Kingston SSDNow V+100 128GB SSD
Kingston has put out several models of SSD's now and their most recent release are is the SSDNOW V+100 series available in 64GB, 96GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities. If this naming convention sounds familiar, you'd be correct as they had an earlier line of V+ drives which we reviewed back in January 2010. They also have another line of value drives with the "V" series. The V+ drives carry a Toshiba controller and the V series feature a JMicron controller except for the 30GB V series boot drive which has the Toshiba controller. Got it? The one we will be having a look at is the 128GB bundled version which currently retails for $289.99.
While the V+100 drives use the same Toshiba controller as the V+, they have updated firmware which Kingston claims will yield an additional 25% of performance. Kingston isn't the only SSD maker that has somewhat confusing naming conventions and we all know how clear the video card models have been. The moral of this is to make sure you do your homework before buying this or any product to be sure you are getting the model you intend to buy. But I digress - back to the V+100.
The packaging looks very similar to the original V+ drive with the same green and black colors.
The V+100 has an extra image of the drive on the front with a small badge referencing the increase in speed over traditional 5400RPM hard drives.
The drive actually comes in a bundle, like its predecessor, which contains several goodies that sweeten the pot for an SSD investment. Included are drive rail 2.5" to 3.5" adapters, SATA cable, USB 2.0 cable, an external enclosure, a Molex to SATA power adapter and a disk with hard drive cloning software.
Kingston SSDNOW V+100 128GB SSD Features:
- Innovative – Uses MLC NAND flash memory components.
- Silent – Runs silent and cool with no moving mechanical parts.
- Shock Proof – No moving mechanical parts so the SSD handles rougher conditions.
- Supports S.M.A.R.T functions
- Guaranteed – 3 year legendary Kingston warranty, 24/7 tech support
Kingston SSDNOW V+100 128GB SSD Specifications:
- Form Factor – 2.5"
- Interface – SATA 1.5 Gb/sec. and 3.0 Gb/sec
- Capacities* – 64GB, 96GB, 128GB, 256GB, 512GB
- Dimensions – 69.85 x 100 x 9.5 mm
- Weight – 128 - 151 grams
- Storage temperatures – -40 - 85°C
- Operating temperatures – 0 - 70°C
- Vibration operating – 2.7G
- Vibration non-operating – 20G
- Sequential Read Throughput** – 230MB/s
- Sequential Write Throughput** – 180MB/s
- PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score+
- 64GB – 38,177
- 96GB – 34,971
- 128GB – 35,073
- 256GB – 34,795
- 512GB – 34,697
The drive itself is virtually identical to the V+ on the exterior without the rectangular indent on the bottom and the V+100 now has a warranty void sticker over one of the screw holes.
Let's have a look at the inside to see what has changed from the V+ drive.
Kingston V+100 - The Internals
Breaking open the Kingston V+100 is a simple matter of removing the hex screws holding the case together.
On the inside of the cover, between it and the PCB, is a layer of non-conductive, thermal and shock absorbing material to help protect the sensitive internal components and dissipate excess heat. I'm not convinced it's all that necessary but better safe than sorry, eh?
The back-side of the PCB is simply raw circuit board with no features of note other than the quality control reference sticker.
All of the business happens on this side of the board with every bit of NAND along with the controller and cache featured here.
The eight NAND modules are Toshiba branded TH58NVG7D7EBAK2 MLC flash which was the same as found on the earlier Kingston V+ model. Your geek trivia fact of the day is that Toshiba is the original inventor of NAND flash and, according to their website, the "world's most experienced NAND flash producer".
Like the NAND, the controller is also from Toshiba and again, what we saw on the V+ model and the V Series 30GB boot drive. What's not obvious from this vantage point is that the firmware for this model T6UG1XBG controller has been updated. As a result, Kingston claims that "drive performance has also been increased by 25 percent" over the previous model which we'll attempt to prove out in the benchmarks. It supports TRIM and features "always on" garbage collection for ongoing drive maintenance.
Editors Note: In case you were wondering, Kingston has since told us that the controller has undergone a die shrink down to 32nm so the firmware used on this drive will not work on the older V+ drives.
Unlike the SandForce based drives we have seen a lot of lately, the Toshiba controller relies on a 128MB Micron DDR DRAM cache to help buffer data. Interestingly enough, this combination of components is what is being used in the new Macbook Air laptops as evidenced by ifixit.com. That's noteworthy because OS X does not support TRIM and relies instead on garbage collection to keep the drive running optimally.
Kingston V+100 - Test System
All tests were performed on a fresh and up-to-date install of Windows 7 Pro x64 with no other applications running and using AHCI mode set through the BIOS. Synthetic Benchmarks were run with the OS loaded on a 40GB Corsair Force SSD. The ASUS P6T (BIOS v1701) motherboard uses an ICH10R south bridge chipset which supports TRIM. In between every test, the drive was secure erased. As such, all results should be indicative of optimal performance. All components were set to their default speeds and are listed below:
|Intel LGA 1366 Test Platform|
|Core i7 920|
|ASUS P6T Deluxe V1 (1701)
|CORSAIR XMS3 3GB DDR3 1333|
|Gigabyte GeForce GT 430|
|Corsair Force 40GB|
|Windows 7 Pro 64-Bit|
Comparison Drives & 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.
|Kingston V+100 128GB||Toshiba T6UG1XBG||Yes|
|Corsair Force 40GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes|
|Intel X25-V 40GB||Intel G2||Yes|
|G.Skill Phoenix Pro||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes|
|Patriot Inferno 100GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes|
|OCZ RevoDrive X2 120GB SSD||(4X) Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||No*|
|OCZ RevoDrive 120GB SSD||(2X) Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||No*|
|ADATA S596 128GB||JMicron JMF612||Yes|
|Corsair Force Series 120GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes|
|Patriot Zephyr 128GB||JMICRON JMF612||Yes|
|Patriot Torqx 128GB||Indilinx Barefoot||Yes|
|Kingston 30GB V Series SNV125-S2||Toshiba T6UG1XBG||Yes|
|Kingston 128GB V Series SNV425-S2||JMICRON JMF618||Yes|
|Corsair Force Series 100GB||Sandforce SF-1200 (SF-1222)||Yes|
|Corsair Nova Series 128GB||Indilinx Barefoot||Yes|
|Intel X25-M 160GB G2 SSD
|Micron RealSSD C300 (6Gbps) 256GB||Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2||Yes|
|* TRIM is not supported due to the RAID controller.|
As you can see from the readout on CrystalDiskInfo 3.9.1, both NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. are enabled, as is TRIM. This is a great free tool to see what version of firmware the drive is running in the event there are updates available. Before we started, we made sure we were running the latest available firmware for the drive.
On to the benchmarks!
ATTO & AS-SSD Synthetic Benches
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.
Benchmark Results: Really nice performance here for the Kingston V+100. It goes toe-to-toe with the SandForce drives and comes out looking very good. Frankly, I was surprised as I was expecting to see something closer to the original V Series 30GB drive scores being that they share the same controller. But, as Kingston promised, performance has increased as a result of the firmware change.
We have been running the AS-SSD Benchmark app for over a year now and found that it gives a broad result set. Many testers are using the 4k file size read/write results for the IO Meter benchmark which is an old tool and the AS-SSD benchmark essentially shows the same metric in its results set. The programmer worked very hard on this software and continues to make updates often so if you use it, show him some love.
Benchmark Results: Again, most of the numbers out up are on par with some of the best SATA II drives we have tested. The sequential writes and 4k reads were especially good but the 4k writes had a bit of a weak showing and this obviously impacted the overall score.
HD Tach & CrystalDiskMark Synthetic Benches
HD TACH 188.8.131.52
HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device as possible.
Benchmark Results: Performance here is not bad either for the V+100 although it does trail the leaders by a significant amount on the writes. However, the drive exceeded my expectations and it's looking like the firmware changes to the Toshiba controller have definitely paid off.
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.
Benchmark Results: Sequential writes were very strong here and the reads were at least in the ballpark with the leading SATA II based drives. The 4k write performance again was relatively weak but still much improved with the new firmware.
PCMark Vantage Synthetic Benchmark
PC Mark Vantage
PCMark Vantage v1.01 measures the performance of the latest PC hardware across a variety of common scenarios. PCMark Vantage supports both system level and component level benchmarking and comprises several different test suites but for the purposes of this review, we stuck with just the HDD suite. The nice thing about PCMark Vantage is that you can submit your scores online and compare against others.
Benchmark Results: A pretty good showing here as well although the scores were a little bit back from the leaders. Still much improved from the older firmware.
Kingston V+100 - Real World Tests
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 was a 2.12GB collection of mostly JPG files (with a few .MOV files thrown in) of variable sizes which were taken at CES in January of 2010.
The second was a collection of MP3 files of various sizes that totaled 4.65GB collectively. These file types were chosen due to their wide use and mixture of file sizes and compression levels.
Install Results: Showing that synthetic benchmarks don't always translate to real world performance, the Kingston V+100 has virtually identical numbers as the leading SATA II based drives. Obviously, the PCIE based RevoDrives lead the category but have an advantage of both interface and application with a RAID 0 configuration.
We also timed the installation of a few rather lengthy applications/suites as app installs is something everyone does and waiting for completion can be a drag. We used Adobe Dreamweaver CS5, Microsoft Office 2010 Professional and Futuremark's 3DMark Vantage as our test subjects with all install settings at default. Both were installed from an installer located on the target drive itself as installing from another drive, especially an optical drive, would cause a bottle-neck that would corrupt the results. The timing for these had to be done via stopwatch so there should be about a half second +/- error margin. Again, with the source and target drives being the same, concurrent read/write activity is required.
Install Results: Again the results are very close to the other drives in the chart. Close enough that the difference would not be noticeable if not run side-by-side.
Last but not least, everyone's favorite is the Windows startup/shutdown time check. This is one of the big reasons you want an SSD as your boot drive!
This test was also performed with a manual timing method via stopwatch and should also carry the same half second +/- margin of error. The methodology employed was to force the BIOS to allow user selection of startup drive after load and begin timing from the time the enter button is pressed until the Windows desktop appears on the screen. All of the instances of Windows were identical and freshly installed with only the NVIDIA video driver manually installed.
Install Results: Surprisingly, the V+100 had a faster shut down time than everything other than the RevoDrive X2. I timed this six different times to be sure as I was surprised by the result.
We'll wrap this with a look at the total drive capacity and our final thoughts.
Capacity, Final Thoughts & Conclusions
The Kingston V+100 128GB has a user accessible 119GB in free space after the overprovisioning and Windows take their share. This is only about 7% overprovisioning which is lower than we have seen with other drives but just about the norm these days.
If you've skipped to the last page, you should know that the drive comes bundled with several goodies such as a SATA cable, drive mount rails, Molex to SATA power cord, a USB 2.0 cable and an external enclosure. The external enclosure allows you to connect to the computer via USB 2.0 to migrate your data using the included software. This is a really nice feature, especially if you have a laptop because extra SATA ports are not available. To use the drive in the enclosure as an external data drive would be a colossal waste as the USB 2.0 interface will cap the data transfer bandwidth well below what the SSD is capable of.
As far as performance goes, the V+100 performance exceeded my expectations that were based on experience with the earlier drives with the same controller. Kingston and Toshiba have done a really nice job on reworking the firmware to get a nice performance boost. Their "always on" and OS independent garbage collection is more aggressive and can help mitigate the performance degradation of long-term use on a system that does not support TRIM. This said, if you are running RAID array(s), Mac OS X, or a Windows version prior to 7, this drive was made with you in mind as all of those do not support TRIM.
Editors Note: In case you were wondering, Kingston has since told us that the controller is slightly different and has undergone a die shrink down to 32nm so the firmware used on this drive will not work on the older V+ drives.
With a retail price of $289.99, the V+100 will set you back roughly $2.44 per usable GB. However, you must take into consideration the value the accessories add. You can buy the drive without the upgrade kit for $278.99 or $2.34 per usable GB, which is a little above the average price of a 128GB SSD these days. With most other drives, you typically only see 2.5" to 3.5" adapter plates at best so having the option for the full bundle is a nice perk. In addition, Kingston offers a 3-year warranty behind their good name along with free 24/7 support.
Legit Bottom Line: The Kingston V+100 128GB SSD is a much improved version of the V+ drives of an earlier generation and rivals the performance of others in its class. Bundled with a very generous set of accessories and "always on" garbage collection, Kingston has done a nice job to appeal to a wide user base regardless of platform.