Direct-Attached Storage Performance

The Thunder3 PCIe SSD was formatted in exFAT before being subject to our benchmarking routine. In order to evaluate the DAS aspect of the unit, we utilized the testbed outlined in the table below to test the performance.

AnandTech DAS Testbed Configuration
Motherboard GIGABYTE Z170X-UD5 TH ATX
CPU Intel Core i5-6600K
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 4 F4-2133C15-8GRR
32 GB ( 4x 8GB)
DDR4-2133 @ 15-15-15-35
OS Drive Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 NVMe 256 GB
SATA Devices Corsair Neutron XT SSD 480 GB
Intel SSD 730 Series 480 GB
Add-on Card None
Chassis Cooler Master HAF XB EVO
PSU Cooler Master V750 750 W
OS Windows 10 Pro x64
Thanks to Cooler Master, GIGABYTE, G.Skill and Intel for the build components

Our testing methodology for DAS units takes into consideration the usual use-case for such devices. The most common usage scenario is transfer of large amounts of photos and videos to and from the unit. The other usage scenario (particularly for multimedia-editing professionals that are the target market for the Thunder3 PCIe SSD) is importing files directly off the DAS into a multimedia editing program such as Adobe Photoshop. Prior to taking a look at the real-life benchmarks, we first check what ATTO and CrystalDiskMark have to report for the Thunder3 PCIe SSD. We see numbers around 2500 MBps for sequential transfers, correlating well with AKiTiO's performance claims.

In order to tackle the first real-life use-case, we created three test folders with the following characteristics:

  • Photos: 15.6 GB collection of 4320 photos (RAW as well as JPEGs) in 61 sub-folders
  • Videos: 16.1 GB collection of 244 videos (MP4 as well as MOVs) in 6 sub-folders
  • BR: 10.7 GB Blu-ray folder structure of the IDT Benchmark Blu-ray (the same that we use in our robocopy tests for NAS systems)
AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe SSD 1.2TB robocopy Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Photos 494.17 718.58
Videos 669.56 1444.75
Blu-ray Folder 747.16 1484.67

For the second use-case, we take advantage of PC Mark 8's storage bench. The storage workload involves games as well as multimedia editing applications. The command line version allows us to cherry-pick storage traces to run on a target drive. We chose the following traces.

  • Adobe Photoshop (Light)
  • Adobe Photoshop (Heavy)
  • Adobe After Effects
  • Adobe Illustrator

Usually, PC Mark 8 reports time to complete the trace, but the detailed log report has the read and write bandwidth figures which we present in our performance graphs. Note that the bandwidth number reported in the results don't involve idle time compression.

AKiTiO Thunder3 PCIe SSD 1.2TB PCMark8 Storage Benchmarks (MBps)
  Write Bandwidth Read Bandwidth
Adobe Photoshop (Light) 1590.58 307.38
Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) 1425.8 337.42
Adobe After Effects 826.43 333.66
Adobe Illustrator 1343.64 321.70

Some context to the above numbers can be gathered from our last DAS review with the benchmark numbers presented using graphs. Given that the PCIe SSD simply leaves those USB drives in the dust, and the fact that the interface is different, we decided it would not be an apples-to-apples comparison if the numbers were to be presented / compared in the same set of graphs.

Introduction and Setup Impressions Miscellaneous Aspects and Concluding Remarks
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  • osxandwindows - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Where are the PCIe adapters for thunderbolt 3?
  • osxandwindows - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    When I first saw the title I thought, hell yea.
    A PCIE thunderbolt 3 enclosure.
  • AppleJon - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Would taking the drive out and putting a graphics card in the pcie slot be something possible?
  • CharonPDX - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    No, for quite a few reasons:
    1. The enclosure isn't very large, so a long video card wouldn't fit.
    2. It doesn't have a power connector for video cards that require more than the PCIe bus provides.
    3. Even the PCIe bus is limited by the 12V, 6A power supply (less than 70W available to the card.)
    4. It only has a x4 PCIe slot, that doesn't appear to be open-ended, so no x16 cards.

    In theory, you could throw a low-power x4 video card in, but those aren't "powerhouses" by any means. They're meant purely for adding more displays. Again, I suppose you COULD do that, but there are dedicated graphics Thunderbolt chassis on their way soon that would be far cheaper than buying this just to use it for a video card.
  • AppleJon - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    So yes but with limitations. 1300$ minus the 1100$ for the SSD is not to bad if you need it. I know the GPU "real' enclosure are comming but still currius to know if anandtech would have the time to try something like that? With the new finfet GPU comming could make things even more interesting on the low power side pcie power only type enclosures.
  • rsandru - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    I'm surprised that no one is mentioning the fact that the development kit mentioned by Ganesh is available for $280 with free shipping and comes with a x16 PCI-E connector, Thunderbolt cable and everything needed to get started.

    It also has a pretty standard power connector for providing bus power up to 75W. For more powerful video cards, one could easily buy one of those kits, install it in some off the shelf mini-ATX/mini-ITX/fancy custom case with a reasonably large ATX power supply (350W would be plenty for a single card) and have a nice custom made graphics card enclosure.

    I'm sure the mod community would find plenty of fun in packaging this development kit in a dedicated GPU case :-)
  • samer1970 - Friday, June 3, 2016 - link

    why do that ? Thundebolt3 GPU cases already exist , you can buy them from Razer , and powercolor .. and many chinese companies.
  • danbob999 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    Another thunderbird device. Another overpriced device.
  • damianrobertjones - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link


    Really? STOP MILKING CONSUMERS you idiotic companies. It's annoying.
  • Peterman1 - Thursday, June 2, 2016 - link

    This price really isn't that bad considering the intel ssd inside is $1100. The company then has to include the aluminum housing, circuitry, and make a little profit on the device.

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