Gigabyte is best known for its motherboard and graphics cards, but like so many PC component companies with diversified product portfolios, it's now officially entered the SSD market as well. What's unique, however, is that Gigabyte is the only top tier motherboard maker to expand into SSDs.
Asus has not done it, and neither has MSI. Same goes for companies like ASRock and EVGA. Biostar sells its own brand SSD, and of course so does Intel, but for the most part, it's been storage and memory makers that have dominated the SSD market.
Gigabyte intends to compete against established players with a pair of SATA drives, at least initially. I asked Gigabyte about its future plans, and specifically if it intends to release NVMe SSDs at some point. Gigabyte said yes, and that they would be available in both M.2 and add-in card (AIC) form factors.
For now, Gigabyte's sole offering is the UD Pro series, available in 256GB and 512GB capacities. These both use 3D triple-level cell (TLC) NAND flash memory from Toshiba, paired with an unknown controller. Speed ratings work out as follows:
- Sequential read: Up to 530MB/s
- Sequential write: Up to 500MB/s
- Random read: Up to 70,000 IOPS (256GB) / Up to 80,000 IOPS (512GB)
- Random write: Up to 40,000 IOPS (256GB) / Up to 75,000 IOPS (512GB)
Both the 256GB and 512GB models offer the same sequential read and write performance, while the 512GB drive kicks up random reads and writes a bit.
The product pages for these new drives extol the benefits of SSD technology versus mechanical hard drives, which are well documented at this point in the game. The bigger question is price, and Gigabyte tells me the 256GB model will go for $68.99 and the 512GB at $119.99. Gigabyte expects Amazon and Newegg to have stock available next week.
Gigabyte's pricing is pretty good, compared to other SATA SSDs on the market. In looking at 256GB SSDs, there are only a few that hover around $70, such as Adata's Ultimate SU800. Several others go for $75 or more—HP's S700 Pro sells for $93.99. Same goes for the 512GB model. At $119.99, it's one of the least expensive 512GB SSDs available.
Pricing will ultimately play a big role in how these are received—there's no shortage of SATA SSDs on the market, and the capacities and performance specs of Gigabyte's introductory models aren't best in class. They're not bad either, though, and with Gigabyte coming in with aggressive pricing, these look like good options.
It will also be interesting to see if Gigabyte or its retail partners run any bundle promotions. As the only top tier motherboard maker with an SSD line, the company is in a unique position to put together gaming bundles, which could also include a graphics card. Time will tell.