Introduction, Specifications, Pricing and Availability
The original A-DATA S599 was the second SandForce SSD we tested, but that was all the way back in March. Quite a lot has changed since then with all of the SandForce partners; the products are now more refined and the competition of a saturated market has led to more value added accessories being included.
A-DATA took a leading role in pricing for a short time with their first SandForce drive, but stiff competition has made it difficult for anyone to stay the cost leader in this category. At the time of writing the new A-DATA S599 was the second lowest priced SandForce 120GB SSD listed at Newegg. The S599 is currently trailing behind the Mushkin Callisto by a very small margin.
The first time we looked at the S599 was prior to the MP2 programming roll out. Since then the capacity has been increased from 100 to 120GB in this price category and A-DATA has now included a 2.5 to 3.5 desktop adapter bracket to increase the appeal for desktop users.
Today we are taking a second look at the A-DATA S599 SandForce based SSD in what I would call revision 2 form. Let's have a look at the specifications.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
As you can see from the specifications list, A-DATA has added some new capacity sizes to the S599 product line. We will be focusing on what A-DATA is calling their 128GB model; other manufacturers are calling this model the 120GB. No matter what you call it, after formatting you are left with right around 110GB of free space.
New to the A-DATA S599 spec sheet is the high IOPS programming that caused such a stir a few months ago. A-DATA has joined many other manufacturers in bringing this enterprise feature to consumers. Also new is the latest firmware revision that increases performance in some areas but also reduces performance in other areas, neither is very noticeable under real world conditions but it does show up in some performance benchmarks.
When it comes to availability, an area that we had an issue with on the first S599, we were able to find the new spec A-DATA S599 at Newegg and other etailers easily. Newegg currently lists our 128GB sample at 264.99 USD, the second lowest priced SandForce 120GB drive. Newegg also lists the 256GB model for 551.00 USD and both units are in stock.
To bring additional value to the consumer A-DATA is now including a 2.5" to 3.5" form factory desktop adapter bracket with the S599 Series SSDs.
The Packaging and S599 128GB SSD
For the most part the S599 packaging hasn't changed from the first time we took a look at a drive from this series.
On the back of the package A-DATA has listed some general information about the series and some of the features.
Here we see one of the major changes to the S599, the new desktop adapter bracket. Desktop users will take comfort in being able to install their new SSD with little hassle now that A-DATA has included this special add on.
The A-DATA S599 128GB SSD
The external looks of the S599 are the same as the previous generation we tested back in March. The outside casing is still the same two piece aluminum as well.
The back of the case has the four mounting locations needed for most new style adapter brackets.
On the side of the drive we also see the traditional mounting locations as well as the serial number of the drive.
The data and power SATA connections are located where they should be and the desktop adapter also keeps the drive in line with native 3.5" drives. This is important if you use a drive sled in your computer or device.
When it comes to the internals we found the standard SandForce setup with the SF-1222 controller and sixteen Intel flash modules.
The back of the drive holds the other eight flash modules.
Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance
We would like to thank the following companies for supplying and supporting us with our test system hardware and equipment: AVADirect, GIGABYTE, Cooler Master, LSI and Noctua.
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
The A-DATA S599 is now packing MP2 firmware and extended capacity programming. On the performance side of things the new S599 also ships with high IOPS firmware that moves the maximum 4K write speed up to 50,000 IOPS.
ATTO Baseline Performance
Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34
ATTO is used by many disk manufacturers to determine the read and write speeds that will be presented to customers.
In ATTO we can see the high IOPS programming come into play in the 4K write portion of the test. Standard drives are only able to achieve around 120 to 130MB/s, but the High IOPS drives hit 170MB/s or more. Here we see the A-DATA S599 writing 4K data at 174.7 MB/s.
A-DATA's performance claims of 280MB/s read and 270MB/s write appear to be close, but we were able to read and write data a little faster. For the most part the SandForce SF-1200 drives are maxing the SATA II interface on the motherboard and to achieve high numbers you have to have a high quality motherboard.
Benchmarks - HD Tune Pro
HD Tune Pro
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.00
Developer Homepage: http://www.efdsoftware.com
Product Homepage: http://www.hdtune.com
HD Tune is a Hard Disk utility which has the following functions:
- Benchmark: measures the performance
- Info: shows detailed information
- Health: checks the health status by using SMART
- Error Scan: scans the surface for errors
- Temperature display
HD Tune Pro gives us accurate read, write and access time results and for the last couple of years has been gaining popularity amongst reviewers. It is now considered a must have application for storage device testing.
To date most of the MP2 firmware drives we tested lost a little performance in retail form, but the S599 doesn't lose performance like the others. Since the S599 is the latest drive we tested it would appear that the newest firmware revision has cleared some of penalty up a bit.
Here we see an average read speed of 223MB/s and a max of 226.4MB/s. The graph was very tight all the way across the measured range.
The write test had a little ripple that made it look like I was measuring sine waves, but the graph was predictable and in line with other SandForce drives we have tested. Here we see the A-DATA S599 keeping pace with the Vertex 2 drives, the first to feature high IOPS programming.
Benchmarks - Everest Random Access Time
Everest Random Access Time
Version and / or Patch Used: 4.60
Developer Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Product Homepage: http://www.lavalys.com
Everest Ultimate and Corporate Edition offer several different benchmarks for testing and optimizing your system or network. The Random Access test is one of very few if not only that will measure hard drives random access times in hundredths of milliseconds as oppose to tens of milliseconds.
Drives with only one or two tests displayed in write the write test mean that they have failed the test and their Maximum and possibly their Average Scores were very high after the cached fills. This usually happens only with controllers manufactured by JMicron.
Access times are what gives solid state technology such a high performance advantage over traditional platter drives. Without the need to move a physical platter into position to be read, SSDs are able to read and write data much faster.
In the read test we see the S599 keeping pace with the Vertex 2 120GB drive and the numbers are nearly identical.
The write speed numbers once again show the S599 and Vertex 2 120GB putting identical access numbers.
Benchmarks - Crystal Disk Mark
Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0 Technical Preview
Developer Homepage: http://crystalmark.info
Product Homepage: http://crystalmark.info/software/CrystalDiskMark/index-e.html
Download here: http://crystaldew.info/category/software/crystaldiskmark
CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software.
* Sequential reads/writes
* Random 4KB/512KB reads/writes
* Text copy
* Change dialog design
* internationalization (i18n)
Note: Crystal Disk Mark 3.0 is not available to the public yet, but the Technical Preview does allow us to test 4K performance at queue depths of 4 and 32 in addition to 1. The current release Crystal Disk Mark only shows us QD 1.
The 4K read performance of the A-DATA S599 appears to be in line with some of the other SandForce SF-1200 based drives we have looked at so far. There also appears to be a slight increase in the 4K QD32 range, though.
The 4K write speeds are in line with what we were expecting to see.
That concludes our synthetic benchmarks. Let's take a look at the real world tests and see if what we learned from the synthetics carries over to the real world.
Benchmarks - PCMark Vantage Hard Disk Tests
PCMark Vantage - Hard Disk Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.0.0
Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com
Product Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/benchmarks/pcmark-vantage/
Buy It Here
PCMark Vantage is the first objective hardware performance benchmark for PCs running 32 and 64 bit versions of Microsoft Windows Vista. PCMark Vantage is perfectly suited for benchmarking any type of Microsoft Windows Vista PC from multimedia home entertainment systems and laptops to dedicated workstations and high-end gaming rigs. Regardless of whether the benchmarker is an artist or an IT Professional, PCMark Vantage shows the user where their system soars or falls flat, and how to get the most performance possible out of their hardware. PCMark Vantage is easy enough for even the most casual enthusiast to use yet supports in-depth, professional industry grade testing.
FutureMark has developed a good set of hard disk tests for their PCMark Vantage Suite. Windows users can count on Vantage to show them how a drive will perform in normal day to day usage scenarios. For most users these are the tests that matter since many of the old hat ways to measure performance have become ineffective to measure true Windows performance.
HDD1 - Windows Defender
HDD2 - Gaming
HDD3 - Windows Photo Gallery
HDD4 - Vista Startup
HDD5 - Windows Movie Maker
HDD6 - Windows Media Center
HDD7 - Windows Media Player
HDD8 - Application Loading
This is where things start to get interesting, the real world tests. In these tests we are able to see how a SSD will perform in a Windows environment and every firmware revision or change to the BOM comes out here.
The A-DATA S599 128GB in some of these tests is the fastest 2.5" form factor SSD we have tested to date and in other tests it ranks right up with the other leaders.
Benchmarks - AS SSD
AS SSD Benchmark
Version and / or Patch Used: 1.2.3577.40358
Developer Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Product Homepage: Alex Intelligent Software
Download here: http://www.alex-is.de/PHP/fusion/downloads.php?cat_id=4&download_id=9
AS determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests. The synthetic tests are to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are carried out without the use of the operating system caches.
In all synthetic tests the test file size is 1GB. AS can also determine the access time of the SSD, the access of which the drive is determined to read through the entire capacity of the SSD (Full Stroke). The write access test is only to be met with a 1 GB big test file. At the end of the tests three values for the read and write as well as the overall performance will be issued. In addition to the calculated values which are shown in MB/s, they are also represented in IO per seconds (IOPS).
Note: AS SSD is a great benchmark for many tests, but since Crystal Disk Mark covers a broader range of 4K tests and HD Tune Pro covering sequential speeds, we will only use the Copy Benchmark from AS SSD.
- Copy Benchmark
The only shortfall of the SandForce SF-1200 is in the copy performance where compressed data is moved from one partition of the drive to another. Here we see that the new firmware has actually slowed the S599 drive down even more. Users who transfer a lot of MP3s, compressed images or other compressed files will notice that transfer performance is slower than with some of the other latest generation SSDs.
Benchmarks - Passmark
Passmark Advanced Multi-User Tests
Version and / or Patch Used: 6.1
Developer Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Test Homepage: http://www.passmark.com
Many users complain that I/O Meter is too complicated of a benchmark to replicate results so my quest to find an alternative was started. Passmark has added several multi-user tests that measure a hard drives ability to operate in a multi-user environment.
The tests use different settings to mimic basic multi-user operations as they would play out on your server. Variances is read / write percentage as well as random / sequential reads are common in certain applications, Web Servers read nearly 100% of the time while Database Servers write a small amount of data.
The Workstation test is the only single user environment and will be similar to how you use your system at home.
The SandForce SF-1200 controller was derived from the enterprise spec SF-1500 and much of that high performance in server tests came with the consumer drive. Here we see the A-DATA S599 delivering enterprise level performance, but at a cost that is quite low even for a platter drive.
Many things have changed since we first started testing SandForce based products in our lab. At one time we were talking about 100GB SF-1200 drives costing up to 600 USD, but that was quickly reduced to 400 then 300 and now pricing for the new 120GB drives has fallen to less than 300 USD. For many enthusiasts the price is now into the commodity level and it isn't a question of if you should purchase a SandForce SF-1200 SSD, but if you should purchase two for RAID or stick to just one.
With prices bottoming out manufacturers have started shifting attention away from performance (which is as high as it can be for a SATA II interface) and started focusing more on added value areas like warranty lengths and included accessories. At a cost of 265 USD from Newegg the A-DATA S599 128GB comes with a health three year warranty and a nice anodized desktop adapter bracket. This isn't the very best price you can find on a SandForce SF-1200, but it is very close, close enough for the S599 to be on your list of potential drives to consider.
When it comes to performance we would like to see SandForce and A-DATA start to focus on data copy performance and see what they can do with compressed data transfer performance specifically. This is an area that will always be difficult for SandForce drives in this series, but we also feel that performance could also be improved here since the older firmware gave nearly a 20% increase over what we are seeing now.