SK Hynix, a longtime maker of flash chips but a relative newcomer to the consumer SSD space, has wasted no time in making a splash. Its early drives have been solid buys, and the Platinum P41 (starts at $104.99 for 500GB, $259.99 for 2TB as tested), the company’s first PCI Express 4.0 internal solid-state drive, easily surpassed its rated sequential read and write speeds and dominated our PCMark 10 general storage and 3DMark gaming tests. In the process, it set new high scores in several of our benchmarks. The only feature of note that’s missing is a heatsink, but the Platinum’s performance easily earns it an Editors’ Choice award as a premium M.2 SSD.
A Decent Deal at 2TB
The Platinum P41 is a four-lane PCI Express 4.0 drive manufactured on an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) “gumstick” circuit board. It employs the NVMe 1.4 protocol over the PCIe 4.0 bus. SK Hynix is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of memory chips, and the P41 uses the company’s own 176-layer TLC NAND flash, as well as a homegrown SK Hynix Aries controller. (Check out our glossary of SSD terms if any of this jargon is new to you.)
While the price of the 1TB drive is similar to other high-performance PCI Express 4.0 NVMe solid-state drives, at the 2TB capacity the P41’s list price is better than most, matching the 13 cents per gigabyte of the Acer Predator GM7000. Our current budget internal SSD champ, the ADATA XPG Atom 50, currently maxes out at 1TB, though a 2TB version is reportedly in the works.
The Platinum’s durability ratings (expressed in terms of lifetime write capacity) are 500TBW for 500GB, 750TBW for 1TB, and 1,200TBW for 2TB. This is similar to other TLC-based speedsters—both the Crucial P5 Plus and the Samsung SSD 980 Pro are rated at 600TBW and 1,200TBW for their 1TB and 2TB parts, respectively. That said, a few PCIe 4.0 drives offer higher durability ratings; the MSI Spatium M470 is rated at 1,600TBW for 1TB and 3,300TBW for 2TB. At the other extreme, the budget-minded Mushkin Delta—which uses less write-durable QLC memory—is rated at just 200TBW for 1TB, 400TBW for 2TB, and 800TBW for 4TB.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
To clarify: The “terabytes written” spec is a manufacturer’s estimate of how much data can be written to a drive before some cells begin to fail and get taken out of service. SK Hynix warranties the Platinum P41 for five years or until you hit the rated TBW figure in data writes, whichever comes first.
The Platinum P41 supports 256-bit AES hardware-based encryption. SK Hynix has teamed with Macrium(Opens in a new window) to provide a clone utility tool, the SK Hynix System Migration Utility, for its SSDs. The company also offers free Easy Drive Manager software, which lets you identify the P41 and other system drives, see detailed information on drive health, run diagnostics, and erase the drive.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
Testing the Platinum P41: Simply Sizzling Speed
We test PCI Express 4.0 internal SSDs using a desktop testbed with an MSI X570 motherboard and AMD Ryzen CPU, 16GB of Corsair Dominator DDR4 memory clocked to 3,600MHz, and a discrete graphics card. As the Platinum P41 does not come with a heatsink, we tested it using the heatsink on our SSD testbed. For longevity’s sake, you may want to add a heatsink—a relatively thin one if you want to use the P41 with a laptop or PlayStation 5.
We put the drive through our usual internal SSD benchmarks, comprising Crystal DiskMark 6.0, PCMark 10 Storage, and a relatively new test, UL’s 3DMark Storage Benchmark, which measures a drive’s performance in a number of gaming-related tasks.
The Platinum P41 easily surpassed its sequential speed ratings in Crystal DiskMark, even setting a new PC Labs sequential write-speed mark by beating out both the Acer Predator GM7000 and the ADATA XPG Gammix S70 Blade in that department.
The PCMark 10 Overall Storage test measures a drive’s speed in performing a variety of routine tasks such as launching Windows, loading games and creative applications, and copying both small and large files. The Platinum P41 set a new high mark in this test, easily surpassing the WD Black SN770 for our top spot.
While the PCMark 10 Overall Storage score aggregates the results of multiple tasks, you can also see the scores for its individual tests or traces. The Platinum posted a new high score in Windows 10 loading and blew away the competition in all three of our game-launching traces. It tallied new top scores in both Photoshop and Adobe Premiere, although in those two traces it merely edged out its rivals (the Acer GM7000 in Photoshop and a pack of elite gaming SSDs in Premiere).
The Platinum P41 proved mortal in the ISO Copy trace, landing only in the middle of the pack when copying and saving several large ISO files to the drive tested. It returned to form in the File Copy trace, which measures the drive’s speed in copying several hundred JPEG images, setting a new high score there.
Finally, the P41 set another record high score in our relatively new 3DMark Storage benchmark, narrowly beating the WD Black SN850.
(Photo: Molly Flores)
The Verdict: One Wicked-Fast PCI Express 4.0 SSD
We were impressed with the SK Hynix Gold P31, the company’s first PCI Express 3.0 solid-state drive, when we tested it last year, so we had high hopes for the Platinum P41. It exceeded our wildest expectations. When we first saw the P41’s test scores, we were incredulous—so many new records. For a reality check just before publishing, we peeked at the first few reviews of the drive on other sites; for the most part, we couldn’t compare results directly, as each site uses a different mix of benchmarks and comparison drives, as well as its own uniquely configured testbed. But they confirmed that this SSD is capable of exceptional performance, even against other high-performance PCI Express 4.0 drives.
As mentioned, the P41 lacks a heatsink, an accessory we recommend for all PCI Express 4.0 drives, especially high-performance models, given their literally blistering speeds. If the heatsink is thin enough, you can use the Platinum drive in a laptop or PS5 as well as a desktop. With that small addition, the SK Hynix Platinum P41 should let you game or process video to your heart’s delight without worrying about thermal throttling. It’s an easy pick for a PCMag Editors’ Choice award as an elite internal M.2 SSD for gaming and/or creative use.
The Bottom Line
The SK Hynix Platinum P41 posted record-high scores in some of our general storage and gaming tests. It’s a super-value M.2 SSD; just add your own heatsink to ensure peak performance.
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