SK hynix Gold P31 Review: An Excellent NVMe Deal

SK hynix Gold P31 Box
The SK hynix Gold P31’s retail box looks the part.

As the name suggests, the SK hynix Gold P31 is the NVMe version of the Gold S31 that came out last year. And that’s significant. It’s a much faster solid-state drive (SSD).

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Like the case of the S31, which is SK hynix’s first consumer SATA SSD, the P31 is the company’s retail NVMe. Before these two, SK hynix’s SSDs were available only as OEM storage inside popular computers such as those from Dell or Asus.

As the world is slowing moving to PCIe 4.0, the new P31 is not, well, new. In fact, it might be one of the last PCIe 3.0 drives on the market. But considering its stellar performance, plus the popularity of PCIe 3.0 motherboards, it’s arguably one of the best among its peers.

In all, whether your computer is PCIe 4.0-ready or not, at around $135 for 1TB (or $75 for 500GB), or less than 15 cents per gig, this Gold P31 is an excellent buy.

SK hynix Gold P31 PCIe NVMe Gen 3 M.2 SSD

$134.99
8.7

Performance

9.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Stellar performance
  • High-endurance
  • Five-year warranty

Cons

  • Storage caps at 1TB
  • No user-accessible features
  • No hardware encryption

SK hynix P31: An excellent PCie 3.0 NVMe option

The SK hynix is a typical NVMe SSD. It comes in the most popular 2280 design (it’s 22mm wide and 80mm long).

SK hynix Gold P31
The Gold P31 comes in a standard design for an NVMe SSD.

The drive is single-sided, so it’ll fit in even the most compact laptop. But it’ll fit in any M.2 M-key slot. While featuring PCIe 3.0, the P31 will also work with the latest PCIe 4.0 and previous PCIe generation.

SK hynix Gold P31’s hardware specifications

No built-in hardware encryption, high endurance

Like the SATA version, the Gold P31 doesn’t feature hardware encryption, so it’s not great for a business environment. But you can use Windows 10’s BitLocker with it, so you can still keep your data safe against thief or loss.

The drive doesn’t come with a software toolbox either and it has no user-accessible features. So for example, you can’t customize its over-provisioning or test its performance.

SK hynix Gold P31 Drive Manager
The Drive Manager is a simple tool in case you want to check on the drive’s condition or update its firmware.

In return, it does include a data migration tool and a Drive Manager tool that you can use to monitor its status and update its firmware. But overall, the drive is much less customizable than any Samsung counterpart, such as the 980 Pro.

However, the P31 does have one thing better: It has higher endurance. Indeed, its two capacities of 500GB and 1GB carry the endurance rating of 500TBW (terabytes written) and 750TBW, respectively, compared to the 300TBW and 600TBW of the Samsung.

To put this in perspective, if you write some 50GB a day and do that every day to the 500GB version, you’ll need more than 25 years to use up the drive’s endurance. We generally don’t write even close to 50GB a day, and most days, we don’t write much at all.

So it’s safe to say the Gold P31 will last a very long time.

SK hynix Gold P31 Packaging
The SK hynix Gold P31 is one of the first gadget I’ve seen that comes with biodegradable packaging.

SK hynix Gold P31: Excellent performance

The P31 did well in my testing. In fact it proved to be one of the fastest PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives.

In copy tests, the drive even beat the Samsung 980 Pro in PCIe 3.0 mode. It’s the first that had really close to some 3000MB/s speed mark for both writing and reading. And in read/write combo test, it was also one of the fastest with some 1260MB/s.

SK hynix Gold P31 Copy Performance

The drive did very well in random access performance, too, trailing only to the PCIe 4.0-enabled Samsung 980 Pro. So it’s the fastest among PCIe 3.0 NVMe drives I’ve tested.

SK hynix Gold P31 IOPs Performance

I used the P31 as the main drive of my work machine, in the place of the 980 Pro, and experience no difference. Games and taxing software like Photoshop took about the same time, very short, to launch. In all, the new SSD was an excellent experience.

SK hynix Gold P31 Game Rig
The SK hynix Gold P31 in its rightful place.

Conclusion

While it’s a bit disappointing the new SK hynix P31 doesn’t support PCIe 4.0, the new NVMe SSD more than makes up for that in stellar performance. In fact, it makes the Samsung 980 Pro feel a bit overrated.

With that plus the friendly pricing, this is an excellent SSD to get if your computer is NVMe-ready, be it a PCEi 3.0-based or the latest PCIe 4.0-based version. Get it.

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