One of the biggest surprises we learned at CES 2011 was that Kingston had joined Team SandForce for the SF-2000 Series of products. After CES we learned from Digitimes that Kingston was also moving to acquire a larger stake of controller manufacturer JMicron at the same time. Kingston has been gaining attention for their solid state drive products for the last two years and slowly gaining market share. The recent maneuvers will allow Kingston to continue building upon their successes and become an even larger player in the global solid state drive market.
A majority of Kingston's SSD success to date has come from Kingston's V and V+ Series of products. These two series were very successful for the company and had a long reign in the active lineup. At the end of 2010 Kingston announced the successors to the V and V+ lineup and the new 100 products were born.
Today we are looking at the Kingston V+100. The new V+100 uses a 32nm Toshiba T6UG1XBG controller that is very close to the 43nm controller from the original V+. The new die size has really helped power draw, down to 3.6 watts from 4.2 watts. In addition to the die shrink, the new V+100 has been updated with better firmware that significantly improves internal drive cleanup (Garbage Collection).
Before we get too deep into all of the technical specifications, let's move over to the specifications page and look at the total package. After that we will get to the performance testing.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Consumer SSDs have all shifted to MLC flash; this is one reason why they are starting to become so affordable compared to drives from three years ago. Kingston has released the V+100 in five capacities; 64GB, 96GB, 128GB, 265GB and a massive 512GB V+100 that anyone would be excited to own. Today we will focus on the 256GB model and in a few days publish a full review of the newly announced 96GB V+100.
Kingston claims a 230MB/s read speed and a 180MB/s write speed for the collection of V+100 products. These are slower speeds than the industry standard SandForce SF-1200 controller, but the V+100 has something that SandForce doesn't, industry leading garbage collection. It is the garbage collection that makes the Toshiba T6UG1XBG so desirable for any user not running Windows 7. The advanced collection technology will allow your Kingston V+100 to stay fast even when TRIM is not available.
The only area that we didn't like on the specifications and feature list is the price. At this time the 256GB drive we are looking at today with the upgrade kit costs 599.99 at Newegg at the time of writing. Newegg also carries a Kingston SSDNow V+100 bare drive version for 595.99, but most users should opt to spend the extra money to get the bundle pack.
Kingston has a three year warranty attached to the V+100 Series of SSDs and the bundle package is impressive as well. Let's move on and take a look at the package and bundle.
Kingston's packaging calls the SSDNow V+100 "The Ultimate Upgrade" and gives us one of the best product packages we've seen to date for an SSD. On the front you can easily see the capacity of the drive, the 24 hour, 7 day a week tech support information, 3 year warranty and specific performance information pertaining to read and write speeds.
On the back of the package Kingston gives some general information about SSDs and at the bottom we see a list of accessories included.
The inner packaging is done very well with all of the contents kept tidy in a see thru plastic box.
The outside package and documentation on Kingston's website state that a 2.5" USB 2.0 enclosure would be included, but our sample didn't come with this add on. We did get a software disk, desktop adapter brackets, SATA data and power cable.
The Kingston SSDNow V+100 256GB SSD
Here we get our first look at the Kingston SSDNow V+100. The drive is heavier than it looks; a testament to the quality of the aluminum case that holds the PCB. The top label includes the drive's capacity and model number.
The back of the drive is fairly straight forward with all of the mounting points located where they should be.
The side mounting points are also located within spec, so you won't have any problems installing the drive in a desktop adapter or notebook drive sled.
On the back we found the SATA power and data connectors also where they should be.
On the inside we found a large thermal transfer pad covering the entire surface mount component side of the drive. This allows the drive to withstand a higher shock than drives without the extra protection and also aids to pull heat from the components.
The Kingston SSDNow V+100 uses the Toshiba controller and pairs it with Toshiba flash. A 128MB Micron cache module is also used on the V+100 and acts as a buffer so the drive doesn't stutter when writing data.
The back of the PCB is pretty bare and void of components. There is an identifying sticker for use by Kingston, but that is about all on this side.
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, Corsair, and Noctua.
You can read more about TweakTown's Storage Product Testing Workstation and the procedures followed to test products in this article.
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.
It looks like Kingston rated their V+100 conservatively. We recorded a write speed of 192.6MB/s, a nice increase higher than the 180MB/s the drive is rated at. The read speed obtained of 232MB/s was pretty much spot on to Kingston's 230MB/s rating. It's rare to see more speed favouring the customer, but Kingston is known for being a customer friendly company.
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
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.
The reads across the SSDNow V+100 are fairly steady with an average speed of 192MB/s. The peak and low points are very close to the average speed, so you will not get a lot of variation while reading back data in real world tasks.
Toshiba and JMicron controllers had issues in the past with writing data and the writes in this test would get a little crazy with dips down into the single digits. The V+100 doesn't have an issue with that and the drive holds a fairly steady line across the drive.
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 give SSDs their 'feel' when multitasking and even when just moving between one window to another. Traditional platter drives are sold in 10,000 and even 15,000 RPM models to obtain lower access times, but even at those high speeds SSDs are still able to access data faster since they have no moving parts. The Kingston SSDNow V+100 has a very low read access time and would give the user a great experience when reading back data.
The write access time chart tells us some good and bad news. The good news is that Toshiba has managed to reduce their write access time considerably since the previous generation. The bad news is that once the cache buffer fills with data the controller still takes a long time to get the data to the NAND flash.
We've been very hard on both JMicron and Toshiba in articles, but they are making progress. This test fills the buffer rapidly, much faster than what you would be able to in real world, day to day tasks, so in that sense this isn't a true test of real world performance. We'd still like to see Toshiba get a better handle on their write access times, though.
Benchmarks - CrystalDiskMark
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.
In CDM we look at 4K performance and 4K performance at queue depth (NCQ). The Toshiba controller delivers around 20MB/s 4K read speed, but still doesn't take advantage of NCQ.
The 4K write speeds were much better than the read, but NCQ is still not enabled on the Toshiba controller.
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
The real world test shows that the Kingston SSDNow V+100 is a very capable drive for daily tasks. Kingston lists the V+100 model as being a corporate market product and these results show that the drive fairs very well in these mainstream tasks.
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
When it comes to copying data to and from the V+100, the drive performs exceptionally well. Add in the fact that the drive does a very good job with garbage collection and you have a great product to upgrade a MAC OS system or even a PlayStation 3. There aren't many SSDs that I would consider putting in a PS3, but the V+100 would be my top pick.
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 poor 4K performance and lack of native command Queuing (NCQ) leaves the Kingston SSDNow V+100 at a disadvantage in server tests. The drive isn't designed for these workloads, so it isn't a big deal.
The Kingston, Toshiba, JMicron partnership triangle is starting to produce some exciting products with good feature sets, but the SSDNow V+100 is still well behind current and upcoming products from SandForce and Marvell. With SandForce's recent announcement of new consumer products and the new Marvell controller already available on the market, we have a difficult time recommending the V+100 for Windows 7 users. Windows 7 has decent support for TRIM if you are running a single drive (not a RAID Array) the current crop of modern SSDs simply outperform the V+100 in almost every task.
Don't get me wrong, the Kingston V+100 has some strong points that should be pointed out. The advanced garbage collection is second to none and the V+100 offers very good file transfer rates. Users not running Windows 7 will enjoy having these features and the GC will make it so the drive stays fast as well.
The next issue that we found was the price. Kingston put together a really good accessory bundle; one of the best we've seen, but at 599.99 USD for the sample we tested today something doesn't add up. The 240GB SandForce SF-1200 drives are now selling for 429.99 or less on Newegg and are faster in many real world tasks. Maybe that is one reason why Kingston will join Team SandForce in 2011 and release a drive based on the new SF-2000 Series of controllers.
We are very excited to see Kingston jump back in the cutting edge SSD market and can't wait to see what they come up with while partnering with SandForce. Kingston has always been a consumer friendly company and went above and beyond when it comes to accessories and warranty.
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