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Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB SSD Review

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AkG

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IOMETER / IOMeter Stutter Test

IOMeter


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 que depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,32k,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/IOM.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

This flattening of the performance line with no fall off at the end really highlights how hobbled the controller in this solid state drive is. Instead of being able to do as good as it can and peak like darn near every other newer generation SSD (which isn’t being limited by something or having its numbers artificially boosted by massive cache) we have reviewed, the Kingston SSDNow is hitting an artificial wall induced by the fact that this 10 channel beast of a controller is only operating in 5 channel mode. While in this degraded state it is obvious that it can more than easily meet darn near any demands IO Meter can throw at it and is only limited by the number of chips it can access.

The other thing which is blatantly obvious is that a mere $120 drive just beat the pants off of much more expensive drives….including an SLC-based one (Agility EX)! To be honest none of this is unexpected and IOMeter really hasn’t shed any new light on the potential of the SSD Now V seriess.


IOMeter Stutter Test


In our usual IOMeter test we are trying to replicate real world use where reads severly outnumber writes. However, to get a good handle on how well a Solid State Disk Drive will handle a worse case scenario (and thus how likely the dreaded stutter issue will happen) we have also run an additional test. This test is made of 1 section at que depth of 1. In this test we ran 100% random. 100%writes of 4k size chunks of information. In the .csv file we then found the Maximum Write Response Time. This in ms is worst example of how long a given operation took to complete. We consider anything higher than 333ms (one third of a second) to be a good indicator that stuttering may happen, with the higher the number the worse the duration of the stutter will most likely be.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/stutter.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

Honestly an average number of 0.13 is very impressive and even the Kingston drive's maximum number of nearly 386 is good. What this means is that even in worst of scenarios, this drive shouldn’t stutter. A little more than a third of a second is about the most we would want to see in any Solid State Drive we would considering purchasing, but chances are very slim that you will ever notice any stuttering with this particular drive (at least we didn’t while using it).
 
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AkG

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XP Start Up / Adobe CS3 Load Time

XP Start Up


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. For our tests the clock starts as soon as the system “beeps” and stops when our Anti-Virus splash screen disappears. While all the other tests were run with a streamlined XP image this particular image is the test bed's “day to day” OS and it has accumulated a lot of crud over the months from installs and removals. We chose the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line as it is the last program to be loaded on start up.

xp.jpg


When it comes to boot time, this drive does perform admirably well. While not in the same league as other companies' flagship models, it did easily outperform ALL hard drives tested to date. This includes the amazing 2TB Western Digital Black and the venerable 300GB Western Digital VelociRaptor. Not to shabby considering this drive costs a heck of a lot less than either of those hard drives.



Adobe CS3 Load Time


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, but when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!

adobe.jpg


As with boot times, the performance of the Kingston SSDNow V series 40GB is not bad at all in this test. Its powerful read speeds really do help “hide” its less than stellar writes. To be honest, these tests are mainly about small read and write performance so it is playing to this drive's strengths. Then again, if you are designing a value orientated (AKA “budget”) Solid State Drive you could do a lot worse than making its strong points small-sized reads and writes. After all, its tests like this one (and boot time) which most people use to measure how “powerful” or “fast” their system is.
 
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AkG

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5,270
Real World Data Transfers

Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 4.00GB contiguous RAR file and a folder containing 49 subfolders with a total 2108 files varying in length from 20mb to 1kb (1.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, timing each process individually to provide an approximate Read and Write performance. To then stress the dive even more we will then make a copy of the large file to another portion of the same drive and then repeat the process with the small one. This will test the drive to its limits as it will be reading and writing simultaneously. Here is what we found.


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/copy_sm.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/copy_lg.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/copy_slef.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

To put is simply: the large file copy results are atrocious. It didn’t matter if it was reading to the SSDNow V, reading from it or even copying the data to itself from itself; the numbers all stank like three month old broccoli. In its defense when you are talking about data transfers totaling more than 10% of its (formatted) storage capacity, some allowances can be made. Honestly, the only saving grace in these particular tests were once again the small file performance results. If one was in an unforgiving mode you could call these results “mediocre”; but we think that would be overly harsh as this (relatively) inexpensive drive is up against some heavy hitters, be they Solid State or spindle based drives.
 
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SKYMTL

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Performance in an "Upgraded" System

Performance in an "Upgraded" System


Since Kingston markets this particular drive as a "desktop upgrade" version, we wanted to see how it would improve overall system load times when used as a boot drive on an older system.

While our usual boot up test is run on a fairly heavy duty system with a moderately fragmented OS we thought we would really put this drive to the test and see exactly what it is made of. To this end we used our oldest running system which consists of a dual core socket 939 AMD X2 4400+ with 2GB of Ram. This system has been running for over 3 years now and has not been defragmented in well over a year and a half. To be honest we would be surprised if there is two files which are not fragmented on it. The only thing which has been upgraded on this system is the hard drive which is a relatively new 640GB WD Black (to be precise it is the same one used in these tests)


XP Start Up

.
boot2.jpg


Well that certainly puts things into perspective, doesn't it? Darn near 30 seconds difference between the Kingston and its nearest competitor certainly is impressive, especially considering said competitor is one of the better HDDs on the market. The fact that this down right inexpensive SSD can put fast hard drives' boot time to shame really does show how much of a performance boost it can give older systems when used like its name states: as a desktop upgrade kit. The secret to this drive's success is the fact that its latency is not only low but is the same throughout the entire drive and it doesn’t care how fragmented your OS is; while the Black Edition (or any HDD for that matter) has to slow down and “hunt” for files over the entirety of its platters.


Adobe CS3 Load Time (Older System)


This time it was Adobe’s turn to test the mettle of the Kingston drive on a less beefy system. This is what we found out.

<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/adobe_older.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

While the difference was not as significant with the Adobe test as it was with the boot times, the difference is still eye-opening. Given the price point of this “boot drive” we feel that it is easily one of the cheapest, easiest and BEST upgrades you can do to an older system to breath new life into it.
 
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AkG

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Value

Value



The term “Value” is such an amorphous term that it truly has different meanings for different people. For some a hard drive is only as good as its performance potential, for others it is how quiet or durable it is; for others still it’s how effective it is for its cost. We here at HWC try to provide as many answers as possible for the term “Value”. Hopefully by this point in the review people looking at performance potential will have a fairly good idea of what its Value is. For the “best bang for the buck” crowd we have included a chart below showing how much a give drive costs per GB . No consideration has been made for performance, “durability” or any other extraneous factors; this is just raw performance vs. monetary cost. All prices are based on the lowest price found in our Price Comparison engine at the time of their initial review.


<img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Storage/SSDNow/value.jpg" border="0" alt="" />

On the surface this $3.12 per GB does not appear to be that great a value. However, looks can be deceiving and while it is costly on a per GB scale you have to remember that you only have to pay for 40GB to get the darn thing. It really is a classic example of economy of scale, as the larger the drive the cheaper it will be. However, if you only have $125 to spend for a drive and you want a Solid State Drive, this is easily the best deal you are going to find….unless that is you are willing to give up that amazing accessories list and get the bare bones version in which case all you need is $112.
 
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AkG

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Conclusion

Conclusion


Reviewing a drive such as the Kingston SSDNow V-Series is a bit of a tough proposition because of the conflicts we all have within us when it comes to budget-oriented products. The enthusiast in our hearts cries out again and again for blistering, eyeball-bursting performance and it is sometimes hard to remember that there are plenty of people who want to make the jump into the SSD pool but just don’t have the funds necessary for bleeding edge performance. That’s where drives like this SSDNow come into things: they offer solid performance, palatable pricing and can be considered the perfect gateway drug into the world of high end storage solutions. Kingston however has made this “Desktop Upgrade Version” drive all the more appealing with a long list of accessories and some great performance to boot.

We can honestly say that when we heard about this drive our first thought was that it was going to be the new king of budget solid state drives and after testing it we can say that out hunch was correct. While there are many better, faster, bigger and more powerful options out there, the 40GB SSDNow is so darn inexpensive and yet offers so much performance for the asking price that you can almost consider it a guilt free impulse buy. The simple fact of the matter is, this drive is not priced, designed or marketed as a direct competitor to flagship models like the Vertex, X25M gen 2 or the various Samsung solid state drives, yet in many tests it does admirably well. In many cases it really does give flagship model solid state drives costing much, much more a real run for their money. As a boot device it posts times that easily beat any hard disk drive out there and is competitive against any solid state drive in its price range.

To us the only "real" weakness this drive has is its limited size; however, as it is such an inexpensive way to get into solid state drives it is a very tempting option. If you pair it up with a massive hard disk drive for storage (say a 1TB drive) it will make one amazing bang for your buck setup. With Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit, and a bunch of programs installed like Office 2007 Ultimate, Adobe Photoshop CS3 and an assortment of others we find that 30GB is about as much room as you absolutely need. This makes the 37.25GiB (useable formatted space) perfect, as it still leaves you with 20% free space for the wear leveling algorithms to work with.

Does the SSDNow kick ass in all categories? No, it doesn’t due to being severely handicapped and it does show in some tests. However you need to have a reference point to compare it against to notice any real lack of performance and we don’t really think you will see much of a difference between it and higher end drives when you are using it for everyday tasks.

On the flip side of that coin, if you are an enthusiast who is used to the performance of a 128GB Falcon, Torqx or Vertex (with their good small, medium and sequential write speeds) you WILL see a difference. This is because sequential write speed does count for quite a bit when it comes to overall system performance and those devices are simply better options IF money is not a deciding factor. With that being said, if this is your first solid state drive and you are moving over from hard drives you will notice an improvement in system responsiveness.

While this drive cannot compete against flagship Indilinx or Samsung or even Intel solid state drives, it was never meant to. This is an amazingly low priced solid state with more than adequate perofmance. So much so that you can get three SSDNows for the same coin as one X25-M gen-2 . Heck for just a few dollars more you can get TWO of these little peppy drives for the same as ONE 60GB OCZ Vertex. If that doesn’t sound like the deal of the century…..solid state drives are not in your immediate future.

For its good real world performance abilities combined with "good enough" capacity all combined with a downright frugal price point we think that this drive is going to be the way many first time consumers will enter the wonderful world of solid state drives. We can go on and on about the merits of the Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB but the best way to sum it all up is to say that it is a Dam Good Value.


Pros:
- Price
- Good read speeds
- Good real world performance
- Excellent small (4k) write performance
- Best in class accessories (desktop upgrade kit only)
- Uses the Intel X25-M generation 2 controller

Cons:
- Size
- Only 32mb of slow onboard cache
- Controller is only working in 5 channel mode
- Abysmally low sequential file write speed
- Lacking Trim support (right now)

 
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