In years past, solid state drives were something of a novelty. Perhaps a bit reminiscent of the 3D TV craze of the early 2010’s, SSDs were flashy, fascinating novelties that, despite their potential, were much too expensive for the average consumer. The difference between 3D TVs and SSDs, however, was that the latter drastically reduced in price over the years. You also didn’t have to wear ridiculous 3D glasses to use a solid-state drive, which was another major plus.
Thanks to that price reduction, SSDs have become something of a default storage solution for most PC gamers. They are much, much faster than their hard disk counterparts. Though there is certainly something to be said for the massive storage size of most spinning disk drives, loading a game from an HDD can be downright painful. Every PC player booting an OS or a game from a hard disk drive knows how tedious this can be; you start the game, wait for it to load, lose patience, get up to go to the bathroom, make a sandwich, maybe take a walk around the neighborhood, and come back later to find the thing still loading.
Maybe that is a bit of an overstatement, but it is true that SSDs are so fast that they’re becoming borderline mandatory for PC gamers. So, to cater to growing consumer demand, Drevo, an up-and-coming tech company officially founded in 2015, have recently released their Ares 256GB PCIE NVMe SSD. Now, in a market relatively saturated with PC storage options, it can certainly be difficult to craft a product that stands out. Drevo definitely makes a valid attempt to catch the eyes of consumers with a few unique choices, though, ultimately, the success of this product will be contentious.
First and foremost, Drevo claims this drive to be capable of a 1400mb/s sequential read speed, and a 600mb/s sequential write speed. While certainly not competitive when compared to some of the ultra-fast, top-of-the-line solid-state drives, this product seems to operate well enough given the price range.
The main feature, however, seems to be the inclusion of PCI Express bus and NVMe protocol support. This is the first of Drevo’s SSDs to host these additions, making the Ares the most advanced of Drevo’s solid state drive offerings. PCI Express, which surpasses the speed bottleneck imposed by traditional Serial ATA connections, seems to be the way of the future, and those eager to take advantage of the quickest read and write speeds would do well to look for drives that forgo typical SATA bus interfaces.
At the end of the day, the read and write speeds toted on the Ares’s packaging will certainly be fast enough for most users, but those looking to really get the most out of their SSDs will likely look for products in higher price tiers.
The Drevo Ares makes some unique, sometimes questionable design decisions, though none of these decisions impact the product negatively. Perhaps the most useful inclusion of the physical design of the drive would be the addition of a heatsink. Of course, keeping PC components cool is vital, especially to those who don’t have much space either in or around their computers. However, since an SSD heatsink typically costs somewhere in the neighborhood of ten dollars, it is a bit of an odd, possibly unnecessary inclusion.
The most interesting aspect of this product by far, however, would be the inclusion of what can only really be described as an SSD turbo button. Most of us likely remember that oddly named switch that appeared on most computers from the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s—it essentially slowed the computer’s CPU to allow for the use of programs originally intended for much slower processors. Though a useful method of extending the life of certain pieces of software—particularly games—back in the day, it is a curious inclusion on an SSD. Why would anyone want this feature on their solid state drive? I have absolutely no idea, but Drevo seems to find it important.
This switch allows the user to toggle between three modes, labeled “S,” “D,” and “P.” Essentially, these options may be thought of as standard mode, reduced speed, and power saving mode respectively. Again, it doesn’t make any obvious sense to include an option to reduce the speed of a component that is literally optimized for increased speed—unless you are really looking to conserve power for some reason. Yet, the option is there for those interested in this apparent SSD paradox.
The Ares seems to have been built to compete with something like Samsung’s EVO 960 250GB SSD. Since Samsung’s is the older product, it retails for around thirty dollars less than Drevo’s new SSD, depending on where you look. Drevo wants you to stump up $150 for this drive, and that seems like somewhat of a reasonable price, though it leans slightly on the pricier side considering some of the product’s shortcomings. The main downside here is the drive’s extremely limited storage space. The drive only allows for 256GB of storage, which, as we all know, could be filled up rather quickly. With some games topping out at 80GB or more of required space, it is difficult to recommend springing for a drive with such a low storage ceiling. The Drevo Ares is bootable, too, which means that, despite the small storage size, the drive will still be useful if made to boot an OS and possibly store a few other programs on top of that.
The Drevo Ares seems to be a competent low to mid-tier solid state drive. It isn’t going to shock the world, but it does represent an advancement in SSD technology, as it is the only Drevo product which currently takes advantage of PCIE and NVMe technology. Those prioritizing speed over storage space will likely find this product to suit their needs, but those looking to pack entire steam libraries onto their PCs might want to look elsewhere.