Model: Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB Solid State Drive
Provided By: Kingston
As the world’s largest independent manufacturer of memory products, Kingston Technology doesn't need much of an introduction. The company got its start in 1987, when the computer industry was suffering from a severe shortage of surface-mount memory chips. To provide a solution, Kingston's founders designed a new Single In-Line Memory Module (SIMM) that used readily available, older technology through-hole components. Today, Kingston offers more than 2,000 memory products for everything from computers, servers and printers to MP3 players, digital cameras and cell phones.
Like many other manufacturers, Kingston has set its sights on the growing solid-state drive (SSD) market. Last summer, the company launched its first SandForce-based drive, the HyperX SSD. Designed for enthusiasts, gamers and performance users, the HyperX leveraged high-quality components like LSI's SandForce SF-2281 processor and Intel's compute-quality 25nm MLC NAND (5k P/E cycles) to deliver some truly impressive performance. Unfortunately, it also commanded a pretty hefty price tag which put it out of reach for many consumers.
Kingston has now released the HyperX 3K. This cost-effective alternative to the HyperX is also powered by LSI's SandForce SF-2281 processor and offers many of the same features including a SATA 6GB/s interface and DuraClass technology. The major difference between the two drives is the type of NAND used. The HyperX 3K is equipped with synchronous NAND rated at 3,000 program/erase cycles which is more affordable than the compute-quality NAND found in the original HyperX. There is a bit of a trade off in regards to endurance but the HyperX 3K is still able to deliver up to 555MB/s read and 510MB/s write speeds and a maximum of 74,000 4KB random write IOPS.
The HyperX 3K is available in 90GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities as either a stand-alone drive or in an upgrade kit to make installation quick and easy. For this review, Kingston sent us the 240GB upgrade bundle kit. The 240GB version of the HyperX 3K is capable of delivering up to 555 MB/s sequential read and 510 MB/s sequential write speeds as well as up to 86,000 random read and 60,000 random write IOPS.
|Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB Solid State Drive|
Dimensions and Weight
Needless to say, this is only a taste of what the HyperX 3K has to offer. To give you an idea of what to expect, we'll take a closer look at Kingston's new SSD and then see how well it performs. Does the HyperX 3K have what it takes? More importantly, is it the best bang for your buck? Keep reading as we find out.
The HyperX 3K comes in an attractive black and red box. Along with a picture of the drive, the front advertises many of its key features including its 240GB capacity, rated speeds, SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) interface and SandForce controller. The back of the box provides a bit more information as well as pictures of the box's contents.
The upgrade kit that Kingston sent us for this review includes a number of accessories. Along with the HyperX 3K SSD you'll find a 2.5" SATA enclosure with a USB-to-mini-USB cable, multi-bit screwdriver, Serial ATA data cable, 3.5" adapter bracket with screws, screwdriver and a CD containing hard drive cloning software.
Like Kingston's previous SSDs, the HyperX 3K SSD is very well constructed. The top of the outer casing is made out of black plastic which is covered by a brushed aluminum panel with "HyperX" and "Kingston" logos on it. The bottom of the HyperX 3K isn't nearly as flashy. The casing is made out of metal. However, instead of brushed aluminum, Kingston opted for a rough, matte finish.
Like Kingston's KC100 and V+200 series SSDs, the HyperX 3K uses SandForce's SF-2281 controller chip. The SF-2281 can be found in a number of other SSDs including the ADATA S511, Corsair Force Series 3, OWC Mercury 6G, OCZ Vertex 3, Patriot Pyro SE and the SanDisk Extreme.
For the 240GB HyperX 3K, Kingston opted to use Intel's 16GB 25nm 29F64G08ACME2 synchronous NAND flash chips. Looking at the pictures above, you can see that there are eight of these chips on either side of the PCB. If you do the math, you'll see that this equals 256GB and not the 240GB of storage the drive advertises. The SandForce controller uses this extra 7% (16GB) to maximize read and write performance and extend the endurance and overall reliability of the drive.
The test system used in this review was an HP 8200 Elite. The computer came equipped with an Intel Core i5-2400 CPU, 4GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250312AS 250GB SATA 6 Gb/s hard drive, NVIDIA Quadro FX580 512MB PCIe graphics card and an Intel 82579-LM gigabit network card. For the operating system, I installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Enterprise.
To test the performance of the HyperX 3K, I ran a series of benchmarks using CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1, HD Tach RW 126.96.36.199, ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46, AS SSD, HD Tune Pro 4.61 and Iometer. For comparison, I've also included test results from the OCZ Vertex 3 3.5", Plextor PX-256M3P, SanDisk Extreme, Samsung 830 SSD, Plextor PX-256M3S, Patriot Pyro SE, Plextor PX-256M2P, Kingston HyperX, OCZ Vertex 3 and OCZ Agility 3
As I mentioned earlier, the HyperX 3K SSD is based on SandForce's SF-2281 controller. Like other SandForce controllers, the SF-2281 features a technology called DuraWrite, which uses data compression to lower write amplification and extend the life of the drive by reducing the number of program-erase cycles. This data compression also plays a big part in the controller's performance. The more the data can be compressed, the faster an SSD like the HyperX 3K is able to read and write. Looking at the screenshot above, you can see that there is a considerable performance difference when writing incompressible (0%) and compressible (100%) data. However, thanks to the HyperX 3K's synchronous NAND, its read speeds aren't affected nearly as much.
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 Kingston, the 240GB HyperX 3K is capable of reading at 555MB/s and writing at 510MB/s when connected to a SATA 6 Gb/s port. While faster than the SanDisk Extreme, the drive's sequential read and write speeds came up a bit short of these numbers when using CrystalDiskMark's default (random) test data.
Like the Extreme, the HyperX 3K performed much better when using highly compressible 0x00 (0 Fill) data. This time around, the drive was able to read at 496.2 MB/s and write at 488.8 MB/s.
HD Tach RW 188.8.131.52:
Next, I used HD Tach to test the HyperX 3K'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 HyperX 3K had average read and write speeds of 378.4 MB/s and 373.7 MB/s respectively, as well as a burst speed of 355.1 MB/s.
ATTO Disk Benchmark 2.46:
I also used ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the HyperX 3K'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 HyperX 3K's read speeds topped out at about 556 MB/s and its write speeds at 534 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. Take note that AS SSD uses incompressible data in its tests, which can have a major impact on the scores of SandForce-based drives like the HyperX 3K.
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 4.61:
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 HyperX 3K's random read and write speeds, random access times and the number of operations per second.
The HyperX 3K performed very well when benchmarked with HD Tune. The drive had average read and write speeds of 489.3 MB/s and 442.6 MB/s respectively, and a burst rate of 356.7 MB/s when reading.
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
SanDisk Extreme 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Read
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
SanDisk Extreme 240GB - HD Tune Random Access Write
The HyperX 3K didn't disappoint when doing random reads and writes. When writing 4KB blocks, the drive reached 19,427 IOPS and had an average speed of 75.888 MB/s. The HyperX 3K was even faster when reading, reaching 21,990 IOPS with an average speed of 82.069 MB/s.
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 HyperX 3K's read and write speeds and the number of operations per second. The tests were run using both repeating and random bytes and a queue depth of 3.
The HyperX 3K's performance was very similar to what we saw in our other tests. With highly compressible, repeating data, the drive was able to read at 528.49 MB/s and write at 506.71 MB/s. The HyperX 3K did not slow nearly as much as the OCZ Agility 3 when reading random data. However, its write speeds dropped to 320.71 MB/s.
The HyperX 3K performed very well when doing random reads and writes. With repeating data, the drive was able to read at 93.72 MB/s and write at a blazing 318.63 MB/s. Here too, the HyperX 3K took a performance hit when tested with random data. However, it was still able to write at 255.51 MB/s.
According to Kingston, the HyperX 3K can deliver a maximum of 60,000 IOPS when randomly writing 4K blocks. In our tests, the drive reached 81,568 IOPS with repeating data and 65,411 IOPS with random data.
While SSDs 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 address 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 proactively erases these blocks and adds them to the free block pool.
To test the HyperX 3K's TRIM function, 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 20 minutes. Looking at the screenshot below, you can see that the HyperX 3K's average read and write speeds dropped to 182.9 MB/s and 197.0 MB/s, respectively.
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB- Dirty
To see how well the HyperX 3K could recover, I let the computer sit for a few hours and then reran the test. The drive's average read speed jumped back up to 305.8 MB/s. However, its write speed lagged a bit behind, averaging out at 241.9 MB/s.
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB - After Trim
Lastly, I used OCZ's Toolbox utility (yes, it works) to perform a secure erase on the HyperX 3K. With the drive wiped clean, its average write speed jumped back up to 374.0 MB/s.
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB - Wiped
If you're looking for the best bang for your buck, Kingston's new HyperX 3K SSD just might be it. This new solid state drive combines premium 3,000 P/E cycle synchronous NAND with LSI's SandForce SF-2281 controller to deliver impressive performance at a price that budget-minded gamers and enthusiasts will appreciate. Like the original HyperX SSD, the HyperX 3K performed very well in our sequential read and write tests. The drive was able to read at speeds as high as 556 MB/s and write at speeds in excess of 488 MB/s. It also took the top spot in our random write tests, producing more than 81,000 IOPS. Impressive performance isn't the only thing the HyperX 3K has to offer either. Along with a good looking, well constructed design, the SSD is available as a standalone drive or as part of a kit that includes everything you need to upgrade your computer.
The HyperX 3K is available now in 90GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities. Prices on Amazon.com currently range from about $100 up to $700, with the 240GB upgrade kit reviewed here going for about $290.
- Available in 90GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities
- SandForce SF-2281 processor with DuraClass, DuraWrite and RAISE technologies
- Excellent sequential read and write speeds
- SATA 6Gb/s interface
- Synchronous 3000 P/E cycle NAND flash
- Supports SMART, TRIM and Garbage Collection
- Available as stand-alone drive or as part of an upgrade kit
- Good looking and well constructed design
- Reasonably priced
- 3 year warranty
- Not as fast when writing incompressible data