Introduction, Specifications, and Pricing
ADATA was one of the two companies to release consumer SSDs with Realtek's first-generation flash controller. The controller was an entry-level model, so I'm not surprised you haven't heard of it or knew that Realtek jumped in the SSD game. The company has two follow up controllers and has high hopes that you will notice.
The ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro uses Realtek's RTS5763DK mainstream NVMe controller. This is a mainstream DRAMless design that features host memory bus (HMB) technology to improve performance over true DRAMless SSDs.
The purpose of these mainstream SSDs is to deliver value to shoppers. The SX6000 Pro starts at just $38 at the time of writing, and 1TB model sells for just over $100.
The XPG SX6000 Pro ships in four capacities that range from 1TB to 256GB. Unlike the original SX6000 that only used two PCIe 3.0 lanes, the Pro models use all four lanes flowing through M.2 connectors.
The performance for the 1TB and 512GB models show identical performance with 2,100 MB/s sequential reads and 1,500 MB/s sequential writes. The random performance for these drives tops 250,000 IOPS read and 240,000 IOPS write.
The 256GB SX6000 Pro reaches 1,800 MB/s sequential read and 1,200 MB/s sequential writes. It sports random performance of 190,000 IOPS read and 180,000 IOPS write.
All three capacities use Host Memory Buffer (HMB) technology. This helps to reduce the cost of the drives by not using an onboard DRAM cache. Instead of local DRAM, the drives use a small portion of your computers system memory to cache the table map of the flash. Technically, we still call these DRAMless SSDs, but the performance is significantly higher than the planar flash DRAMless models that came to market using the SATA bus three years ago.
Pricing, Warranty, and Endurance
The ADATA XPG SX6000 Pro is a very low-cost NVMe SSD with prices very similar to SATA models in the same capacities. The 1TB model currently sells for $107.99 at Amazon. Amazon also carries the 512GB model for $57.99 as well as the 256GB model for $37.99.
ADATA back the series with a full 5-year warranty and strong endurance ratings for mainstream / low-cost NVMe drives. The 1TB bring with it a 600 TBW rating. The endurance cuts in half with each capacity. The 512BG model rates at 300 TBW and the 256GB rates at 150 TBW.
A Closer Look
The packaging is similar to other consumer SSDs from ADATA. The company gives users a thin heat sink/shield with this model that users can attach with the included double-sided thermal tape.
1TB Class Performance Testing
Sequential Read Performance
We included several other low-cost NVMe SSDs in the charts today along with two more expensive models that lead the consumer NVMe SSD market.
The ADATA SX6000 Pro doesn't scale sequential reads as we ramp up the queue depth. The drive does show strong 2,000 MB/s performance across the queue depth range, including QD1, where many of the low-cost models deliver closer to 1,500 MB/s.
Sequential Write Performance
The drive loses its standing in the sequential write test using burst data. The run starts at 1,000 MB/s at QD1 and levels off at QD4 on the way up to 1,600 MB/s. This is quite a bit faster than SATA SSDs but well under the class leaders and other mainstream NVMe SSDs shipping today.
Sustained Sequential Write Performance
The 1TB SX6000 Plus doesn't show signs of a large SLC buffer for writing sequential data. The write pattern indicates the drive may have a small SLC buffer used to cache all incoming writes, a method common to increase endurance.
Random Read Performance
The random read performance is lower than any of the other drives in the charts today. The SX6000 Pro delivers just over 8,000 IOPS at QD1. That is even quite a bit lower than some of the better SATA SSDs shipping today like the Crucial MX500 that surpasses 10,000 IOPS.
Random Write Performance
The single test that caught us by surprise in the 100% random write test, this one. The low queue depth performance was exactly what we expected from a drive using HMB technology, faster than a true DRAMless SATA SSD but not quite as quick as the other drives using DRAM. The shocking part is the high queue depth performance, where the SX6000 Pro started to walk away from the other drives in the chart.
70% Read Sequential Performance
The relatively flat sequential performance on both extremes of the spectrum carries over to the mixed workload test. The drive stands its ground against most or the lower-cost models and even overtakes ADATA's flagship SX8200 Pro in every queue depth past eight.
70% Read Random Performance
The two DRAMless drives in the charts today, SX6000 Pro and Mushkin Helix-L, both show weak mixed random performance. The SX6000 Pro outperforms the Helix-L with the SMI SM2263XT controller.
1TB Class Real-World Performance Testing
Game Load Time
With synthetic workloads, the ADATA SX6000 Pro trails many of the more established drives but rarely falls significantly behind. We don't expect the drive to win any application tests, but at the low price, it doesn't need to. The drive just needs to stay close to the models that cost more.
In the game load-time test featuring Final Fantasy Stormblood, the SX6000 Pro trails the Mushkin Helix-L by around 1 second. It's not a lot of time, and neither is the time it trails the SX8200 Pro that tops our performance chart. I would say that most people wouldn't even notice the difference.
PCMark 8 Total Storage Bandwidth
The PCMark 8 Storage Test uses a mix between light and demanding applications. We take the ten individual test results and summarize them in an easy to compare throughput score.
The more demanding tests drive the SX6000 Pro to the bottom of the chart. Just because the SX8200 Pro nearly doubles the SX6000 Pro's throughput score doesn't mean that every user will notice an application taking longer to load and complete a task. The lighter IO workloads from the more common applications will be very close performance but the heavier applications, like very large Photoshop batches, will take quite a bit longer and users will notice.
PCMark 8 Extended Storage Test
The ADATA SX6000 Pro puts out a lot of mixed messages in our performance testing. Under very heavy workloads, the drive performs better than the Crucial P1, Intel 660p, Mushkin Helix and the Mushkin Pilot. We can't wait to see what Realtek's high-performance 8-channel controller is capable of.
SYSmark 2014 SE System Responsiveness and Power Tests
It's difficult to break into the upper tier in the Responsiveness Test with Toshiba flash. Micron 3D and Samsung V-NAND dominate the upper section of the chart. The DRAMless design adds increased complexity to the struggle.
MobileMark 2012 1.5 Notebook Battery Life
When the controller companies first pitched media DRAMless designs, low-power consumption was always a highlight. In practice, we've found that these drives take longer to complete background activities, like garbage collection. The longer load time means the drives also take longer to enter low power states to conserve energy. The result is similar, or slightly worse, notebook battery life compared to other drives with a DRAM package to cache the table map.
The ADATA SX6000 Pro is a decent low-cost NVMe SSD for shoppers looking to save a few dollars on a required component for a new PC build.
The problem with this and every other "low-cost/mainstream /entry-level" SSD is the cost of the flash. The flash memory is the most expensive component. After you factor in the cost of the flash memory, companies only have a little wiggle room with the controller and even the DRAM.
For example, the 1TB SX6000 Pro we tested today sells for right around $109 on Amazon at the same time the company's flagship XPG GAMMIX S11 (a version of the SX8200 Pro that ships with a preinstalled heat sink) sells for just $139. The performance difference between these two parts is significant. If you plan to buy a drive to use in several PC builds over the years then we always recommend the faster drive because you will never regret buying the best available today for such a small monetary increase.
That said, if you are stretching your budget to get an NVMe SSD and the extra $30 is simply too much to spend, the 1TB SX6000 Pro is a good product to look at. The drive gives you 3-bit per cell memory at a 4-bit per cell price (Crucial P1, Intel 660p).
The Bottom Line
The ADATA SX6000 Pro is a low cost SSD designed to give value-focused shoppers an upgrade path to NVMe. The performance is better than we expected for a mainsteam drive.