Silicon Power sent us the 120GB model. We rarely test this capacity for portable and even desktop SSDs. Usually, the economics of scale don't work in favor of 128GB class devices as the 256GB class devices sells just only a few dollars more.
We don't have any 128GB portable SSDs to compare to the Bolt B80 other than the very first generation portable SSDs like the long discontinued OCZ Enyo and Kingston HyperX Portable SSD.
We were never able to find a Bolt B80 120GB listed for sale in North America so we don't have pricing details for this model. The 240GB drive sells for a little over $100 or about the same price as the Adata SE730 480GB with twice the capacity and an IP65 rating for dust and water resistance.
The smallest B80 in the series has a difficult time reaching the claimed 500 MB/s read, and 400 MB/s write claims. Our sample peaked about 480 MB/s read, and 320 MB/s write speeds using sequential large block size transfers.
Full User Span Performance
In this test, we transfer 128KB blocks to and from the drives to measure the performance of a single file transfer, like what you would see moving a movie to and from the devices. The 120GB B80 shows strong sequential read performance but the 3-bit per cell (TLC) memory uses an SLC cache to write data. The massive peaks come from writing the data to fresh SLC, and the dips show the performance when the buffer has to move data to the TLC while still writing data to the SLC. The B80 writes all of the data to the SLC layer first instead of writing excessive data directly to the TLC. This decreases performance but reduces wear to the flash.
File Transfer Tests
We rarely run applications on external or portable storage products. The typical workload is sequential in nature. Most of us simply read and write large pieces of data for archiving or transferring data from one location to another.
We often see performance measured in throughput, but time-based results are easier to interpret because the sense of time is universal. We tested transfer performance with a Blu-ray ISO. For the Game test, we used rFactor to transfer data from the post-installation directory to the portable drives. The Directory Test is a 15.2GB block of data that contains a mix of images, software installations, ISO files, and multimedia.
The Silicon Power Bolt B80 performs much better than we expect for a 128GB class portable SSD. The drive dropkicks the Seagate FAST SSD even though it's one eighth the capacity. The B80 works best to move smaller data sets, like in the rFactor (Game Directory Transfer) test. Larger transfers take longer due to the less desirable SLC writes for all data rather than the direct-to-die TLC writes when the buffer is full.
The Silicon Power Bolt B80 isn't an ultra-high-performance portable SSD for power users or enthusiasts that demand every last drop of throughput. The drive does fill the needs of casual computer users that just want low-cost, reliable storage that is easy to carry and manage.
We would have enjoyed testing the larger 240GB or 480GB models more than the smaller 120GB. I don't think this capacity allowed us to see the performance this series is truly capable of. Historically 120GB drives lack parallelization with modern die densities to saturate the SATA 6Gbps bandwidth. At the heart of the B80 is an mSATA SSD and that's why we observed sequential performance that couldn't surpass USB 3.1 Gen 1 speeds even though the device's interface gives us access to twice the bandwidth.
In the US and likely other areas, the Bolt B80 is a rare product. Silicon Power shipped most of these to Asia from what we've seen looking through Google. A few did land on this side of the pond on Amazon, but it looks like the numbers are limited. It's a shame because the drive does look really good and there are very few full IP68 rated portable SSDs available. I hope that we will see more B80 portable SSDs listed on Amazon in the near future. The series isn't the fastest, but it is a well-rounded product with good features and a very nice look.
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