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Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB SSD Review

Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB SSD Review

Today Chris spends time telling us all about Kingston's HyperX 3K SSD in the 480GB capacity. Should this be your next SSD? Read on and find out.

@ChrisRamseyer
Published Fri, Oct 31 2014 9:04 AM CDT   |   Updated Tue, Apr 7 2020 12:33 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Kingston

Introduction & Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

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VIEW GALLERY - 32 IMAGES

Just a few days ago, we took a step back in time and tested Intel's nearly one year old 530 Series 480GB SSD. Today we're going back even further. Kingston's first HyperX branded SSD is still the best-looking consumer SSD to ever hit the market. Charged with a LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller, 5K P/E cycle Intel flash, and an appealing design, the blue HyperX was one of the best products released in the early 2281 era. Sadly, the original HyperX drives have long disappeared from retail.

Kingston's second HyperX model has aged well, and is still available. The HyperX 3K was first launched as a lower cost HyperX Series product. The difference between the two models was the flash; the original HyperX shipped with 5K flash, but the HyperX 3K shipped with 3K or 3,000 P/E cycle flash. When released, 3K P/E cycle flash was common and only a few 5K P/E drives existed. Nowadays, 3K flash is premium, and several SSDs ship with 1,500 to 1,000 P/E cycle flash.

Specifications, Pricing, and Availability

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Kingston released the HyperX 3K in three capacities, and each capacity ships in either a drive only package or a kit package. Today we're testing the 480GB drive only model that actually ships with a desktop adapter bracket, and mounting screws.

Kingston's claimed sequential read performance for the 480GB model is 540 MB/s, and the sequential write speed is 450 MB/s. The performance of the 480GB drive is lower than the 120GB and 240GB drives, and Kingston accurately publishes that information instead of using the familiar "Up To" for all capacities. Kingston also publishes individual random performance data. The 480GB model we're testing today is capable of achieving 74,000 random read IOPS, and 32,000 random write IOPS, both at 4K.

Newegg carries both bare drive and kit models. The bare drive version we're testing today costs $289.99, and ships with a desktop adapter bracket, mounting screws, and documentation. The kit model includes an external USB 2.0 adapter for easy disk cloning, a desktop adapter bracket, a screwdriver, a SATA power and Data cable, and a software disk. The kit option is $329.99 at the time of writing.

Both the bare drive and kit bundle include a three-year warranty, and you can use Kingston's SSD Toolbox on the HyperX 3K. You can read our report on every major SSD Toolbox software in this article.

PRICING: You can find the Kingston HyperX 3K for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB retails for $81.99 at Amazon, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB retails for $139.99 at Amazon, and the Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB retails for $289.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB retails for CDN$94.98 at Amazon Canada, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB retails for CDN$149.99 at Amazon Canada, and the Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB retails for CDN$344.98 at Amazon Canada.

Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB SSD

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Kingston put together an attractive package for the HyperX 3K.

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The HyperX 3K drive is packed well in the retail package.

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Under the foam, we found a desktop adapter bracket, screws for mounting, and a paper manual.

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Here we get our first look at the HyperX 3K drive. The 3K is nearly identical to the original HyperX SSD, but the blue (that looked amazing) was replaced with black as the accent color.

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The capacity, shipped firmware, model, and serial number, are all printed on the back.

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This series shipped before the 7mm z-height standard came out, or at least before any company started making drives to fit in 7mm drive bays. The HyperX 3K is a 9.5mm drive height.

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Test System Setup and ATTO Baseline Performance

Desktop Test System

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Lenovo T440 - Notebook Power Testing with DEVSLP and Windows 8.1 Pro

Nearly all of the performance tests run on the desktop system, but we use a Lenovo T440 to run the power tests. The T440 is the latest addition to our client SSD test lab, and allows us to test the notebook battery life offered by a SSD with advanced features like DEVSLP enabled.

ATTO - Baseline Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.34

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In ATTO, we measured read performance at just over 532 MB/s. Our baseline write performance was 504 MB/s. As mentioned, these are our baseline numbers, and we should see performance in this range when working with large sequential files.

Benchmarks - Sequential Performance

HD Tune Pro - Sequential Performance

Version and / or Patch Used: 5.50

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In the sequential read test, we measured the average sequential read speed at 412 MB/s. This is lower than many of the newer SSDs on the market in this capacity, but still a solid performance to start out our testing.

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Our sequential write test for this comparison chart shows an average write speed of 402 MB/s.

HD Tach - Sequential Write Performance after Random Writes

Version and / or Patch Used: 3.0.4.0

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After writing to the drive with sequential and random data, we ran HD Tach with 128KB sequential data to see if the Kingston HyperX 3K had any significant write performance drops in a reasonable consumer steady state. We observed one point where the write performance dropped to 250 MB/s. The performance loss wasn't as dramatic as we've seen on other products.

Benchmarks - Anvil Storage Utilities

Anvil Storage Utilities

Version and / or Patch Used: RC6

So, what is Anvil Storage Utilities? Well, it's a storage benchmark for SSDs and HDDs where you can check and monitor your performance. The Standard Storage Benchmark performs a series of tests; you can run a full test, or just the read or the write test, or you can run a single test, i.e. 4k QD16.

Anvil Storage Utilities is not officially available yet, but we've been playing with the beta for several months now. Anvil has been updating the software steadily on several international forums, and is adding new features every couple of months.

We can use Anvil several different ways to show different aspects for each drive. We've chosen to use this software to show the performance of a drive with two different data sets. The first is with compressible data, and the second data set is incompressible data. Several users have requested this data in our SSD reviews.

0-Fill Compressible Data

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Incompressible Data

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Since the Kingston HyperX 3K uses a SandForce SF-2281 controller there is a penalty when working with incompressible data (data that is already compressed). What caught us by surprise here is how much higher the performance scores are on the HyperX in comparison to the Intel 530 Series 480GB we tested just days ago.

Low Queue Depth Read IOPS

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In low queue depth random read testing, we see the Kingston HyperX 3K is one of the few drives capable of reading 10K IOPS at QD1. The drive scales well to QD2, but then it starts to drop off. At QD4, the HyperX 3K is around 8K IOPS slower than the Intel 530 Series 480GB.

High Queue Depth Read IOPS

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Here we see the high random read queue depth tests, and the HyperX is back in line with the 530 Series, but both drives are down in comparison to other products on the market, even those in the value category.

Low Queue Depth Write IOPS

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The low queue depth random write performance is also off the mark in comparison to modern SSDs.

High Queue Depth Write IOPS

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At the upper end of the scale, the HyperX 3K recovers and starts to deliver a fair amount of IOPS performance, but its peak is again well under modern drives at this time.

Benchmarks - Mixed Read / Write Workloads

Sequential Mixed Read / Write Workloads

In this series of tests, we measure mixed workload performance. We start with 100% read, and then add data writes to the mix in 10% increments until we get to 100% writes. We believe this will be the next major area SSD manufacturers will address after performance consistency.

Sequential Mixed Workload Bandwidth

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The low random performance may lead some of us to retire HyperX 3K drives instead of purchasing a new one, but the drive still has many strong areas. None of us just read or just write data exclusively. At any given time, most SSDs are reading and writing small files in the background.

This is a mixed workload test that shows 100% reads moving down to 100% writes in 10% increments. The SandForce architecture is very good under mixed workloads.

Sequential 80% Read / 20% Write Bandwidth

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Using the 80% read and 20% write mark as a measuring stick, the HyperX 3K dominates this test. It's also important to know we're using 50% incompressible data in these tests, and not 100% compressible data that would favor SandForce's architecture.

Random Mixed Workload Response Time

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In this series, we use 50% read / 50% write random data to measure mixed IOPS performance. On the previous page, the HyperX 3K's IOPS performance looked, well frankly pitiful, against other products. However, here we see that under real-world conditions, the field has leveled out, and the HyperX 3K is actually a competitive product to the latest drives on the market.

PCMark 8 Consistency Test

Futuremark PCMark 8 Extended - Consistency Test

Version and / or Patch Used: 2.0.228

Heavy Usage Model:

Futuremark's PCMark 8 allows us to wear the test drive down to a reasonable consumer steady state, and then watch the drive recover on its own through garbage collection. To do that, the drive gets pushed down to steady state with random writes, and then idle time between a number of tests allows the drive to recover.

Precondition Phase:

1. Write the drive sequentially through, up to the reported capacity with random data.

2. Write the drive through a second time (to take care of overprovisioning).

Degradation Phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for ten minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat steps one and two, eight times, and on each pass increase the duration of random writes by five minutes.

Steady state Phase:

1. Run writes of random size between 8*512 and 2048*512 bytes on random offsets for 50 minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat steps one and two, five times.

Recovery Phase:

1. Idle for five minutes.

2. Run performance test (one pass only).

3. Repeat one and two, five times.

Storage Bandwidth

PCMark 8's Consistency test provides a ton of data output that we use to judge a drive's performance. Here we see the three states of performance for the select SSDs: light use, consumer steady state, and worst case.

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Here we show a comparison of the tests that matter for most consumers. We'll talk more about the results further down this page.

Storage Bandwidth All Tests

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Things start to get a bit interesting here. Let's ignore the recovery area for now, and focus on the heavy workload testing. In this chart, we can clearly see three groups of SSDs. At the very top are the two current hyper-class SSDs, the fastest on the market, Samsung's 850 Pro and SanDisk's Extreme PRO. Then you have the midrange group, and finally the bottom group in these heavy workload tests.

The Kingston HyperX 3K is in the middle of the chart almost all the way through. If the two hyper-class drives were removed, we could reasonably argue the HyperX 3K was the third to fourth fastest drive in this group. The HyperX 3K has less deviation than the lower tier of drives over all.

Typical Consumer Bandwidth

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In the recovery slice, we see workload models from what most consumers run against every day. Nearly all of the drives at the bottom of the chart during the heavy workloads are now more competitive, and the HyperX 3K is towards the bottom. This isn't an issue with the HyperX 3K, it's just that newer drives are taking advantage of modern programming and using SLC like layers to increase performance under light workloads.

The SLC layer is a small amount of space where the controller writes to the flash in one-bit increments instead of two bits. Under heavy use, the SLC section is turned off or overrun with data, making it ineffective, but under light use, the SLC layer gives very low cost SSDs the feel of a faster drive, which equals a better overall experience.

PCMark 8 Consistency Test - Continued

Total Access Time

The access time test measures the total latency across all 18 tests. This is one of, if not the most important test we run at this time for consumer SSDs. When your latency is low, your computer feels fast; it's just that simple.

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Experience doesn't come from throughput though, it comes from latency. Again, we see the same test, but this time in terms of access time or latency. Under heavy use, the HyperX 3K stays about the same as it does under light use, but many of the low cost SSDs suffer from large increases in latency in comparison to the light workload tests.

Typical Consumer Latency

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Here we see the light workload, consumer slice. The HyperX 3K has more latency here than most of the other drives on the chart.

Benchmarks - Power Testing

Bapco MobileMark 2012 1.5

Version and / or Patch Used: 2012 1.5

Developer Homepage: http://www.bapco.com

Test Homepage: http://www.bapco.com

MobileMark 2012 1.5 is an application-based benchmark that reflects usage patterns of business users in the areas of office productivity, media creation, and media consumption. Unlike benchmarks that only measure battery life, MobileMark 2012 measures battery life and performance simultaneously, showing how well a system design addresses the inherent tradeoffs between performance and power management.

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SandForce controller ushered us into the DEVSLP era. The SF-2281 controller actually had the DEVSLP function even before we had a platform to test it. Even to this day, very few notebooks have working DEVSLP, but the Lenovo T440 we use for our notebook battery life test does support the feature. The SF-2281 might have had DEVSLP first, but now that the feature is being implemented into other controllers, the SandForce based drives are falling behind.

Power Limited Performance

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In our notebook battery life test, the notebook hardware and operating system slow the clock speeds of the processor and system busses. This is what we call a power limited, or power restricted state. Most SSDs perform about the same here, but any increase over 126 points shows an increase in the storage system's efficiency in this reduced power setting.

Final Thoughts

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Very few consumer SSDs advertise P/E cycles these days. The NAND flash makers keep this data close to the chest, and leave endurance ratings up to the drive makers since controller technology has significantly increased flash endurance through superior design. P/E cycles shrink with flash die lithography. SandForce was one of the first companies to use superior controller design to extend the life of flash, and the company used real-time compression to reduce the amount of data written to the flash.

Newer SSDs use the SLC layer to absorb random data, and then send that data to the MLC areas as larger sequential data through wear leveling, and other advanced technics. Both work to do the same thing, increase the endurance of the flash, and both have strong arguments over the other depending on workload and the type of data used more often.

The HyperX 3K may be the last product we see that advertises the P/E cycles of the flash. When first released, 3K was considered a value part, but now 3K is a premium part. For most consumers, none of this really matters, but for multimedia professionals who write a significant amount of data to the flash in a production environment, the argument holds more weight.

If you are going to use a consumer SSD under heavy write loads, the HyperX 3K is priced as a value drive for that workload. Consumers will see the increase in cost over products like the SanDisk Ultra II, Crucial MX100, and Samsung 840 EVO, but not receive a proportional performance increase.

In a sense, the HyperX 3K is now like a diesel truck. It's great for hauling heavy loads, but you can drive a number of different vehicles to get groceries, and have a better experience doing so.

PRICING: You can find the Kingston HyperX 3K for sale below. The prices listed are valid at the time of writing, but can change at any time. Click the link to see the very latest pricing for the best deal.

United States: The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB retails for $81.99 at Amazon, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB retails for $139.99 at Amazon, and the Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB retails for $289.99 at Amazon.

Canada: The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB retails for CDN$94.98 at Amazon Canada, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB retails for CDN$149.99 at Amazon Canada, and the Kingston HyperX 3K 480GB retails for CDN$344.98 at Amazon Canada.

Performance89%
Quality including Design and Build93%
General Features90%
Bundle and Packaging90%
Value for Money86%
Overall90%

The Bottom Line: Kingston's HyperX 3K SSD get the job done and works better under heavy workload when compared to other value SSDs. In light use workloads, there are faster products that use newer technology to surpass the HyperX 3K in user experience.

PRICING: You can find products similar to this one for sale below.

USUnited States: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com

UKUnited Kingdom: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.co.uk

AUAustralia: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.com.au

CACanada: Find other tech and computer products like this over at Amazon.ca

DEDeutschland: Finde andere Technik- und Computerprodukte wie dieses auf Amazon.de

Chris Ramseyer started his career as a LAN Party organizer in Midwest USA. After working with several computer companies he was asked to join the team at The Adrenaline Vault by fellow Midwest LAN Party legend Sean Aikins. After a series of shake ups at AVault, Chris eventually took over as Editor-in-Chief before leaving to start Real World Entertainment. Look for Chris to bring his unique methods of testing Hard Disk Drives, Solid State Drives as well as RAID controller and NAS boxes to TweakTown as he looks to provide an accurate test bed to make your purchasing decisions easier.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

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