not too shabby at all.
For our last test we will look at ATTO results with the drive filled with some data (68% full), we see that the Asgard drive is generally capable of consistent performance however it does fail to hit the advertised 2000MB/s Read here but the Write results are pretty much on the money, see why I prefer repeatable tests across platforms rather than boot time and file copy tests yet? Every bench is slightly different when trying to assess storage performance.
Now let’s see what the 500GB Asgard drive can do.
Just like with the 250GB drive the 500GB Asgard manages to turn in some solid performance both empty and with data on the drive however those write speeds don’t quite live up to the advertised 1800MB/s in Crystal Disk Mark which as I covered earlier should not come as a surprise and those Q32T1 and Q1T1 results are still a bit disappointing.
Looking at AS SSD performance once again is solid all round being comparable to some of the big brand drives, in fact if you are an owner of a drive such as a Samsung 950 Pro or similar this Asgard drive would certainly be something to consider if you are after a drive with much better Write abilities.
For the final test we return to ATTO the 500GB Asgard 47% full shows consistent performance from top to bottom just like the 250GB drive but does fall short on Writes this time, margins are fine however and could easily be chalked up to a number of factors including simply how ATTO measures performance compared to other benchmarks so I’m not going to judge the Asgards too harshly here.
Well that wraps up the look at the Asgard M.2 NVMe drives, this isn’t a mainboard review ;), so it is time to bring things to a close.
Where to start with the Asgard drives, it’s a little difficult to fully assess something where information is a bit sketchy so let’s start with something simple, visually the drives look about as good as they come on a nice black PCB with neat traces and a graphene based sticker to aid heat dissipation slightly, the Asgard drives on paper also have good specifications and are backed by a 5 year warranty where should the drive fail it is outright replaced with a new one not merely repaired, there aren’t many manufacturers that adopt that approach so combined with the 5 year warranty should certainly inspire confidence. In terms of performance the 250GB drive and 500GB drive are not the fastest NVMe drives on the market but their performance is still substantially better than any SATA based SSD and for the price with the 250GB drive being available for £26 and the 500GB drive for £42 it is hard to find any fault at all with these drives they are as fast or faster than some of the most well known branded drives such as the Corsair MP500 and MP300 as well as the Samsung 950 Pro while having a notably lower price per GB. If these Asgard drives are a sign of things to come from Asgard then I for one welcome them it is about time SSD storage started coming down to prices viable enough to start phasing out all our mechanical drives, besides, maybe it’s just me being a Marvel nerd but who doesn’t want to say they have a piece of Asgard in their system?
If there are any criticisms I would have about these drives the first would be the lack of a proper heatsink given how hot NVMe drives can run, I’m really not a fan of seeing unpopulated spaces on a PCB and the Crystal Disk Mark Q32T1 results are a bit underwhelming, but that’s it, these issues are quite minor really given the capacity you can get and the price you can get it for from Asgard.
In closing if you have an aging M.2 drive, are just looking for something different to try, a solid performer without spending a fortune, or a gamer looking for fast reads to minimise loading times the Asgard NVMe drive is certainly worth your attention and consideration.
Performance: 20 / 30
Build Quality: 25 / 30
Price: 30/ 30
Aesthetics: 10 / 10
Final Score: 85%
Nice price and warranty, Thor approves
lol! Yeah for the money the drives are promising and perform well for 90% of users. definitely up there as far as 3rd gen drives go. The handful or so of drives that are faster you’ll pay a hell of a lot more money for and mostly not see the benefit to all that extra money you have paid. Only downside is that Asgard currently only really sell out of China so delivery could take a couple weeks or so to the UK.
It’s a decent price for the performance it gives, and you can’t beat the warranty. Too bad they don’t ship out globally to other stores/amazon etc.
I’m pretty sure I saw some stores on aliexpress that ship worldwide if you were thinking of finding some cheap NVMe drives
Yes, I am always looking for good tech, cheap Thanks, I’ll have to check and see payment possibilities there.