ADATA XPG Atom 50 Review

The ADATA XPG Atom 50 ($119.99 in its single capacity, 1TB) is the company’s first internal solid-state drive for gamers and producers. This PCI Express 4.0 drive delivers excellent performance while remaining cost-effective. It’s small, like an atom (it’ll fit in the smallest laptop M.2 slot or Sony’s PlayStation 5 console), but it delivers a punch when the conditions are right. In our Editors’ Choice award for inexpensive internal SSDs, the Atom 50 replaces the ADATA XPG Gammix S50 Lite.

ADATA XPG Atom 50 Review

ADATA XPG Atom 50

ADATA's latest M.2 budget drive is a smashing Atom
PROS
A PCIe 4.0 SSD is reasonably priced.
Excellent benchmark results, with high scores on operating system booting and game loading.
AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption is compatible with Sony PlayStation 5.

CONS 
Only 1TB capacity is currently available.
Some file-copy experiments yielded disappointing results.

ADATA XPG ATOM 50 SPECS

Internal or ExternalInternal
Interface (Computer Side)M.2 Type-2280
Internal Form FactorM.2 Type-2280
Capacity (Tested)1 TB
NAND TypeTLC
Controller MakerInnoGrit
Bus TypePCI Express 4.0
NVMe SupportYes
Rated Maximum Sequential Read5000 MBps
Rated Maximum Sequential Write4500 MBps
Terabytes Written (TBW) Rating640 TBW
Warranty Length5 years

Atomic Composition: TLC and DRAM-Free Memory

The XPG Atom 50 is a PCIe 4×4 drive built on a “gumstick” M.2 Type-2280 (80mm long) printed circuit board. It uses the NVMe 1.4 protocol over the PCIe 4.0 bus, has an InnoGrit IG5220 (RainierQX) controller, and has a maximum read and write performance of 5,000MBps. Micron’s 176-layer 3D TLC NAND flash is used in the drive. The Atom 50’s controller foregoes the traditional DRAM cache in favor of using your computer’s own memory as a host memory buffer (HMB). (If you’re unfamiliar with some of the terminologies, see our SSD glossary.)

While keeping DRAM out reduces the cost of a drive, it also has the ability to slow it down. That is not the case with the Atom 50 for the types of operations we tested it with, as we will see.

XPG ATOM 50 Superb Performance

This power-efficient drive, which uses only 2.5 watts, is kept operating smoothly by an aluminum heat spreader. Because the shield is so tiny (less than a millimeter thick), the Atom 50 can easily fit into a PS5 or thin-clearance laptop.

The XPG Atom 50 is the highest model in ADATA’s Atom line of affordable drives aimed at gamers and producers, as previously stated. The Atom 30 and 40 are both PCI Express 3 drives, however the Atom 50 is a PCIe 4 device that dominates the roost. The Atom 50 is currently only available in 1TB capacities, but the manufacturer promises a 2TB stick later this year.

The Atom 50 is priced at 12 cents per gigabyte, 3 cents cheaper than the Mushkin Delta, although at the time of writing, their Amazon retail prices are practically comparable (within a penny per gigabyte of each other). However, the Delta’s benchmark results were average at best, and its endurance was poor—the 2TB drive we tested only lasted 400TBW (terabytes written). This is characteristic of SSDs that use QLC-based memory, which is less durable than the TLC memory used in the Atom 50. Because TBW tends to scale 1:1 with capacity, the 2TB Atom 50’s rating should be around 1,300TBW.

XPG ATOM 50 More Seamless Gaming

Our previous budget SSD champion, the ADATA XPG Gammix S50 Lite, can be had for as little as 11 cents per gigabyte. The S50 Lite, on the other hand, is slower than the Atom 50, with sequential read and write speeds of 3,900MBps and 3,200MBps, respectively. In our other tests, it consistently scored worse than the Atom 50.

Many affordable (and some higher-end) drives scrimp on security measures, but the Atom 50 does not, including AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption and LDPC (Low Density Parity Check Code).

The Atom 50 was put to the test in terms of game loading and everyday tasks.

We used a desktop testbed with an MSI X570 motherboard, AMD Ryzen CPU, 16GB of Corsair Dominator DDR4 memory clocked at 3,600MHz, and a discrete graphics card to test PCI Express 4.0 internal SSDs.

Crystal DiskMark 6.0, PCMark 10 Storage, and AS-SSD were used to run the XPG Atom 50 through our normal series of internal solid-state drive benchmarks. The sequential speed tests in Crystal DiskMark simulate best-case, straight-line transfers of big data, providing a standard measure of drive throughput.

The overall storage test in PCMark 10 assesses a drive’s speed in a variety of everyday storage operations, while the so-called PCMark 10 trace results assess its capabilities in specific tasks including OS booting, loading creative programs and games, and copying small and large files.

ADATA XPG Atom 50 Review

The Atom 50 scored 2,771 in the PCMark 10 overall benchmark, which is rather good. Although there isn’t always a direct link between a drive’s total PCMark 10 score and its advertised sequential read and write speeds, it was encouraging to see the Atom 50 surpass some faster drives, including the blisteringly fast ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade. It also performed admirably in the Windows 10 boot trace test and in loading Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. It also performed admirably in the other game-loading traces as well as in the loading of creative apps (Adobe Photoshop and Premier Pro), with middling results in the copy tests.

We use Crystal DiskMark to see how a drive’s sequential read and write speeds compare to the drive’s rated rates. The Atom 50’s read performance of 5,045MBps and write speed of 4,812MBps both exceeded expectations.

One Budget Drive to Remember

The ADATA XPG Atom 50 delivered unexpectedly strong performance results for a DRAM-less PCI Express 4 drive considering its low price point, easily matching its advertised sequential read and write speeds and proving adept at launching programs. The Atom 50 can easily fit in a PlayStation 5 thanks to a paper-thin heat spreader. It also includes the industry-standard AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption, which is uncommon in lower-cost SSDs. As our latest best cheap internal SSD recommendation, the Atom 50 is an easy option.

ADATA XPG Atom 50 Review

ADATA XPG Atom 50

ADATA's latest M.2 budget drive is a smashing Atom
PROS
A PCIe 4.0 SSD is reasonably priced.
Excellent benchmark results, with high scores on operating system booting and game loading.
AES 256-bit hardware-based encryption is compatible with Sony PlayStation 5.

CONS 
Only 1TB capacity is currently available.
Some file-copy experiments yielded disappointing results.


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