Last week we showed you the new Kingston SSDNow V+100 that uses a new Toshiba controller and offers good mainstream performance, but the current price is quite a bit higher than what we wanted to see. Today we're looking at the new Kingston SSDNow V100 with a Toshiba labeled controller designed in cooperation with JMicron. The V100 is Kingston's new budget series that is designed to meet the needs of mainstream users.
Last year we showed the Kingston SSDNow V Series and the new V100 is the updated replacement model. The new V100 is more of an evolutionary upgrade since it uses the same 64MB cache capacity, but the flash has been upgraded to 32nm (shrunk from 43nm). Both the V and V100 are controlled by a controller based on the JM618, so the main changes rest in the NAND flash and firmware.
The original V was rated at 200MB/s read and 160MB/s write, but the new V100 increases those specifications to 250MB/s read and 230MB/s write. Oddly enough, the V100 has higher read and write sequential transfer performance ratings than the V+100, Kingston's higher end model. We'll take a look at the performance of both in our benchmark results charts and put on a clinic that shows why rated speeds are not all you need to know about SSDs.
Specifications, Pricing and Availability
Kingston is offering the SSDNow V100 in three capacity points; 64GB, 128GB and 256GB. The original V Series only made it up to 128GB, so the new 100 Series improves upon the first version by doubling the capacity.
The same reason why the capacity has increased is also why the performance has gone up. The new 34nm flash is faster than the V's 43nm and the rated read speed of 250MB/s is 50MB/s faster than the first model. The rated write speeds have also increased from 160MB/s to 230MB/s for the 256GB and 128GB models. The 64GB V100 is rated at the same 250MB/s read speed, but only 145MB/s write speed.
Kingston is offering the V100 in three different retail configurations. The stand alone drive, Notebook Upgrade Bundle and Desktop Upgrade Bundle. All three SKUs have come with a three year warranty, but the Bundle Kits come with accessories like a USB 2.0 enclosure (Notebook) and 2.5" to 3.5" drive brackets (Desktop). The bundle kits also come with Acronis True Image HD drive cloning software that makes cloning your existing drive very easy and allows you to skip the whole Windows install process.
The Kingston V+ 100 256GB we looked at last week is available at Newegg for 599.99 USD and the SSDNow V100 256GB we are looking at today costs 489.99 at the time of writing. Newegg doesn't show any of the SSDNow 256GB drives in stock at the time of writing, but that should change by the time this review is published. We also look for the price to drop when stock is available. Even with a large price drop the Kingston SDDNow V100 has to compete with the now low cost Team SandForce 240GB drives that are now selling for as low as 409 USD and are considered the fastest SATA II (3Gbps) drives on the market.
Kingston's packaging calls the SSDNow V100 '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 as see thru plastic box.
I can't speak high enough about the Kingston SSDNow V100 accessory package since it is one of the very best we've seen. You pretty much get it all; a USB 2.0 external case with a USB cable that allows you to easily clone your current notebook HDD easily with the included Acronis software. Kingston has also included a 2.5" to 3.5" desktop adapter bracket and to go with desktop users a SATA power and data cable. A paper quick state guide is also included in the package.
The Kingston SSDNow V100 256GB SSD
Here we get our first look at the Kingston SSDNow V100. 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.
Inside the case we found a thermal transfer pad on the Toshiba branded JM618 controller. The SSDNow V100 uses sixteen Toshiba 32nm flash modules - eight on each side.
On the opposite side we see the other eight Toshiba flash modules and a 64MB cache module made by MIRA. This is the first time we've seen MIRA in a SSD. At CES we talked to Toshiba and heard them talk about offering customers like Kingston a total Toshiba solution where the flash, cache and controller are all from Toshiba, but the V100 and V+100 both use cache from other manufacturers.
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.
Kingston's 250MB/s read and 230MB/s write rating is spot on as we see in ATTO. These ratings are actually higher than the V+100, but as we know sequential transfer ratings aren't the entire story when it comes to SSDs.
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 higher sequential rating for the V100 came through in HD Tach where we measure reads across the drive. The V100 scored an average read speed of nearly 205MB/s.
The sequential write speed across the drive was a bumpy road for the SSDNow V100. The maximum speed of 191MB/s is respectable, but the drive managed to dip all the way down to 98MB/s, something we've seen with JMicron based drives in the past. The average score suffered as a result of the dips, but 157MB/s is still faster than most platter drives available on the market today.
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 great feel when moving between windows and allow for high speed multitasking. We are now measuring speeds in microseconds and at these speeds slight variations don't mean all that much. The V100 has read access times around 2x as high as the V+100, but you wouldn't know it when using the drives in real world tasks. They are both very fast and significant upgrades when compared to platter drives.
The Toshiba / JMicron controllers suffer from increased write access times when the cache buffer is full. Once the cache fills up the data has to go directly to the controller and access times increase rapidly. In real world tasks this rarely happens, but in intense multitasking it can pop up and your system's response suffers.
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 are looking at 4K and NCQ performance. The Toshiba / JMicron JM618 doesn't utilize NCQ at all, something we observed with the V100 as well. The V100 offers around half the 4K performance as the V+100 and real world performance will suffer as a result.
Both the V+100 and V100 offer around the same level of 4K write performance, but both once again don't take advantage of NCQ.
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 performance differences between the V100 and V+100 can be seen in PCMark Vantage. Here we see the V+100 outperforming the V100 by a significant margin and both being eaten by the Vertex 2 that costs significantly less at the time of writing.
The Kingston SSDNow V100 does outperform the Western Digital VelociRaptor 600GB platter drive by a large margin.
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 files to and from the drive the higher sequential rating of the V100 equates to higher real world speed. Here we see the SSDNow V100 running very close to the Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB drive and making the SandForce SF-1200 drives look slow.
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 lack of NCQ features puts the Kingston SSDNow V100 at a disadvantage in server workloads, but both the V100 and V+100 are designed for mainstream consumer tasks, so we can't fault them for poor server performance.
When we concluded the Kingston SSDNow V+100 we noted that the drive had some very impressive features, but the high price kept us from scoring the drive with an award. The Kingston SSDNow V100 256GB loses some of the innovative features, but it also shaves off a significant amount from the price. The real question is if it shaves off enough price to compete with low cost Team SandForce drives.
With a performance rating of 250MB/s read and 230MB/s write, the SSDNow V100 sounds like a helluva drive for everyone. Sequential transfer ratings are good for marketing, but don't show true performance levels as we've shown time and time again. The Kingston SSDNow V100 is a budget SSD using a bottom of the barrel controller that is subpar even when it was launched.
The JM618 can't contend with the performance of the SandForce SF-1200 or the Marvell first generation SATA 6G. If given the choice I wouldn't use it over an Indilinx Barefoot since the Barefoot doesn't have the same issues when cache is filled. The Kingston V100 does offer a little better real world daily use performance, but not much. It does excel in file transfer performance making it a really good drive for USB 3.0 external enclosures.
Both Kingston and Toshiba have invested a lot in JMicron and one day it might pay off. The JM618 isn't going to give Kingston that winning, casino like feeling, but we are starting to hear rumors of a high performance controller coming from JMicron. We aren't holding our breath, though.
The biggest issue we have with the Kingston SSDNow V100 is the price / performance ratio. The current leader in this category comes from the many Team SandForce products. The absolute performance king at the 256GB capacity point is still the Crucial RealSSD C300, but quickly gaining momentum is the Corsair Performance 3 that is one firmware away from taking the crown. The Kingston SSDNow V100 has less performance than the above mentioned drives, but in many cases costs more (the Corsair being the only drive that costs more in 256GB capacity). So we have the lowest performing drive offered at a price that is higher than drives that outperform the V100 in almost every conceivable task. This leaves the V100 in a very bad price / performance place and one that can't be over looked.
In 2011 Kingston will join the Team SandForce (SandForce Driven) companies and offer a SandForce SF-2000 series of products. The SF-2000 parts should cost less than the V100 and V+100 parts and when that happens Kingston will be forced to either discontinue these parts or drop their price significantly. There is a real need for low cost mainstream SSDs and Kingston has been able to produce products that meet the mainstream needs, but for some reason the latest V Series offerings haven't been able to meet price points that match the performance offered. In time I think these parts will drop in price and things will equal out, but at the time of writing that value just isn't there.
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