Just 2 days prior to getting into 2013 we had to sit down and pick the first product reviews which would get us into 2013 for good and since recently we promised to bridge the gap created in our SSD reviews section we decided to test yet another such product. Now if you read our Intel 335 SSD review you should be well aware that the performance factor regarding SATA III solid state drives hasn't really changed that much in 2012 (always compared to 2011) and so at least until the new controllers arrive in late Q1 (if all goes according to plan) we really can't expect to come across anything that will blow what we currently know out of the water. 2012 however did see a significant price drop in SSDs and so currently consumer models with capacities up to 240GB are surprisingly easy to acquire. Still there are some SSDs in the market with businesses as their target audience and the Kingston SSDNow KC100 240GB solid state drive we have here with us today is such a solution.
Kingston Technology Company, Inc. is the world’s independent memory leader. Founded in 1987 with a single product offering, Kingston® now offers more than 2,000 memory products that support nearly every device that uses memory, from computers, servers and printers to MP3 players, digital cameras and mobile phones. In 2009, the company's sales reached $4.1 billion. With global headquarters in Fountain Valley, California, Kingston employs more than 4,000 people worldwide. Regarded as one of the “Best Companies to Work for in America” by Fortune magazine, Kingston’s tenets of respect, loyalty, flexibility and integrity create an exemplary corporate culture. Kingston believes that investing in its people is essential, and each employee is a vital part of Kingston’s success. Kingston serves an international network of distributors, resellers, retailers and OEM customers on six continents. The company also provides contract manufacturing and supply chain management services for semiconductor manufacturers and system OEMs.
Business and Enterprise class products may have a heftier price tag compared to regular consumer products but almost always feature three very important additions. First and foremost such products are manufactured (and designed) with the highest available standards and best quality materials to ensure not only that they will withstand use under harsher environments but also that they will keep going long after their regular counterparts have stopped working. Secondly and in some cases equally important is the performance factor of such products which is usually quite a bit improved compared to regular models due to heavier data loads and more demanding applications (that also depends on the usage always). Finally last but certainly not least is that Business/Enterprise oriented products always come with excellent support and longer warranties something which matters a lot when you're making a living out of them. Now specs-wise the KC100 is not really that different from the HyperX Enthusiast SSD series by Kingston since they share the same controller and the same firmware (thus similar performance), however the KC100 also offers mission critical features such as reliability tracking, usage statistics, life remaining, wear leveling, temperature, drive life protection and is covered with a 5 year warranty with free technical support. These aside all that's left is to see just how well it does in the performance department always compared to other similar solutions such as the HyperX models.
SPECIFICATIONS AND FEATURES
PACKAGING AND CONTENTS
Kingston ships the KC100 series inside their standard box with a product image at the front, the controller type, features, capacity and the Kingston logo.
The main product features are listed on the right side of the box in English and French.
At the rear we see the same features written in 22 different languages and several pictures showcasing the bundle contents.
The entire bundle is safely placed inside a small yet quite sturdy cardboard box.
Along with the KC100 240GB Business SSD you are also getting an 2.5" USB 2.0 enclosure, USB cable, SATA cable, SATA power cable, 3.5" to 2.5" metal bracket, mounting screws and a software CD (cloning software).
THE SSDNOW KC100 240GB
Kingston followed the classic SSDNow design with the KC100 series so we see the usual large sticker ontop of a gray metal housing. The sticker contains information such as the drive capacity, serial number, electrical specifications, assembly origin and the model number (SKC100S3/240G).
The rear is also gray and Kingston once again used torx security screws.
At the rear of the drive we see the usual SATA III connectivity and 4 pins which are most likely used by Kingston technicians to perform firmware updates.
As we already mentioned the KC100 series features the 2nd generation controller by SandForce (SF-2281) and a total of sixteen 16GB Intel Synchronous 25nm NAND modules.
After roughly 5 years of testing sold state drives i have concluded that it's almost impossible for any single benchmark suite to accurately measure their performance and that's why in certain benchmark suites we see amazing read/write performance numbers with some drives while in others things are quite different. The reason behind this is that some benchmarking suites are configured to read and write random chunks of data while others read and write constant (sequential) ones. So that's why i have always used a very wide selection of benchmarking suites including AIDA64, HD Tach RW, HD Tune Pro, Crystal Disk Mark, Sisoftware Sandra Pro, AS SSD, IOmeter and ATTO. To get the most accurate results each test gets repeated a total of 6 times with the average performance numbers recorded into our charts.
Many people made inquiries about the charts ever since the last comparison so once again please do keep in mind that the Charts have the average performance numbers of each drive recorded and not the peak (highest) ones. Also although every single one of these programs can help potentials buyer choose the right drive for their needs you should also remember that from any kind of benchmark up to real world usage the gap is not small (and usually most differences will go unnoticed by most people). All tests were performed in a fresh Windows 7 Ultimate x64 installation with every update installed up to December 31st 2012.
TEST RESULTS - AIDA64 / ATTO
TEST RESULTS - HD TUNE PRO / HD TACH RW
TEST RESULTS - SISOFTWARE SANDRA PRO / CRYSTAL DISK MARK
TEST RESULTS - AS SSD / IOMETER
Although the Kingston KC100 Business class SSD performed very well against most of the competition the fact that it fell back from its HyperX siblings in our normal tests (not by much but it did) had us puzzled at first. Sure it comes with extra features for increased data safety that make it pretty much a one way for Businesses (always compared with the HyperX models) but we also expected that it would outperform its consumer oriented siblings with ease. If you really think about it however that's not really possible due to the performance limitations of the SandForce SF-2281 controller (I’m really looking forward for the SF-3xxx controller later this year) which have already been maxed out by the HyperX drives. However when we started digging a bit more and especially when we used IOmeter it became quite clear that the KC100 is a Business class product since it managed to get the 4th place in our database. Of course compared to enterprise class models that come with an over provisioning of up to around 28% the KC100 actually comes with almost 13% which naturally cuts down its performance. To all of you who are not aware of what over provisioning is let’s just say that the firmware hides a percentage of NAND memory (and thus unusable by you) which in turn uses for the creation of pre-erased blocks which can increase performance (especially IOPS). Some manufacturers currently allow you to change the percentage of over provisioning (Samsung is one) but if you don't know what you are doing i really suggest leaving such features alone.
Both Enterprise and Business oriented products offer more than regular consumer products so it's quite natural that they also cost more and although the SSDNow KC100 240GB SSD Upgrade Kit is just that still it retails for just USD291.15 inside the USA (Provantage) and at around 250Euros inside the EU. You can save a few bucks if you opt for the normal SSD standalone version but the bundle really comes almost for free so i wouldn't suggest doing so. Bottom line although regular consumers may be better off with one of the HyperX drives the SSDNow KC100 240GB Business Class SSD by Kingston is a one way for Business clients not only because of its extensive error reporting fail safes but also because of its increased IOPS performance and because of that it receives our Golden Award.
- Build Quality (SF-2281/ Internal Thermal Pads/ Intel NAND)
- Business Class Features (SMART Error Reporting)
- Very Good Performance (4th in IOmeter)
- Capacity (240GB)
- Bundle (2.5" USB Enclosure/ 3.5" bracket/ SATA III Cable/ SATA Power Connector/ Cloning Software)
- 5 Year Warranty With Free Technical Support
- Price (For Consumers Not Business Users)
- SandForce SF-2281 Controller Is Getting Old