You probably know MSI from their graphics cards, motherboards, gaming laptops or even their extensive line-up of mice, keyboards and headsets, but now the component maker has announced they're going to start making SSDs as well. Unveiled last night during their CES press conference, MSI have already got two NVMe drives lined up for launch later this year, and both of them will support the new PCIe 4.0 interface to take on next-gen drives such as Samsung's 980 Pro and WD's Black SN850.
MSI hope to "redefine the gaming SSD" with their two TLC-based drives, offering top read and write speeds of 7000MB/s and 6900MB/s and maximum capacities up to 4TB. Alas, that was the extent of what MSI revealed during their press conference, so we don't yet know how these drives will differ from each other, how much they're going to cost, or when we'll be able to get our hands on them. However, we can see from the images that both look like they've got quite substantial heatsinks attached to them, probably ruling out any hopes of being able to stick them in your PS5.
Still, based on the information we do have - those all-important read and write speeds - it looks like MSI's SSDs will, in fact, be quite a bit faster than Samsung and WD's flagship drives, at least when it comes to write speed. In this department, Samsung's fastest 980 Pro drive tops out at 5000MB/s write speed, while WD's best Black SN850 drive can hit 5300MB/s write. MSI's SSD, on the other hand, is miles out in front with its 6900MB/s write speed, which will be quite the feat if that figure pans out once review samples are available. MSI's SSD read speed, on the other hand, is very much on par with its rivals, as both Samsung and WD's drives are rated to hit an identical 7000MB/s.
Of course, the faster an SSD is, the more expensive it tends to be, which could work against MSI's pair of NVMe drives in the long run depending on how much they're going to cost. Indeed, based on the current prices of Samsung's 980 Pro, which start at £78 for 250GB in the UK at time of writing (and £210 for 1TB), MSI's drives might just be a tad too expensive to make that extra speed worth it.
Indeed, even Samsung's 980 Pro prices are already quite a bit more than what you can spend on an older PCIe 3 NVMe drive such as WD's superb Blue SN550 these days, which normally costs around £35 for 250GB and £95 for 1TB. While PCIe 4 is very much the way things are going for SSDs, older PCIe 3 drives are still perfectly fast enough for games and everyday use, and I suspect prices for PCIe 4 drives will need to come down quite a bit before they become more widespread.
In any case, it's interesting to see MSI branching out to a new type of component this year, and I'm very much looking forward to seeing how they compare to Samsung and WD's drives later in the year.