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Asura Genesis Xtreme M.2 NVMe SSD vs. Samsung SSD 970 Pro

Allen Ngo 👁, 06/09/2019

Heat Sink and LED all-in-one. The Asura SSD is a high-performance storage drive designed for desktop PC builders looking for more visual flare out of their machines. It's also one of the first NVMe SSDs to incorporate a casing that doubles as LED lighting and a heat sink.

While NVMe SSDs are extraordinarily fast, they are notorious for their warmer operating temperatures when compared to SATA III-based drives. PC component manufacturers have caught on to this by selling aftermarket heat sinks designed to be placed atop of NVMe SSDs to aid in heat dissipation and thus reduce the chances of performance throttling. Even some high-end Clevo and MSI laptops ship with heat sinks dedicated to keeping the M.2 drives running as cool as possible.

Asura has taken this one step further by offering what it claims to be the first NVMe SSD encased in a visually appealing heat sink on both sides of the drive. Additionally, the heat sink is embellished with RGB LED lights that enthusiasts may appreciate. For this review, we'll be comparing the performance of the Genesis Xtreme 1 TB to the competing Samsung SSD 970 Pro and more.

Dig deeper into the specifications of the Genesis Xtreme and you'll discover that the drives consist of Toshiba TLC NAND modules running on the new Phison E12 controller announced early last year. Additionally, these drivers utilize the PCIe 3.1 x4 standard for slightly improved performance potential and power management than most other NVMe SSDs in the market where PCIe 3.0 x4 is commonplace. The Asura drives otherwise follow the same NVMe 1.3 protocol as the Samsung SSD 970 Pro series. 

The Asura Genesis Xtreme can currently be found on Amazon ranging from $70 to $450 USD depending on the capacity. All data below reflect only the 1 TB SKU as performance differs between capacities as is normal for SSDs.

More information about the Genesis Xtreme series can be found on its official product page here.

Brand Storage Capacity Max Sequential Read (MB/s) Max Sequential Write (MB/s) Read IOPS Write IOPS
Asura Genesis Xtreme 256 GB 3050 1030 170K 235K
Asura Genesis Xtreme 512 GB 3400 2000 355K 440K
Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB 3400 3000 645K 645K
Asura Genesis Xtreme 2 TB 3400 2750 490K 500K
Samsung SSD 970 Pro 512 GB 3500 2300 370K 500K
Samsung SSD 970 Pro 1 TB 3400 2750 500K 500K
256 GB SKU specifications
256 GB SKU specifications
512 GB SKU specifications
512 GB SKU specifications
1 TB SKU specifications
1 TB SKU specifications
2 TB SKU specifications
2 TB SKU specifications

Warranty & Durability

Asura promises a TBW (Terabytes Written) of 380 TB up to 3115 TB depending on the capacity of the drive. All SKUs come with the same 7-year limited manufacturer warranty compared to "only" 5 years from Samsung.

Test System

Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH
Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH

Our test system is the Intel NUC Kit NUC8i7BEH mini PC equipped with an M.2 PCIe x4 slot. While compatible, the Asura SSD just barely fits inside of the chassis. It's recommend to pair the SSD with a proper desktop PC instead of a mini PC or laptop because of the size of the double-sided heat sink.

If desired, the sides and bottom of the heat sink can be easily removed from the SSD with just a Philips screwdriver. The option will prove useful for SFF motherboards where space is usually tight, but this will invariably impact the LED lights and operating temperatures of the drive. Note that double-sided thermal adhesives occupy the space between the heat sinks and NAND modules.

See our full review on the Intel NUC8i7BEH for more information on the mini PC.

Asura went above and beyond with the packaging. Aside from the SSD, users will also get two extra Philips screws, a slim 5000 mAh battery bank, and three short USB Type-A to USB Type-C, Micro-USB, and Lightning adapters. We weren't expecting any extras in the box, but we appreciate them nonetheless.

One of the most satisfying packaging and unboxing experience we've had with an M.2 SSD
One of the most satisfying packaging and unboxing experience we've had with an M.2 SSD
Users get a power bank and three different USB Type-A adapters
Users get a power bank and three different USB Type-A adapters
The full drive just barely fits into our Intel NUC
The full drive just barely fits into our Intel NUC
The pulsing lights have no other switches or customization options
The pulsing lights have no other switches or customization options

AS SSD & CrystalDiskMark

We're able to record a sequential read (Q32T1) rate of 3463 MB/s with CrystalDiskMark to be very close to the theoretical 3400 MB/s maximum. Sequential write, however, is slower at just 2110 MB/s compared to the advertised rate of 3000 MB/s. Even so, overall results are comparable to the Samsung SSD 970 Pro.

Note that we ran the CrystalDiskMark benchmark using a sample size of 4 GB instead of the default 1 GB since it is not ideal to have a sample size be smaller than the sequential write or read rates of the NVMe SSD.

SSD temperature rises from 21 C when idling to 41 C after running CrystalDiskMark two times.

AS SSD
AS SSD
AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark 5.5
CrystalDiskMark 5.5
CrystalDiskMark 6
CrystalDiskMark 6
System vitals when idling
System vitals when idling
System vitals when running CrystalDiskMark
System vitals when running CrystalDiskMark
Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TBSamsung SSD 970 EVO 500GBSamsung SSD 970 Pro 512GBSamsung SSD 860 QVO 1TBSamsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
AS SSD
-1%
-2%
-55%
-255%
Copy Game MB/s
1577.15
1128.3
-28%
316.67
-80%
Copy Program MB/s
747.29
400.84
-46%
234.4
-69%
Copy ISO MB/s
1541.93
1957.27
27%
401.56
-74%
Score Total
4454
4666
5%
4269
-4%
1106
-75%
1544
-65%
Score Write
2193
2237
2%
1925
-12%
444
-80%
97
-96%
Score Read
1502
1612
7%
1551
3%
430
-71%
1029
-31%
Access Time Write *
0.083
0.033
60%
0.03
64%
0.03
64%
1.906
-2196%
Access Time Read *
0.031
0.064
-106%
0.03
3%
0.036
-16%
0.067
-116%
4K-64 Write
1828.9
1893.16
4%
1593.09
-13%
285.03
-84%
61.14
-97%
4K-64 Read
1221.61
1293.69
6%
1276.31
4%
342.81
-72%
701.06
-43%
4K Write
173.28
113.41
-35%
126.74
-27%
110.16
-36%
1.27
-99%
4K Read
51.94
55.51
7%
52.75
2%
35.32
-32%
49.7
-4%
Seq Write
1908.19
2300.21
21%
2051
7%
491.62
-74%
348.48
-82%
Seq Read
2288.13
2630.17
15%
2216
-3%
519.57
-77%
2780.97
22%
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
-31%
-25%
-66%
-26%
Write 4K
272.4
100.4
-63%
110
-60%
126.1
-54%
182.4
-33%
Read 4K
57.13
41.6
-27%
51.48
-10%
36.74
-36%
48.34
-15%
Write Seq
2019
1407
-30%
1828.73
-9%
517.4
-74%
1211
-40%
Read Seq
1701
1376
-19%
1837.2
8%
544.7
-68%
1964
15%
Write 4K Q32T1
844.1
279.3
-67%
209.85
-75%
245.6
-71%
448.6
-47%
Read 4K Q32T1
884.2
343.9
-61%
299.43
-66%
277.5
-69%
527.4
-40%
Write Seq Q32T1
2110
2442
16%
2302.5
9%
526.7
-75%
1214
-42%
Read Seq Q32T1
3463
3524
2%
3558.9
3%
556.2
-84%
3246
-6%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-16% / -14%
-14% / -10%
-61% / -59%
-141% / -159%

* ... smaller is better

ATTO

Unlike CrystalDiskMark or AS SSD, ATTO tests transfer rates across larger block sizes to paint a bigger picture of overall performance. Sequential read rates are fastest between 256 KB and 32 MB at up to 3080 MB/s. Sequential write rates, however, continue to peak at about 2000 MB/s no matter the block size much like what we discovered above.

Interestingly, performance drops dramatically at 48 MB and 64 MB to under 1000 MB/s. In comparison, even the much older Samsung 960 Pro is able to reach over 2000 MB/s during this part of the test. Repeating the ATTO benchmark multiple times did not improve this result.

Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB
Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB
Samsung 970 Plus
Samsung 970 Plus
Samsung 960 Evo
Samsung 960 Evo
Samsung 960 Pro
Samsung 960 Pro
Samsung SSD 970 Evo Plus 500 GBSamsung SSD 960 Pro 1TB m.2 NVMeSamsung SSD 960 Evo 250GB m.2 NVMeSamsung SSD 970 EVO Plus 500GBToshiba KBG20ZMS256G
ATTO Disk Benchmark
3%
-12%
25%
-65%
8192KB write
1960000
2079890
6%
1423030
-27%
3322220
70%
554109
-72%
4096KB write
1960000
2090010
7%
1423030
-27%
3322220
70%
564467
-71%
2048KB write
1970000
2090010
6%
1423030
-28%
3297730
67%
557948
-72%
1024KB write
1960000
2100230
7%
1429920
-27%
3205200
64%
586388
-70%
16KB write
1160000
1102410
-5%
1118800
-4%
1153140
-1%
524483
-55%
8192KB read
2970000
2960680
0%
2990000
1%
2975270
0%
1099620
-63%
4096KB read
2960000
3019900
2%
3099870
5%
2975270
1%
1187170
-60%
2048KB read
2920000
3026480
4%
3154120
8%
2960680
1%
1351830
-54%
1024KB read
2860000
3263860
14%
3173620
11%
2811540
-2%
1231950
-57%
16KB read
1440000
1257110
-13%
1000960
-30%
1173620
-18%
306332
-79%

Data Compression

Data compression speeds are a mixed bag. While read rates are both high and stable, write rates are the opposite. Fluctuations are higher than on the Samsung 970 Evo Plus and comparable to the older Samsung 960 Pro.

Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB
Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB
Samsung 960 Pro
Samsung 960 Pro
Samsung 860 Evo
Samsung 860 Evo
Samsung 970 Evo Plus
Samsung 970 Evo Plus

Verdict

In review: Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB. Test model provided by Asura
In review: Asura Genesis Xtreme 1 TB. Test model provided by Asura

The Asura Genesis Xtreme is best suited for desktop PC builds with glass windows to show off the admittedly handsome design. Otherwise, the built-in flashy LEDs would go to waste especially when considering that the unique double-sided heat sink is responsible for the price premium over a more standard NVMe SSD. It's also unfortunate that there are no customization options available for controlling the behavior of the LED lights.

Beyond the aesthetics, performance is on par with the Samsung SSD 970 Pro albeit with a few exceptions. Data compression write speeds are slower while 48 MB and 64 MB I/O blocks are half the speed. We're also unable to reach close to the advertised 3000 MB/s sequential write rate of the drive as we instead top out at about 2000 MB/s.

The best aspects of the Genesis Xtreme are the 7-year warranty and relatively low operating temperatures for performance sustainability that enthusiasts can appreciate. Be sure your M.2 slot has ample space to properly install the drive as the heat sink housing adds a few millimeters in every dimension.

The Asura Genesis Xtreme can be found on Amazon here.

(June 13, 2019 update: Asura has confirmed that Gigabyte's RGB Fusion software should be compatible with the RGB lighting on the M.2 SSD. The product page, however, makes makes no mention or references to Gigabyte RGB Fusion.)

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Asura Genesis Xtreme M.2 NVMe SSD vs. Samsung SSD 970 Pro
Allen Ngo, 2019-06- 9 (Update: 2019-06-13)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.