MSI made an SSD adapter that pretends to be a graphics card


MSI made an SSD adapter that pretends to be a graphics card

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MSI has created an SSD PCIe adapter in the shape of a graphics card. Now, you can pop in two hot-swappable M.2 drives through the I/O shield and live out your dual GPU fantasy, even if it’s only surface-level.

The M.2 Xpander-Aero Slider Gen 5 is an add-on adapter that looks like a regular single-fan graphics card. Inside, we find two PCIe Gen 5 M.2 slots supporting up to 22110 format SSDs. Unlike many competing products, MSI’s solution actively cools the drives using a large fan blowing air on the heatsinks. This is particularly important for hot-running Gen 5 SSDs.

By default, the fan only spins when detecting a drive, though you can manually switch it on or off. As for the drives’ status, you have a couple of LED indicators showing which slot is populated. The best part however is the easily accessible drive bays located on the I/O shield. Usually, such a solution puts the drives directly on the PCB below a cooler, rendering them completely inaccessible when the card is installed on the PC.

MSI graphics card with two M.2 slots.

From the looks of it you can only open one slot at a time – maybe to stop the first SSD from falling out when installing a second one. Personally, I would have preferred a push-to-lock mechanism instead of this basic lock, as the former would allow easy SSD installation even when the PC case is located in a hard-to-reach place.

Though it looks like Asus’s unique RTX 4060 Ti graphics card, which packs an extra M.2 slot on the back, MSI’s solution is 100% storage-oriented with no GPU included. This is unfortunate as we already have several GPUs – such as the RTX 4060 and RX 7600 – that leverage only half the PCIe lanes they occupy. Having a graphics card with two x4 M.2 slots would fully utilise the interface, though it probably adds a premium to the product’s price.

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