I have to admit that I wasn't all that excited at first to see another drive from the value sector after testing the SandForce 1500 and Crucial C300. When I opened the box and found a 512GB drive, my ears perked up quickly, but the massive size was quickly displaced as the main story as soon as we started running benchmarks. Yes it is true, 512GB is massive for solid state; just a couple of months ago the largest traditional platter based 2.5" form factor drive was 512GB and it only changed when Western Digital launched their 1TB, 750GB and 640GB Scorpio Blue in 2.5 inch form factor. You can store a lot of data on 512GB and with a SSD you can move it around really, really fast.
Speaking of speed, this is the new story with the drive we tested. It is fast, really fast, but just not as fast as the other next generation solid state drives we have tested. At this point that fact matters since the V+ is priced a little higher than I thought it would be at, but let a little time pass and the market to settle down a little and we should see the V+ Series sitting well below Crucial's C300 and a lot less than the SandForce 1500 drives that are a hybrid mix between enterprise and enthusiast consumer. Our 512GB sample was able to perform on par with what we expect to see from the Intel X25-M in real world usage, so the speed is not going to disappoint no matter what you are using right now.
The real sticky thing at this point is the cost, but to explain the cost we first must discuss why Kingston would choose to launch their mid range product before their flagship. In our meeting with Kingston at CES they said nothing about SandForce or Marvell. To be more specific, they were asking me about the SandForce that I tested just hours before in my hotel room, a pair of drives hand delivered from the RunCore engineers. Everyone who was planning on offering a SandForce controlled drive was not keeping quiet about it and here Kingston sat staying mute about their flagship M Series line up. That pretty much means that Kingston will be in a holding pattern at the high end until Intel releases their next generation drive later this year. Waiting until Q2 or Q3 to launch updated models would have put Kingston at the very back of the pack, so that wasn't really an option. So, as it sits now, the V+ is new, exciting and fast; fast enough to contend with their flagship M Series drives and because of that Kingston has to keep the prices higher than what we would want to see at this point.
Looking at the prices, we see the Intel controlled X25-M's sitting at 245 USD for the 80GB and 486 USD for the 160GB. The second generation V+ Series is currently sitting at 369 USD for the 128GB and 719 USD for the 256GB model. If Kingston is looking to keep the V+ drives in the middle of their product lineup, they are going to have to lower the cost well before we see third generation X25-M products and that is going to work out well for consumers. At its current price the 256GB drive is running only 80 Dollars less than Crucial's C300 launched at and we have already shown how the two compete against one another. To keep the 256GB drive competitive, the price is going to have to go down another 50 to 60 USD, but then again, the second generation Intel drive is looking pretty good at less than 500 USD.
When it comes to the 512GB second generation V+, we are seeing drives available for 1300 to 1400, depending on if you purchase the bundle or not. I would love to see it at an even 1000, but since there are so few 512GB offerings from competitors, there is little reason for Kingston to lower the price at this time. Since we are mainly focusing on the 512GB model since that is what we took a look at today, I can firmly stand behind the drive on the price vs. performance ratio. The drive is very fast and offers more capacity than any other SSD we have tested to date. If it wasn't for the other next generation drives, the 512GB V+ would have been a contender for one of the fastest drives we have tested. Even with the SandForce and Crucial drives in house, the Kingston SSDNow V+ is still in the top three or four drives we have ever tested in a 2.5" form factor.
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