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The Motorola Q 9h may be the coolest-looking PDA phone ever. For industrial design, I’d give it an A+, putting it a nose ahead of the BlackBerry Curve – which is saying something. In fact, it gives the Curve a run for its money in just about every category.

A Windows Mobile 6-based quad-band GSM/HSDPA phone with a full QWERTY keyboard, 2-megapixel video-capable camera and built-in GPS, the Q 9h is available in the U.S. from AT&T (as Moto Q Global) for as little as $200 with a two-year contract, and in Canada from Rogers, for as little as $250 CDN with a $75-a-month three-year plan.

What’s so appealing about the Q 9h? It’s very thin – 11.8 mm to the Curve’s 15.5 mm. The QWERTY keyboard features well-marked keys with a roughened surface that prevents fingers slipping off them – a problem with many PDA keyboards.

The buttons and soft keys around the four-way navigator on the front are iPod style: a flat, smooth, flexible surface with buttons underneath. And the whole front face has a nice Euro-style look about it. The screen, a 2.4-inch (diagonal) 320×240 TFT able to show 65,000 colors, is sharp and bright.

It does everything reasonably well, including playing music and videos, taking pictures and video and navigating. And for a cell phone, it does Web surfing brilliantly – when you’re using an HSDPA network such as Rogers offers in my area.

Even more surprising, the Q 9h beats the Curve on battery life – long a strong suit for RIM. Motorola claims up to nine hours of talk and 30 days standby, compared to four hours and 17 days for the BlackBerry.

The Q 9h is good but it’s not perfect. Too bad it doesn’t include Wi-Fi, for example. Too bad there’s no touch screen or stylus input – but, hey, you can’t have everything. And too bad, the Skype client for Windows Mobile doesn’t work on this phone, though maybe some future version of the software will work.

The user interface, however, is about as good as it can be (absent touchscreen and stylus). Below the screen, the four-way navigator with center Select button has a nice, positive feel to it. Above it are two soft keys, below it, Home and Back keys. On the outside edges you find dedicated buttons for the Web and Mail, and the green Answer and Red Stop/Power keys.

The keyboard is also about as good as it can be – given tiny, crammed-together keys. All the special characters you need, including @, $, %, &, etc., along with the numbers are visible on the letter keys and accessible using the big function/ALT key. A separate Shift key lets you select upper case letters. There are also clearly marked space and Enter keys exactly where you’d expect them to be on a QWERTY keyboard.

Below the main QWERTY array, flanking the Space bar, are dedicated keys for launching Calendar, Address Book, Music Player and Camera applications, plus a key for toggling the speaker phone on and off.

The only other keys are on the right hand edge: Up, Down, Select and Back. They’re convenient for righties to use their thumbs for scrolling Web pages and menus and making selections, perhaps less convenient for southpaws.

As a phone, the Q 9h is one of the best I’ve tried, although it’s always difficult to separate handset performance from network performance. Still, voice quality was consistently good and, always important, loud. The speaker phone was particularly effective – again, clear and plenty loud enough.

The Web surfing experience was also about the best I’ve tried on a PDA phone. This definitely has more to do with the network. Rogers’ HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) service really does deliver near-DSL speeds. Of course, the hardware can’t process incoming data as quickly as a computer so overall time to display is still slower. And it’s still a pain navigating full-size Web pages on a tiny PDA screen.

The Q 9h is no slouch as a media player either. I tested it with an 11-megabyte MPEG video file rendered for 320×240-pixel displays. It played more or less smoothly, with the odd noticeable jump, and the image appeared quite sharp (although of course tiny).

More important is music player performance as this is a core function for many users. Like some other very thin PDA phones – the BlackBerry Pearl, for example – the Q 9h does not include a standard stereo headphone jack. This in my opinion is a serious design flaw in a device that is supposed to be a music player. You could put it down to a compromise forced by the ultra-slender design – except the even smaller and thinner iPod Nano does have a proper headphone jack.

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Motorola Edge 40 Pro Review

Pros

Top-tier chipset and RAM

Class-leading 165Hz display tech

IP68 rating

Cons

Cameras are good – but not great

I received a defective charging cable

Our Verdict

The Motorola Edge 40 Pro – known as the Edge+ (2023) in the US – is an excellent high-end option if your priority is performance, with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 and a 165Hz display that unlocks new frame rates while gaming. The drawback is a camera that’s merely good, never great, which can be a dealbreaker at this price point.

Best Prices Today: Motorola Edge 40 Pro

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Price

$699.99

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Updated 31 May 2023 to include tested charging speed and the US release as the Edge+ (2023)

Motorola lost its rep for flagship phones a few years back, but in recent months the company – now owned by Chinese computer giant Lenovo – has come back swinging.  

The Motorola Edge 40 Pro, releasing in the US as the Edge+ (2023), continues that trend. In both specs and price it’s closer to last year’s Edge 30 Ultra than to its Pro predecessor, and the £799 phone is a true flagship that can go toe-to-toe with high-end handsets from Samsung, Apple, and others. 

Thanks to a super-fast 165Hz refresh rate display and the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, this could be an especially tempting option for gamers on the go who don’t love the look of proper gaming phones, but don’t want to skimp on specs. 

Design & build 

Sleek, minimalist design 

Gorilla Glass Victus 

IP68 rating 

Motorola has establish a firm, albeit simple, design language over the last year or two, and the Edge 40 Pro doesn’t stray too far from it.

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Available in a black or blue finish, this is a sleek slab of curved glass. At 8.6mm thick and 199g this is relatively slim and lightweight for its size, though there are lighter and more compact flagships around if that’s your priority. 

With a small ‘M’ logo and a compact camera module on the rear this is an understated design, ideal for those who don’t need their phone to be snazzy or actively prefer a professional aesthetic.  

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The matt glass is smooth and satin-y to the touch, and with Gorilla Glass Victus on both the front and back this should be tough enough to survive falls and avoid scratches. It’s not immune, of course – I’ve already picked up one scratch in my week with the phone – and you may want to invest in a screen protector, as unusually there isn’t one included in the box (though a simple transparent protective case is). 

Motorola has also invested in an IP68 rating, which verifies that the phone should be safe from both dust and water – another practical appeal. 

Screen & speakers 

Unusually fast 165Hz refresh rate 

6.67in quad-curved OLED display 

Muted colours 

The display is one of the key appeals of the Edge 40 Pro, and on paper its standout feature, though in practice it might not make a difference to most users. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

At Full HD+ it’s not especially high resolution, and nor is the 1300 nits peak brightness about to set any records. But with a 165Hz refresh rate, this is the fastest display you’ll find outside of a gaming phone – and faster even than plenty of those. 

My bigger frustration with the display is really down to the software side. Out of the box I found colours strangely muted and bland, but beyond this ‘Natural’ colour profile the only other option is an aggressive ‘Saturated’ palette that goes too far in the other direction. Neither looks quite right, and I wish Motorola provided more options to help users tune the screen to suit their taste. 

Finally, a quick note on audio: the phone packs stereo speakers bolstered by Dolby Atmos support. At full volume these are unexpectedly punchy, if a little thin and tinny, and among the better phone speakers I’ve tested recently. 

Specs & performance 

Top-tier Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip 

12GB RAM and lots of storage 

Motorola has kitted the Edge 40 Pro out with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. Right now that’s the most powerful chip you can get in an Android phone, so it’s safe to say that the phone is pretty capable. 

It’s paired with a generous default allowance of 12GB RAM, along with 256GB of storage in my UK review unit – though in some markets it will ship with 512GB instead. 

Benchmark results reflect the pedigree. In the CPU-heavy Geekbench 5 test the phone gets strong marks, though curiously lags slightly behind other 8 Gen 2 phones such as the OnePlus 11 and Samsung Galaxy S23 (which admittedly benefits from some exclusive overclocking). 

In the graphics-based GFXBench tests this gap falls away however, and indeed the Edge 40 Pro outpaces its rivals in its ability to drive super-high frame rates in less demanding tests – the perk of that 165Hz screen. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Outside core specs, you can expect 5G support, Bluetooth 5.3, and Wi-Fi 6E – with support built in for the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 standard. NFC is also included for contactless payments, though it’s worth noting I’ve found the NFC detection slightly unreliable, and on one occasion it failed for me entirely. 

Biometrics include a pretty snappy fingerprint sensor built into the screen itself, plus an option for face unlock using the regular selfie camera. 

Camera & video 

Triple rear camera 

2x telephoto, but no long zoom 

Super high-res 60Mp selfie 

The Edge 40 Pro packs a strong – but not market-leading – camera setup. 

Let’s start on the back. Here you’ll find three cameras: a main camera and ultrawide, both 50Mp, plus a 12Mp telephoto. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The main camera is the only one of the three to boast optical image stabilisation (OIS) and despite the matching resolution it uses a different sensor to the ultrawide lens – though Motorola hasn’t named either. 

Results are generally impressive, with sharp detail and bright colours – albeit perhaps a little over-saturated. Low-light shots aren’t bad, but you can definitely get better at this price by buying a Google, Samsung, or Apple phone. 

The ultrawide offers a very slight drop in quality, but not by much. Colours are tuned pleasingly similarly to the main camera, and in good light the lenses are a close match – it’s only in the details and the dark spots that you’ll find the ultrawide lagging behind. This lens also doubles as a macro camera, with decent if not exceptional results.

Then there’s the telephoto. At 12Mp this is much lower resolution than the others, and shoots at 2x zoom. That means this isn’t a lens designed for ultra zoomed in shots of distant buildings, but instead offers a comfortable frame for portraits and similar shots.  

Colours are a little more washed out from the telephoto camera, and at times there’s a smeary softness to shots. It isn’t a bad camera by any means, and it’s good enough for the ‘Gram, but you will again be able to find better elsewhere. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

If anything it’s the selfie camera that does the most to recommend the Edge 40 Pro over rival phones. This 60Mp front-facing camera is unusually detailed, and is capable of some really pleasing photos whether using standard settings or the Portrait mode. 

As for video, you can shoot at up to 8K quality in 30fps on the rear cameras or 4K at a higher 60fps, with the OIS on the main lens contributing to stable and smooth footage. Despite the higher resolution, the front-facing camera is capped at 4K and 30fps. 

Battery & charging 

All-day battery life 

Fast wired & slow wireless charging 

Cable concerns 

With a 4600mAh battery inside, it’s no surprise that the Edge 40 Pro has comfortably lasted all day during my testing, and usually with a little to spare. 

This definitely isn’t a two-day phone unless you’re an especially light user, but most people should be able to use the phone from alarm clock to bedtime without undue concerns about getting to a charger. 

And when you do need to get to a charger, things should be fast – in theory. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

The Edge 40 Pro is equipped with 125W wired charging, which Motorola says can charge the phone to full in just 23 minutes. In my tests, the phone hit 61% battery in the first 15 minutes, and had hit 100% by the half-hour mark, suggesting Motorola’s 23-minute number isn’t miles off.

There’s one small caveat: my phone shipped with a defective charging cable, which wouldn’t charge the phone at all, requiring Motorola to send me a replacement cable. That’s a bit of a worry for quality control, though hopefully the issue isn’t widespread. 

The cable clearly matters too, as when I tried to charge the Edge 40 Pro using Motorola’s charger and a third-party USB-C lead I didn’t get anywhere near those 125W speeds.

The good news is that the phone also supports wireless charging. This is much slower at just 15W, but that’s as fast as most third-party Qi chargers go in any case. 

Clean and simple Android skin 

A few pre-installed bits of bloatware 

Three major OS updates promised 

The Edge 40 Pro ships with Android 13, the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Motorola runs a relatively stripped-back version of Android, adding less guff on top than some other manufacturers do. 

Most of those additions are welcome, such as interactive notification icons on the always-on display, or the company’s long-standing array of clever gesture controls (among the few out there that really are worth using). 

There are downsides. The default system font is ugly and inserts itself across apps including WhatsApp; at times the OS is strangely inflexible, such as having no option for more than four app columns on the home screen; and bloatware is increasing, with an array of unwelcome Motorola apps and even a spammy looking game called Word Trip pre-installed. 

Dominic Preston / Foundry

Motorola has at least improved its promise on software support. The Edge 40 Pro will apparently receive three major OS updates – meaning Android 14, 15, and 16 – with four years of security patches. That’s still less support than Samsung and some other rivals promise, but it at least means you can feel confident using the phone for a few years. 

Price & availability 

The Edge 40 Pro is out now in the UK and Europe, where it costs £799/€899. In the UK you can pick it up direct from Motorola, grab it from Amazon.

In the US it’s marketed as the Edge+ (2023), and will set you back $799 from Motorola or Amazon.

Dominic Preston / Foundry

That price puts the Pro firmly in flagship territory. It’s more than last year’s Edge 30 Pro cost, and in fact closer to the £749/€899 Edge 30 Ultra.  

Close rivals include the standard Samsung Galaxy S23 and iPhone 14, the OnePlus 11, or the Google Pixel 7 Pro. The Motorola beats all of those on its display specs and fast charging, though realistically lags behind them all on photographic prowess. 

Check out our full ranking of the best phones and best Android phones for more comparisons, or our dedicated guide to the best Motorola phones to see how it stacks up against the brand’s other options. 

Verdict 

The Motorola Edge 40 Pro is an excellent option in the flagship space for those whose focus is on power and performance – but it’s likely to be less appealing to the rest of us. 

The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, generous 12GB RAM, and lightning-fast 165Hz display make this a surprisingly compelling option for gamers and power users, especially since all that power comes in a svelte, lightweight package. 

The camera is the biggest drawback. Not because it’s bad – far from it – but because at this price point its competition is excellent. If you’re focussed on photography this won’t be the phone for you, but if you just need your camera to be good enough for Instagram then this fits the bill. 

Specs 

6.7in, FHD+, 165Hz pOLED display 

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 

12GB RAM 

256/512GB storage 

4600mAh battery 

125W wired charging 

15W wireless charging 

Cameras: 

50Mp, f/1.8 OIS main camera 

50Mp, f/2.2 ultrawide camera 

12Mp, f/1.6 2x telephoto camera 

60Mp, f/2.2 selfie camera 

Gorilla Glass Victus 

IP68 

161.2 x 74 x 8.6mm 

199g 

Android 13 

Film Both A Personal And A Global Journey

Film Both a Personal and a Global Journey COM filmmaker’s thesis finalist for Student Academy Awards

A frame from Snovi, featuring the main characters, the Dreamer and the Girl, played by Alban Ukaj and Zana Marjanovic. Photos courtesy of Reshad Kulenovic

Any graduate student is familiar with the challenges of completing a major thesis project, but those faced by Reshad Kulenovic were anything but typical. Aspiring filmmaker Kulenovic (COM’11) spent eight months flying back and forth from Boston to Bosnia to scout for and shoot his short film Snovi. Kulenovic’s debut effort has also earned him an extraordinary distinction. The film was recently selected by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences as a finalist for a Student Academy Award.

The film, whose screenplay was cowritten by Jonathon Myers (GRS’07), is based on the short story “Dreams,” by John Bernstein, a College of Communication associate professor. It is the fictional tale of a Polish Holocaust survivor whose memories of war begin to interfere with his daily life and prevent him from connecting with other people. Kulenovic, who was born in Sarajevo, adapted the story, setting it in Bosnia in the aftermath of the 1990s Bosnian War. The film’s title—Snovi—is the Bosnian word for “dreams.”

The idea of adapting Bernstein’s story came to Kulenovic when he realized that its themes resonated not only with his own past, but in a larger way as well. “The themes behind the story and the movie are so universal,” he says. “I just wanted to expand on them using what I know.”

Kulenovic was adamant about filming in his native country, despite the fact that he knew nobody in the Bosnian film community. “I basically spent three months finding people to work with,” he says. He also insisted that the actors be Bosnian: “To deal with a really sensitive and difficult subject, the actors have to have that conflict inside of them. They are all burned by the memory of the war.”

To raise the money necessary to film overseas, he sought funding from several organizations. He received a grant from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and additional assistance from the French-run Centre Andre Malraux Sarajevo. Working with two producers, Claire Wasserman (CAS’09) in the United States and close friend Azra Mehic overseas, Kulenovic shot the film over five months.

It was after arriving in the United States as a 12-year-old refugee that Kulenovic (above) became interested in filmmaking. He eventually attended the University of Rhode Island, studying international business and film media, before coming to BU for graduate work in filmmaking. He credits the COM program with helping him discover new influences and showing him the potential of narrative storytelling. “You see what film can do, all the possibilities that film has,” he says.

A screenwriting course taught by Bernstein was especially influential, he says, shaping his perception of how a script works. “He taught the basics of screenwriting, but was also open to experimental cinema. We combined classic storytelling with the kind that pushes the limits of what narrative can do,” Kulenovic says.

“Reshad is an extraordinary young artist blessed with a unique voice and vision,” Bernstein says. “Snovi is one of the most visually stunning films I have ever seen here at BU.”

Bernstein’s confidence in the film has been validated by a recent spate of industry prizes—the film was an official selection at the Talinn Film Festival, the Cinequest Film Festival, and the European Independent Film Festival. Most important, the film placed Kulenovic on the shortlist for a Student Academy Award in the best narrative category this spring. While he didn’t win, the filmmaker says just being a finalist has proved amazing.

“It opened doors,” he says. “I actually had agents getting in contact with me.” He hopes the recognition will make it easier for him to obtain funding for his next project—expanding Snovi into a feature-length film.

Kulenovic is now living in New York City and rewriting the screenplay, which he hopes to have finished by fall. He already has most of a team in place for the feature film, including the same cast as in the original short, a group he describes as “amazing, inspiring, some of the best actors in Europe, hands down.”

Snovi will be screened at the Rhode Island National Film Festival, August 9 through 14. A donation page for the project is here. More information on the cast, crew, and story is here.

Make Earth Day A Global Learning Day

During the first Earth Day in 1970, tens of thousands of Vietnam War protestors took to Central Park in New York and Fairmount Park in Philadelphia calling for peace on earth. Today, the movement has grown substantially and quietly, shifting attention toward the science documenting alarming global environmental degradation and offering young learners a platform for supporting the planet’s physical health, ensuring a home for their future.

By definition, Earth Day is a global learning day. Earth, water, air quality, climate, chemistry, physics, physiology, plant life and animal habitats don’t respect national boundaries, so they are inherently global in nature, inviting wider exploration and conversation. This fact in itself can serve as a launch for a global conversation. Vexing challenges that stump the best scientific minds are solved globally using collaborative teams located in different locales that experiment and study issues from diverse angles and approaches. The lives of environmental pioneers like Wangari Maathai can inspire learning throughout the curriculum.

Go ahead and wear flowers in your hair for Earth Day. Then, to engage in deeper learning, try some of these terrific resources.

Bucket Buddies

The Bucket Buddies Project calls for students around the world to collect water samples from local ponds to answer the question: “Are the organisms found in pond water the same all over the world?” The lesson plans allow students to identify microinvertebrates in their water sample, share their findings on the web site, and analyze the data.

GLOBE

The Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program is NASA’s hands-on science program that allows classrooms to connect with scientists and science students from around the world. Schools can join their Student Climate Research Campaign and connect with classrooms near and far. While conducting science investigations and sharing their climate science studies, students will be inspired to look at climate-related environmental issues and Earth as a system.

ProjectExplorer and STEM Learning

ProjectExplorer’s library of two-to-four-minute videos was created to introduce students to the features that make diverse cultures and countries so fascinating. Start at the homepage by choosing your learning level (e.g., Upper Elementary), pick a spot on the globe that has a project marker, and take off. For example, in the Mauritius series, learn how the island was formed, about the science and the ancient origins of the helicopter, how mineral deposits created gorgeous multi-colored sand found only on that island, how fish breathe, and more. Supplement your “travels” in this series by tapping into National Geographic’s new Geo-Educator Community.

The Daffodil and Tulip Project

The Daffodil and Tulip Project was started by iEARN, which works to connect schools and teachers across the planet, and has a bank of great collaborative project ideas. This project offers a science/math/writing/friendship experience that can be as simple or as complicated as a classroom is ready to take on. Classrooms around the world choose daffodil and/or tulip bulbs to plant during the same week in November. Students collect temperature data throughout the experiment, including when blooms appear, and report their results — both to their classmates and to their partner classes in other locales. For Earth Day, you can compare the bulbs in your community to postings made by ongoing project participants.

This project’s description page shows participation from Jamaica, Israel, Iran and the United States. iEARN reports:

Global Warming: A Controversial Bill, And A Game Of Roulette

To illustrate the findings of their model, MIT researchers created a pair of ‘roulette wheels.’ The wheel on the right depicts their estimate of the range of probability of potential global temperature change over the next 100 years if no policy change is enacted on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The wheel on the left assumes that aggressive policy is enacted. courtesy MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

The Greenhouse Gamble

Ronald Prinn, director of MIT’s Center for Global Change Science, and his group have revised their model that shows how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century without substantial policy change. Standing with the group’s “roulette wheel” are, from left to right, Mort Webster, professor in the Engineering Systems Division; Adam Schlosser, principal research scientist at the Center for Global Change Science; Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry; and Sergey Paltsev, principal research scientist, MIT Energy Initiative.

It’s time to call your bookie, because the line on global warming is in. A new paper from MIT breaks down the odds of different outcomes from global warming, based on whether governments take action now or later. And if you’re taking that action, bet on “government getting involved” to beat the spread, as last week an important climate change bill made it out committee in the House of Representatives.

The bill, named the American Clean Energy and Security Act, would institute a cap-and-trade program, and reduce carbon emissions by 17 percent over fifteen years. The plan also calls for increased research into alternative energy, and provides $750 billion in subsidies to consumers to help offset the increase in energy cost the bill would cause.

Now, before you smelly hippies start planning a bonfire party to celebrate, or you thoroughly confused climate-change deniers start complaining about impending socialism, everyone should note that the bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, and will likely undergo substantial changes as it passes through the sausage factory that is the U.S. Congress. Additionally, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist both point out that the bill is full of loopholes and weak provisions for enforcement.

However, it is good that someone is doing something. The new analysis from MIT predicts that if governments don’t act, climate change could get twice as bad as previously predicted. The study looked at the odds of different levels of climate change in scenarios with and without a change in greenhouse gas emission. Needless to say, the study says the outcome is worse when no action is taken. To help illustrate that point, the authors devised these cool looking roulette wheels with the odds of different temperature changes. To help understand the wheels, check out Andy Revkin’s New York Times blog where he explains how to read the illustration.

Also, for the more audio-inclined, National Geographic reports that seismologists can actually hear the results of global warming, in the form of increased noise in their Earth-monitoring microphones. While the NatGeo article doesn’t mention what global warming actually sounds like, I’m sure Pitchfork will give it a 4.3 and claim it wasn’t as good as global warming’s earlier stuff.

Climate Change Roulette

To illustrate the findings of their model, MIT researchers created a pair of ‘roulette wheels.’ The wheel on the right depicts their estimate of the range of probability of potential global temperature change over the next 100 years if no policy change is enacted on curbing greenhouse gas emissions. The wheel on the left assumes that aggressive policy is enacted.

Adata Atom 50 Ssd Review: Affordable With Excellent Real World Performance

Pros

Excellent real world performance

PS5 compatible

Affordable

Cons

A couple of GBps slower on PCIe 4 synthetic benchmarks

Uses host memory buffer (HMB) rather that onboard DRAM, though seemingly without the usual performance penalty.

PS5 doesn’t support HMB

Our Verdict

The Atom 50 was second-tier on synthetic benchmarks, but tied for number one in our real life transfer tests over PCIe 4. Nice. It’s affordable and PS5 compatible, but uses HMB (your PC’s DRAM) for primary cache, which the PS5 does not support. Hence, there might be a small drop in performance inside Sony’s console.

The Adata Atom 50 is one of the more affordable PCIe 4 SSDs on the market, which would seemingly make it a nice option for the PlayStation 5. It’s second-tier over PCIe 4, according to synthetic benchmarks, but it tied for 1st place in our real world 48GB transfers–a eye-opening performance considering the price.

Even more impressive, the Atom 50 managed that feat without a DRAM cache. It instead utilizes HMB (Host Memory Buffer, aka your computer’s RAM) primary caching, a technology we’ve seen less than stellar results from previously. Alas, Sony’s FAQ says the PS5 doesn’t support HMB, which means the Atom 50 may not be quite as fast inside that console.

Design and specs

Adata’s Atom 50 bucks the trend of bargain SSDs based on Phison-based designs by employing an Innogrit IG5220 to shuttle data to and from the SSD’s 176-layer TLC (Triple-Level Cell, 3-bit/state) NAND. As you’ll see below in the performance section, it proved very proficient.

As noted, there’s no DRAM cache, Adata instead opting for HMB. Also as mentioned, this is the first time we seen HMB perform up to snuff.

The Atom 50 is currently available in 1TB/$120 (tested) and 2TB/$250 flavors. That’s a hair pricy for a bargain PCIe 4 SSD, but it’s still in that ballpark and doesn’t consider any discounts you might see. The drives are warrantied for five years or 650TBW (TeraBytes Written over the life of the drive) per 1TB of capacity. That latter is about average for the price point.

Performance

The Atom 50 turned in good PCIe 3 numbers and decent second-tier numbers over PCIe 4 in CrystalDiskMark 6, CrystalDiskMark 7, and AS SSD 2. Those benchmarks rate the fastest PCIe 4 NVMe SSDs during sustained transfers at around 7GBps while the Atom 50 was just below 5GBps.

I should mention that second-tier NVMe is still quite good in the grand scheme of things and the norm at the Atom 50’s price point. It was easily the match of the equally bargain Sabrent Rocket 4 as shown in the CrystalDiskMark 6 numbers below.

While not as fast as Crucial’s P5 Plus under CryastalDiskMark 6, the Atom 50 still matched the Sabrent Rocket 4.

Where things got interesting were during our 48GB real world transfers shown below. The Atom 50 over PCIe 4 actually tied the Corsair MP600 Pro XT for the fastest aggregate time (1 minute, 39 seconds) we’ve seen.

Looking at the Atom 50’s PCIe 3 48GB numbers, which aren’t bad but hardly record-setting, I’m thinking that HMB might be a lot more effective over the faster PCIe 4 bus than it was over PCIe 3.

The Atom 50 tied the Corsair MP600 Pro XT for the fastest aggregate time we’ve seen in our 48GB transfer tests.

The Atom 50 turned in an average time writing our single large 450GB file over PCIe 4, though it never slowed down handily outpaced the Crucial P5 Plus. The 450GB write tests secondary caching algorithms and the speed of the NAND. Keep in mind that the Atom 50 we tested was only a 1TB drive while the Sabrent Rocket 4 it nearly matched was a 2TB unit.

The Atom 50 did very well in the 450GB large file write, never slowing down appreciably despite being an only 1TB drive. Note that the fastest PCIe 4 SSDs finish this test

I found little to complain about with the Atom 50’s performance, even if it couldn’t match the 7GBps that top-tier SSDs deliver on synthetic benchmarks or their super-fast sustained 450GB writes (191 to 215 seconds). How often do you write 450GB? That said, consider the FireCuda 530 or MP600 XTs if every second counts, otherwise save money with the Atom 50.

The PCIe 3 tests utilize Windows 10 64-bit running on a Core i7-5820K/Asus X99 Deluxe system with four 16GB Kingston 2666MHz DDR4 modules, a Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1GB x2 PCIe graphics card, and an Asmedia ASM3242 USB 3.2×2 card. It also contains a Gigabyte GC-Alpine Thunderbolt 3 card, and Softperfect Ramdisk 3.4.6 for the 48GB read and write tests.

The PCIe 4 testing was done on an MSI MEG X570 motherboard socketing an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X 8-core CPU, using the same Kingston DRAM, cards, and benchmark software. ImDisk replaces Softperfect as the RAM disk. All testing is performed on an empty, or nearly empty drive that’s TRIM’d after every set of tests. Performance of any SSD will decrease as you fill it up.

Write performance will decrease as the drive fills up. In some rare cases, components may change for the worse. Adata promises that the components in the Atom 50 will not change over time. However, our standard warning with any drive is if, given similar hardware, it does not perform as well as our test unit, let us know.

Excellent for the money

The Atom 50 is an excellent bargain and a good fit for your PC. It will work in your PS5, however, you might not see exactly the same performance. Still, this is a nice effort from Adata and the best HMB NVMe drive we’ve tested to date.

Note that this article was to edited on January 21st, 2023 to change the controller being used from the RealTek RTS5766DL to the Innogrit IG5220 that’s actually used.

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