Model: ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB Solid State Drive
Manufacturer: ADATA Technology
Provided By: ADATA Technology (USA)
ADATA Technology is one of the world's leading manufacturers of high performance memory modules and data storage solutions. Founded in 2001 with a staff of 20, this Taiwanese company set itself apart from the competition early on thanks to its professionalism, industry know-how and eye-catching product designs. Today, ADATA continues to lead the way through constant innovation and development of products that exceed customer expectations. Backed by technical expertise, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities and premium customer service, ADATA's currently offers a variety of products including DRAM modules, USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives and portable hard drives.
This fall, ADATA launched its latest consumer-oriented SSD, the Ultimate SU800. Designed for use in ultrabooks, notebooks, and desktops, this mid-range SSD is powered by Silicon Motion's new SM2258 controller and is the first drive from ADATA to come equipped with 3D TLC NAND flash. In addition to providing higher storage density, 3D NAND offers greater efficiency and reliability than what you'd see with traditional 2D NAND flash. The SU800 also features intelligent SLC caching and a DRAM cache buffer to boost performance up to 560MB/s read and 520MB/s write, with LDPC error correction, Data Shaping, and a RAID Engine to bolster data integrity. To top it off, the SU800 supports DEVSLP (Device Sleep) technology, which extends the battery life of a device by reducing the drive's power consumption when it is idle.
The Ultimate SU800 is available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities. For this review, ADATA sent us the 512GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 560 MB/s sequential read and 520 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 90,000 random read and 80,000 random write IOPS.
|ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB Solid State Drive|
Environment and Reliability
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the Ultimate SU800 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at ADATA's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the SU800 have what it takes? More importantly, is it the best bang for your buck? Keep reading as we find out.
The Ulimate SU800 comes in an eye-catching, blue and gray box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises many of its key features including its 612GB capacity, SATA 6Gbps interface and 3D NAND. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding the SU800's features and performance.
ADATA doesn't include a lot of extras with the SU800. In addition to the SSD, the box contains a mounting spacer for use with traditional 9.5mm drive bays as well as a small, fold out guide containing warranty and service information.
The Ultimate SU800 looks very similar to ADATA's other 2.5-inch SSDs. The top of the outer casing is made out of black plastic with a large, black and blue sticker showing that the SSD is part of the company's SU800 series. The bottom of the casing is made out of metal and is painted black to match the top. The sticker on the bottom shows information like the model number, warranty code and wwn code.
The Ultimate SU800 is one of the first drives to use SMI's new SM2258 controller. Designed specifically to meet the unique demands of managing 3D TLC NAND, this customizable turnkey controller solution employs SMI's proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting and data protection technology to triple the P/E cycles of 3D TLC NAND. The SM2258 also features advanced Direct-to-TLC and SLC caching algorithms for optimal sustained read and write performance.
For the 512GB version of the SU800, ADATA has opted to use Micron's 3D TLC NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are two 768Gbit (96GB)NAND flash packages on the front and four more on the back of the PCB. The drive also has a single 512MB NANYA DDR3L memory chip that is used for caching.
Like ADATA's other SSDs, the Ultimate SU800 works with their SSD Toolbox. This free downloadable utility is an easy way for users to obtain information about their drives and change various system settings. Additionally, it can be used to speed up your SSD and even improve the endurance of a drive.
When you run ADATA SSD Toolbox, the main screen displays information about your drives. From here, users can view information like the capacity, used space, temperature, health and lifespan of each drive. By clicking on the tabs, you'll also find information like the model name, firmware version, serial number and World Wide Name (WWN).
The SSD Toolbox offers two different diagnostic scans. The quick diagnostics scan runs a basic test on free space and is usually completed in under two minutes. The full diagnostics scan runs a read test on all used space and a write test on all free space of the selected drive. Needless to say, the full scan takes much longer to complete.
ADATA's SSD Toolbox also includes a number of utilities. Along with the ability to do a secure erase, users can update a drive's firmware, upgrade the software and export a log file containing information about your system and drives.
The System Optimization option gives users the ability to run a TRIM command on a selected SSD. Users also have the ability optimize their OS by enabling features like superfetch, prefetch and automatic defragmentation.
SSD Toolbox can also be used to view information about your system. The utility displays a number of things including the operating system, CPU, amount of usable RAM and the model and BIOS version of your motherboard.
The test system used in this review was an HP EliteDesk 800 G1. The computer is equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 16GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Plextor PX-256M5P 256GB SSD, PNY Quadro K600 1GB PCIe graphics card and Intel 1217-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 8.1 Enterprise.
To test the performance of ADATA's Ultimate SU800 SSD, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark, HD Tach RW, ATTO Disk Benchmark, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro, Anvil's Storage Utilities, Iometer and PCMark 8. For comparison, I've also included test results from the Plextor S2C, Crucial M300, Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180, Kingston BX100, Samsung 850 EVO M.2, Samsung 850 EVO mSATA, AMD Radeon R7, Silicon Power Slim S80, Samsung SSD 850 EVO, OCZ ARC 100, SanDisk Ultra II, Crucial MX100, SanDisk Extreme Pro and Samsung SSD 850 PRO.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ultimate SU800 is based on SMI's SM2258 controller chip. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that it performs equally well with both incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data.
First, I ran a few quick tests using CrystalDiskMark. This benchmark tool measures the performance of a storage device by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its random read and write speeds using blocks 512K and 4K in size.
According to ADATA, the 512GB SU800 is capable of reading at 560 MB/s and writing at 520 MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While the drive performed better than expected when writing, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read speed test.
The SU800 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 562.7 MB/s and write at 520.7 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 126.96.36.199:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the Ultimate SU800's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
ADATA Ultimate SU800 512GB
The SU800's performance was hit and miss when tested with HD Tach. While the drive was able to read at 451.5 MB/s, its write speed averaged out at only 86.4 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the Ultimate SU800's sequential read and write speeds. The tests are run using blocks ranging in size from 0.5KB to 8192KB and the total length set to 256MB.
When tested with ATTO, the SU800's read speeds topped out at about 563 MB/s and its write speeds at 518 MB/s.
AS SSD is a relatively new benchmark designed specifically for solid state drives. The application contains five synthetic tests used to determine the sequential and random read and write performance of a drive.
AS SSD also includes a copy benchmark. This test copies an ISO (two large files), program (many small files) and game (small and large files), returning the speed and duration of each.
HD Tune Pro 5.00:
Next, I ran a series of tests using HD Tune Pro. This hard disk utility measures a drive's performance by testing its sequential read and write speeds as well as its access time, burst rate and CPU usage. For this review, I'm also going to use it to benchmark the Ultimate SU800's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The SU800 performed fairly well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 519.9 MB/s and 417.7 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of 370.5 MB/s when reading.
When writing 4KB blocks, the SU800 reached 17,964 IOPS and had an average speed of 70.174 MB/s. The drive was faster when reading, reaching 25,358 IOPS with an average speed of 99.055 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another new benchmark designed with SSDs in mind. The standard storage benchmark measures a drive's performance by testing its transfer speeds, access times and IOPS.
Lastly, I ran a series of tests using Iometer. This tool can be configured to benchmark a number of things. In this case, I used it to measure the Ultimate SU800's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The SU800's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 536.71 MB/s and write at 495.24 MB/s.
The SU800 also performed surprisingly well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 142.78 MB/s and write at a blazing 290.36 MB/s.
According to ADATA, the SU800 is capable of 90,000 IOPS when reading and 80,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 36,552 random read IOPS and 74,332 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the SU800 performed better at higher queue depths. With the queue depth set to 32, it reached 82,638 random read IOPS and 83,927 random write IOPS.
Vantage PCMark 8 - Storage Test:
PCMark 8 is a complete benchmark for Windows. It includes five benchmark tests, each designed around a specific scenario. The storage benchmark measures drive performance using real-world traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games.
PCMark 8 also includes a consistency test which measures the performance consistency and degradation tendency of a storage system. The test reports the performance level at the start, the degraded steady-state and the recovered state as well as the number of iterations required to reach them. For this test, we are focusing on the Adobe Photoshop (Heavy) trace and will look at both the bandwidth and latency of the drive
The SU800 didn't do as well as some of the other drives in this test. Its bandwidth dropped below 50 MB/s during the degradation and steady phases, pushing its latency above the 1000ms mark. The SU800's performance increased somewhat during the recovery phase. However, it still lagged behind most of the other drives, topping out at only 152 MB/s.
While SSD's offer many benefits, there are some downsides to using flash memory. One of the biggest issues people run into is performance degradation. Over time, an SSD will run out of fresh blocks and will have to write over data the file system has marked as deleted. This procedure is very complicated and can slow an SSD's write speeds considerably.
To fix this problem, most manufacturers have added TRIM support to their SSDs. The TRIM command allows an operating system, such as Windows 7, to tell an SSD which data blocks are no longer in use. Using this information, the drive pro-actively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the SU800's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill 80% of the drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. This had little impact on the SU800's read speed. However, its average writing speed dropped to a mere 26.48 MB/s.
ADATA Ultimate SU800 - Dirty
To see how well the SU800 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive wasn't able to reach the factory fresh performance shown in our earlier tests. However, its average write speed climbed up to 231.00 MB/s.
ADATA Ultimate SU800 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the SU800. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 529.42 MB/s and 481.56 MB/s, respectively.
ADATA Ultimate SU800 - Secure Erased
While not the fastest or most feature packed SSD to come through the 'Labs, the ADATA Ultimate SU800 delivers a lot of bang for your buck. The drive combines Silicon Motion's SM2258 controller with Micron's 3D TLC NAND to deliver good performance and a high level of endurance at a price that won't break the bank. In our sequential read and write tests, the 512GB version of the drive was able to read at speeds as high as 563 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 516 MB/s. It also did surprisingly well in our random write tests, producing more than 74,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Of course, fast read and write speeds aren't the only things the Ulimate SU800 has to offer. Like most TLC-based SSDs, the drive uses an SLC caching algorithm to optimize performance during sustained writes. ADATA doesn't say how big the cache is, but we were able to write anywhere from 90 to 160GB worth of data before it filled and performance dropped to non-accelerated levels. The SU800 also supports DEVSLP (Device Sleep) technology for longer battery life and includes features like LDPC error correction, Data Shaping, and a RAID Engine to ensure data integrity and provide greater durability.
- Available in 128GB, 256GB, 512GB and 1TB capacities
- Silicon Motion SM2258 controller
- Micron 3D TLC NAND
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- Huge SLC cache
- RAID Engine, Data Shaping and LDPC ECC technologies
- Ultra-slim form factor
- Includes mounting spacer for 9.5mm applications
- DEVSLP power mode
- SSD Toolbox and Migration Utility
- Reasonably priced
- 3 year warranty
- Write speed drops considerably when SLC cache is full
- Does not support hardware based encryption