Weaker than some with single-threaded/single-queue tasks
The Aura Pro IV is a strong contender in the top-tier PCIe 4 NVMe SSD category. Cheaper than some, more expensive than others, but a very good player.
Best Prices Today: OWC Aura IV 2TB NVMe SSD
The Aura Pro IV NVMe SSD from OWC is a very fast NVMe SSD. However, at $299 the 2TB version we tested, while not the most expensive premium drive (Seagate’s FireCuda 530 was over $350 at the time of this writing), is also not the cheapest. Samsung’s 980 Pro is currently $70 cheaper, and WD’s fantastic Black SN850X is also 10 points lower.
Cheaper or not, the Aura Pro IV performed impressively in our storage test suite.
This review is part of our roundup of the best SSDs. Go there for information on competing products and how we tested them.
OWC Aura Pro IV: Design and Features
Sporting the common 2280 (22 x 80mm) form factor, the Aura Pro IV is a four-lane (x4) PCIe Gen 4 SSD leveraging an Innogrit Rainier IG5236 controller, 1GB SK Hynix DRAM per 1TB capacity and 176 layers Micron TLC (Tri-Level/3-Bit Cell) NAND. In addition to the 2TB/$299 model, the drive can also be found at 500GB/$79 and 1TB/$169 capacities.
The Aura Pro IV comes without a heatsink, but there are very few applications where you need one. Plus, most gaming and consumer motherboards offer their own, so even if you’re a user who will emphasize their storage, you’re probably already set up for it.
OWC guarantees the Auro Pro IV for five years, or 250 TB (terabytes that can be written) per 500 GB of capacity. That’s a bit higher than the norm, and far more than WD is offering with the speedy Black SN850X, although a bit less than Seagate subsidizes for its FireCuda 530.
Beware the SKU on Used Discs
There is one thing you need to be aware of if you are not buying the Aura Pro IV from OWC, or new (model OWCS3DIG3P4T20). There is a very similar, but much slower SKU (OWCS3DIGP4XT20 – note the X and the lack of a second 3) that might appear used, or something like that. I tested one of these in the OWC’s Ministack STX external drive enclosure, and while it read as fast as the Aura Pro IV, write speeds were about half that. . Check the model number carefully if you see an incredibly low price on a new or used Auro Pro IV.
OWC Aura Pro IV: performance
If you total up the CrystalDiskMark 8 sequential read and write results directly below, the Aura Pro IV measures a hair faster than the top-rated FireCuda 530. Soft.
However, through all phases of CrystalDiskMark 8, it’s only the sixth fastest drive we’ve tested. A relatively close sixth in a field with very similar numbers, but still sixth. The FireCuda 530 editor’s choice remains numero uno. Note that most of the Aura Pro IV’s shortfall was in single-threaded/single-queue tests.
Although it lags a bit with low thread and queue counts, the actual performance of the Aura Pro IV on Windows is outstanding. It lagged the FireCuda 530 by 2 seconds in our 48GB transfers, which is statistically insignificant and within the margin of error.
Even better, the Aura Pro IV turned the tables on the FireCuda 530 in our 450GB single-file write. Its time of 210 seconds is just one second off the non-RAID record of 209 held by Teamgroup Cardea A440 Pro.
Note that the Windows file copy routines themselves somewhat level the playing field in our real-world transfers. Some applications (including synthetic benchmarks) and systems can achieve significantly higher numbers by performing their own I/O. If you regularly use a program that does its own I/O, a more expensive drive may be worth the cost. Microsoft Direct Storage may impact this at some point.
Internal drive tests are currently using Windows 11 64-bit running on an MSI MEG X570/AMD Ryzen 3700X combo with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card and an Asmedia ASM3242 USB 3.2×2 card. The copy tests use an ImDisk RAM disk using 58 GB of the total memory of 64 GB.
Each test is performed on a newly formatted drive and TRIM so that the results are optimal. Over time, as a drive fills up, performance decreases due to less NAND for caching and other factors.Performance figures shown apply only to the tested capacity drive. SSD performance may vary by capacity due to more or fewer chips for shotgun reads/writes and the amount of NAND available for secondary caching.
At the end of the line
The Aura Pro IV is an excellent PCIe 4 NVMe SSD. The only problem is that it’s competing in a sea of equally great records. Either way, considering the overall performance and high TBW ratings, it should definitely be on your top shortlist.