Corsair Neutron NX500 SSD burns with speed, but doesn’t scorch your PC

Looking to beef up your desktop with super-fast storage? Corsair has a new solid state disk that takes advantage of your PC’s speedy PCI Express lanes by plugging directly into an add-in card slot. It’s called the Neutron NX500 NVMe PCIe SSD AIC, and it’s available in two capacities now, to be followed by a third capacity at the end of the month.

Traditionally, mechanical hard drives and cartridge-like solid state disks connect to the Serial ATA (SATA) bus (freeway) on a motherboard via ports and cables. The third revision of the specification powering this bus caps read and write speeds at 600MB per second, which is fine for general applications like browsing the internet, checking email, writing documents, and performing other mainstream tasks.

Meanwhile, the PCI Express bus is extremely fast. It’s built for handling add-in cards shoved into slots that are essentially an extension of the motherboard. Short for Peripheral Component Interconnect, this bus relies on “lanes” for sending and receiving data from multiple card-focused slots. Because SATA was created with slow hard drives and optical drives in mind, it bottlenecks the full capabilities of the newer, super-fast NAND Flash technology that drives today’s solid state drives.

Thus, moving SSD storage to PCI Express makes sense. As of late, stick-shaped SSDs have become a popular form factor, connecting to special “M.2” card-style slots on a motherboard. These slots can be based on the PCI Express or SATA 3 bus, depending on the manufacturer. These slots also rely on the NVM Express or the SATA Express storage access interface, the latter of which uses a PCI Express bus to provide transfer speeds of up to 1,969MB per second.

But what if you don’t have an M.2 slot on your motherboard supporting PCI Express? That’s where Corsair’s Neutron NX500 add-in card comes into play. Just shove it into an open slot, and you immediately have a crazy-fast SSD without disrupting the other storage devices installed in the PC. It’s based on the NVM Express interface, which was originally designed for the high-speed needs of the enterprise market. Corsair’s SSD requires a slot that supports the PCI Express 3.0 specification, and at least four lanes.

Here are some of the details:

Sequential Read Speed: Up to 3,000MB per second
Sequential Write Speed: Up to 2,400MB per second
4K Random Read: Up to 300K IOPS
4K Random Write: Up to 270K IOPS
Interface: NVM Express via PCI Express 3.0 x4 slot
Operating Temperature: Zero degrees to -70 degrees Celsius
Storage Temperature: -40 degrees to -85 degrees Celsius
Lifespan: 2,000,000 hours
Dimensions: 4/76 (W) x 6.49 (L) x 0.82 (H) inches
Storage Capacities: 400GB ($320)
800GB
1,600GB (1.6TB)
Storage technology: MLC NAND

Outside the speed factor, the Neutron NX500 add-in SSD comes packed with a high-surface-area heatsink to keep the card cool and fanless, enhanced error correction, dedicated DDR3 cache, and a five-year warranty. It’s compatible with Corsair’s free SSD Toolbox software, too.

The 400GB ($320) and 800GB ($660) models are available now. The 1.6TB version won’t be made available until the end of August.

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