Introduction & Drive Details
SK hynix is one of the global leaders in memory. They are well known for DRAM and to a lesser degree OEM SSDs. But that is changing as SK hynix is going retail with some of its new SSD products. The product we have on the bench today features a flash array composed of the first of its kind in the wild SK hynix 128-layer 3-bit NAND chips.
SK hynix's new 128-layer flash is some of the fastest we've ever seen. It is so good the 4-channel controlled Gold P31 we are testing today can lay waste to much of the competition's 8-channel controlled NVMe SSDs and do so while using much less power. Impressive.
A big factor in launching its first retail PCIe SSD and having it perform so well is total vertical integration. SK hynix manufactures all the major components that comprise the Gold P31. DRAM, flash, proprietary "Cephus" 4-channel controller and firmware. This means they are the sole source of expertise for the entirety of the Gold P31 SSD which is not something that most SSD retailers can claim.
SK hynix delivers the goods with its Gold P31, now let's get into the review so we can see firsthand why we are so pleased with it.
The Gold P31 ships in eco-friendly packaging. The drive itself is a single-sided design, which we love. The green PCB gives it a utilitarian type of feel.
Jon's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS ROG Crosshair Hero VIII Wi-Fi (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 9 3900X (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Swiftech H2O-320 Edge AIO
- Memory: ADATA XPG Z1 DDR4 3800MHz 16GB (buy from Amazon)
- Video Card: Sapphire Radeon RX Vega 64 (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair AX1000 (buy from Amazon)
- Case: InWin X-Frame
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (buy from Amazon)
SK hynix SSD System Migration Utility
SK hynix doesn't offer SSD management software, but they do offer free migration software that makes it easy to transfer your system over to the Gold P31. Click here to download it.
Synthetic Benchmarks: CDM & Anvils
We use CDM to check factory sequential numbers, and they are outstanding. But what we are looking for even more than that is random read performance at 4K Q1T1. Great performance here is one of the best indicators of how a drive will perform overall, especially as it relates to gaming.
The Gold P31 sets a new lab record for all flash-based SSDs we've ever tested. 83.25 MB/s is incredibly fast and tells us that the Gold P31 should deliver outstanding gaming performance.
Anvil's Storage Utilities
Our focus is read performance because it is what matters most to the end-user. Here again, we are treated to another lab record. The Gold P31 delivers the best total read score for any Gen3 SSD we've ever tested, and by far the best random read performance for any flash-based SSD we've tested to date.
Incredible performance that is even more remarkable when you consider this is a 4-channel controlled SSD.
We are exceeding factory max IOPS specs despite our more demanding user state. Impressive.
Synthetic Benchmarks: AS SSD & ATTO
Yet another best performance for any 1TB class flash-based Gen3 SSD we've tested.
We are looking for full speed at 128K transfers. We get what we are looking for when writing sequentially, but not when serving it to the host. Nevertheless, again we find the Gold P31 at or near the top of our charts.
Real-World Testing: Transfer Rates & Gaming
Our write transfer is 100GB in size and is composed of more than 62,000 files. Not an easy transfer. The Gold P31 performs well above average and far better than any other 4-channel SSD we've tested.
Incredible performance. The Gold P31 easily outperforms the big names with 8-channels.
Game Level Loading
Gaming performance is what matters to most of our readers, and this is where (Optane excluded) the Gold P31 shines like no other. We will go ahead and call it the best flash-based gaming SSD you can buy (The Plextor M9P+ never made it to market). This becomes even more impressive when you consider the Gold P31's pricing is about what you will pay for less capable QLC SSDs.
Real-World Testing: PCMark 10 Storage Tests
PCMark 10 Storage Test is the most advanced and most accurate real-world consumer storage test ever made. There are four different tests you can choose from; we run two of them.
The Full System Drive Benchmark and the Quick System Drive Benchmark. The Full System Drive Benchmark writes 204GB of data over the duration of the test. The Quick System Drive Benchmark writes 23GB of data over the duration of the test. These tests directly correlate with user experience. Of the two tests, we feel that the Quick System Drive Test most accurately replicates a typical user experience.
PCMark 10 Full System Drive Benchmark
Heavy consumer workloads are handled surprisingly well by the Gold P31 - by far the best we've seen from a 4-channel SSD.
PCMark 10 Quick System Drive Benchmark
Checking in on more typical consumer workloads, we find the Gold P31 delivering well above average performance.
Talk about making a splash! The Gold P31 is a testament to SK hynix' oft unseen industry leadership. SK hynix's first retail NVMe SSD is one of the best performers we've ever tested. And to do that with a 4-channel controller is unprecedented.
A quick look at TweakTown's exclusive user experience rating, and we see the Gold P31 hovering near the top. This means it will deliver about as good of a user experience as money can buy. In the Gold P31 1TB, it takes very little money to experience it firsthand.
We find highlight after highlight delivered by this impressive SSD taking a quick recap of our test results. CDM dazzled with over 20K IOPS of QD1 random reads. The best we've ever seen from any flash-based SSD. The Gold P31 is the first Gen3 SSD to score over 19K when tested with Anvils. AS SSD saw the Gold P31 set a new lab record for a 1TB class Gen3 Flash-based SSD.
Continuing with the highlights, we witnessed among the best Gen3 read transfer rates, and then there is gaming. This is what many consider the most important aspect for an SSD, and where we find the Gold P31 to be the best flash-based SSD for gaming currently available. There are more highlights, but you get the picture.
With performance that is as good as it gets and priced like a value SSD, the SK hynix Gold P31 1TB has earned our highest award.
- Heavy Workloads
- 5-Year Warranty
- No Toolbox
The Bottom Line
The P31 Gold is a rare combination of best in class performance with a super low price tag.