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Kingston SSDNow V300 240GB SSD Review

AkG

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As the SSD market gradually comes to grips with lower prices, greater popularity and higher performance metrics, the new Kingston SSDNow V300 represents an intriguing blend of possibilities for first time SSD buyers. It combines cutting edge, high performance NAND with a price that is very easy to swallow, potentially allowing for it to become one of today’s most popular drives.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been able to look at the V300. Indeed, the 120GB version was an impressive SSD, hitting well above its weight class while costing significantly less that its immediate competition. However, with the gradual march of SSDs towards more affordable pricing grounds and consumers’ never-ending need for higher capacities, 120GB of storage just won’t be enough. The 240GB version meanwhile may be part of Kingson’s “Value” brand (as opposed to the HyperX series’ focus on extreme bandwidth) but is has capabilities which were once reserved for much higher-end SSDs.


There aren’t many differences between the V300’s various SKUs, unlike some competitors which feature performance that can vary wildly between different capacities. However, one area in which Kingston distinguishes their drives is the inclusion of so-called “Upgrade” versions. These include all of the necessary hardware and software to migrate the data on your existing drive to the new SSD and are broken down into a Dekstop Bundle Kit and a Notebook Bundle Kit.

With the Desktop Bundle included, the V300 comes in at around $210 while the Notebook Bundle holds a further $10 premium on top of that. However, without any extras, a bare V300 240GB goes for just $185 which is Intel 335 180GB territory. Also, if previous experience with this class of drives is any indication, this larger version should also be a touch faster than its smaller 120GB sibling due to higher capacity NAND with slightly better performance figures.


For the purposes of this review, Kingston sent us a Desktop Bundle which includes these accessories a Molex to SATA power adapter, SATA cable, 2.5” to 3.5” mounting hardware and Acronis True Image HD software. If this were the Notebook Bundle, it would also include an external drive enclosure for data migration, and a height-adaptor plate to ensure the drive fits within you notebook’s confines. As with all V-series drives, this one receives Kingston’s excellent 3-year warranty, regardless of whether you buy the bare drive or one of the upgrade kits.


The V300 240GB comes clad in an all-metal exterior. The dark gray with pebble finish is certainly attractive, but not nearly as attention grabbing as Kingston’s HyperX and HyperX 3K line.


From an architectural standpoint the V300 240GB is identical to the 120GB model. Both use sixteen 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs and a single Kingston branded SF2281 controller. The larger model even uses the same heatpads as the smaller sibling. The only difference is instead of 8GB NAND chips the 240GB makes use of 16GB ICs.

 
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AkG

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Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being an Intel DC S3700 800GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or OCZ SSDToolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Please note:
Due to the unique nature of the hybrid setup certain tests results have been omitted as they require an unformatted drive to test or gave erroneous results.

Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Hard Drive: Intel DC S3700 800GB, OCZ 480GB RevoDrive3 x2
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
: 1.33
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB: 2.2
Crucial M4 256GB: 000F
Intel 520: 400i
SanDisk Extrene 240GB: R211
Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB: M206
OCZ Vector 256GB: 1.03
Intel 335 180GB: 335t
Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB: 505
SanDisk UltraPlus 256GB: 365A13F0
Kingston SSDNow V300 240GB: 505

SandForce SF1200 Drives:
OCZ Vertex 2 - ONFi 2 NAND

SandForce SF2281 Drives:
Intel 520 - custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND
Intel 335 - custom firmware w/ 20nm ONFi 2 NAND
SanDisk Extreme - stock firmware w/ 24nm Toggle Mode NAND
SSDNow V300 - custom firmware w/ 19nm Toggle Mode NAND

LAMD:
Corsair Neutron GTX - Toggle Mode NAND

Marvell:
Crucial M4 - Custom firmware w/ ONFi 2 NAND
SanDisk UltraPlus - Custom firmware w/ eX2 ABL NAND

Barefoot 3 controller:
OCZ Vector - ONFi 2 NAND
 
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AkG

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Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.



Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.



As with its smaller 120GB sibling, the V300 240GB tends to exceed its rated specifications in these tests.
 
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AkG

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ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.



Since the V300 is an SF2281-based drive which has been paired with Toggle Mode NAND, it feature some excellent performance here. ATTO has always played to this controller’s strong suit and as such anything other than excellent results would have been unusual.
 
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AkG

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Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.



Unlike the smaller 120GB version, the V300 240GB has excellent small file results at low and deep queue depths. These results are everything we have come to love about the last generation Toggle Mode NAND. Considering the V300 240GB is cheaper than either a Corsair Force GS 240 or SanDisk Extreme 240GB this is certainly good news for budget minded consumers.


PCMark 7


While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.


As with all the synthetic test results the PCMark 7 HDD Suite final score is downright excellent. It is always nice to see a sub $200 device posting scores of over 5500 points.
 
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AkG

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AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.




Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.



Both AS-SSD and Anvil show the V300 240GB has significantly better small file performance than Kingston's 120GB model. Not all that long ago any drive being able to post consistently excellent scores would have come with a significant price premium. Thankfully, the new 19nm NAND and the aging – but still great – LSI SF2281 controller make for a relatively budget friendly drive that doesn't sacrifice any performance in pursuit of the bottom line.
 
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AkG

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IOMETER

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 queue 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,3xk,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.





Unlike the 120GB version which makes for a sub-par choice for IOMeter-centric environments, the V300 240GB cruises along with a performance curve that is very, very good. It may not be at the top of the charts but considering the price, it's hard to go wrong.
 
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AkG

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Windows 7 Startup / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up w/ Boot Time A/V Scan


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. Where Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate as our Operating System. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.



Adobe CS5 Load Time


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, 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 fared in the Adobe crucible!



With real world results such as these, we really had to keep reminding ourselves that Kingston's V300 240GB is a budget orientated drive and rather than a high performance model. It may be priced like an Intel 335 180GB but its performance is actually in-line with an Intel 520 240GB model.
 
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AkG

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Firefox Portable / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worse case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.




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 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.




Once again we have almost nothing bad to say about these results. None of the scores may be chart toppers, but for the price there is simply nothing even close. The V300 240GB really has a phenomenal price to performance ratio.
 
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AkG

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Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity.

Synthetic Test Results

For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.



Real World Results

For a real world application we have opted for our standard Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance test.


As with all LSI SF2281 drives, there is a noticeable drop off in performance when the V300 240GB is filled to near capacity. However, the level of performance it was still able to maintain is nothing short of excellent. When a “value” drive can match the performance an Intel 520 240GB, you know you are dealing with something special.
 
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