If one thing is clear from Computex 2023, its that PCIe 5.0 SSDs are finally making it to market, and that water cooling is going to touch every part of our PC builds in the future, as evidenced by the two coming together in this awesome water-cooled SSD prototype shown off by XPG.
The PCIe 5.0 SSD, called the XPG Project NeonStorm, is a PCIe 5.0 x4 SSD with a read/write performance of 14,000 MB/s and 12,000 MB/s, respectively. That's great in itself, but the real appeal of this SSD is the extruded water cooler. To be clear, this isn't a pumped cooler as you get with the AIO coolers for the best processors and best graphics cards.
In this case, the water surrounds an aluminum structure with front and rear fans blowing air to carry away heat, but this is the first time I've seen one ready-made like this for sale as a complete unit and not a block that you can integrate into a cooling loop like the Hydro X Series XM2 M.2 SSD Water Block from Corsair.
The XPG NeonStorm is much more like the Asus Matrix GeForce RTX 4090, or the MSI Suprim RTX 4090 with an AIO cooler, which comes with a self-contained water-cooling solution. This is a great middle-ground for people who want to get the benefits of water cooling without having to go through the expense of designing a full custom water loop system for their PCs, which can get very expensive, very quickly.
Performance equals heat, so new cooling solutions are needed
As we get better and faster-performing PC components like SSDs, graphics cards, processors, and even RAM, the power requirements for these components are only trending up (though there are some notable exceptions for individual parts).
And, as any electrical engineer will tell you, more power means more heat, and running parts too hot will absolutely degrade both your performance and the part itself, so passive cooling and even fans are increasingly insufficient for the tasks.
The obvious solution is water cooling, which has been shown to dramatically improve thermals on processors, so it's natural to expect this to make its way down to subsidiary components as well. It likely won't be too much longer before all four of the major PC components are going to be water-cooled, but on the plus side, it will make for some very interesting configurations and generally improved performance.
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John (He/Him) is the Components Editor here at TechRadar and he is also a programmer, gamer, activist, and Brooklyn College alum currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Named by the CTA as a CES 2020 Media Trailblazer for his science and technology reporting, John specializes in all areas of computer science, including industry news, hardware reviews, PC gaming, as well as general science writing and the social impact of the tech industry.
You can find him online on Threads @johnloeffler.
Currently playing: Baldur's Gate 3 (just like everyone else).