The ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade (starts at $159.99 for the 1TB model, $329.99 for the 2TB tested), an internal PCI Express 4.0 solid-state drive, has amazingly fast throughput as measured by its sequential read and write speeds. It forgoes the bulky, finned heatsink of many high-performance SSDs for a thin but seemingly effective aluminum heat spreader that lets it fit in PS5s as well as laptops. With goodies like a solid software suite and 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption, it’s a clear PCMag Editors’ Choice pick.
One Finely Honed Blade
As befitting its moniker, the S70 Blade is thin for a high-performance internal SSD. Its heatsink is an aluminum-based strip, unlike the finned behemoths that frequently come with high-performance PCIe 4.0 SSDs (including ADATA’s own XPG Gammix S70). It is about as thick as a thin sheet of cardboard, the thickness of a typical heat spreader of the kind that comes with many internal SSDs intended for laptop use.
The S70 Blade can be used with laptops as well as for expanding the storage on the Sony PlayStation 5. ADATA is quick to point out that it meets—and in some cases (such as speed) exceeds—Sony’s M.2 SSD requirements for PS5 compatibility. A laptop, of course, will have to be a late-model AMD Ryzen or 11th Generation Intel Core model with 4.0-bus support to see the full speed benefit. (Most non-leading-edge laptops will be PCIe 3.0-capable only.)
The ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade is a four-lane PCIe 4.0 drive manufactured on an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm long) “gumstick” PCB. It employs the NVMe 1.4 protocol over the PCIe 4.0 bus, features an InnoGrit IG2536 controller, and is rated to hit a maximum throughput of 7,400MBps read and 6,800MBps. (The speed ratings are the same for both the 1TB model and the 2TB version we tested.) The drive is based on Micron’s 176-layer TLC V-NAND flash. (Check out our SSD dejargonizer to make sense of all this lingo, if need be.)
Based on current retail (Amazon.com) pricing, at 16 cents per gigabyte for either its 1TB or 2TB version, the S70 Blade is modestly priced for a high-performance PCIe 4.0 drive. The MSI Spatium M470 sells for 18 cents per gigabyte for 1TB and 16 cents a gig for the 2TB stick, while the Spatium M480 HS goes for a lofty 23 cents per gigabyte for the 1TB model and 22 cents for the 2TB version. You’ll spend 18 cents per gigabyte for either the 1TB or 2TB Crucial P5 Plus, and 19 or 18 cents per gig respectively for the 1TB and 2TB versions of the Editors’ Choice award-winning Samsung SSD 980 Pro.
As for sequential read and write speeds, both the 1TB and 2TB models of the S70 Blade are rated for a maximum throughput of 7,400MBps read and 6,800MBps write. This is very fast; only a handful of PCIe 4.0 drives—among them the Mushkin Gamma at 7,175MBps and the Samsung SSD 980 Pro and MSI Spatium M480 HS at 7,000MBps—have rated read speeds of 7,000MBps or higher.
The durability ratings for the S70 Blade, as measured in terabytes written (TBW), are 740TBW for the 1TB version and 1,480TBW for 2TB. This puts in the mainstream for TLC-memory-based drives. The Crucial P5 Plus has slightly lower ratings of 600TBW for the 1TB model and 1,200TBW for the 2TB drive, while the 1TB version of the Samsung SSD 980 Pro is also rated at 600TBW. That said, a few PCIe 4.0 drives offer considerably higher durability ratings than the S70 Blade—the Corsair Force Series MP600 and Silicon Power US70 is rated at 1,800TBW for the 1TB and 3,600TBW for the 2TB model. At the other extreme, the Mushkin Delta—which uses less write-durable QLC memory—is rated at just 200TBW for 1TB, 400TBW for 2TB, and 800TBW for 4TB.
The “terabytes written” spec is an estimate, according to the manufacturer, of how much data can be written to a drive before some cells begin to fail and get taken out of service. (TBW tends to scale 1:1 with capacity, as it does with the S70 Blade.) The warranty for this drive is good for five years or until you hit the rated TBW figure in data writes, whichever comes first.
As for software, ADATA offers its free SSD Toolbox suite, providing a wide range of controls and health checks for the drive The S70 Blade also supports hardware-based AES 256-bit encryption, widely regarded as the gold standard for consumer SSDs.
Testing the S70 Blade: A New Sequential Speed Champ
We test all of our PCI Express 4.0 SSDs on an MSI MEG X570 Ace motherboard, with an AMD Ryzen 9 5950X CPU installed. We use 16GB of DDR4 Corsair Dominator RAM clocked to 3,600MHz, and the system employs an Nvidia GeForce discrete graphics card.
PCMark 10 Overall Storage Test
First up is the overall PCMark 10 storage test, from UL, running the full storage suite. This score represents how well a drive does throughout the entire PCMark 10 run. It’s the sanctioned score presented by UL’s software at the end of each run. After that are some more granular measures derived from PCMark 10’s background “traces.” These simulate how quickly a drive is capable of launching a particular program (or, in the first case, booting Windows 10). The Windows 10 trace simulates the full Windows 10 operating system startup procedure and records how quickly the drive can feed the kind of data requested. (See more about how we test SSDs.)
After that is a game-launching test set, which simulates how quickly a drive can read shallow-depth small random 4K packages; 4K is one of the more commonly used file-block sizes for game installations, though that composition does depend on the title you’re playing. The drives are also put through a very important test for creative types, measuring launch speeds for Adobe programs. As anyone who regularly works in programs like Adobe Premiere or Photoshop can tell you, a constant pinch point is the time it takes for these programs to load.
Finally, our PCMark 10 copy tests are also derived from PCMark 10 traces. At first, these numbers might look low compared with the straight sequential-throughput numbers achieved in benchmarks like Crystal DiskMark 6.0 and AS-SSD, charted further down. But that’s due to the way this score is calculated and the nature of (and differences between) the source data sets.
The S70 Blade’s PCMark 10 Overall Storage score of 2,558 was the third highest in our comparison group, and its other PCMark 10 scores ranged from good to excellent. A highlight was its Photoshop-launching throughput measure, the fastest in the group.
Sequential Speed and Copy Tests
Moving on from PCMark 10-derived numbers, the Crystal DiskMark 6.0 sequential tests simulate best-case, straight-line transfers of large files. After that is a series of file and folder transfers done in the SSD benchmarking utility AS-SSD. This trio of tests involves copying large files or folders from one location on the test drive to another.
As I previously mentioned, the S70 Blade is one of the few drives we have reviewed with a rated sequential read speed in the 7,000MBps range. All the others fell short of 7,000MBps in our testing, but not so the S70 Blade. In fact, its 7,474MBps read speed and 6,707MBps write speed are the fastest of any SSDs we have tested.
Its Crystal DiskMark 4K read score was among the best, while its 4K read score was slightly above average. The drive’s only weak benchmarks were its AS-SSD folder-to-folder (same drive) copy tests.
A Formidable SSD for Laptop or PS5
Fittingly thin with its flat aluminum heatsink, the ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade can fit in tight spaces such as a laptop or PS5. It doesn’t skimp on performance, though; its sequential read and write scores are the fastest we’ve recorded, and it turned in good to excellent results on nearly all our other benchmark tests.
Throw in hardware-based encryption and a proven SSD management software suite, this competitively priced PCIe 4.0 SSD is not only a fine buy, it’s a new PCMag Editors’ Choice winner.