High-end performance on a budget.
The Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD which was reviewed last year was one of the first SATA III SSDs to use the latest SandForce SF-2281 controller, and it turned out to perform so well that to this day we use it as part of our testbed.
While the regular HyperX 240GB, like most other SSDs in this category, is rather expensive, Kingston launched a budget version of the same drive, the HyperX 3K.
Basically the HyperX 3K is the exact same as the regular HyperX enthusiast SSD, with one component change. Instead of using Intel’s 25nm NAND Flash that’s rated for 5K P/E cycles that’s used in the regular HyperX, the HyperX 3K uses Intel’s 25nm NAND Flash rated at 3K P/E cycles. That, and the color for the 3K version is black instead of blue.
So what does the 3K program/erase cycle mean? For that let’s have a very quick look at how solid state drives work. Every time information is stored on SSDs, every cell within the NAND Flash deteriorates as data is programmed on it. Over time this results in the cells holding no charge at all, resulting in your SSD being unusable. However, this process of wear and tear takes years, multiple decades in most cases, by which time you will have moved on other (presumably better) storage media.
In the long run (of our lifetime) all data storage is temporary; we just move our important documents and beloved media from one place to another. Right now solid state drives just presents us with an incredibly fast way to access data, something we need on a daily basis as our lives get busier.
However, not everyone wants, or can afford, to pay for the privilege of high speed data access, and so we have the 3K P/E NAND Flash from Intel that’s being used in the HyperX 3K drive. Assuming you’re writing and erasing 10GB data every day, the 3K program/erase cycle will result in a rough lifespan of over 20 years.
So with that out of the way, let’s have a look at how the HyperX 3K performs compared to its peers that use 5K P/E NAND.
For testing the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD, the below testbed was used:
Note: To further stress the SF-2281 controller and see how good TRIM support is, I have copied all the contents from our original testbed SSD, which contains Windows 7 and all the games and benchmarks and tests used for various review, in addition to some more games that were installed. This gave a nice spread of data, both compressed and uncompressed. Out of 223GB of available space, 56% of the drive was filled up. The below benchmarks show results with both empty and (near) half full performance.
I have used ATTO Disk Benchmark to get the sequential read and write speeds, Crystal Diskmark for 4K speeds and HD Tach for burst speeds.
The PCMark 7 Storage benchmarks are some of the most stressing tests designed for modern hard drives and solid state drives. There are a number of tests performed, focusing on different aspects of the drive and eventually churn out a score based on the overall performance of the drive. Below I have shown the total PCMark 7 storage score for multiple hard drives and SSDs.
In this case I have used AS SSD, which utilizes read and write speeds based on uncompressed data. After filling up 56% of the drive, it here where we can see a tangible difference in sequential read and write speeds.
The Kingston HyperX 3K without a doubt performs exceptionally well. The relatively low-life NAND Flash doesn’t hurt the performance in the least. In fact, not only is it able to stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the best SSDs in the market, but the performance is admirable even with the drive over 50% full.
Apparently the 3K P/E lifespan hardly affects daily performance, nor will it for many years. Furthermore with improved firmware which increases the efficiency of read/write operations, additionally TRIM support reliability increases even more. What more proof than the fact that to date we have not had any problem with our Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD despite multiple motherboard and other component changes.
If you’re in the market for an SSD, Kingston’s drives are certainly one of the best SandForce controlled drives out there. Performance is as high as any SATA III SSD can hope to achieve, and the 3 year warranty from Kingston certainly adds another layer of reassurance. So for overall performance and price, the Kingston HyperX 3K is one of the best SSDs to be had in the market right now.