Kingston SSD NOW V Series 128GB Review
Reviewed by: ccokeman
Reviewed on: April 15, 2010
The benefits of owning an SSD are often tempered by the cost of ownership and the low drive capacity, not to mention the initial bad press that they received from both the press and the user base. Stuttering and low drive performance once the drives had been used caused a lot of heartache for the owners of these expensive toys. Capacity is another of the concerns when it comes down to making that decision to purchase a new drive for your desktop or portable PC. As flash technology takes off, the capacities have been steadily increasing while costs are leveling off and showing a bit of a decline. This makes it easier to justify the cost for the additional performance you get from the use of SSDs. That's not to say that the decision is easy - just easier! Controllers have become better at managing the drives and the INDILINX controller equipped drives, coupled with 64MB of cache, seemed to drive the usability factor up a notch or two. This V Series drive from Kingston is equipped with a new drive controller that was put together by both Toshiba and Jmicron, the JMF618. This controller brings along Trim support for the ride, with the SSDNow drives boasting read speeds of 200MB/s with writes speeds at a respectable 160MB/s. Priced at $279, this drive presents a value for 128GB worth of space when you compare it to the pricing on other 128GB drives. Let's see how this new controller will compare to drives with different controllers, as well as see if the lower price is an indicator of performance and if the value really is there.
The Kingston SSDNow V series drive Desktop Upgrade kit comes in a slightly larger retail package than most of the drives we have looked at. This is in no small part due to the nature of what is included in the kit. The front panel shows the Kingston logo, as well as the rated capacity of the drive included in this kit.The rear panel lists the contents of the kit, as well as some of the attributes of using an SSD, such as faster boot times and program responsiveness.
The inner sleeve covering the hardware contains much the same information as the back of the outer packaging.
The hardware is held in a plastic tray and contains all of the parts needed to install this drive in a desktop computer. You get the drive, drive rails for mounting the drive, SATA power and data cables, and a disk that contains the installation guide and Acronis True Image to clone your current disk onto this Kingston V Series drive.
Let's look inside this drive before we put it through its paces.
The Kingston SSDNow V series drives from Kingston sit squarely in the mainstream price and performance points. The V series drives come in sizes from 30GB up to 128GB and feature read speeds ranging from 180MB/s for the 30GB drive and 200MB/s for the 64 and 128GB drives. Write speeds range from 50MB/s for the 30GB, 110MB/s for the 64GB, and 160MB/s for the 128GB drive. MTBF for this drive is 1,000,000 hours or about 114 years of constant use. The 2.5-inch form-factor drive housing is made from aluminum with a textured finish, making it both light weight and durable. The light weight would benefit the notebook user more so than the desktop user. The front of the drive lists the model number - SNV425-S2/128GB, serial number, manufacturer, drive capacity, and the voltage requirements. The rear of the SNV425-S2/128GB is devoid of any information. The drive housing has threaded holes on both the side and bottom to facilitate multiple mounting methods.
The 2.5-inch form-factor drive connects to the system via a SATA interface, for both the power and data connections. One thing that is missing is a 2-pin jumper used by some drive manufacturers for firmware updating. The rear of the drive is barren with no connectivity.
Opening up the drive will void the warranty just so you know, but to eliminate the need for you to open up a drive we can see what's in it. Each side of the PCB is populated with 8-8GB NAND modules to give the rated 128GB capacity. One side holds just the NAND modules, while the other side additionally has the 64MB cache buffer and drive controller. The drive controller looks to have a large bit of thermal interface material to keep the controller cool by using the drive casing as the heatsink. The casing also limits movement in the drive housing.
The SNV425-S2/128GB drive comes equipped with a total of 128GB of Toshiba's 43nm MLC NAND modules. These modules carry part number TH58NVG6D2ETA20. Each module is 8GB in size. The 64MB of cache buffer is supplied by Winbond and is rated to run at 667Mhz 5-5-5, using 1.8 volts. The controller is labeled Toshiba and is a joint effort between Jmicron and Toshiba with the result being the JMF 618.
Kingston has included a disk that contains a stripped down version of Acronis True Image, which will allow you to easily clone your current drive onto the SNV425-S2/128GB drive. Scrolling through the contents of the disk, you have the installation manual in a multitude of languages, as well as the Acronis files.
30GB, 64GB, 128GB
-40°C to 85°C
0°C to 70°C
30GB – 180MB/sec. read; 50MB/sec. write
64GB – 200MB/sec. read; 110MB/sec. write
128GB – 200MB/sec. read; 160MB/sec. write
PCMARK® HDD 2005 Score+ –
30GB – 18,900
64GB – 21,317
128GB – 20,177
30GB Active: 1.7W (TYP) Sleep: 0.05W (TYP)
64GB Active: 5.2W (TYP) Sleep: 0.7W (TYP)
128GB Active: 5.2W (TYP) Sleep: 0.7W (TYP)
1 million hours mean time before failure; 64GB/128GB
500,000 hours mean time before failure; 30GB
64MB onboard cach
- Performance – Enhances productivity; makes users more efficient
- Innovative – 2.5" form factor; uses NAND flash memory components.
- Silent – Runs silent and cool with no moving mechanical parts
- Reliable – Less likely to fail than a standard hard drive
- Shock Resistant – No moving mechanical parts so the SSD handles rougher conditions.
- Supports TRIM – Enhances device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks.
- Supports S.M.A.R.T.
- Guaranteed – 3-year legendary Kingston warranty, 24/7 tech support
All information courtesy of Kingston Technology @ http://www.kingston.com/ssd/v-series.asp?id=1
To test the drives, I started with an image of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP2 with all the latest updates and patches and the testing software. Each drive was filled with data, then imaged to simulate a used drive. Testing is accomplished by using the test drive as the main drive containing the OS. This is done so that the testing is not just plugging in a raw drive and showing stellar numbers. That's not real life - you don't purchase a new drive to let it go unused. Write testing was completed before the drive was imaged. As many of you probably already know, solid state drives slow down as the pages in the flash memory are filled and must be rewritten to each time data is stored. This is the basis for loading the drives up first and then loading an image to the drive with Acronis True Image. Comparisons will include both SSDs and standard hard drives.
- CPU: Intel Core i7 920
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Eclipse
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 7-7-7-20
- Video Card: Nvidia GTX 260-216
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: Kingston SSD Now 128GB
- Optical Drive: Asus DVD-R
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
- Comparison Drive #1: Seagate 1 TB 7200.11 SATA
- Comparison Drive #2: Western Digital 74GB Raptor 8MB
- Comparison Drive #3: Cavalry Pelican 32GB SSD
- Comparison Drive #4: Intel 80GB SSD ES
- Comparison Drive #5: Patriot Torqx 64 GB
- Comparison Drive #6: Patriot Torqx 128GB
- Comparison Drive #7: Mushkin Io Series 128GB
- Comparison Drive #8: OCZ Agility 120GB
- Drive Tests:
- HD Tune 3.50 Pro
- HD Tach
- SiSoft Sandra 2009
- Crystal Disk Mark
- ATTO Disk Benchmark
- AS SSD
- PCMark Vantage
The benchmarks will give a broad picture as to how each of the drives performs, so you can make your conclusions based on the performance of each drive. Most benchmarks are not yet optimized for solid state drives, but included in the benchmark suite is a new benchmark designed for testing SSDs, AS SSD.
HD Tune 3.50 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 3.50 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but more precise file benchmarks, and a random access benchmark as well.
Random Access Benchmark:
The Kingston drive shows excellent average read speeds and low CPU usage in the standard benchmark, with poor burst speeds. The excellent read numbers continue in the file benchmark, but the write speeds fall much lower than the comparison drives. In the Random Access benchmark, the Kingston drive gets better with the larger block sizes and has the lowest access time in the 1M test.
HD Tach v188.8.131.52: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark will measure the average read speed, the random access time, and the amount of the CPU used during operation.
- Quick Test 8MB Zones
SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.
In HD Tach, the Kingston drive has the fastest read speeds and burst speed numbers of the group. The Sandra numbers pretty much show the same storyline, with the Kingston drive out front.
Crystal Disk Mark 2.2: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds for the drives in 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data.
In the 4k testing, the Kingston drive is is slower by comparison then the other 128GB drives in the read testing but is only beaten out by the Intel drive in the 4k write testing. In the 512k testing the Kingston drive is competitive on reads and finishing behind the other 128GB drives in this test. The SSD Now is the fastest drive in this comparison in the Sequential read speeds.
Atto Disk Benchmark v2.34: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good, hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.
The read speeds for the Kingston drive top out at slightly above its design threshold of 200MB/s, but fall a bit short of its write specification at 141MB/s.
AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark designed for the speeds of solid state drives, however it will also work for traditional hard drives as well. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds and access time for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write and overall performance of the drive.
In AS SSD, the Kingston shows some excellent sequential read numbers. In the 4k and 4k-64 write tests, it is faster than the OCZ Agility. The Kingston's read score is the lowest of the SSDs, while the write scores are close to what is being delivered by the other two 128GB drives.
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.
Performance across the testing in PCMark Vantage shows the Kingston SSD performing ahead of the Cavalry drive. The first four tests show the Kingston drive holding its own against the comparison field, but in the last four it falls off drastically.
The end result of the testing is that the SNV425-S2BD-128GB drive delivered some pretty impressive numbers when it came to the read scores. The write scoring was up and down - depending on the test - but putting that in perspective, it is worlds ahead of a traditional spinning disk drive when it comes to performance. The read speeds easily met the 200MB/s read speed rating of the drive, while the write speeds fell short of the 160MB/s. The benchmark numbers just give an idea how the performance should stack up between drives. What really matters is how the drive feels when you are using it. The use of a Jmicron controller initially was a concern, but after using the drive in my HP Mini netbook, the drive met my expectations and more. The drive's performance was fluid and did not suffer any stuttering. This drive is part of a package bundle that includes everything you will need to install it into a desktop system, from the drive rails, to the SATA power adapter and a SATA cable. This is something you do not usually receive with most drives. Additionally, you get version of Acronis True image to clone your existing hard drive and transfer the data to the Kingston V series drive. The drive supports the Trim feature, to keep the read and write speeds at peak levels.
As Solid State Drive technology becomes mainstream, the pricing should start coming down. The adoption of the technology has been slowed by its high cost per GB and smaller drive capacities. Kingston has tackled both problems with the V series SNV425-S2BD-128GB. You get 128 GB of storage capacity, of which you get 119GB for your system files after the reserve capacity is taken out of the equation for wear leveling. With that amount of space, you can easily put the operating system and more than a few programs and games with room left over to spare. You can still use a large mechanical drive for strictly storage purposes to take advantage of the speed of this drive. The pricing on this drive and bundle at the time of this article is $279, with the bare drive going for a mere $259. This price point is well below what you normally see a drive of this size sell for. This means that you not only get performance but a value for your dollar. The Kingston SNV425-S2BD-128GB Desktop Upgrade kit delivers performance far superior to a standard hard with lower access times, Trim support and it comes equipped with a 3-year warranty - all at an attractive price point, making this drive an excellent entry into the world of SSD technology.
- Trim Support
- Low Access times
- Larger Capacity
- 3-Year Warranty
- Low Power consumption