We have already tested several solid state drives from Kingston's HyperX series and acknowledged them as one of the most successful implementations of the second-generation SandForce platform. But, like every other modern SSD with fast synchronous flash memory, the HyperX series is quite expensive, so Kingston also has more affordable products in its SSD model range. Today we are going to have a look at one of them – SSDNow V+200. Like the Hyper X series, this SATA III disk is based on a modern SandForce controller but its cheaper asynchronous NAND Flash memory makes it a more attractive option for cost-conscious customers.
For our tests we’ve taken an SSDNow V+200 of the most popular capacity of 120 gigabytes. We'll check out how fast this SSD is and what benefits other than speed such a renowned SSD maker as Kingston can offer us.
Closer Look at Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB
As usual, packaging comes first. Our Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB was shipped in the Performance Upgrade Kit version as a rather large and heavy box. The box looks eye-catching, but the manufacturer doesn't use it to tout product specs. We can only see a stylized picture of the SSD and some general information about it.
Besides other things, we can learn what the mentioned Performance Upgrade Kit consists of: quite a lot of useful accessories.
There are but few manufacturers who indulge their customer with so many extras, and Kingston seems to be among the leaders in this respect. Besides the SSD, the box contains an adapter to install this 2.5-inch disk into a 3.5-inch bay, a SATA cable with a SATA power adapter, a CD with Acronis True Image HD, and an external USB 2.0 enclosure (with cable) for 2.5-inch devices. In other words, Kingston provides all the software and hardware necessary to migrate from an old hard disk to the newly bought SSD. And some of the accessories, e.g. the USB enclosure, may come in handy afterwards as well.
The SSD itself looks quite ordinary, yet we can note a certain style about its appearance. The case has rough powder coating that resembles asphalt and there's a large and pretty label with basic product information on the face side. Take note of the additional 4-pin connector next to the SATA and power ones at the back of the case. The manufacturer doesn’t explain it, so it must be some engineering thing.
There are no other unique traits about the SSDNow V+200 120GB but we want to praise its quality of manufacturing. The halves of the case are neatly fitted together and there's a layer of stiff heat-conductive material inside, between the PCB and the case.
The interior is far more interesting because the combination of components we found on the PCB was nowhere near our expectations. Before opening the case up, we knew the SSDNow V+200 is based on an SF-2281 controller with asynchronous flash. This is indicated by its positioning and official specs which declare a sequential write speed of 480 MB/s as opposed to the HyperX series' 510 MB/s. However, what we actually see next to the SandForce controller on the PCB are Intel's NAND flash memory chips labeled 29F64G08ACME3.
Each of these chips contains one 64-gigabit die of MLC flash memory manufactured on 25nm tech process and, according to the specs, has synchronous (!) ONFI 2.2 interface. We've seen such chips, for example, in the Zalman F1 120GB, a fast SandForce-based SSD but Kingston employs the same memory in its SSDNow V+200 120GB in the slower asynchronous mode. So, either these chips are defective and cannot work at high frequencies or Kingston’s SSDNow V+200 and HyperX series are only separated on the firmware level for marketing reasons. But if the latter supposition were true, the SSDNow V+200 wouldn't cost much less than its HyperX counterpart.
There is one more oddity about the SSDNow V+200. We mean its firmware. The manufacturer’s website recommends using its new modification based on reference firmware version 5.0.1 which is the next big firmware update for the SF-2281 controller after version 3.3.2 that had previously solved the BSOD problem. However, Kingston seems to be the only maker of SandForce-based SSDs that recommends the new firmware to its users as yet. The rest of the manufacturers stick to version 3.3.2 because the newer version has been found to have some compatibility issues with SATA controllers other than Intel’s.
Kingston provides a special tool, SSD Toolbox, for managing its SSDs.
SSD Toolbox is limited in functionality compared to Intel or OCZ software that serves the same purpose. In fact, it cannot do anything save for showing product identification information and SMART attributes. You even have to use third-party utilities to perform a Secure Erase on your SSDNow V+200.
Winding up the descriptive part of this review, we want to show you the full specs of the Kingston SSDNow V+200 120GB:
- Controller: SandForce SF-2281;
- Interface: SATA 6 Gbps;
- Flash-memory: asynchronous 25 nm NAND;
- Size: 120 GB;
- Cache-memory: none;
- Sequential read speed: 535 MB/s;
- Sequential write speed: 480 MB/s;
- Random read speed ( 4 KB blocks): 85000 IOPS;
- Random write speed ( 4 KB blocks): 55000 IOPS.
Like most other SSD makers, Kingston provides a 3-year warranty. By the way, the service life of the SSDNow V+200 120GB is 76.8 terabytes of written data whereas the HyperX series model of the same capacity has a service life of 128 terabytes. The difference is due to the use of cheaper memory chips with a service life of 3000 rather than 5000 erase/program cycles. Besides, we shouldn’t forget that the SandForce controller’s RAISE technology with a 14% reserve pool of memory cells is going to let the SSD last longer.