Kingston HyperX 3K 240 GB
A rather new model in Kingston’s product range, the HyperX 3K is a midrange offer, although resembles the above-discussed HyperX externally. The two SSDs have the same case except for the color of the plastic part which is black with the HyperX 3K.
As a matter of fact, the similarity goes much deeper: the two SSDs are very close in their specifications.
There are no differences in terms of the accessories, either. The Standalone Drive version of the HyperX 3K includes, besides the SSD, a brief user manual and an adapter to install it into 3.5-inch bays.
Everything was packed into a rather roomy box designed in Kingston’s traditional style.
However, there must be some difference between the HyperX 3K and HyperX just because the price gap between them is a considerable 40-50%. So, let’s take a look into the case to find it.
Oddly enough, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240 GB is based on the same PCB with the same SF-2281 controller and Intel 29F16B08CCME2 memory as the HyperX 240 GB. In other words, the two SSDs are identical not only externally but also in their internal design. Like the flagship model, the cheaper one features synchronous 25nm flash memory with ONFI interface and the controller uses 4-way interleave when accessing it. The firmware is the same, too.
So, why do they differ in price that much? Well, the fact is the Hyper 3K and HyperX do differ substantially but in reliability rather than speed. Reliability isn’t focused on in consumer-class SSDs but Kingston has corporate consumers and takes the reliability factor seriously, declaring it for all of its products. The specified service life of the HyperX 240 GB is an average 256 terabytes of written data whereas the HyperX 3K 240 GB is only expected to write an average 154 terabytes. This is the consequence of the HyperX 3K using flash memory rated for 3000 rewrite cycles while the HyperX series features higher-grade memory rated for 5000 program/erase cycles. By the way, that’s what the 3K suffix stands for in the HyperX 3K model name.
It must be noted that the flash memory in the HyperX 3K is identical to that of the HyperX series in every other parameter. The chips even have the same marking just because Intel makes them out of the same 25nm semiconductor wafers. The separation of chips into different grades is not unlike separating CPUs according to clock rates they can work at. In other words, flash memory chips with 3000 rewrite cycles just happen to have less perfect NAND devices. By the way, Intel uses the same process to make eMLC memory which is installed in top-end SSDs for corporate users that boast an impressive 30,000 program/erase cycles.
Does it mean that the HyperX 3K series can't be relied on? Well, it is reliable but Kingston seems to have made a marketing mistake emphasizing the use of lower-grade flash memory in its midrange SSDs. This provoked some unnecessary and ungrounded apprehensions among users. First of all, the SF-2281 has advanced error correction and wear leveling algorithms and its write amplification is rather low. In practical terms it means that a 240 GB SandForce-based SSD with NAND chips rated for 3000 rewrite cycles can work for 8 to 10 years if you write about 50 gigabytes of data on it each day. Moreover, the majority of consumer-class SSDs are equipped with flash memory rated for 3000 rewrite cycles, so the Hyper 3K is quite a regular product while the HyperX series indeed offers increased reliability. That’s why the HyperX 3K is comparable to other SandForce-based SSDs with 25nm flash memory in price but the HyperX is substantially more expensive.