** Updated on 18th December 2009 **
The article has been updated with more thorough testing results using a retail drive that has shown improved performance. Now with a more substantial conclusion, the original preview article has been updated to a full review.
Sometime ago we covered five of the fastest solid state drives (SSD) available to assess just how far SSDs have progressed and we kind of like the way things are progressing. Finally SSDs are outperforming their mechanical hard drive ancestors by a significant degree. To add on, Intel's second generation X25-M drives have managed to strike an appealing balance in price-performance to heat up the competition, though the cost per gigabyte unit of storage is still comparatively high (against hard drives).
While those are what we like about SSD drives, there's still much room to improve with regards to maintaining a SSD's performance edge after continued usage. Thankfully most of the latest drives have something in the works to address the growing concern of performance degradation over time. This performance dip occurs once all the flash cells on the SSD unit have been occupied once and require extra processing cycles to copy, delete and re-write new content, thus reducing throughput.
We'll dwell more on that topic in another article, but suffice to say the situation is getting better now that Windows 7 has arrived along with an updated drive protocol to support TRIM functionality. This should put the performance degradation issue a thing of the past as long as SSD drives have an appropriate firmware support. Let's turn our attention to assess Kingston's value oriented SSD unit and how it stacks up.
Meet the new SSDNow V+ series from Kingston, not to be confused with the original V series launched in Computex. As the acronym of the series name hints, the V series is part of Kingston's new value series lineup targeted at the mainstream DIY and upgrade market to tease the crowd with a decently fast drive at affordable prices. Its read/write speeds are advertised for 100MB/s and 80MB/s respectively and comes in 64GB and 128GB capacity points only.
The newer V+ series we're reviewing today boasts better specifications such as 220MB/s for sequential read speeds and up to 140MB/s write speeds for the 64GB edition. It also comes in capacities up to 256GB and has lower idle power draw than the original V series. Both are basically MLC-flash equipped drives but as we prodded Kingston for more information, they revealed that the V series uses the jointly developed controllers from JMicron and Toshiba, whereas the V+ series uses a Samsung controller. Another highlight point for the V+ series is its huge 128MB cache memory that should definitely distinguish it from the normal V series that has none.
An important point to take note for the techies is its current firmware, version 1801Q, doesn't support the Self-Healing function from Samsung's controller or otherwise also commonly referred to as Garbage Collection. However we've contacted Kingston about it and they are currently qualifying version 18C1Q which will support Self-Healing. So if you are interested in this drive, just remember to flash the drive's firmware when the new firmware is available. Our review drive unfortunately still had the older firmware and Kingston didn't have a newer version for trial when we were testing it out.
Both the V and V+ series will still be retailing together as they address different price points. Also, take note that the V series is region specific in availability whereas the newer V+ model is set for a much wider availability. Similar to our previous tests, we've settled for the 64GB version of the SSDNow V+ Series SSD as that capacity is turning out to be the next sweet spot for SSD acquisition. So here's how all the SSD drives stack up in basic tech specs:-
|Model||Flash Memory Type||Controller||Onboard Cache||Advertised Sequential Read/Write Speeds|
|Kingston SSDNow V+ Series 64GB||MLC||Samsung||128MB||
|Intel X25-M 80GB||MLC||Intel||256KB||
|Kingston SSDNow E Series 64GB||SLC||Intel||256KB||
|Mtron PRO 7500 64GB||SLC||Mtron||16MB||
|OCZ Vertex 60GB||MLC||Indilinx 'Barefoot'||64MB||
|Patriot Torqx 64GB||MLC||Indilinx 'Barefoot'||64MB||