ADATA SX900 128GB SSD Review

airman - 2012-09-03 16:17:41 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: airman   
Reviewed on: September 20, 2012
Price: $110

Introduction:

Over the past few months we have seen a tremendous decrease in the consumer cost of SSDs ranging from 64GB caching SSDs to 256GB storage SSDs. As the market is flooded with more and more options for SSDs, the competition between all of the major brands drives cost to the consumer down. For as little as $0.70 per GB and lower, a computer owner can significantly increase the performance of their computer by switching to an SSD as a main drive. SSDs are also a great choice for laptops as battery life is stretched as a result of the lower power requirements.

Today, we will be checking out a 128GB SSD from a manufacturer named ADATA. The ADATA SX900 128GB SSD is based off of the SF-2281 series SandForce controller. It is specified to have read/write performance of 550MB/520MB/s and a maximum 4K Write IOPS of 85,000. So far, the SX900 series SSDs from ADATA are the fastest SSDs it has produced. SX900 series SSDs are available in sizes of 64GB, 128GB, 256GB, and 512GB. For about $110, you can purchase an ADATA SX900 128GB SSD of your own. Included with the drive is a license key for a copy of Acronis True Image, which by itself is a $50 value! Having already seen some great performance from SandForce SSDs, I'm excited to see how ADATA stands up to the competition.

 

Closer Look:

The ADATA SX900 128GB SSD is packaged in a slim box made out of card-stock material. A window in the front of the package lets the owner see the top of the drive, along with its yellow/gold label. Underneath this window states that the SSD comes with a copy of Acronis True Image and that there is a three-year warranty. Also on the front is a photograph of a 3.5" adapter for use in a desktop. The back of the box has a few lines of standard notes presented in many different languages. Underneath these notes is a white sticker with read/write information. It states that the maximum read performance is 550MB/s and maximum write performance is 520MB/s. This isn't an uncommon number for other similar drives on the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Included in the box is the 2.5" to 3.5" desktop adapter made out of blue sheet metal (hardware included), the ADATA SSD Quickstart Guide, and of course - the SSD itself.

 

 

The drive is constructed out of black brushed metal (aluminum most likely) and has a yellow and gold sticker on the top face of the drive indicating its brand name, model number, and drive capacity. Other information states that it is ROHS compliant, that it should be recycled, etc. The bottom of the drive has a warranty void if broken sticker that covers up one of the screws that hold the drive together. A plain white sticker lists the drive's specific model number, warranty code, and the included Acronis True Image HD key. The I/O and power port layout is of standard nature, along with the threaded mounting hole locations. Four screws on the bottom side of the drive hold the two pieces of the case together. One of these screws is covered up by a warranty-void sticker if removed, so don't do this at home!

 

 

 

The ADATA SX900 series drives are built around the SandForce SF-2281 controller. There are a total of sixteen (eight on each side) 8MB NAND flash chips that total up to 128GB. These chips can operate at up to 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write at an I/O rate of 85,000 IO/s, which are pretty standard numbers for the current market. The memory chips do not have a brand name on them; only a series of numbers and some letters.

 

 

 

This concludes the closer look section of the ADATA SX900 128GB SSD review. Up next I will share the drive's specifications and features. Following the next page begins the testing of the drive and results will be provided.

Specifications:

Capacity
64GB / 128GB / 256GB / 512GB
NAND Flash
MLC (Multi-level cell) Flash
Interface
SATA 6GB/s
Form Factor
2.5 inch
Dimensions
100 x 69.85 x 9.5mm (L x W x T)
Weight
76g
Feature
TRIM COMMAND SUPPORT
MAX 4K WRITE IOPS
RAID SUPPORT
Performance
64GB Performance (ATTO) :
Read: Up to 550MB/S
Write: Up to 510MB/S
Multimedia Data Transfer (AS-SSD)
Read : Up to 380MB/S
Write : Up to 88MB/S
MAX 4K write IOPS up to 85K

128GB Performance (ATTO) :
Read: Up to 550MB/S
Write: Up to 520MB/S
Multimedia Data Transfer (AS-SSD)
Read : Up to 486MB/S
Write : Up to 182MB/S
MAX 4K write IOPS up to 85K

256GB Performance (ATTO) :
Read: Up to 550MB/S
Write: Up to 530MB/S
Multimedia Data Transfer (AS-SSD)
Read : Up to 510MB/S
Write : Up to 320MB/S
MAX 4K write IOPS up to 90K

512GB Performance (ATTO) :
Read: Up to 540MB/S
Write: Up to 465MB/S
Multimedia Data Transfer (AS-SSD)
Read : Up to 490MB/S
Write : Up to 240MB/S
MAX 4K write IOPS up to 45K
Operating Temp
0°C ~ 70°C
Storage Temp
-40°C ~ 85°C
Shock Resistance
1500G
Power Consumption
1.2W Active; 0.5W Idle
MTBF
1,000,000 hours
Warranty
3 years
Accessories
2.5” to 3.5” bracket
Acronis True Image HD, disk migration utility

 

Features:

 

Information provided by http://www.adata-group.com/index.php?action=product_feature&cid=3&piid=169

Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways – one method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, these results would only represent a best-case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the Z68-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA III 6 Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

 

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. IO Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

Testing:

HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For many of the tests, the ADATA SX900 comes out with the highest result versus all of the comparison drives. We don't quite get to see numbers of 550MB/s and 520MB/s for read and write, but we get close.

Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark measures the average read speed, random access time, and CPU utilization during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

 

Here we have a couple more tests where the ADATA SX900 scales to the top of the charts. The CPU utilization is also the highest, but with the high transfer rates we are seeing this is understandable. SiSoft Sandra indicates a Drive Index of almost 530MB/s, coming closer to the 550MB/s we are looking for.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For many of the recent drives we have tested, Crystal Disk Mark has not always been a good indicator of raw performance of an SSD. Crystal Disk Mark supplies us with rather low and mediocre figures in some tests. This may be due to how the controller and memory operates with the testing methods of the benchmarking program.

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, with the ATTO Disk Benchmark, we see numbers close to the 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write figures shared with us by ADATA. In the 512K and 1M read tests, speeds close to 550MB/s and beyond are achieved. Respectively in the 512K and 1M write tests, we see numbers of 510MB/s and a little higher show up. The 510MB/s isn't quite the 520MB/s shown on the label, but there are still other tests to perform.

Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well we didn't find any staggering numbers here. The OCZ drives running on the Everest platform seem to dominate these tests and achieve numbers that correlate to their rated, provided speed values.

Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like some other benchmarks, IOMeter doesn't seem to show off the performance figures of the ADATA SX900 128GB SSD. We do get to see typical results under CPU utilization and access time testing, but other numbers come out quite low in comparison to older technology drives.

Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage, and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here we have another mixed bag of results but the ADATA SX900 128GB SSD tends to hang out on the upper end of the tables. These real world results can be compared across multiple different content types to give an idea to the user of what office computing performance compares to video editing and the like.

Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much more quickly. Not to mention the older you get, the greater the chance is that you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This time should be easier to attain with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I began timing from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off completely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably one of the most noticeable affects of running an SSD is the Windows start up and shut down times. The ADATA SX900 is tied with several others for the fastest start up time as well as tied with a few more for the fastest shut down time.

Conclusion:

With the ADATA SX900 128GB SSD, we got to see results that came really close to what the drive was rated at. Our fastest readings peaked at a little over 550MB/s read and 510MB/s write. The testing hit the specified read figure, but came short by only about 10MB/s for the write testing. At a price of about $110, the drive offers good performance at a cost a little bit lower than other drives of similar performance. The SandForce SF2281 controllers along with the NAND memory can be manufactured cheaply, which in turn lowers cost to the consumer.

SSDs are slowly making their way further into the market and I have a feeling that they will eventually be in just about every late-model computer. We are already seeing them all over the place in netbooks, ultrabooks, desktops, RAID arrays, and more. For about the same price as other 550MB/s-capable drives in OCZ's lineup, it really comes down to personal choice and preference for brand name selection. The ADATA SX900 128GB would be a suitable choice for someone who desires to upgrade their computer cheaply and effectively and do so with a brand name that's been in the business and market of data storage for many years.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: