ADATA has a new PCIe Gen4 x4 SSD on the block with a creator focus. We review the new ADATA LEGEND 960 PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 2280 Solid State Drive model number ALEG-960-1TCS with the tagline “Redefining the Speed of Creativity.” This new SSD offers excellent read and write performance, expanded connectivity, and support for the latest platforms, and is aimed to deliver an upgrade option for creators.
As ADATA puts it: “Designed for professional-level tasks such as 3D graphics, film production, computer-aided engineering, etc.” But don’t let that fool you, this SSD is also perfectly specced for gamers and will provide fast PCIe 4.0 performance for your gaming needs, with support for SLC Caching and a dedicated DRAM buffer, all at a decent price of $129.99 for the 1TB model we are reviewing today.
The ADATA LEGEND 960 PCIe Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD is part of ADATA’s consumer products division. ADATA is a well-known manufacturer of memory, storage, and computer cases since 2001. Under its Consumer Products SSD menu, you will find the LEGEND series of SSDs, with many models dating back to earlier versions, as well as its earlier SWORDFISH and FALCON SSDs. The LEGEND series is ADATA’s most up-to-date version, and among those are the PCIe Gen4 x4 models which are the LEGEND 840, LEGEND 850, and now the newest LEGEND 960.
The LEGEND 850 is the direct predecessor to the new LEGEND 960. The LEGEND 960 improves upon the previous versions with a newer controller, newer NAND flash, much faster read and write performance compared to the previous models, and higher endurance on the maximum capacity. For example, the LEGEND 850 is rated at 5,000MB/s read and 4,500MB/s write and up to 1500TBW at 2TB, while the new LEGEND 960 is rated at 7,000MB/s read and 6,800MB/s write and up to 1560TBW at 2TB.
ADATA LEGEND 960 1TB Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD
The new ADATA LEGEND 960 Gen4 x4 M.2 SSD comes in two different capacities, a 1TB ($129.99 MSRP) and a 2TB ($259.99 MSRP) version in the M.2 2280 platform. These are TLC 3D NAND flash-based SSDs and the 960 comes with SLC caching and has an onboard DRAM cache buffer. These are NVMe 1.4 compliant SSDs and operate over the PCI-Express 4.0 x4 bus. The quoted read speed of both drives is 7,400MB/s, but the write speed does differ based on the capacity. The 1TB capacity has a 6,000MB/s write speed and the 2TB model has the fastest 6,800MB/s write speed.
The complete specs are as follows, the 1TB capacity has a Sequential Performance up to 7,400MB/s read and 6,000MB/s write and 4K Random up to 730K IOPS read and 610K IOPS write and 780TBW endurance. The 2TB capacity has a Sequential Performance up to 7,400MB/s read and 6,800MB/s write and 4K Random up to 750K IOPS read and 630K IOPS write and 1560TBW endurance.
Both capacity SSDs are also compatible with PS5 to add expanded storage. However, the sequential read speed supported is 6,400MB/s on both capacities when installed in a PS5.
A unique feature of these SSDs is that they operate in a slim profile with a slim custom heatsink. It utilizes a black design with bronzing trimming and sandblasted surface to dissipate heat effectively. The size of the SSD is 80x22x3.13mm with the heatsink and 80x22x2.15mm without the heatsink. It weighs 11g with the heatsink and 8g without.
The LEGEND 960 supports LDPC ECC and AES 256-bit encryption. The LEGEND 960 also comes with a 5-year warranty and an MTBF of 2 million hours.
SSD Pictures and Components
The ADATA LEGEND 960 comes in a very slim box, and has a prism-like effect with the light, making it shine colorfully. Inside the box is the SSD and thin profile heatsink/heat spreader which is not installed. You do have to install the heatsink/heat spreader yourself.
The ADATA LEGEND 960 1TB SSD we are reviewing is double-sided, with the heatsink/heat spreader included in the box. You will need to install it yourself, and you will want to put it on the controller side of the SSD. This is fine since it is the controller that you want to keep the coolest anyway, NAND flash prefers running warmer.
The heat spreader is very thin, but it could also be considered just a heatsink as well, a low-profile heatsink. It rides that line of definition because it is a solid piece of metal with a little bit of thickness to it, even though it is low-profile. It has weight to it. It is more robust than the graphene-laced foam pad that the Acer Predator GM7000 SSD utilizes, but it’s also just a flat piece of solid metal overall.
The ADATA LEGEND 960 is based on the SMI SM2264 controller from Silicon Motion. This controller was launched in 2020 and is a 12nm 8-channel ultra-high performance NVMe 1.4 PCIe Gen4 x4 based controller. The controller features a quad-core ARM R8 CPU with four lanes of 16Gb/s PCIe data flow and supports 8 NAND channels with up to 1,600MT/s per channel.
It has end-to-end data protection, SRAM ECC, LDPC ECC, AES 256-bit encryption, and SHA 256. Technical limitations of the controller itself are up to 7,500MB/s read and 7,000MB/s write, therefore the 1TB LEGEND 960 is right at the max capability of the controller on read, but just shy of what the controller can do on write. The SM2264 supports DDR4, LPDDR4, and LPDDR4X DRAM chips with a 32-bit data bus.
The ADATA LEGEND 960 utilizes ADATA branded (Micron B47R) 176-layer 3D TLC NAND flash. As you can see, the flash memory is on both sides of this SSD, even on the 1TB model. Therefore, you may have clearance issues on very ultra-thin laptops but otherwise will work fine in your desktop PC, many laptops, and the PS5. The onboard DRAM cache is Samsung K4A4G165WE-BCRC DDR4-2400.
The heatsink goes on easily, just line it up straight well, remove the protector and press it on, and the thermal pad will stick to it. It has a nice sleek look with the heatsink.