There are a few things that one can do to a PC to make it faster. Upgrading GPU, CPU adding RAM are all viable options but upgrading your mechanical hard drive to a solid state drive gives a vary noticable increase. There are only a few ways to make mechanical hard drives faster; one is to increase the rotational speed and we've seen this done. At one time most standard hard drive platters rotated at 5400 RPM, now most rotate at 7200 RPM and server drives can rotate up to 15,000 RPM. Other ways are to increase the cache sizes, upgrade the controllers on the hard drives, but it is still a mechanical rotating assembly that stores bits and pieces of information here and there as the drive writes to the platters. When the drive reads from the platters it grabs a bit here and a bit there but inbetween it has to seek for the next bit of information, and if the drive has to wait for the information, so do you.
Solid state drives us similar technology that is found in flash drives that use NAND based flash memory. Which has the ablity to retain the data stored on it without the need for power. SSDs also contain no moving parts and are less susceptible to physical damage. So droping your laptop with an SSD installed may not mean data loss if the laptop is still functional at all.
Upgrading to a SSD drive gives you performace that you can actually see. Faster boot times, faster loading times and over all quicker system reponsiveness are all benefits of SSD drives. When SSD drive launched their weakness was the fact that they had dramatically smaller capacities than their mechanical counter parts and we extremely costly, fast forwared a few years and that is not the case any more. SSDs come in a variety of sized from 120 GB to 480 GB and larger. The cost is still slightly higher than a mechanical hard drive, but if the buyer is diligent a 120 GB SSD drive can typically be found for about $89.00 and would free up the other hard drive to use as data storage, etc.
Today we are looking at the Kingston Hyper X 120 GB SSD which boast read times of 555 MB/s ad write times of 510 MB/s.
About the Product
The following information was provided by the Kingston web site and used for general specifications.
Kingston’s HyperX® SSD combines the latest SandForce® controller technology with premium NAND Flash, reducing load times while increasing performance and endurance. It provides high-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds for larger bandwidth, which power users require for advanced gaming, multitasking and multimedia computing power. Kingston’s HyperX SSD lets users load games and applications faster, increase frames per second (FPS) and quickly transfer and edit large media files. It’s cool, silent and requires less power and no additional cooling requirements.
SandForce controller technology
High-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds
Advanced Wear-Leveling Technology
User-Configurable Over Provisioning1
Performance — incredible speeds for enhanced productivity
Reliable — much less likely to fail than a standard hard drive
Shock-Proof — dropping your notebook no longer means losing your data
Cool & Quiet — runs silent and with no moving mechanical parts to generate heat
Innovative — uses NAND Flash memory components
Supports TRIM — enhances device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks
Supports S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology)
Guaranteed — three-year warranty (KC100 features a five-year warranty), free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability.
Now that we got basic information out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the Kingston HyperX 120 GB solid State Drive..
Kingstons HyperX series is designed for the enthusiast market and is their flagship series for the SSD line which demands exceptional performance at a great price which equates to value. The artwork design of the box is well done. You can clearly see the product as well as the performance claims and capacity on the front and on the back of the box it shows the included accessories. We are looking at the 120 GB upgrade kit.
The HyperX 120 upgrade kit is protected by a flexible foam barrier to protect the drive and accessories while in shipping. The upgrade kit contains everything you'd need to install this drive in the case, as well as a 3.5" to 2.5" adapter for those cases that cannot natively mount a 2.5" drive. Also included are a USB 2.0 enclosure, a nice little Kingston pen style screw driver, cables, screws and Acronis cloning software to help migrate from one hard drive to another. This is the most complete kit that I have come across and give a big boost to value.
SATA & Power connection
The case of the HyperX SSD is a fine mesh of black plastic and brushed aluminum. The dimensions of the drive are the same as any 2.5" drive and are designed to fit into both desktops and notebooks alike. Without any rotating compoenents, or moving parts for that matter the SSD is rated to 1500 G of shock. So dropping the drive or a laptop shouldn't cause data loss. The HyperX is a SATA III drive controlled by a built in SandForce controller. The drive is backwards compatible with SATA II as well.
The USB 2.0 enclosure is a nice accessory that is added to the upgrade kit. This will allow you to use the SSD as a USB flash drive for those users that are constantly on the go. Kingston again went with a black plastic and brushed aluminum look which is quite pleasing. installing the drive into the enclosure is as easy as installing batteries into a TV remote controle. Slide off the back and slide the drive unto the power and SATA connectors then silde the back cover back on. There's a locking switch on the enclosure to keep everything in place as it is traveling around.
GIGABYTE Z77X-UD3H LGA 1155 Intel z77 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
EVGA GeForce GTX 560 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000) Desktop Memory
Cooler Master 1200 Watts Modular Power Supply
Crystal Disk Mark 1K
Crystal Disk Mark 4K
For our first test we fired up Crystal Disk Mark. Crystal Disk Mark is a staple at UMLan and we have been using it for quite a while. The first test is the 1K benchmark; we attained speeds of 483.2 MB/s read and 483.8 MB/s on the write side. Typically write speeds will be slower than read speeds. For the 4K benchmark we were able to grab 482.0 MB/s read and 481.9 MB/s write. Blistering speeds to be sure and a decent indicator of the performance one can expect from this drive.
HD Tune Pro Read
HD Tune Pro Write
Benchmarks do not mean much if you can't verify results. Next we let HD Tune Pro take a stab at the HyperX. Here we can see that the average read speed is 389.4 MB/s with a max of 407.0 MB/s. On the write side of the benchmark the average write speed is 366.7 MB/s with a maximum of 406.3 MB/s. Access times have a lot to do with how fast the PC responds and with a mechanical hard drive access times can be 00000 ms. The read access time is .050 ms and write access times are still under 1 ms at .152.
ATTO Disk Benchmark
AIDA64 Disk Benchmark
The ATTO Disk benchmark is the test Kingston used to get the speeds of 555 MB/s read and 510 MB/s write. With ATTO we were able to get a maximum of 554.11 MB/s which is right in line with Kingston's claim of 555 MB/s. The write speeds we got with ATTO come to 525.06 MB/s which actually exceeds the 510 MB/s that Kingston states. Switching over to the disk benchmark in AIDA64 that our read speeds were well over 500 MB/s with a random read hitting 604.4 MB/s
USB Flash Drive Comparison
After slapping the HyperX into the included USB Enclosure we again fired up HD Tune and we got an average of 39.7 MB/s read and 39.4 write. If anything this shows how dated USB 2.0 is and that for higher speeds USB 3.0 is needed. I also included a read benchmark as a comparison to a Kingston Data Traveler flash drive. and you can see that both drives are right in line with each other.
So when it comes down to is SSDs are here to stay. Superior transfer rates and tremendously low access times typically wipe the floor with traditional mechanical hard drives. As I said before access times is what make a PC feel fast. For example on our test set up I timed the amount of time it took to fire up the computer from the off state. From the time I pressed the power button to the Windows 7 log in screen the elapsed time was 20.25 seconds and after I entered the password until all the items were loaded it was another 9.35 seconds. From power on to the desktop including the motherboard POST was just under 30 seconds. Typically I see boot times of a minute or more.
The value aspect of this kit is high. As of this writing the 120 GB kit is selling for $174.99 and this includes everything you need to get the SSD drive installed and the data migrated over from the old hard drive to the new. The 240 GB kit and 480 GB kits are selling for $349.99 and 629.99 respectivly. Granted the downfall at the moment of SSDs is their limited capacity as well as their price per GB is still higher than traditional hard drives. However, looking into building a budget gaming PC this hard drive can be purchased for 129.99, which is just above $1.00 per GB. At 120 GB replacing the hard drive that contains the operating system and daily applications will be a huge performance boost in daily operations. However, with USB 3.0 on most shipping motherboards, and updated USB 3.0 would be nice.
Some pros we found:
True SATA III capability Rock Solid SandForce controller Over 400 MB/s R/W performance! Installation Kit
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