Gen 4.0 M.2 NVMe solid state drives have arrived in a big way for next-generation users. It wasn’t that long ago that these quicker SSDs were promised to be the ultimate in last mile storage, though scarcity and higher prices haven’t made the transition easy. Fortunately, things have settled significantly and it’s now possible to upgrade to the next-gen as the market is now spoiled for choice.
But which Gen4 NVMe is the absolute best? You’ve got tons of options and they’re all very good, but it’s possible to get the same value and quality without paying the ‘name brand’ tax on top of it. Enter Nextorage and their NEM-PA Series NVMe SSD, a high-performance internal drive offering both capacity and excellent reliability in a no-nonsense gaming package. Ideal for both PC and PlayStation 5 enthusiasts looking to squeeze the most out of their hardware.
Who exactly is Netorage? They’re a Japanese brand concentrated in storage and memory products for prosumer and enterprise users, with an underlying emphasis on being built for industrial durability. The company is relatively young but appears to be a surprising upstart compromised of dedicated engineers associated with Sony, although operating as an independent subsidiary with their own production R&D.
In terms of appearance, if you’ve ever seen a shielded 2280 PCIe-type SSD before then you have a good idea what the NEM-PA looks like. At 23 x 11.2 x 80.4 mm (0.9 x 0.44 x 3.16 inches) the nondescript black heatsink makes up the bulk of the module and has a textured ribbed styling, a noticeably utilitarian look that seems to favor heat dissipation over ornate form. The bottom of the heatsink surround has your typical labels denoting the storage capacity, serial number with QR code, and country of origin – typical stuff you would expect.
For reference, Nextorage currently offers the NEM-PA in three different capacities: 1TB (NEM-PA1TB), 2TB (NEM-PA2TB) and the 4TB model (NEM-PA4TB). My test unit is the top spec 4TB model which has the most space available, respectable longevity, and an international exclusive at the time of this writing.
The PA-NEM also packs in some powerful components, the controller is a Phison PS5018-E18 module with a fourth generation LDPC (Low Density Parity Check) that has advanced detection and correction technology for random bit errors and data corruption. The NAND itself is equally impressive sporting a 176L 3D TLC NAND (IA7BG94AYA), a memory type that other high-end NVMe SSD currently enjoy differentiating EEPROM performance from cheaper models. DRAM cache utilizes 2GB of DDR4-2666 memory and projected maximum sequential read/write speeds are 7300MB/s and 6900MB/s respectively, while max random access speeds are 940,000 IOPS (read) and 1,000,000 IOPS (write).
Due to Nextorage being quiet about internal specifications, it’s a welcome surprise to see this SSD directly competing against the Samsung (990 Pro/980 Pro), WD (BLACK SN850), and Seagate (Game Drive M2) in real-world usage.
Benchmarking: G vs NEM-PA
I want to briefly discuss benchmarking since I had the opportunity to review both this NEM-PA Series, along with its workstation-oriented counterpart: the G Series (NE1N). The short version of my testing reveals that both models are essentially identical in spec and performance, with final choice coming down to preference or use purpose—The NE1N in its bare form is better suited for PC/desktop duty, while the NEM-PA can withstand higher temperatures thanks to its integrated heatsink.
In terms of performance though, both models did incredibly well in synthetic rundowns and performed more-or-less the same, with only the newest Samsung 990 Pro beating both out marginally. CrystalDisk scores in 1GB/4GB/16GB stress tests were equally consistent, with read, write, and mix scores topping out at 6974MB/s, 6911MB/s, and 6644MB/s respectively.
Inside the PlayStation 5
The PA-NEM with its integrated heatsink surround is intended for hardcore gaming and game consoles, with Nextorage specifically recommending the NEM-PA be used for the PlayStation 5—where ergonomics and air circulation are at an absolute premium. Installation for the PS5 is simple after removing the top plate with the NEM-PA fitting snuggly into the expansion bay. Afterwards, you can transfer your PS5 game data onto the SSD in the system menu, this also means reformatting if you used this SSD elsewhere before initialization.
The PS5 has its own way of benchmarking SSDs and only provides the top read speeds as a general reference to its score. In the case of my tested 4TB NEM-PA, the benchmark gave me a top score of 6,708MB/s which is quite good, with similar scores of 6495MB/s and 6563MB/s respectively.
As for actual games, the NEM-PA does indeed offer faster access speeds—albeit moderately. However, the results are more than enough to notice a difference depending on the title. For example, Gran Turismo 7 benefitted the most as menu-to-menu access and time between starting races was further cut down without even a transition pause. Other titles like Horizon: Forbidden West and God of War also have significantly reduced load times, sometimes up to a third when compared against the PS5’s onboard 825GB system drive.
Nextorage makes a bold impression with the NEM-PA Series NVMe SSD. A brand that is gaining a reputation outside of their home market and into the performance mainstream, being a respectable choice in terms of architecture and build quality to back it up. Admittedly, prices are a little higher for the privilege of owning 4 terabytes, but so is the competition. Regardless, Nextorage remains a compelling option if you want to effectively quadruple your storage bang for the buck.