Kingston PCIe Gen 4.0 SSDs for Gaming and Content Creation: The Ultimate Guide
Craig Hume - MD @ Utopia
In this blog I’ll be explaining PCIe Gen 4.0 SSDs, and why they are the fastest storage available right now - I’ll be letting you know if these drives are the best choice for you and your workflow or if you could save money and go for a cheaper option - this is going to be a good one!
Hard Drive, SSD and M.2 NVMe sitting side by side and ready to be installed in a PC for testing.
In 2023 there are 3 different technologies that your gaming or content creation PC that will hold your installation of Windows, installs of games, applications such as Lightroom and AutoCAD and finally all your essential personal data such as videos, music and photographs.
These technologies are SATA hard drives, SATA SSDs and NVME m.2 drives and can be drastically different in terms of speed, physical size and how they operate, however, all coexist in the modern desktop and laptop of today.
Hard Drives (HDDs)
A 500GB Western Digital HDD - Looking good, but slow.
So, when it comes to computer storage, hard drives are still pretty popular for desktop computers. Their design hasn’t changed much over the years, looking a bit bulky compared to modern SSD, but they get the job done.
They work by having a spinning platter that holds your data and a little arm with a magnetic head that goes back and forth to save and retrieve the info, and the downside to this is there is a very slight audible noise when in operation, it’s barely noticeable however, the point has to be made for anyone looking for an entirely silent PC.
The speed at which the data is saved and retrieved depends on how fast the platter spins and how cluttered the drive is. When they're at their best, hard drives can transfer data at a rate of around 180MB/s - making them best for long-term data storage, think photos, videos, and seldomly used games rather than for Windows install and your daily use applications and games.
Solid State Drives (SSDs)
A Kingston A400 SSD - This is one of the most reliable and best value SSDs on the market.
Now onto SSDs, or solid-state drives. These amazing little devices have no moving parts, so your data is accessed electronically through memory chips embedded on a small PCB. This means that data can be accessed way faster compared to hard drives! Plus, they're super compact compared to a hard drive. And the best part? They're silent when in use! Yay for peace and quiet!
However, just like hard drives, they both use the same SATA bus interface and connect to the motherboard via a cable, which means the data transfer speeds are limited to around 600MB/s. In real-world tests, you can expect an SSD to hit around 550MB/s. Making them ideal for Windows and daily use applications when on a budget.
NVMe M.2 Drives
A Kingston NV2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 M.2 SSD waiting to be installed in its perfect PC.
Now onto NVMe m.2 drives! These are like a supercharged version of SSDs! They connect directly to the motherboard using the speedy PCIe bus, so there's no need for cables. This gives them lightning-fast transfer speeds that leave other drives in the dust.
On the test bench, we have the Kingston Fury Renegade SSD, a Gen 4 NVMe drive with staggering performance. Reaching speeds of up to 7300MB/s, double the speed of their already super-fast Gen 3 predecessors. With their tiny size and direct connection, NVMe m.2s are the ultimate storage solution for tech enthusiasts looking to gain every advantage in their workflow or gaming setup.
To give you an idea of what that looks like in comparison to, say, walking, we have created this chart.
Do you need NVMe M.2 Storage?
One of Utopia's system builders installs a Kingston Renegade NVMe M.2 into a clients new custom PC.
Okay, so Gen 4 drives are fast but, how will that help me and how do I get one?
Well, first of all, these drives are only compatible with a CPU and motherboard that supports Gen 4 drives. So unless you have an AMD Ryzen 5000, Intel 11th generation CPU, or above and supporting motherboard, you will have to upgrade your CPU and motherboard to gain access to these sweet Gen 4 speeds.
Secondly, it might not even help you at all. Yes, on paper, the Gen 4 drives are and should be the fastest, but in reality, even the Gen 3 drives are too fast for even some of the toughest tasks on a PC. The great news is that Gen 4 drives are coming down in price, and you can snag yourself a great deal now and then, with some being close to their PCIe 3.0 counterpart. PCIe 4.0 also brings power-saving enhancements, meaning your device runs cooler while consuming less power, perfect for battery-conscious laptop users. With more products adopting PCIe 4.0, deciding between PCIe 3.0 and 4.0 is a no-brainer. PCIe 4.0 will be an industry standard before you know it.
So why are people buying Gen4 SSDS? For most, it will be their FOMO (fear of missing out), and they simply want the latest and most excellent tech - even when we don’t need it. I sometimes liken it to buying a supercar to drive on UK roads. Sure, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Bugattis can reach speeds over 200 mph, but with the UK speed limit being 70 mph, it doesn't seem like the best value choice. And it isn’t, but sometimes when you can afford the best, you just want the best.
Jordan (Project Manager at Utopia) tries out one of our custom gaming PCs at the Resonate Gaming Event in Glasgow.
But fret not; there might just be a genuine reason for buying a PCIe Gen 4 m.2, and that reason is Direct Storage.
This exciting technology is going to revolutionise PC gaming! With Direct Storage, once the game data is stored in the system's RAM, the CPU doesn't have to decompress it before sending it to the GPU.
Instead, the GPU handles the decompression, which was previously impossible. This allows for faster graphics rendering as the GPU receives all of the compressed data at once and doesn't have to wait.
To take advantage of Direct Storage, you'll need a high-end GPU that can decompress data faster than the CPU. And with a Gen 4 drive, Direct Storage takes advantage of faster transfer speeds and higher bandwidth, allowing for data transfer in gigabytes per second instead of megabytes per second.
This means PC gamers will benefit from faster load times, improved FPS performance, and potentially more complex and higher-quality visuals. Now that is a reason to upgrade!
Direct Storage is already available to PC users that have Windows 11, and there’s a slightly watered-down version for Windows 10 users however, we will need to wait till game developers implement this technology into modern games to see how well it will improve real-world gaming performance - but for just now we’re excited to watch this technology
So, if you want to be ready for Direct Storage, buy a Gen 4 drive like this Kingston Fury one. It will keep you ahead of the game and prepared for the exciting times to come.