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Closer Look at Kingston SSDNow V300 240GB

Kingston pays close attention not only to the quality of products but also to the way they are presented to the customer. That’s why the company often offers its solutions in several versions. The Kingston SSDNow V300, for example, is available in as many as four: as a standalone SSD or as part of an upgrade kit. Of course, the standalone version seems to be the most interesting since it is less expensive, which is important for an entry-level product. It is simple: the SSD is just packed into a plastic blister wrap together with a paper insert that shows basic specifications.

Besides the SSD, there is also a plastic frame inside the wrap. You can glue it to the drive to increase its height from 7 to 9.5 millimeters if necessary. Thus, the SSDNow V300 is compatible with any 2.5-inch bay, both ultra-slim and regular ones.

Besides the reduced height, the SSDNow V300 doesn’t seem to be much different visually from its predecessor SSDNow V+200. The case is still made of steel with gray asphalt-like coating. The large sticker on the face side of the drive is designed in the same way. So, the product is easily recognizable as belonging to the SSDNow series.

 

Kingston’s characteristic attention to details can be noticed inside the case. 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, to ensure proper cooling.

The PCB itself is somewhat unusual. It has the same component layout as other PCBs of SandForce-based drives but all the chips bear the Kingston logo. We’ve seen such rebranding with flash memory chips before (it usually means that the SSD maker buys them as uncut wafers and packages semiconductor dies into chips on its own facilities) but we’ve never dealt with rebranded SSD controllers. There is no doubt that it is the ubiquitous LSI SF-2281, however, as is indicated by the word SANDFORCE below the Kingston logo.

 

As for the memory chips, the line “FD16B08UCT1-8C” doesn’t give us any clue as to their origin but we know that the SSDNow V300 employs MLC flash memory manufactured on 19nm tech process. It can only be MLC NAND flash from Toshiba with synchronous Toggle Mode interface. It is a very high-speed type of memory which is used in the world’s best consumer-class SSDs such as Corsair Neutron GTX or Plextor M5 Pro. Frankly speaking, it’s a surprise to see such chips in the entry-level SSDNow V300 series but it makes the product even more interesting, especially as we don’t think that such premium memory will stay long in entry-level SSDs. It is likely to be replaced with cheaper TLC NAND in the near future but the firmware for SF-2281 controller doesn’t yet support TLC NAND.

We don’t know how Kingston makes it but the SSDNow V300 series is very inexpensive considering the components employed. It is most attractive in terms of price/performance ratio. There is only one disturbing fact about it or, to be specific, about its characteristics. The peculiarities of SandForce controllers provide some flexibility for the manufacturers, so they often specify higher-than-average speeds. It’s different with the Kingston SSDNow V300. The official specs of the 240GB model are as follows:

  • Controller: SandForce SF-2281;
  • Interface: SATA 6 Gbps;
  • Flash-memory: synchronous 19 nm Toggle Mode MLC NAND;
  • Size: 240 GB;
  • Cache-memory: none;
  • Sequential read speed: up to 450 MB/s;
  • Sequential write speed: up to 450 MB/s;
  • Random read speed (4 KB blocks): 85,000 IOPS
  • Random write speed (4 KB blocks): 43,000 IOPS.

So the Kingston SSDNow V300 looks worse than the HyperX 3K and even than its predecessor SSDNow V+200 (which employed asynchronous flash) in terms of its specified sequential speeds. This may be due to some pricing issues, though.

There’s another oddity about the Kingston SSDNow V300: its specified service life is shorter compared to the HyperX 3K and the SSDNow V+200. The manufacturer guaranteed up to 192 terabytes of written data for its last-generation 240GB SSDs but the SSDNow V300 240GB is only expected to write up to 128 terabytes. We can think of two reasons for that. The SSD may use flash memory chips with a service life of 2000 rewrite cycles or it may all be due to some marketing measures. To clarify this aspect we turned to Kingston for help but received a very vague comment, which doesn’t really explain the real reasons for this phenomenon well enough:

"Kingston uses its own wafer processing capabilities to package the 19nm MLC NAND components for the V300 SSD.  Typically, P/E cycles and yield increase as the wafer process matures and this is inherent in the NAND Flash being used in this product.  As with all of our SSDs the TBW numbers we publish are conservative, and with DuraWrite technology, those numbers can easily triple for a typical consumer workload."

It is quite possible that the low price of Kingston’s new SSD series is due to inferior-quality flash memory the manufacturer can get from Toshiba at a lower price, especially as the SandForce controller’s technologies help make use of such components without any negative effects for the end-user. That’s why the capacity is 240 rather than 256 gigabytes, by the way. The remaining storage is allotted for the reserve pool and the RAISE technology. That must be the reason why the SSDNow V300 comes with a 3-year warranty.

So, even though the new Kingston belongs to the SandForce family, it is not an ordinary representative of it. There are no other SSDs with the same components as yet. The firmware is special, too. Like the Intel 520, the SSDNow V300 features customized firmware adapted for 19nm Toggle Mode flash. It shouldn’t differ much from other SandForce-based products, though, as its firmware is based on the reference one (version 5.0.5).

 
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