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A lot of words have been written and said about NVMe storage and its blazing fast speed. We’ve all been enjoying their splendors for years and, well, they’re every bit as good as advertized. Do you need one for gaming, though? Does it make any kind of difference in regards to boot and loading times as opposed to the slightly more widespread SATA SSDs?
Let’s take a closer look.
Does NVMe Storage Affect Gaming?
It doesn’t, at least not in any meaningful way. Most companies manufacturing NVMes would like you to think otherwise, but that’s just not the case.
Loading times are virtually identical, and while they might differ in the most miniscule of ways in certain titles, it’s definitely not something you’d ever notice in your day-to-day usage — or want to spend ostentatious amounts of money on.
The thing is, today’s games — and, presumably, those of “tomorrow” — are all built and designed for the lowest common denominator. If the whole world’s using SATA SSDs, then that’s the kind of technology that most developers will focus on optimizing their games for.
Case in point:
We are way past the point of diminishing returns. Buying an NVMe drive for heavy production workloads or transferring tremendous amounts of data does make sense (an understatement), but you won’t get any noticeable uplift when it comes to gaming performance.
Well, at least not right now.
DirectStorage — A Long-Awaited Evolution
Microsoft’s DirectStorage is a veritable breakthrough. Xbox gamers have been enjoying its splendors for years (Series S|X) but PCs have only now started to “catch up.” For the longest time, it didn’t really matter whether you were gaming off an NVMe or a regular SATA SSD because the underlying technology in regards to how game files communicated with your hardware remained the same.
DirectStorage shakes things up in a tremendously impactful way.
It essentially allows your GPU to load data directly from your SSD, therefore bypassing both your CPU and your RAM. This eliminates numerous different bottlenecks and results in astonishingly fast load times — amongst other things.
Today’s games are incredibly vast and visually complex, and with these bottlenecks and hurdles now eliminated, those virtual worlds can become a lot more layered and lifelike.
For a deeper dive on DirectStorage and all that it entails, make sure to watch the following video:
Only one PC game supports DirectStorage at the time of this writing (Forspoken), but the list is bound to grow and evolve as time goes on. The technology itself is simply far too impactful to be ignored — it’s a “game-changer,” if you will.
So, in other words, having an NVMe drive will make a tremendous difference in regards to gaming performance, but we’re still a couple of years away from it actually materializing. Still, if you want to futureproof yourself, buying an NVMe drive does make a lot of sense (they’re pretty affordable these days), even though today’s games won’t be able to fully harness its speed and overall potential.