Those of you who already read about the Angelbird Wings PX1 in my previous post On the bench: Samsung 950 Pro, know that I was quite impressed with this M.2 to PCIe adapter card. Now, it is time to have a closer, more detailed look at it.

 

Background

After testing my new Samsung 950 Pros for my editing rig, I became aware of their serious throttling issues. Only by using extra fans and heatsinks, I was able to prevent the drives from throttling. This was not an option for me and that is why I searched for a better solution. I came across Angelbird’s Wings PX1 and was eager to give it a try. Just a day after ordering the PX1 through Amazon, it arrived at my home ready for testing.

 

Unboxing

After removing the Amazon packaging, This is what the Angelbird Wings PX1 box looks like:

DSC02231_web

Inside the box, there are the following items:

  • The Wings PX1 M.2 to PCIe adapter card
  • a low-profile PCIe bracket
  • a plastic bag with all the necessary screws, spacers, an allen wrench and a second thermal pad
  • stickers with free software and the activation code for extended warranty

Starting with the adapter card itself, one can easily see that the build quality is superb. It looks and feels like a premium product. Once the screw on the back is removed, you can detach the heatsink from the adpater card.

In my opinion, the PCIe adapter looks beautiful. In the center you can see different mounting holes to let the card accommodate all popular M.2 sizes. Another cool feature of the PX1 are the LED-lid edges. Once attached to the mainboard, they emit white light.

The heatsink has a finlike structure on the inside that is designed to allow heat to dissipate faster. The fins lead to openings on both sides thus allowing air to enter and exit the inside of the card. Then there is a preinstalled thermal pad right in the middle.

DSC02256_web.jpg

Now, let’s connect a Samsung 950 Pro 512GB to the adapter. Since the drive has a 2280 form factor (22mm wide, 80mm long), you need to attach it using the spacer and one of the supplied screws (they are all the same size).

Compared to the Asus Hyper M.2 x4 PCIe mini adpater, the PX1 is wider and just a little bit shorter. Another significant difference is the height of the M.2 drive when installed. Unlike Asus, the PX1 has a very low profile that allows the use of a second thermal pad (supplied) between the PCB and the M.2 drive. This makes a lot of sense when running only one-sided drives like the  Samsung 950 Pro 512GB. Also, the footprint inside the case is smaller leaving more space for other AIC’s or air to pass through.

 

Specifications and features

This information comes straight from angelbird’s website:

Type PCIe x4 adapter for PCIe M.2 SSDs
Connectivity PCIe Gen3 x4. Backwards compatible down to PCIe Gen1 x4.
M.2 NGFF PCIe SSDs up to PCIe Gen3 x4.
M.2 form factors 2230, 2242, 2260, 2280 and 22110.
NVME, AHCI, PCIe
Dimensions 157 x 69 x 8 mm (6.18 x 2.72 x 0.31 inch), Low-profile, half-length PCB
Weight ~115.0 g (~4.1 oz)
Features Thermal Throttling prevention, Full Signal integration with length and phase-matched data traces, HF shielding, Ground shielding, Power stabilization, White LED backlight, CNC-worked aluminium heatsink, Maximum Copper™ for optimal thermal dissipation

Compatibility:

M.2 AHCI SSDs
Plextor M6e 128GB
M6e 256GB
M6e 512GB
Samsung XP941 128GB
XP941 256GB
XP941 512GB
Samsung SM951 128GB
SM951 256GB
SM951 512GB
M.2 NVMe SSDs
Samsung XP941 128GB
XP941 256GB
XP941 512GB
Samsung 950 Pro 256GB
950 Pro 512GB
Samsung SM951 128GB
SM951 256GB
SM951 512GB

 

Performance

To sum it up, when it comes to cooling, there is no competition for the PX1 (at least on air cooling). The large heatsink does its job well and dissipates heat effectively. Consequently, it successfully prevents thermal throttling that typically occurs when drives like the Samsung 950 Pro run hot under high workloads. All this  without additional fans.

The following ATTO results show how thermal throttling affects the performance of a bare 950 Pro connected via the Asus Hyper adapter card to a PCIe slot:

scratch_disk_full_throttle_2

With an additional fan and copper heatsink attached to the drive’s controller:

scratch_disk_full_throttle_PCIE_fan2@1200+HS

Looking at the second ATTO test results,, you can see that the drive was still very close to thermal throttling. For my taste, that is not usable for daily professional work.

I had better results when connecting the 950 Pro to the M.2 slot of my mainboard. Thanks to better airflow, the drive stayed much cooler.

Here is a picture of the fan setup. In front, you can see the 950 Pro with the copper heatsink attached and in  the back the gorgeous PX1.

DSC02361

These are the results of the setup described above:

scratch_disk_temp_fan_HS

57°C is a good results taking into consideration how hot the drive usually gets under these conditions. With this setup, you  can easily run the 950 Pro under high workloads.

Having seen these test results, it makes sense now to show how the PX1 performs without additional fans:

950PRO_PX1_bare

You can see that the drive stayed well below the 950’s thermal threshold of 74-75°C. The first test run was started about 5 Minutes after Booting up the PC just like the other previous tests. The initial temperature was 37°C. During the test, the temperature rose to 49°C. Compared to the bare drive, the temperature rose much slower indicating that the heat dissipates more effectively.

What I noticed though is that the drive also took a lot more time to cool down. After a couple of minutes, the drive still had a temperature of 47°C. I seems that having an additional fan blow across the drive could be beneficial.

Instead of installing a fan I decided to go for another test run to see if I get the drive to throttle now.

950PRO_PX1_bare2

Not at all. The drive still didn’t throttle. Maximum temperature was 54°C – still 3°C less than the 950 Pro with fan and heatsink connected to the M.2 slot.

 

Concluding remarks

The Angelbird Wings PX1 is the perfect companion to fast NVME M.2 drives such as the Samsung 950 Pro. When paired with the PX1, the 950 Pro turns into an AIC NVME drive much more suitable for professional work than in its original form.

Thermal throttling is effectively prevented and the white LEDs that are integrated along the edges of the card give it a nice look inside your PC.

While the heatsink works well, it also has a small  downside. The drive stays hot for much longer because of the large amount of heat stored in the heatsink. If you want to counteract this behavior, I recommend installing a fan that blows fresh air across the drive.

The premium build quality comes at a premium price tag. The Angelbird Wings PX1 is selling for around 75 Euro incl. VAT (amazon.de) these days.

 

1 Comment »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s