At a time when it seems inevitable that most users will likely move to M.2 drives for primary storage, it’s refreshing to see that there are some vendors such as ADATA who are still committed to mid-range, high-performance, low-cost drives.
For the vast majority of users, M.2 connectivity isn’t readily available. SATA Express is non-existent and PCIe drives out of reach. Thus, SATA 6Gbps is the fastest storage connection and interface to which they have access. But that shouldn’t mean that performance need not improve for such drives. The SX930 in particular exemplifies this very sentiment.
At less than R2,000 it offers great value even with our rapidly devaluing currency. True enough twelve months ago we had 240GB drives for around R300 more than the SX930, but they were slower and lacked the five-year warranty. Today the same spend gets you one of the leading performance drives on the market.
This one is aimed squarely at gamers and enthusiasts, and represents ADATA’s latest XPG drives. Not only is it the fastest, but it’s the most advanced consumer 2.5” drive from ADATA.
It houses the new 32-bit JMicron KMF670H four-channel controller and perhaps as important makes use of 8GB of SLC NAND in conjunction with 256MB of DDR3 cache. All this is controlled via tuned firmware and 16nm IMFT MLC NAND. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, the important thing to take away from it is that it’s fast. The sequential read/write speeds are nothing to write home about of course, but remember that SSD performance isn’t determined by these two values at all. In fact we would argue that it’s all the other numbers that determine how speedy an SSD is, with the sequential numbers at the tail end of it.
If you’re wondering how this configuration looks when simplified, the SLC serves as a second-level cache if you will. The high-speed 256MB of DRAM serves as the primary cache. As you can imagine each level going up is slower until you finally get to the NAND. What this scheme does is allow the drive consistent performance and minimizes performance degradation even with the drive at near capacity. Speaking of reliability, this is a major feature for this drive and again the five-year warranty suggests as much.
This is possible via what ADATA terms “enterprise-level NAND”, which as you can imagine is more resilient and longer lasting than the NAND they would otherwise use on the low-end / previous-generation models. This NAND allows the drive to retain your data for longer (more reliably) and carries performance optimizations that keep the SX930 among the front runners. The benchmark results may consistently place it near the bottom, but it’s important that you distinguish between these models. All its competitors are PCI Express drives, the Intel 750 going so far as to support NVMe. These drives cost several times as much and cater for a different demographic, one that has far more resources to pour into storage. Even surrounded by such company, the SX930 delivers respectable performance, coming very close to fulfilling all performance claims.
What’s not apparent in the numbers is how snappy the system is with the SX930. During testing we used the SSD as the primary storage medium for the operating system. Game load times were not perceivably slower than the Samsung XP941 and this is no surprise, because it did beat the XP941 in one particular synthetic test.
As with their previous drives, ADATA include a licence for Acronis True Image. You need to register the drive to redeem this licence, but once you have it’s essentially yours forever. In addition to this, you’ll find a 3.5” bracket and double-sided tape in the packaging for older systems with no dedicated 2.5” drive mounts.
It’s nothing out of the ordinary and largely basic, but it does keep the cost down so that’s understandable. Where value is concerned it’s hard to find fault with the SX930. At present it’s only available in three capacities (120, 240 and 480GB models), so if you’re looking for those larger 960GB models, you’ll have to wait for a future update of the series. Pricing places the SX930 at around R8.33 per GB which is quite favourable for this level of performance.
There are plenty of SSDs to choose from and striking the right balance between pricing and performance can prove difficult. With the SX930 it’s made a little easier, as you’ll get excellent performance at a great price.