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Kingston SSDNow 30GB desktop upgrade kit Review

2010 is the year where we have seen a lot of roadmaps, launches, rev. versions, chipsets, competition and new type of hardware/ softwares launched, ultimately being beneficial for end users with specific needs and/or desires. This is the year of the tiger and as the chinese believe that Just like a tiger when something new comes, it gets noticed.

Unlike other hardwares, a jump from a mechanical to solid state drive is desirable and welcomed by most users. For laptop users, it is a boon as its lighter, faster, silent and cooler, hence extremely less possibility of damage due to physical shock, lower access times and latency with lesser power consumption depending on which series you’re picking up. However unlike other hardwares, SSDs are still in its infant stage, where its true potential still needs to be tapped by the manufacturers.

There are those who would probably pick up an SSD now and there are those who will pick up later with their own valid reasons. But there are those who want to see actual differences between different generations of SSD drives before they make any purchase decisions and that’s the sole purpose of this review.

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Kingston India sends me a newly-packed SSD drive (retail kit) for a review quickly after the press release for Kingston SSDNow V+ 180 Series. It’s not SSDNow V+, but rather its 30GB Kingston SSDNow Vseries desktop upgrade kit with SNV-125-S2/30gb SATA2 SSD drive.


Advertised specs,package and closer look:

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Since its a desktop upgrade kit, the package came with basic essentials . Inside the plastic case came a disc with Acronis HD cloning software with an installation guide inside it. Rest are molex-to-sata adapter, a sata 2 cable, 2.5 inch-to-3.5 inch mounting bracket, 4x 6/32″ pan head screws and 4x m3 flat head screws with the SATA 2 SSD drive protected inside a anti-static bag. To give it a bit more support, there is a small sheet of foam at the bottom of the plastic case.

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The casing is a grey metallic casing sealed with 4 Phillips head screws. Decided to open it up to get a better idea of the PCB.
After opening the SSD, its clearly shows that the PCB is almost 1/3 the size of the HDD casing itself. On top it clearly shows that it’s a Toshiba MLC and it comes with Toshiba “T6UG1XBG” controller with 64MB cache from Micron. The other side of the PCB is glued to the casing so it was best if it’s not tampered with to see what’s there on the other side.

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Installing the SSD on the test setup was as same as the experience installing a brand new hard drive.

Test setup and benchmarks

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*AMD does not support TRIM yet. Tests were done on sata 2 as this is a sata2 drive. TRIM is enabled in windows 7.
Softwares and tests used:

AA SSD Benchmark: Sequential/4k/4k-64thrd Read and Write

Author’s note:

The benefits of the benchmark are:

* Good precision of results

* Simplicity of use

* Optimized for SSD

* Screenshot-function

* It’s freeware

asssd.th.jpgThe sequential read is the only factor in this graph that grabs attention, next to sequential write. Random read and write seem to be the weakest point in this SSD.

——————

Atto Benchmark v2.41: Sequential Read and write with 8MB transfer.

Author’s note:
The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

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——————
HD Tune pro 4.60 Benchmark: File benchmark (File length: 64MB), 4KB aligned random access read, sequential read benchmark.

Author’s note:
HD tune pro is a hard disk utility with many functions. It can be used to measure the drive’s performance, scan for errors, check the health status (S.M.A.R.T.), securely erase all data and much more.

What’s new

28th August 2010: HD Tune Pro 4.60 released.

Changes:

  • Added temperature statistics

 

  • Improved support for SSD
  • Improved access time resolution
  • Health
    • added support for more SSDs
  • Random access
    • maximum access time is shown
    • added 4 KB align option
  • Extra tests
    • added random seek 4 KB test
    • added 4 KB align option

 

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—————— HD Tach 3.0.4.0: Quick bench

HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible.

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—————— Crystal Disk mark 3.0 64-bit: Sequential/512K/4K/4K QD32 Read and write test

Author’s note:
Key Features

* Measure sequential reads/writes speed

* Measure random 512KB, 4KB, 4KB (Queue Depth=32) reads/writes speed

* Select test data (Random, 0Fill, 1Fill)

* Theme support

* Multi-Language support

Important Notice

* “MB/s” means 1,000,000byte/sec.

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—————— Everest physical disk benchmark: Read test suite

Author’s note:

EVEREST Ultimate Edition is a complete PC diagnostics software utility that assists you while installing, optimizing or troubleshooting your computer by providing all the information you can think of about your system – from hardware devices and installed drivers to operating system security and stability metrics.
More than just system information, EVEREST Ultimate Edition also offers comprehensive benchmarking and hardware monitoring capabilities with real-time reporting. Leverage these powerful tools to compare your computer’s performance to other computers and prevent overheating, power issues and hardware failures.

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—————— SIS Sandra 2010 Physical disk benchmark: Read performance

Author’s note:
SiSoftware Sandra (the System ANalyser, Diagnostic and Reporting Assistant) is an information & diagnostic utility. It should provide most of the information (including undocumented) you need to know about your hardware, software and other devices whether hardware or software

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Even after testing with different benchmarking softwares, the results are the similar. It takes its time to “warmup” but then it stays between after 17.5MB it stays at 180-200MB/sec constant. Sequential read stands noticeably tall but sequential writes and random read/write speed takes a nose dive descent to the bottom.
By the test scores, its only the sequential read test that stands out of the rest and exceeded (+ 10-12MB/s) the advertised sequential read speed. It’s always nice to see advertised specs and promises to be proven right. It will also be nice if atleast the sequential write can be balanced, for a value series.

 

Price and conclusion
In general, SSD is one of the most anticipated upgrade for many desktop and laptop users. While there is a significant difference between mechanical and SSD drives in using many day-to-day applications, it doesn’t overshadow the fact that price-per-GB is noticeably high. For enthusiasts/power users, it make sense to buy SSD drives with bigger space or Sata 6Gbps support or better yet PCie SSD drives with TRIM and Native command Queuing support for long-term usage once its available in the market. There’s not much to say about the price because NAND flash are expensive for now. What we can/should expect for now is good sequential/random read/write performance as people who usually spend for SSD ranging between Rs. 7,000-10,000+ give or take will see the performance and price-per-GB Ratio.

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About this SSD: Coming from a guy who is using few mechanical hard drives, SSD is incredibly small and lightweight. It is faster compared a mechanical drive so it makes sense as a cheaper alternative. The drive comes with a strong enough metal enclosure with a gun-metal finish. All good things said and done, being happy about 30GB HD even as an OS drive is like expecting a fat guy to live in a cramped apartment and telling him to be happy about it. Back in the good ol’ IDE days, 30-40GB was a standard. Now if you get anything with 30gigs, you format them and end up with 28gigs, install windows 7 home edition without any online updates and 14.3GB is occupied, leaving you 13.7GB for installing 1-3 office applications/games and hopefully a security suite.
But…
According to the Kingston India’ product manager, this is priced at Rs. 3959/-. These kits were expensive but they have cut down the price in recent months. When I checked at Kingston SSDNow’s website, they had a same kit with the now discontinued SNV125-S2BD/xxGB SSD drives.

 

No need to worry about picking up an upgrade kit with the discontinued SSD drive as the barcode on the box specifically mentions the model of the SSD inside.

Kingston tries to give a more “V” factor to the value series, Kingston gave a cloning disk and it’s not restricted to be used with their drives alone. There’s TRIM support, but no NCQ. It is made for casual users who wants a step up from mechanical drives. It’s bundled nicely with 3 years manufacturer’s warranty for a reasonable price, but its eventually for casual users.

 

For a “value” series SSD, the sequential read is pretty good. You will see a significant boost in performance compared to mechanical drives in most day-to-day applications and loading time. There is also laptop upgrade kit as well if you’re thinking about it.

We might/should see newer versions of V-series drives coming up with a better performance, hopefully with a good balance between sequential /random read and write tests. I thank Kingston India for sending me the SSD for reviewing.

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