Kingston SSDNow mS200 120GB SMS200S3/120G

Kingston SMS200S3/60G mSATA SSD

Now that mSATA drives are really starting to grow in popularity, we are seeing more models pop up from various SSD manufacturers. Kingston has the latest one we've received powered by a SandForce controller paired with Toshiba NAND. The SSDNow mS200 line is part of their 'System Builders' series which they state is "specifically designed for use in OEM branded servers". What this means for most is that it's geared toward mobile hosts with a focus on value (it comes with no accessories) and power savings while still pumping out up to 550MB/s read and 520MB/s write performance. Offered in capacities of 30GB, 60GB and 120GB, they currently retail for $47.72, $79.99 and $120.74 respectively. They offer a three year warranty to cover any defects or failures and they project that the 120GB drive we received will last up to a total of 93TB of data written. This means even if you wrote an unthinkable 25GB to the drive a day, every single day, the drive would still be viable for almost 10.5 years. This is way more than any consumer would even possibly come close to using.

mS200 Back

Kingston SSDNow mS200 mSATA SSD SMS20053 Features and Specifications:

mS200 NAND

The MLC NAND on board is Toshiba in manufacture, carrying part number TH58TEG8DDJTA20. The architecture is 19nm and the NAND is of the Toggle variety.

mS200 Controller

This is the first time we've come across the SF-2241 controller from LSI SandForce which is a close relative to the familiar SF-2281 controller. The difference? It's actually pointed out in the part number as the 2241 is a 4-channel controller while the 2281 is an 8-channel controller. This means overall performance will not be as good, especially where the controller can't exercise the compression techniques it uses to boost performance. Ostensibly, the reason for using the SF-2241 over the SF-2281 is the former uses less power which is why we see it on mSATA drives destined for mobile hosts and not on the larger 2.5" drives that are more used in desktops these days. It still supports all of the same technology as the SF-2281 like TRIM and the features of SandForce's DuraClass technology.

Test System and Drive Info

Legit Reviews Storage Benchmark Test System

All tests were performed on a fresh and up-to-date install of Windows 8 Pro x64 with no other applications running while using AHCI mode set through the BIOS. Synthetic Benchmarks were run with the OS loaded on a 120GB Corsair Force SSD. In between every test, the test drive was secure erased using an instance of Parted Magic. As such, all results should be indicative of optimal performance. All components were set to their default speeds and are listed below.

LR Z77 Test Bench

Z77 Test Bench

 

Intel LGA 1155 Test Platform
ComponentBrand/ModelLive Pricing

Processor

Core i5 2500k

Motherboard

ASUS Maximus V Gene Z77

Memory

Kingston HyperX KHX16C9B1RK28 8GB

OS Drive

Corsair Force 120GB (FW 2.4)

Power Supply

Antec Basiq BP550W Plus-EC

Operating System

Windows 8 Pro 64-Bit

 

Comparison Drives And Other Models We Have Tested

Since there are so many SSDs out there now with different controllers, we started a reference table of which controllers are used by each drive to help you compare results. Different controllers definitely perform differently and each has various strengths and weaknesses. Like CPU's, even identical drives will have variations in performance and part of that variance may be attributable to the NAND flash used. Since the tests of the drives listed have spanned different test benches and represent different interfaces, we have listed the most recent ones for easy reference.

 

SSD MODEL CONTROLLER(S) Firmware Interface
Plextor M5M 128GB mSATA Marvell 88SS9175 TBD mSATA 6Gbps
Mushkin Atlas Deluxe 30GB mSATA Marvell 88SS9175 504ABBF0 mSATA 6Gbps
Intel 525 30GB mSATA SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281) LLKi mSATA 6Gbps
Intel 525 60GB mSATA SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281) LLKi mSATA 6Gbps
Intel 525 120GB mSATA SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281) LLKi mSATA 6Gbps
Intel 525 180GB mSATA SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281) LLKi mSATA 6Gbps
Intel 525 240GB mSATA SandForce SF-2200 (SF-2281) LLKi mSATA 6Gbps

 

CrystalDiskMark 5.2.0 Readout:

For the Kingston mS200 120GB mSATA drive, the readout on CrystalDiskInfo 5.6.2 shows that both NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. are enabled, as well as TRIM and the interface is confirmed at SATA III (6Gbps). This is a great free tool to see lots of detailed information about the drive such as the firmware version for which we are running the latest available at the time of testing - 507ABBF0.

 

CrystalDisk Info

Let's look at some benchmarks...

ATTO & AS-SSD Benchmarks

ATTO v2.47

ATTO is one of the oldest drive benchmarks still being used today and is still very relevant in the SSD world. ATTO measures transfers across a specific volume length. It measures raw transfer rates for both reads and writes and places the data into graphs that can be very easily interpreted. The test was run with the default runs of 0.5KB through 8192KB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.

ATTO - Intel Z77 Platform:

 

ATTO Benchmark

Benchmark Results: This is the performance we come to expect from the latest generation SandForce controller drives - reads and writes hitting well into  500MB/s territory with a consistent performance gain as file sizes increases until they max out.

ATTO Grid

AS-SSD (1.6.4237.30508) Benchmark - Intel Z77 Platform:

We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over some time now and found that it gives a broad result set. The programmer has worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love and send him a donation. There are now three tests that are found within the tool and we'll show the results from two of them.

 

AS-SSD Benchmark

Benchmark Results: This is also typical of SandForce controlled drives where writes drop considerably when faced with data that is more or completely incompressible. In this case, we see that the reads also take a noticeable hit.

 

AS-SSD Grid

 

AS-SSD Compression Chart

Benchmark Results: Usually we see the write performance increase in conjunction with data compressibility but on the mS200, we see a similar occurrence with the reads.

CrystalDiskMark and Anvil IOPS

CrystalDiskMark is a small benchmark utility for drives and enables rapid measurement of sequential and random read/write speeds. Note that CDM only supports Native Command Queuing (NCQ) with a queue depth of 32 (as noted) for the last listed benchmark score. This can skew some results in favor of controllers that also do not support NCQ.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0.2 x64 - Intel Z77 Platform

 

CrystalDiskMark 

CrystalDiskMark GridBenchmark Results: Similar results here with the mS200 struggling a bit on the writes and reads faring better but still a distance off of what the ATTO scores showed.

Anvil Storage Utilities 1.050 RC6- Intel Z77 Platform

Along with the move to a new platform, we decided to make a change in one of the benchmarks. There's a relatively new benchmark called Anvil Storage Utilities that is in beta but close to production. It's a very powerful tool that measures performance through a variety of tests which can be customized. Since some of the tests more or less duplicate what we get from other benchmarks we use already, we decided to use the IOPS (Input/Output Operations Per Second) testing on 4kb file sizes at a queue depth of 32. IOPS performance is something SSD makers tout quite a bit but we generally don't do a lot of IOPS testing because frankly a lot of users can't relate to IOPS metrics as well and it tends to be more meaningful to the enterprise/server crowd. Still, it is another performance indicator with relevance and while some drives post good MB/s numbers, their IOPS scores aren't always commensurate which this test will prove out.

IOPS Read

IOPS Write

Benchmark Results: IOPS writes were incredibly strong, leading the pack even, but the reads were surprisingly low and more inline with what we see with the lower capacity drives.

IOPS Chart

Real World Copy & Boot Tests

File Copy Times Via Teracopy 2.27:

One of the most common operations performed on a PC is moving/copying files. Using a free application called Teracopy, we copied large numbers of two file types from one folder to another on the same drive. Teracopy allows us to objectively measure the time of transfer and using the same drive prevents other devices from tainting the outcome. The operation requires the drive to perform both sustained read and writes simultaneously. The first set of files is a 5GB collection of JPG's of variable size and compression levels with a few movie (.MOV) files thrown in for good measure since most cameras now take video as well as stills. The second is a collection of MP3 files of various sizes which totals 5GB collectively. These file types were chosen due to their wide use and mixture of file sizes and compression levels.

JPG Copy

Benchmark Results: The synthetic benchmark performance was very predictive as the file copy times were slower than most of the mSATA drives we tested and a good 0:24 to 0:27 seconds off of the fastest drive.

Filecopy Chart

Windows Boot Times Via BootRacer:

Windows start up/shutdown time is always something people are interested in and we haven't done it in a while because there was little variation with the majority of the SSDs. We recently began using an application called BootRacer to objectively measure the startup times of the drives. All of the instances of Windows were identical and freshly installed with only the video driver installed.

 

Boot RacerBoot Chart

Benchmark Results: On the other hand, boot times were very respectable and more towards the top of the comparison chart.

Final Thoughts & Conclusions

As is typical for most drives including the SandForce drives, there's a measure of over provisioning (about 7% in this case) that takes a chunk of addressable storage away from the user, as does the conversion of the 128GB (1GB byte = 1,000,000,000 bytes) as expressed in hardware storage to 119GiB (1Gib = 1,073,741,824 bytes) as expressed in virtual storage. In the end, we have 111GB for the user to do with as they wish.

mS200 Properties

All in all, we found performance to be adequate on the mS200 and it varied a bit with the type of data it was chewing on. The rated specifications of 550MB/s reads and 520MB/s writes were hit on the ATTO benchmark but tailed off from the there with the four channel SF-2241 controller being hampered a bit but was able to compensate most times by leveraging the compression techniques SandForce is known for. That's the way of it for most mSATA drives it seems. Performance is not paramount, but rather efficiency is the principal objective although most users would be hard pressed to tell this drive from the fastest mSATA drive in most real world situations.

Kingston SMS200S3/60G mSATA SSD

You can find the 30GB, 60GB and 120GB drives retailing for $47.72, $79.99 and $120.74 respectively. For the 120GB drive, that works out to be about $0.92 per usable GB which is very competitive. The 30GB drive is really only useful for a cache drive or a small secondary storage drive and Kingston doesn't offer a 240GB version. The SandForce SF-2241 controller isn't going to offer the best overall performance as it places an emphasis more on power savings over burning up the mSATA port. However, its likely a more economical part which in turn allows Kingston to offer it to consumers for less and it makes for a quick and dependable drive with a lot of history of quality behind it.

mS200 Controller

Legit Bottom Line: The mS200 mSATA drive from Kingston is a solid offering for those needing an mSATA drive with good performance without being too power hungry.