Model: ADATA XPG SX8200 240GB PCIe M.2 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 currently offers a variety of products including DRAM modules, USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives and portable hard drives.
The spring, ADATA launched its latest PCIe NVMe SSD, the XPG SX8200. Designed for PC enthusiasts, dedicated gamers and overclockers, this M.2 form factor drive is powered by Silicon Motion's new SM2262 controller and is available with up to 1TB of Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash. The SX8200 also utilizes intelligent SLC caching and a DRAM cache buffer to accelerate read and write speeds along with LDPC error correction, data shaping and a RAID Engine for greater reliability and stability. To top it all off, the SX8200 is equipped with an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and is capable of 3,200 MB/s read and 1,700 MB/s write speeds and a maximum of 280,000 random write IOPS.
The XPG SX8200 is available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities. For this review, ADATA sent us the 240GB version of the drive which is capable of delivering up to 3,200 MB/s sequential read and 1,100 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 200,000 random read and 240,000 random write IOPS.
|ADATA XPG SX8200 240GB PCIe M.2 Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the XPG SX8200 has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at ADATA's new NVMe SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the SX8200 have what it takes? More importantly, is it the best bang for your buck? Keep reading as we find out.
The XPG SX8200 comes in a small black box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises many of its key features including its 256GB capacity, PCIe Gen3x4 interface, NVMe 1.3 support and 3D NAND. The back of the box provides a bit more information regarding the SX8200's features and performance. Inside, you'll find the SSD as well as a black, aluminum heatsink that can be attached to the drive.
The XPG SX8000 uses the 2280 form factor for M.2 (NGFF) SSDs. It measures 22 x 80 x 3.5 mm and tips the scales at a mere 8g. The drive also has an "M key" edge connector which provides PCIe SSDs with up to 4x lanes of bandwidth.
Like ADATA's XPG Gammix S11 SSD, the SX8200 uses Silicon Motion's SM2262 controller. This 8 channel, PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD controller is powered by a dual ARM Cortex CPU and offers support for 3D NAND from the main flash suppliers. The SM2262 also employs Silicon Motion's proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting code (ECC) technology to enhance the endurance and retention of 3D NAND.
For the 240GB version of the SX8200, ADATA has opted to use its own Micron manufactured 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash. Looking at the picture above, you can see that there are two 64GB NAND flash packages on either side of the PCB. The drive also has a pair of 128MB NANYA DDR3L memory chips that are used for caching.
The aluminum heatsink included with the SX8200 is simple, yet functional. It attaches to the top of the drive using thermal adhesive and does a surprisingly good job of keeping things cool. With the heatsink installed, the SX8200's temps dropped by about 5 ºC at idle and 10 ºC during heavy loads.
Like ADATA's other SSDs, the XPG SX8200 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 and serial number and connection speed.
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 is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6700K CPU, GIGABYTE GA-Z170X-UD3 motherboard, 32GB (16GB x 2) of Crucial Ballistix Sport LT DDR4 memory, Samsung 960 PRO 512GB SSD and a GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1060 WINDFORCE OC 6G graphics card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 10 Enterprise.
To test the performance of ADATA's XPG SX8200 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 Samsung 970 EVO, Samsung 970 PRO, Plextor M9Pe, Plextor M8Se, Patriot Hellfire, ADATA XPG SX8000, Samsung 960 PRO, Toshiba OCZ RD400, Samsung 950 PRO, Crucial MX500, Plextor M8V, Crucial BX300, ADATA Ultimate SU900, Plextor S3C, Toshiba OCZ VX500, ADATA Ultimate SU800, Plextor S2C, Crucial MX300, Plextor M7V, PNY CS1311, OCZ Trion 150, PNY CS2211, Plextor M6V, Crucial BX200, OCZ Trion 100, Kingston HyperX Savage, Crucial MX200, OCZ Vector 180 and Samsung SSD 850 EVO.
As I mentioned earlier, the XPG SX8200 is based on SMI's SM2262 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 240GB version of the SX8200 is capable of reading at 3,200 MB/s and writing at 1,100 MB/s when tested with CrystalDiskMark. While the drive had no problems reaching its rated write speed, it came up a bit short in CrystalDiskMark's sequential read speed test.
The SX8200 performed equally well when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 3,178 MB/s and write at 1,204 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the SX8200's read, write and burst speeds as well as its seek times and CPU usage.
Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that the SX8200 had average read and write speeds of 1634.9 MB/s and 467.2 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 1478.5 MB/s. The screenshot also shows that, like most other TLC-based SSDs, the SX8200 uses some sort of SLC caching. The drive starts writing at about 1,100 MB/s and then drops to about 200 MB/s when the write operation exceeds the size of the cache.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the SX8200'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 SX8200's read speeds topped out at about 3,056 MB/s and its write speeds at 1,220 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 SX8200's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The SX8200 performed relatively well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 2264.2 MB/s and 479.7 MB/s, respectively, and a burst rate of about 586.7 MB/s when reading.
The SX8200 didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When reading 4KB blocks, the drive reached 43,120 IOPS and had an average speed of 168.438 MB/s. It was even faster when writing, reaching 47,364 IOPS with an average speed of 185.016 MB/s.
Anvil's Storage Utilities:
Anvil's Storage Utilities is another 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 SX8200'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 SX8200's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. The drive was able to read at 2474.07 MB/s and write at 1141.83 MB/s.
The SX8200 also performed very well when doing random reads and writes. In our tests, the drive was able to read at 217.74 MB/s and write at 689.95 MB/s.
According to ADATA, the 240GB XPG SX8200 is capable of up to 200,000 IOPS when reading and 240,000 IOPS when writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 55,742 random read IOPS and 176,626 random write IOPS. As with most drives, the SX8200 performed better at higher queue depths. With the queue depth set to 32, it reached 135,452 random read IOPS and 183,616 random write IOPS.
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 the degraded state and the recovered state. 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 SX8200 didn't do as well as some of the other drives in this test. Its bandwidth dropped below 190 MB/s during the degradation and steady phases, pushing its latency above the 200ms mark. The SX8200's performance increased somewhat during the recovery phase. However, it lagged well behind the drives from Samsung and Western Digital, topping out at only 558 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 SX8200's TRIM and garbage collection functions, I first put the drive in a "dirty" state. I used Iometer to fill the entire drive and then ran a random write test for 30 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the SX8200's average read and write speeds dropped to 360.0 MB/s and 66.1 MB/s, respectively.
ADATA XPG SX8200 - Dirty
To see how well the SX8200 could recover, I let the computer sit for about 30 minutes and then reran the test. The drive's average read speed jumped back up to 1464.3 MB/s. However, its write speed lagged behind, averaging out at only 160.3 MB/s.
ADATA XPG SX8200 - After TRIM
Lastly, I used Parted Magic to perform a secure erase on the SX8200. With the drive wiped clean, it had average read and write speeds of 1622.8 MB/s and 1113.2 MB/s, respectively.
ADATA XPG SX8200 - Secure Erased
While not the fastest or most feature packed PCIe SSD to come through the 'Labs, the ADATA XPG SX8200 delivers a lot of bang for your buck. This compact, M.2 form factor SSD is powered by Silicon Motion's SM2262 controller and is available with up to 1TB of Micron's 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash. Combine this with an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3 x4 NVMe 1.3 interface and you have a drive capable of delivering nearly six times the performance of your average SATA 6Gb/s SSD. In our sequential read and write tests, the 240GB version of the SX8200 was able to read at speeds as high as 3,179 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 1,179 MB/s. The drive also did relatively well in our random write tests, producing more than 176,000 IOPS at low queue depths.
Of course, fast read and write speeds aren't the only things the XPG SX8200 has to offer. In addition to a large DRAM cache buffer, the drive uses an intelligent SLC caching to boost read and write performance. The SX8200 also features advanced LDPC error correction technology, data shaping, and a RAID Engine to ensure data integrity and extend the lifespan of the SSD. To top it all off, the drive is backed by a 5 year warranty.
- Available in 240GB, 480GB and 960B capacities
- PCIe 3.0 x4 interface with NVMe protocol
- Silicon Motion SM2262 controller
- Equipped with Micron 64-layer 3D TLC NAND
- Good sequential and random read and write performance
- RAID Engine, Data Shaping and LDPC ECC technologies
- Small M.2 2280 form factor
- Intelligent SLC caching
- Large DRAM cache
- Includes heatsink
- Works with ADATA's SSD Toolbox software
- Reasonably priced
- 5 year warranty
- Write speed drops considerably when SLC cache is full
- Does not support hardware based encryption