Kingston's KC1000 was a great drive even though we didn't review it. The drive was the only Phison E7 M.2 SSD to ship worldwide in a 1TB capacity. An Asian region company fit 1TB of planar NAND on an add-in card but never sold the drive outside of China. In the modern 3D era, Kingston has shipped a number of strong products that compete directly with Samsung's consumer product line. Today we will look at the new KC2000, an NVMe drive designed to take on the best consumer high-performance models shipping today.
The KC2000 uses the Silicon Motion, Inc. (SMI) SM2262EN controller. This is the updated version of the SM2262 with an enhanced data path to deliver even faster write performance. This is the same controller used in the ADATA SX8200 Pro, and HP EX950.
Kingston didn't follow the other companies' playbook with the KC2000. This model uses Toshiba 96-layer flash instead of the Micron 64-layer memory found on the others. For quite a while now, we've sung the praises of Micron's 64L and 96L memory as products with it dominate many of our performance charts. The Micron 3D memory performs especially well in small block size random reads, the area we pin the user experience on for most consumer workloads.
We've only Toshiba's 96L BiCS FLASH memory in the XG6 with a proprietary controller and with early firmware. Today we get to see how the memory compares with Micron's and see if the KC2000 is worthy of your hard-earned dollar.
Kingston plans to ship the KC2000 series in four capacities ranging from 250GB to 2TB. The performance slightly differences between each model but you can expect between 3,000 to 3,200 MB/s sequential read and 2,000 to 2,200 MB/s sequential writes (250GB only shows 1,100 MB/s sequential writes). Random performance peaks at 350,000 IOPS read for all but the 2TB that only shows 250,000 IOPS. Random write performance sits between 200,000 IOPS and 275,000 IOPS.
As we mentioned, Kingston tapped Toshiba's 96L three-bit per cell memory for this series, and that makes it unique to other drives shipping with the SMI SM2262EN controller. To contrast, the two memories, the ADATA SX8200 Pro with the same controller and Micron flash rates at 3,500 MB/s sequential reads and 3,000 MB/s sequential writes. The random performance is 390,000 IOPS read and 380,000 IOPS write. The KC2000 comes out slightly below the SX8200 Pro, but peak numbers rarely relate equally to real-world performance since consumer workloads rarely surpass low queue depths.
Pricing, Warranty, and Endurance
Kingston backs the KC2000 series with a lengthy 5-year warranty and ample endurance to match. The endurance for the four capacities matches Samsung's 970 EVO Plus.
Pricing is a bit of an issue. When we first started this review, finding the KC2000 was difficult online. A limited number of drives hit Amazon, but all capacities warn of low availability (13x 1TB, 4x 500GB, 1x 250GB). Amazon does not show the 2TB model in stock. Newegg also shows the 2TB out of stock.
We found the 250GB KC2000 for as low as $66.84 on Amazon. The 500BG model moves to $111.18, and that increases to $234.82 for the 1TB model. Before the 2TB model came down at Amazon, it was $427.07.
A Closer Look
Kingston packed more packages on the KC2000 500GB as possible. The drive uses two-DRAM packages and eight flash packages. This could increase performance by maximizing parallelization during reads and writes. It also lowers the cost since low die count packages cost less per byte than packages with more die (in high demand for data center and enterprise SSDs).