ASUS recently unveiled an updated version of its Hyper M.2 PCIe expansion card, enhancing the previous Gen4 model. This M.2 SSD expansion card supports up to four drives, efficiently utilizing the full bandwidth of the PCIe x16 slot. It’s worth mentioning that the introduction of the PCI Gen5 standard in this model could potentially limit its compatibility with existing motherboards.
According to details provided on ASUS’s product page, this storage solution is capable of managing an impressive 512 Gbps (equivalent to 64 GB/s) of bandwidth when configured in RAID0 mode. To attain this level of performance, storage manufacturers will need to develop Gen5 devices with read speeds of up to 16 GB/s, which are currently not yet available in the market.
The Hyper M.2 card offers versatility by accommodating different form factors including 2242, 2260, 2280, and 22110. It’s also compatible with both Gen4 and Gen5 standards. ASUS has streamlined installation and drive swapping through their Q-Latch system, eliminating the necessity for screws and making the process hassle-free.To effectively power all four SSD drives simultaneously, this card requires a 6-pin PCIe external power connection. ASUS states that each drive can receive up to 14 watts of power. Users have the flexibility to operate these drives individually or in various RAID configurations.
The card stands out with its active cooling system that spans the entire board, all within a single-slot design. Intriguingly, ASUS offers the option to deactivate the fan via a small button found on the I/O bracket. Furthermore, the bracket incorporates four LEDs, with one corresponding to each SSD, to indicate their operational status.
Regarding compatibility, the expansion card can accommodate SSD configurations ranging from 1 to 4 drives. The exact supported configurations depend on the chosen platform and CPU, as certain CPUs may limit the number of enabled PCIe lanes. High-end desktop (HEDT) platforms like TRX40 and X299 provide broader PCIe lane support, making them capable of accommodating more expansion cards.
However, the effective utilization of PCIe Gen5 is primarily noticeable on newer platforms like Intel’s W690, Z790, W790, or AMD’s X670 and B650. In the case of Intel, the most suitable platform for this card is the HEDT W790 chipset, which not only supports PCIe Gen5 but also provides more lanes compared to the consumer line, which is limited to a total of 16 lanes. Consequently, Intel Z690/Z790 motherboards can only accommodate two drives, whereas AMD X670 can handle up to four drives when the Hyper expansion card is installed. Juan Jose Guerrero, the ASUS Product Manager for North America, has confirmed that the Hyper M.2 expansion card will be priced at $79.