In a contest of high-end consumer SSDs, the SandForce-based Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB takes on Samsung 830 Series 128GB which uses Samsung’s own MCX controller and Toggle NAND chips.
August 26, 2012 by Lawrence Lee
|Kingston HyperX 3K |
240GB 2.5″ SSD
Samsung 830 Series
128GB 2.5″ SSD
|US$225 (upgrade kit) |
US$210 (stand-alone drive)
US$135 (notebook kit)
US$130 (desktop kit)
US$115 (stand-alone drive)
Like many other memory manufacturers, Kingston has relied on third party controllers to power their SSDs, despite the controller being the key ingredient to good performance, reliability, and longevity. They have released numerous models over the years with controllers produced by the likes of Toshiba, JMicron, Intel, and LSI (SandForce). This has given them a good amount of flexibility, allowing them to hit many markets and price-points and enabling the convenience of switching technology depending on their needs.
Samsung has taken a distinctly different approach, being more selective with their process and focusing primarily on their own in-house controller. This gives them the advantage of having full control over how their drives operate and the developers who write the firmware are inherently more familiar with the hardware. It’s no coincidence that Samsung also happens to be a big manufacturer of NAND flash. As their SSD production is vertically integrated, it’s not far fetched to suggest their drives might be better optimized than their competitors.
Today we pit two of their top consumer SSDs against one another, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB and Samsung 830 Series 128GB. The HyperX 3K is powered by the ubiquitous SandForce SF-2281 and Intel 25 nm synchronous MLC NAND chips with a 3,000 erase-cycle, thus the “3K” in the model number. The 5,000 erase-cycle chips used by the expensive vanilla HyperX were shed as it was deemed unnecessary in light of SandForce on-the-fly compression which decreases the amount of wear and tear; the 3K is a more affordable and pragmatic alternative. The 830 Series on the otherhand uses Samsung’s 3-core MCX controller with faster 2x nm Toggle-mode NAND and 256MB of low power DDR2 cache memory. The 830 is also has a sleeker 7 mm casing giving it the added advantage of being compatible with a variety of new slim ultrabooks that require these smaller form factor drives.
|Drive||Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB||Samsung 830 Series 128GB|
|Design||2.5″ (9.5 mm thick)||2.5″ (7 mm thick, ultraslim form factor)|
|Interface||SATA 3.0 6 Gbps||SATA 3.0 6 Gbps|
|Controller||SandForce SF-2281||Samsung MCX|
|NAND Flash Type||Intel 25 nm synchronous MLC||2x nm Samsung Toggle DDR MLC|
|Sequential Read Speed||555 MB/s||520 MB/s|
|Sequential Write Speed||450 MB/s||320MB/s|
|Random Read Speed||86K IOPS (4K, max.) |
40K IOPS (4K, sustained)
|80K IOPS (max.)|
|Random Write Speed||60K IOPS (4K, max.) |
57K IOPS (4K, sustained)
|30K IOPS (max.)|
|Power Consumption||0.455 W idle (typical) |
1.58 W read (typical)
2.11 W write (typical)
|0.078W idle |
|Weight||97 g||0.13 lb (59 g)|
|MTBF||1,000,000 Hours||1,500,000 Hours|
|Warranty||3 Years||3 Years|
On paper the HyperX 3K appears to be the faster drive but it’s hard to tell as most of the performance figures are maximums rather than typical. From previous experience, we know that SandForce drives don’t hit near their rated speeds without good amounts of compressible data for their compression algorithms to take advantage of. Also noticeable are the Samsung 830’s ridiculously energy efficiency claims that are orders of magnitude lower than the HyperX 3K.
Our HyperX 3K sample is the upgrade kit version which has a comprehensive package including a 3.5 inch drive adapter, a SATA data cable, imaging software, a fancy multi-bit screw driver and if you’re upgrading an existing 2.5 inch drive, an external enclosure is provided. The enclosure is a bit subpar being constructed of plastic and having only USB 2.0 connectivity but it’s a nice accessory to have regardless. Other manufacturers like typically offer this in a separate notebook upgrade bundle without the 3.5 inch drive adapter.
Samsung’s package includes a copy of Norton ghost, a 3.5 inch adapter, a SATA data and power cable, and a voucher for a digital download of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier. The game’s inclusion was announced two months ago with the disclaimer “while supplies last” but it was present in our retail sample which was purchased only a couple of weeks ago. Future Soldier is a US$40 value and has received fairly good reviews.
Our samples were tested according to our standard
hard drive testing methodology. As of mid-2008, we have been conducting most acoustics tests in our own 10~11 dBA anechoic chamber, which results in more accurate, lower SPL readings than before, especially with <20 [email protected] SPL.
Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:
- Airborne acoustics
- Vibration-induced noise.
These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
Both forms of noise are evaluated objectively and
subjectively. Airborne acoustics are measured in our anechoic chamber using a lab reference
microphone and computer audio measurement system. Measurements are taken at a distance of one meter from the top
of the drive using an A-weighted filter. Vibration noise is rated on a scale
of 1-10 by comparing against our standard reference drives.
As of late-2011, we have been conducting performance testing. A combination of timed real-world tests is used to represent a workload of common activities for a boot drive including loading games, running disk-intensive applications, copying files, and installing programs. Synthetic tests are also run to better judge the performance across the entire span of the drive.
Summary of primary HDD testing tools:
- HD Tune Pro
– Benchmarking tool for storage devices and used to check/set Automatic Acoustic Management.
- SPCR’s Audio Audio
Recording/Analysis system using SpectraPlus
and other utilities
- SPCR Anechoic Chamber
- Custom-built HDD power
measurement and Vibration test tools
Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:
- Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge core, LGA1155, 3.1 GHz, 45nm, 95W TDP, set to 1.6 GHz to emphasize differences in the performance of storage devices.
- Intel DP67BG ATX motherboard.
EAH3450 Silent graphics card.
- OCZ Platinum Extreme Low Voltage DDR3 memory. 2 x 2 GB, DDR3-1333 in dual channel.
- Seasonic X-400 SS-400FL
400W ATX power supply. Passively cooled
Windows 7 Ultimate operating system – 64-bit
Performance Test Tools:
of Duty: World At War – PC game
Cry 2 – PC game
- ExactFile –
file integrity verification tool
– file/disk encryption tool
- 3DMark Vantage Installer
- Cyberlink PowerDVD 10 Installer
- Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the average time to get to the “loading Windows” screen, 11 seconds on our test system)
- COD5: Combined load time for “Breaking Point” and “Black Cats” levels.
- Far Cry 2: Load time for one level.
- ExactFile: Creating a MD5 check file of our entire test suite folder.
- TrueCrypt: Creating a 10GB encrypted file container.
- 3DMark Vantage: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
- PowerDVD 10: Install time, longest interval between prompts.
- Small File Copy: Copy time for a variety of small HTML, JPEG, MP3, ZIP, and EXE files.
- Large File Copy: Copy time for 4 AVI files, 2 x 700MB and 2 x 1400MB
A final caveat: As with most reviews, our comments
are relevant to the samples we tested. Your sample may not be identical. There
are always some sample variances, and manufacturers also make changes without
Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 22°C.
Real World Performance
A Windows 7 image loaded with our test suite was cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive after a complete format. Our entire
test suite was run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (SSDs and hybrid drives excluded) and reboot
Average times were collected for comparison.
In our loading tests, both the Samsung and Kingston drives were a little slower overall than some previously tested SSDs due to a subpar result in Far Cry 2. Call of Duty 5 was very speedy as was the Windows boot process.
The HyperX 3K and 830 Series edged out the Corsair Force GS by fractions of a second in our application tests. All of the modern SandForce drives performed very well.
Our file copy test was dominated by the Samsung drive, smashing the Force GS’s large file section record with Kingston’s model trailing 4.5 seconds behind.
Both drives were tops amongst the current crop of SSDs in installation performance but surprisingly the old Corsair Force 180GB (first generation SandForce) has yet to be defeated.
To accurately represent the overall real world performance of the drives, we gave each model a proportional score in each benchmark series (loading, application, file copy, and installation) with each benchmark set equally weighted. The scale has been adjusted so that among the drives compared, a perfectly average model would score 100 points.
Though most of the Samsung 830 Series and Kingston HyperX 3K’s results were very close to the Corsair Force GS, huge gains in the file copy tests gave them to edge. The Samsung 830 ended up as the new champ almost four points ahead, about 3% faster than the HyperX 3K.
Synthetic Test Results
Though our timed benchmark tests do a fair job of simulating performance in real world situations, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Synthetic tests like HD Tune and CrystalDiskMark help fill the gap. Note: a full format was conducted before running these tests.
HD Tune’s main benchmark tests the sequential read/write speed of the drive in question throughout its range but it’s typically more relevant for hard drives as they tend to slow down toward the end of their spans. Compared to the SX910, the Corsair drive had a small advantage in average read speed but a noticeable disadvantage in write speed. Access times for the Force GS were 38% lower though.
Using a block size of 512K on a easily compressible data set, the SandForce-based models naturally took the lead with blistering read/write rates approaching 500 MB/s. With random data sets, the Samsung 830 was clearly the fastest drive thanks to impressive write performance, followed by the Corsair Force GS. The HyperX 3K was handicapped by comparatively poor random writes.
Random read/writes with the smaller 4K block size is another area where the Samsung 830 truly shined. Working with random data sets, it produced the best results overall, and even gave the SandForce drives using compressible data some stiff competition.
The Samsung 830 is also the first SSD that has come along in some time that has impressed us with its energy efficiency. Our sample used just 0.36 W idle and just over 1 W in seek mode (HD Tune’s random read test). Combined with its 7 mm thickness, this makes the Samsung drive extremely desirable for ultrabooks. The HyperX 3K’s power consumption was more or less in line with other SF-2281 models.
As solid state drives have no spinning platters or moving parts of any kind, they are effectively silent storage devices. It is possible that there could be a tiny bit of electronic noise (typically a high pitched squeal) being emitted, either intermittently depending on task, or continuously, but the HyperX 3K 240GB and 830 Series 128GB were both completely silent. In fact, the only SSD we’ve ever tested that made any audible noise was the Zalman S Series 128GB model which produced an odd high frequency squeal whenever it was accessed.
Samsung 830 Series 128GB
On paper, the Samsung 830 Series 128GB doesn’t appear to match up with the latest SandForce-based SSDs but in the absence of easily compressible data, the 830 is actually faster overall. It took first place in our real-world test suite, edging out the HyperX 3K 240GB by 3% and the Corsair Force GS 240GB by 6%. Furthermore, the 830’s slim 7 mm thick form factor along with its superb energy efficiency combine to make it the perfect ultrabook/laptop upgrade drive. The 830 Series is a completely in-house solution (controller, NAND, and firmware all made by Samsung) so presumably they were able to optimize their drive better than the competition as well as cutting costs.
Priced at US$115 for the bare version, it is competitive with the best 120GB SandForce drives and offers a slight advantage in capacity. For an additional $15, the desktop upgrade kit adds a 3.5 inch adapter, SATA power and data cables, and a copy of Norton Ghost (imaging software). Our retail sample also included a voucher for a digital download of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, a well-reviewed game with a US$40 value, though you can’t count on its inclusion as it’s a limited time offer while supplies last.
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB
The Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB uncrowned the Corsair Force GS 240GB as the quickest SandForce-based SSD we’ve tested thus far. It defeated the Force GS in every single one of our real-world tests and some synthetics as well, being particularly adept with compressible data. It’s quite a feat considering the Force GS uses more expensive Toggle-mode NAND flash chips which is supposed to give it an advantage over the bulk of SF-2281 models.
With a street price of US$210, the stand-alone HyperX 3K 240GB drive (3.5 inch drive adapter included) is priced similarly to the Force GS, making it a better value. If you’re looking for extras, the US$225 upgrade kit provides an additional USB 2.0 enclosure, SATA cable, multipurpose screwdriver, and cloning software. It should also be noted that the 256GB Samsung 830 Series might make a good alternative. According to Samsung’s specifications it has faster sequential read/write speeds than the 128GB version and can be had for US$200.
Many thanks to Kingston Technology for the HyperX 3K 240GB sample. The 830 Series 128GB SSD was purchased on line; unfortunately, Samsung makes neither SSD nor HDD samples available for review.
* * *
Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB
is Recommended by SPCR
Samsung 830 Series 128GB
wins the SPCR Editor’s Choice
SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Corsair Force GS 240GB: SandForce with Toggle-Mode NAND
Western Digital Red 3TB & 1TB Hard Drives
ADATA XPG SX910 128GB Solid State Drive
WD VelociRaptor 1TB and Scorpio Blue 500GB
Hitachi Deskstar 7K3000 2TB Hard Drive
SSD Roundup: Corsair F180 vs. Zalman S Series vs. Kingston SSDNow V+100
* * *