A couple of weeks back, ASUS unveiled their concept graphics card from the NVIDIA RTX 4060 series. This card showcases a customized DUAL design and includes a distinctive feature rarely seen in gaming GPUs: an M.2 SSD slot.
It’s important to note that integrating SSDs into graphics cards isn’t a completely novel concept. AMD had previously employed storage as a substantial buffer in a workstation GPU known as RadeonPro SSG, but this idea never made it to the consumer market. ASUS, on the other hand, takes a somewhat different approach; the SSD on their card doesn’t directly enhance the GPU’s performance but instead acts as an adapter for an extra M.2 slot on the motherboard.
ASUS’s approach tackles two primary challenges. First and foremost, it resolves the concern of the NVIDIA RTX 4060 series not making full use of the PCIe interface. While all cards based on AD106 and AD107 GPUs are physically designed for full slots, they can only utilize 8 out of the 16 available lanes, leaving the remaining lanes electrically disconnected. In the instance of the ASUS RTX 4060 Ti DUAL SSD series, these extra lanes come into play.
In comparison to the original prototype, the card has seen a few slight modifications. Most notably, a basic plastic cover for the M.2 drive is now affixed to the backplate. Nevertheless, the PCB design remains unaltered, and the core concept remains consistent – connecting the SSD to the GPU’s heatsink to enhance thermal efficiency. This configuration also offers easy access to the M.2 slot, which isn’t hidden on the motherboard. Furthermore, this card incorporates the ASUS Q-Latch system, eliminating the necessity for screws.
The card is currently on sale in Finland for €559, which is €90 pricier than the non-SSD version of the RTX 4060 Ti 8GB and just €10 less expensive than the 16GB edition of the RTX 4060 Ti. There’s a non-OC variant expected to be released soon, although at this moment, there’s no indication of any other SKU being under consideration.
This concept is undeniably fascinating, and it would be even more promising if other manufacturers explored similar concepts. GPUs that utilize only 8 lanes still leave room for potential storage enhancements with the remaining 8 lanes.