When SSD’s first arrived on the market the price point alone made many people turn away from them, but as the prices began to come down, more and more people began to see the benefit to adding a SSD to their existing system. For more novice consumers and those who still find the price a little too high there are remaining questions about when and why to get an SSD. In this review we will cover the benefits of the Kingston HyperX 3K Series 240GB SSD as well as the overall advantages to using a SSD.
Why an SSD?
So let’s start with the basics. An SSD is faster than your normal Hard Drive, much faster. The direct speed difference will vary on the model you get. Using the HyperX 3K we compared it to my previous hard drive, a 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s. The read and write speeds were many times faster with the SSD which translates into quicker load times and faster access of data. This means if you use it as your system drive Windows will boot and respond faster and applications will do the same.
For many gamers, an SSD is added to their existing system to be used as their game drive. What this does is improve the loading and access time of a game and this also comes into play online. Now an SSD cannot help you if your ISP is slow or you have bandwidth issues, but if you have applications running in the background along with your game, say Ventrilo, an SSD can manage the data better meaning a smooth gaming experience with no choppiness, which is a key in FPS, RTS and MMO gaming.
Beyond the benefits for applications and games an SSD can make an older computers seem newer by expanding its usability. Many times, especially for users who are not heavy into games, find themselves with a slow PC, not because of CPU or memory, but their hard drive. The speed and performance of an SSD can inject new life into your existing system even freeing the need to upgrade other parts. Finally, an SSD contains no moving parts so if you move your system a lot it can take the wear and tear that a traditional hard drive cannot.
We tested the 240GB version of the Kingston HyperX for this review. For people looking to add more programs and games in addition to their operating system, this size is a perfect fit. This model is also lower in price costing a litter over two hundred dollars. For your O/S 100GBs of space is a good number to go with. I personally have used as low as 50GBs with a few applications added, but was always low on drive space. With this 240GB drive, you will have more than enough room for your operating system, your applications and games. If you collect media like movies and music you could add them as well, but its best to run those from a traditional drive as it does not really impact performance.
First thing you will notice is the size. The drive is 2.5 inches with a 9.5mm height, so it is much smaller than your traditional hard drive. The drive comes with a sturdy shinny metallic 3.5 inch bracket and mounting screws, so it can fit into any desktop case. The drive also comes with a handy screw drive that holds various bits as well as the screws keeping everything together and making installation very easy. Of course, if you are not comfortable doing your own installation you can ask a friend, but it is very simple to do and there are many videos showing how to install an SSD.
The HyperX 3K also comes with an USB external drive bay, which looks pretty cool design wise. This allows you to use your SSD as an external drive that you plug into your USB. This also allows you to take the drive on the road which is great for professionals or gamers that travel and since it supports USB 2.0 you will still get the speed and performance you expect.
The drive runs quite since it does not have any moving parts. This is ideal for those who want a silent running PC in their home or office. Another great thing about this drive is that it also draws less power and is cooler than a traditional hard drive meaning it will not add extra heat to your system or the environment it is in and overall is more energy efficient.
Here is a breakdown of the features for the SSD:
- SandForce controller technology
- High-speed SATA Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds
- Advanced Wear-Leveling Technology
- User-Configurable Over Provisioning4
- 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, free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability.
So when looking at the top SSD’s you will want to understand the technology that comes with it. Let’s take a look at some of the terms and breakdown their meaning for those not familiar with them.
Sandforce Technology: Sandforce is the processor for Flash Storage devices. Also known as the controller, it is key component of the drive. Sandforce is known for making top rate SSD processors, which contains additional features that improve the performance and power optimization for a drive and the longevity of the SSD.
TRIM: TRIM in a nutshell is Windows 7 memory optimization for SSD’s and was best explained to me like this. When you write something to your drive think about writing on a piece of paper. When you want to get rid of the paper you would toss it away. With a computer you are not tossing the paper, but erasing whatever you wrote on the paper to use again. With an SSD, you may delete or erase a page, which can be a word doc or an entire program, but the SSD needs a stack of papers, or what is referred of as a block before it deletes them. However, when it’s time to delete the block, since there is more than one page to do, it can take time and that time taken can slow down the SSD. TRIM anticipates that you will need to delete that block sooner or later so it does it ahead of time so you do not run into that large block being erased that slows down your system and in turn your SSD runs at optimum speeds at all times.
S.M.A.R.T: This stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology. This is the early warning system that something is going to happen to your disk drive. SMART monitors your drive and its main function is to detect and report and various indicators of reliability giving you a heads up of potential issues. When SMART finds something wrong you have the option to prepare for an outage by backing up your data and getting a replacement drive. In addition to having a warning to back up your data disk drive manufactures may be able to use the SMART data to find out where issues occurred in their drive and even help them make changes to prevent other issues from occurring. Think of it as the little black box for your SSD.
One thing to keep in mind when testing is how the drive is being used. You will often see faster speeds if you run tests on a free drive being used for gaming than one that you already installed Windows on and then ran the tests. The HyperX features 555MB/sec read and 510MB/sec write speeds, but again these can vary depending on the software and testing conditions. However, the overall speed difference over a traditional hard drive is unmistakable as you can see in the benchmarking screenshots below.
As you can see compared to my previous hard drive the HyperX is much much faster in both read and write speeds. As far as daily use, the different is night and day. When logging into Windows after a reboot the load time is cut down to a few seconds. With my old drive, it would be up to a minute before all my programs would open and be ready for use.
This is another point for SSD’s specifically the Kingston HyperX. If you run a lot of programs and/or have a number of programs that start automatically like instant messenger programs and anti-virus software, a faster drive dramatically drops down the loading time of those applications. Even using programs such as Microsoft Office I can see the different when it auto saves or I save the program myself. Finally, for those who work with audio or video programs an SSD is a must for quicker access of your work and loading times.
Kingston offers a 3-year warranty with this SSD as well as customer support via their website. In addition, a toolbox software download is available. The Kingston Toolbox enables you to read your drive information such as Serial Numbers, Firmware versions, and S.M.A.R.T. attributes.
Overall the Kingston HyperX SSD is one of the fastest drives on the market at with a price in the low 200’s, it is perfect for the advanced or novice user of any budget. The speed and reliability you get with this drive will make any system better, and for those who demand the best performance it is a must have.