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Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB M.2/PCI-E SSD

Kingston’s high-end consumer M.2 SSD is powered by the latest Marvell controller, 1GB of DDR3 cache, and 19nm Toggle-mode flash memory, and uses a PCI-E 2.0 x4 interface to overcome the limitations of SATA.

September 7, 2015 by Lawrence Lee

Product
Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB
M.2 2280 Solid-state Drive
Manufacturer
Kingston Technology
Street Price
US$440 (bare drive only)
US$460 (w/PCI-E adapter)

Before solid-state drives became mainstream, the storage interface of a drive
was not of great importance. While there were multiple revisions to ATA and
SATA that increased the maximum throughput, hard drives were and still are limited
by their mechanical nature. Entire drive lineups are updated to support the
faster revision despite being unable to saturate the older interface except
when bursting. Today, most modern hard drives are SATA 6 Gbps even though some
rarely can eclipse the 1.5 Gbps limit of the original SATA standard released
over a decade ago.

Unencumbered by moving parts, SSDs are very much subject to these SATA interface
limitations. This is the reason the latest crop of motherboards are equipped
with SATA Express and M.2 slots, which alleviate this problem by using the existing
faster PCI Express interface to free high performance SSDs from the shackles
of the 6 Gbps ceiling. The maximum theoretical throughput of M.2 is between
8 and 32 Gbps depending on the PCI-E standard (2.0 or 3.0) and the number of
lanes utilized (x2 or x4). Cue the HyperX Predator, Kingston’s top-of-the-line
consumer SSD, an M.2 drive that utilizes a PCI-E 2.0 x4 interface, good for
a theoretical 16 Gbps.


The box. Our sample is the 480GB model with adapter.


The drive is pre-installed to the center of the PCI-E x4 adapter. A key for Acronis True Image is included in the package.


The drive itself.

Available in 240GB and 480GB capacities, the HyperX Predator and can be purchased
as a bare drive for about US$440 and with a PCI-E adapter for $20 more. The
latter is advisable for previous generation motherboards as their M.2 slots
mostly use the slowest PCI-E 2.0 x2 implementation, capping its potential. HyperX
Predator is powered by Marvell’s latest 88SS9293 controller and paired with
a full gigabyte of DDR3 RAM for cache. The NAND Flash is top notch as well,
Toshiba 19 nm Toggle-Mode chips, a full 512GB worth with 32GB allocated for
over-provisioning, sacrificing a bit of capacity for longer endurance. According
to the specifications, it can withstand a substantial 882TB of writes over its
lifespan and can hit a tremendous read speed of 1400 MB/s.


Kingston HyperX Predator: Specifications
(from the product web page)
Form Factor M.2 2280
Interface PCIe Gen 2.0 x 4
Capacities 240GB, 480GB
Controller Marvell 88SS9293
Compressible Data Transfer, Read/Write (ATTO) 240GB — 1400MB/s Read and 600MB/s Write
480GB — 1400MB/s Read and 1000MB/s Write
Incompressible Data Transfer, Read/Write (AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark) 240GB — 1290MB/s Read and 600MB/s Write
480GB — 1100MB/s Read and 910MB/s Write
IOMETER Maximum Random 4k Read/Write 240GB — up to 160,000/ up to 119,000 IOPS
480GB — up to 130,000/ up to 118,000 IOPS
Random 4k Read/Write 240GB — up to 120,000/ up to 78,000 IOPS
480GB — up to 117,000/ up to 70,000 IOPS
PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score 240GB — 138,000
480GB — 139,000
PCMARK® 8 Storage Bandwidth 240GB — 331MB/s
480GB — 336MB/s
PCMARK® 8 Storage Score 240GB — 5,015
480GB — 5,017
Anvil Total Score (Incompressible Workload) 240GB — 6,500
480GB — 6,700
Power Consumption 1.38W Idle / 1.4W Avg / 1.99W (MAX) Read / 8.25W (MAX) Write
Storage temperature Storage temperature: -40°C~85°C
Operating temperature Operating temperature: 0°C~70°C
Dimensions Dimensions: 80mm x 22mm x 3.5mm (M.2)
180.98mm x 120.96mm x 21.59mm (with HHHL adapter – standard bracket)
181.29mm x 80.14mm x 23.40mm (with HHHL adapter – low-profile bracket)
Weight: 10g (M.2)
73g (with HHHL adapter – standard bracket)
68g (with HHHL adapter – low-profile bracket)
Vibration operating: 2.17G Peak (7–800Hz)
Vibration non-operating 20G Peak (10–2000Hz)
Life expectancy: 1 million hours MTBF
Warranty/support: 3-year warranty with free technical support
Total Bytes Written (TBW) 240GB: 415TB 1.6 DWPD
480GB: 882TB 1.7 DWPD

TESTING

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 sub-20 dBA@1m devices.

Two forms of hard drive noise are measured:

  1. Airborne acoustics
  2. Vibration-induced noise.

These two types of noise impact the subjective
perception of hard drive noise differently depending on how and where the drive
is mounted.

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:

Key Components in LGA1155 Heatsink Test Platform:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 processor. 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.
    P67 chipset.
  • Asus
    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
    ATX power supply. 400W. Passively cooled.
  • Microsoft
    Windows 7 Ultimate
    operating system – 64-bit

Real World Performance Test Tools:

Real World Benchmark Details:

  • Boot: Time elapsed between pressing the power button to the desktop and the Windows start sound playing (minus the time for an average SSD to get to the “loading Windows” screen, 12 seconds on our test system)
  • COD5: Combined load time for the “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
    in size.

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
telling everyone.

Ambient conditions at time of testing were 10.5 dBA and 20~23°C.

Synthetic Performance

We start off with synthetic tests results. They don’t tell the whole story
of course, but it’s a quick way of gauging relative performance between drives,
and of course, it’s easily reproducible by our readers at home.

HD Tune


HD Tune main benchmark result.

 

The results from HD Tune’s main benchmark shows the Predator has serious potential.
It boasts sequential transfer speeds in the area of 600 MB/s, far outstripping
previously tested SATA based models which have yet to crack 400 MB/s. Access
times are impressively low as well, particularly the 0.04 ms result for reads,
a 31% improvement over the next closest drives, the Samsung 840 Pro and Samsung
850 Pro.

CrystalDiskMark


CrystalDiskMark benchmark result.

 

According to CrystalDiskMark, the Predator is at its best working with larger block sizes. With 512K blocks, random write performance is out of this world, coming close to 1000 MB/s, double that of the competition. Random read speed is not quite as impressive at 730 MB/s but that’s still good enough to seize a 64% lead over the next closest competitor.

With small 4K blocks, the Predator comes back down to earth. It’s still the fastest model of the field but the margin of victory is slight compared to the other results. This is somewhat sobering as most day-to-day PC operations deal with small blocks and files.

Real World Performance

Our real world performance testing begins with a Windows 7 image, loaded with our test suite, being cloned to a 50GB partition
at the beginning of each drive. The suite is run start to finish three times with a defragmentation (except for SSDs and hybrid drives) and reboot
between runs.
Average times were collected for comparison. For hybrid drives, we perform six runs with only the last three averaged to give it some time to learn and cache frequently used files.

The Predator’s boot time is close to that of SATA based SSDs, but loading games shows a noticeable improvement. It shaves a substantial 3~4 seconds off the Far Cry 2 loading time compared to most of the competition.

Our application performance tests hit a wall with most of the recently tested SSD models but the Predator busts through, taking about one second off the best times.

Aside from the synthetic tests, large file copies is where the Predator shines
most, posting a 22% advantage over the Samsung 850 Pro. However, when it comes
to small files, it’s more mediocre, running neck and neck with the Crucial MX100,
a budget model.

A slight edge in 3DMark puts the Predator ahead of the field in installation performance.

To get a sense of the overall performance of the drives, each model has been assigned a proportional score in each real world benchmark series (loading, application, file copying, and installation), with each set and each individual test within, equally weighted. The scale has been adjusted with the Seagate Enterprise 3.5 HDD v4 6TB (the fastest desktop hard drive we’ve tested) as the reference point with 100 points.

The Predator 480GB completed almost every task faster than any previously tested SSD, claiming the top spot on our chart. Relatively speaking however, it’s not far off from Samsung 850 Pro.

Power Consumption

As the Predator runs off the PCI-E bus, our usual method of measuring the power consumption is not applicable, so it was estimated by looking at the change in system power consumption compared to another drive measured the old fashioned way through the power connector. The Predator uses more power than standard SATA 6 Gbps SSDs as well as 2.5 inch hard drives, though not nearly as much as 3.5 inch desktop models. However, as the drive needs a x4 interface to reach its full potential, it’s designed for desktop use, making energy efficiency of little practical importance.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB is the fastest SSD we’ve tested, but its
performance in normal everyday tasks is disappointing compared to the incredible
synthetic numbers. The drive seems to be more adept at sequential operations
and anything involving bigger block sizes such as large file transfers. For
the smaller, more common stuff, it’s advantage over the fastest 2.5 inch drives
is considerably slimmer. If these results are any indication, 6 Gbps of bandwidth
is not as limiting as many make it out to be. M.2 is supposed to unlock the
potential of current consumer SSD technology, but even with four PCI-E lanes
instead of the more common two, the Predator isn’t the messiah the PC world
has been waiting for.

The 480GB model is selling for around US$460, close to $1/GB, making it prohibitively
expensive for most users. Undoubtedly there will be many enthusiasts who will
be satisfied with such a product even if the gains are modest compared to say,
the Samsung 850 Pro 512GB, which can be picked up for half the price. Until
costs come down or performance goes up, most users are better off sticking to
SATA 6 Gbps models.

The Predator will run at full speed only in the newest motherboards featuring
wide bandwidth PCI-E x4 M.2 slots, so the PCI-E adapter card will be a necessity
for the majority of its purchasers. This can affect both high-end and smaller
systems as multi-GPU rigs may not have enough PCI-E slots/lanes to spare, while
mini-ITX machines are limited to just one PCI-E slot.

Many thanks to Kingston Technology for the HyperX Predator 480GB solid-state drive sample.

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SPCR Articles of Related Interest:
Kingston HyperX Savage 480GB SSD
Samsung M9T 2TB (2.5-inch) & Seagate SSHD 2TB
Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs
Seagate Enterprise Class v4 6TB Hard Drive
Samsung 840 Pro 256GB SSD
ADATA XPG SX300 128GB & Intel 525 Series 180GB mSATA SSDs

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