Kingston SSDNow V300: Value meets performance
When most people think of Kingston products they think of flash memory, one of their largest markets, or they think of the Hyper X branding. This is easy to understand, flash memory is something everyone uses in one form or another from your video camera to your USB drive. At the geekier end of the scale the Hyper X branding marks the high performance products from Kingston and so geeks lean toward it more. Kingston however also does a budget branding of more value oriented products that are designed for basic computers, OEMs and business use. The V series is the value line up of the Kingston SSDs.
We actually have looked at Kingston’s value SSDs before, back in 2010 we reviewed the original V series. The drive was a solid entry into the SSD market but the upgrade kit features were the real shining star. Well fast forward to today and the see the V300, the third iteration of the V series of SSDs.
As with our first look at the V series, the V300 is offered in three different packages, a drive only, upgrade for laptop and upgrade for desktop systems. The upgrade kits in fact are the same as they were with the original V series. This is awesome as it is still a long way ahead of the competition when it comes to SSD upgrades.
The Laptop Upgrade includes an external 2.5” drive enclosure that connects to your system via a USB cable. This allows you to hook the old laptop HD to the system with the enclosure and the boot from the included disk and use Acronis True Image to clone your old HD to the newly installed SSD. The old 2.5” HD then can be used around your home or office as a external HD for backups. We have seen other companies try to do similar packages but all of them have lacked the simplicity and elegancy of the Kingston solution. The Desktop kit does not have the enclosure but rather a rail adapter that allows your SSD to mount in a 3.5” drive slot. This kit also comes with the boot CD that will load up Acronis True Image to allows easy transfer of your base HD to the SSD.
The SSD itself is pretty standard fair when it comes to the look of the disk, even compared to the original V drive the looks have not changed much. The drive itself is actually fairly heavy compared to other SSDs we have looked at, the construction is very solid. Internally however Kingston has made a lot of changes, such as moving to the Sandforce controller, the same controller used in their HyperX line of SSDs.
This however is not just a HyperX drive with a new case, the memory used in the SSD is actually produced by Kingston using 19nm Toshiba wafers. The HyperX line of drives make use of 25nm Intel memory. This results in a lower cost of production but also a bit of a slowdown compared to the HyperX series.
With this in mind I felt it only fair that we compare the performance of the V300 to the original HyperX as well as the HyperX 3K. For purposes of our test I chose to use my main gaming system which is an Intel i7 3820 with 16 Gigs of HyperX RAM on a Sapphire X79 PURE Black motherboard. For testing the drives were connected to the Intel SATA 3.0 connection. For testing I made use of a number of file transfer tests, timed start ups and shut downs as well as synthetic tests using Crystal Disk Mark, PCMark 07 and AS SSD Benchmark.
In testing we found the results to be very consistent, I mean that we could reproduce the results very reliably with next to zero variance. In every test the V300 was able to stay within 10% of read speeds when compared to both HyperX drives. When we got to write speeds the difference in performance showed however with the V300 coming in around 20% or so slower than the HyperX lineup. This is not as big a deal as it sound since, as we have stated here often, throughput is not the biggest speed advantage and SSD brings to your system. Also when it comes to the majority of users write speeds are not that big of deal. You spend a vast majority of your time reading from your hard drive, not writing to it. When the average person does write to their drive it is typically a small file and the throughput threshold does not get pushed. This showed when we did testing of load times on programs and Windows startup were the V300 was so close in performance to the Hyper X that it was impossible without a stopwatch or a direct side by side comparison to notice the difference.
The conclusion I reached from my testing is that the V300 was a great drive for a gamer or average user wanting to get an SSD. Sounds like the end of the review, it is not. You see the push by Kingston here is that this is a value oriented drive and it is. On Newegg we found the upgrade kits priced at around $119 for a 120 Gig drive. This sounds like a solid price for the full upgrade kit and compares well to drives from other companies due to the features of the kit.
However the V300 is a new product as as such has not saturated the retail channel yet, which means in the tech world that the price has not yet had a chance to fall. The same however cannot be said for the HyperX 3K which has done amazing in the market place and has fallen in price with the market saturation it has seen, the result is when I looked on Newegg I found the HyperX 3K kit for the same price as the V300 kit. This complicated matters a great deal when it comes to considering which drive to buy.
If the pricing is equal the choice is a no brainer with the HyperX 3K offering a more robust upgrade kit, both laptop and desktop upgrade features are in the Hyper X kit, plus the drive is actually faster in testing. Right now the choice of which to buy is clear. However as pricing falls on the V300 this will change, this spells good news for the V300 down the road. For most people the V300 delivers a great computing experience and is close enough to the HyperX that if the V300 costs less it is a worthy consideration.
This is the kind of predicament that every hardware company should hope for, their budget product having performance enough to be competitive with their performance product. The only down side for Kingston right now is the fact that the HyperX pricing is down near that of the budget V300.
The V300 is an awesome drive and once the prices settle could be an amazing budget choice for an SSD upgrade.