ADATA SU900 Ultimate SSD Series - 3D MLC NAND For 2.5" Drive UsersIt's been a long time since we've looked at a 2.5-inch SATA III SSD aimed at the consumer market, so we thought we'd mix up our storage content a little bit and do a review on one. Yes, SATA III SSDs feel like yesterday's news since we've been saturating the SATA III 6Gbps interface for years, but the form factor will still be around for many more years. The high-end storage drive market is squarely focused on M.2 PCIe NVMe drives, but those with older desktops that don't have an M.2 slot or are working with laptop that only takes 2.5" SATA drives you couldn't care less about those articles. If you have been looking for the ultimate 2.5-inch SATA III SSD you are in for a treat today as we will be looking at the ADATA SU900 Ultimate SSD that uses 3D MLC NAND Flash and the SMI 2258 4-channel controller. What makes the ADATA SU900 Ulimate series so special since most all of the new SATA III interface drives are bottlenecked at ~560 MB/s speeds? ADATA claims it is the fact they are using the latest 3D NAND Flash memory that provides higher storage density, efficiency, and reliability than traditional 2D NAND. The ADATA SU900 Ultimate series has respectable endurance ratings of up to 800 TBW (2TB model) and all are backed by a 5-year warranty. When it comes to sequential Read/Write performance you are looking at up to 560 MB/s Read and 525 MB/s Write when using ATTO. The Random 4K Read/Write IOPS are respectable with up to 85,000 IOPS Random Read and up to 90,000 IOPS Random Write when ADATA used IOMeter to come up with the ratings. The ADATA SU900 Ultimate SSD series is currently available in capacities of 256GB, 512GB, and 1TB with plans for a 2TB model at a later date. Performance and endurance does vary depending on the capacity of the drive that you are looking at, so be sure you are aware of that before you make your purchase. The ADATA SU900 is one of the few series of drives on the market that comes with an accessory bundle comprised of a 2.5mm spacer and a 3.5-inch bracket to ensure that you can easily fit the 7mm drive into a desktop or laptop. You even get an access code for a popular data migration utility called Acronis True Image HD 2015. We've used Acronis True Image for cloning drives for years and have found that it works great and is simple to use. You can find out more details about how to get that software key on this page. Very few SSDs come with data migration software these days, so this really is a nice accessory bundle! Data migration utilities are make the move from HDD to SSD quick and simple. [gallery ids="194590,194584,194585,194586,194587"] You can also download and use the free ADATA SSD ToolBox utility with this drive to obtain disk information and change settings easily. Additionally, it can speed up your SSD and improve its lifespan. The only downside to this utility is not everything works on it. For example you can't run a secure erase on this model in Windows 8, 8.1 or 10. Hopefully the folks at ADATA update this utility to allow all the features to work on Windows 10 so you don't have to rely on a 3rd party application to run something as simple as a security wipe. Despite this minor issue, it is still a great utility that shows drive status, wear level, and lifespan information. We usually open up 2.5" SSDs to take a look inside to show you the controller and NAND being used, but we aren't going to be doing that today. Our drive uses the SMI 2258 controller with Micron 3D MLC NAND Flash, but that may change down the road. Our ADATA USA marketing contact told us that the drive will always use 3D MLC NAND, but down the road pricing and availability might come into play and they reserve the right to change the brand as long as it meets or exceeds the drives specifications. A growing number of companies are doing this on mainstream and entry-level storage products. Enthusiasts don't like it, but most consumers could care less what brand NAND Flash is being uses or what manufacturing process it uses as long as it does what it is advertised to do. ADATA SU900 Ultimate SSD Series Street Pricing on 5/11/2017:
- 256GB ASU900SS-256GM-C – $113.50 shipped ($0.44 per GB)
- 512GB ASU900SS-512GM-C – $171.99 shipped ($0.34 per GB)
- 1TB ASU900SS-1TM-C – $429.99 shipped ($0.43 per GB)
- SMI 2258 Controller - 4 Channels
- 3D MLC NAND Flash – Intel/Micron L06B
- Operating Temperature – 0° ~ 70°C
- MTBF: 2,000,000 hours
- 4K Aligned Random Read:
- up to 80,000 IOPS - 256GB
- up to 85,000 IOPS - 512GB & 1TB
- 4K Aligned Random Write:
- up to 90,000 IOPS - 256GB, 512GB & 1TB
- Sequential Read & Write Transfer:
- Up to 560 MB/s Read - 256GB, 512GB & 1TB
- Up to 510 MB/s Write - 256GB
- Up to 520 MB/s Write - 512GB & 1TB
- 256GB: 200 TBW
- 512GB: 400 TBW
- 1TB: 800 TBW
- Warranty: 5-Years
The SSD Benchmark Test System & TRIM SupportBefore we look at the numbers, let’s take a brief look at the test system that was used. All testing was done on a fresh install of Windows 10 Pro 64-bit (Anniversary Update build 14393) and benchmarks were completed on the desktop with no other software programs running. This means windows defender, windows update, disk fragmentation and everything else that would interfere with testing was disabled. Windows 10 also had the power option set to high performance. We also disabled Turbo mode on the Intel Core i7-5960X to ensure our numbers are spot on and repeatable. The Intel X99 platform that we used to test the storage drives was based around the ASUS X99 Sabertooth motherboard with BIOS 3505 that came out in March 2017. We used Intel RST storage drivers, the exact version was 18.104.22.1681. The Crucial Ballistix DDR4 32GB 2400MHz memory kit was run at 2666MHz with 15-15-15-28 1T memory timings. The Corsair Neutron XT 240GB SSD was used as the primary drive.
Intel X99 Test Bench
|Intel LGA 2011v3 Test Platform|
|Core i7 5960X|
|ASUS X99 Sabertooth|
|Crucial Ballistix 2400MHz 32GB|
|Corsair Neutron XT 240GB|
|Windows 10 64-Bit|
CrystalDiskInfo 7.0.5 Readout:The readout on CrystalDiskInfo 7.0.5 shows that the ADATA SU900 Ultimate series supports S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, TRIM and DevSleep. The drive we received had firmware version Q0125A installed and that is the version that we used for general testing and benchmarking. The drive we got from ADATA was pre-tested before it was sent to us with over 530 GB of host writes and over 3,060 GB of total NAND writes, so someone at ADATA pushed this drive pretty hard in the one hour that it was turned on. The overall capacity shows up as 476 GB on the ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB SATA III SSD in Windows 10 Anniversary Edition. Does The ADATA SU900 Ultimate SATA III SSD Series Support Trim? Most SSDs today support the TRIM command, but we still run a quick test to ensure that the command is being properly passed through to the SSD and being done. A great free utility called TRIMCheck can be run to ensure that TRIM is functioning properly. According to TRIMCheck v0.7 ,the ADATA SU900 Ultimate SSD series does execute the TRIM command correctly! Let's have a look at the performance!
Sustained Write Performance & TemperaturesTriple-Level Cell TLC NAND based SSDs perform usually quite well, but when you copy a large amount of data to the drive without and idle time you'll often find a large drop in write speed. TLC NAND is great in applications where write operations are limited , but is usually not recommended for critical systems that have heavy write operations as they have lower endurance ratings than SLC or MLC NAND and of course sustained write performance isn't stellar. In recent years drive manufactures have been figured out that by using SLC or TLC treated as SLC as a cache they can keep the drives overall write performance high as long as the amount of data being written to the drive fits in the cache. If you overflow the cache, you are then writing directly to the TLC NAND and the write performance will drop down to that level. It should be noted that the SLC cache will clear once the drive idles, so this only impacts long writes that are many GB in size. This might not be a typical workload scenario for this ultra-value or mainstream drives, but still something worth pointing out! Let's take a look at the ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB drive to see how it handles sustained write scenarios with the 3D MLC NAND. We secure erased the drive before running this test and found that the performance started out at around 513 MB/s and remained around that point for the remainder of this 45 second long test despite one performance drop that dropped the drives write performance down to 384 MB/s. Here are some 45 second average sustained write speeds on recently tested drives:
- MyDigitalSSD BPX 480GB - 1391.78 MB/s
- Corsair Force MP500 480GB - 1369.39 MB/s
- Patriot Hellfire M.2 480GB - 1226.38 MB/s
- Samsung SSD 960 EVO 1TB - 1223.07 MB/s
- ADATA XPG SX8000 512GB - 1197.80 MB/s
- Samsung SSD 850 EVO 500GB – 527.23 MB/s
- Crucial MX300 750GB SSD – 522.4 MB/s
- ADATA SU800 512GB SSD – 520.85 MB/s
- Toshiba OCZ VX500 512GB SSD – 520.41 MB/s
- ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB - 509.19 MB/s
- WD Black PCIe 512GB SSD - 465.64 MB/s
- Intel 600p 512GB - 427.295 MB/s
- Toshiba OCZ Trion 150 480GB – 347.75 MB/s
- Samsung SSD 960 EVO 250GB - 326.37 MB/s
- WD Blue SSD 1TB – 314.81 MB/s
- Kingston UV400 480GB – 267.04 MB/s
- OCZ Trion 100 480GB – 192.19 MB/s
- ADATA SP550 480GB SSD – 103.53 MB/s
ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB SATA SSD TemperaturesA quick look at the drives temperatures showed that we were idling around 36-38C and then hitting just 41C at load, but when we stopped our load testing we noticed that the temperature spiked up to 57C. It appears when you load up this drive there might be a firmware glitch as the temperature doesn't look like it was reading properly. You can see the results below with a 1 minute poling rate. As you can no huge concerns, but pushing 60C on a SATA III SSD is getting a little toasty. Let's take a look at some common benchmarks!
Anvil Storage Utilities
Anvil Storage Utilities 1.1.0Along 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 1, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and 128. 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.
Anvil SSD Benchmark with 100% Compression (incompressible data):Benchmark Results: The Anvil SSD Benchmark showed that with 100% compression (incompressible data) the ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB SATA SSD scored 4,192 points with 516 MB/s read and 471 MB/s read speeds when it comes to the measured sequential performance with 4MB file sizes.
Anvil SSD Applications Benchmark at 46% Compression:Benchmark Results: With the compression at 46% to help mimic real world applications better we found the overall score remained basically the same at 4,182 points. Benchmark Results: We used Anvil to check the 4K Random Read performance and found we we topped out at 81,000 IOPS, which is actually just shy drives rated maximum 4K Random Read IOPS of up to 85K. Benchmark Results: When it came to 4K Random Write performance, the ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB drive topped out at 79,000 IOPS at QD16 and that is again below the drives rated 90k IOPS for maximum 4K Random Write performance.
ATTO & CrystalDiskMark
ATTO v3.05ATTO 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 64MB transfer sizes with the total length being 256MB.
ATTO - ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB:Benchmark Results: ATTO showed the ADATA US900 SSD topping out at 564 MB/s read and 523 MB/s write in the standard overlapped I/O benchmark. This drive is rated at up to 560 MB/s max sequential read and 520 MB/s max sequential write, so we exceeded both of those scores on our test platform. Benchmark Results: When comparing the ADATA SU900 SSD to some other SSDs that we selected to compare it against you can see that it pretty much mirrors the performance of the WD Blue SATA SSD with regards to sequential write performance.
CrystalDiskMark 5.2.1 x64CrystalDiskMark 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) and shows the highest score of five runs.
CystalDiskmark -ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB:Benchmark Results: The ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB SSD reached 532MB/s read and 490 MB/s write in the standard sequential write test and Random 4K performance was 30 MB/s read and 114 MB/s write. The Sequential Q32T1 performance was at 564 MB/s read and 519 MB/s write, which is close to the drives rated sequential values of 550 MB/s read and 505 MB/s write on CrystalDiskMark. When we ran the test again set to 0Fill mode the sequential read scores mostly improved while all the write scores dropped just slightly. Let's look at some other benchmarks!
AS SSD Benchmark
AS-SSD (1.9.5986.35387) Benchmark: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 all three of them.
AS SSD - ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB:Benchmark Results: AS SSD showed the ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB drive had an overall score of 1,038 points with sequential read speeds of 526 MB/s and 482 MB/s write.
AS SSD Copy - ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB:Benchmark Results: The copy benchmark test results were on par with what one expects from a SATA III SSD with speeds ranging from 321 MB/s in the program and game tests to 410 MB/s in the ISO benchmark.
AS SSD Compression - ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB:Benchmark Results: For this benchmark chart you would ideally want to see a straight line as you don’t want any compression performance loss as the test goes from 0% compressible to 100% compressible data during the benchmark test period. The ADATA SU900 Ultimate 512GB SSD did okay in the read test, but had a few dips here and there in the write test.
PCMark 8 Storage TestPCMark 8 might have come out in 2013, but it is still Futuremark's most recent version of their industry standard PC benchmarking tool. PCMark 8 allows you to test the performance of all types of PC, from tablets to desktops. With five separate benchmark tests plus battery life testing, PCMark 8 helps you find the devices that offer the perfect combination of efficiency and performance. PCMark 8 is recognized by many as being the complete PC benchmark for home and business. We ran the Storage 2.0 benchmark test suite on PCMark 8 v2.7.613 that came out in April 2016. This is a major update accommodates a change in the latest version of Adobe After Effects and provides better support for NVMe SSDs. The changes affect the workloads in the Adobe Applications benchmark and the Storage 2.0 benchmark. Scores from the new versions of these tests should not be compared with older versions, so just a heads up if you wanted to compare scores. Version 2.0 of the Storage benchmark includes two changes to the storage playback engine:
- Write I/Os sent to the storage device no longer have the Force Unit Access flag enabled. This flag did not usually matter to older storage devices but could lead to reduced performance on some modern NVMe drives.
- The playback engine now aligns all I/Os on 4096 byte boundaries. This change improves test compatibility across modern devices.