When it comes to Memory solutions, ADATA is a well-known brand famous for their all-around coverage of market with different solutions that start from budget-conscious segment to as high as enthusiast segment. Backed by technical expertise, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities, and premium customer service, ADATA offers complete memory solutions including DRAM modules, USB flash drives, memory cards, solid state drives and portable hard drives. Xtreme Performance Gear (XPG) was founded by ADATA and is dedicated to providing high-performance products for gamers, e-sport pros, and tech enthusiasts. Every XPG-branded product surpasses stringent ADATA A+ testing methodology, which ensures the highest standards for superior product stability and ultra-high performance. Not only does the XPG line sport solid technical features, its strength shines through with sheer cool designs that have earned prestigious accolades worldwide such as Good Design from Japan and Taiwan Excellence Gold Award. XPG delivers extreme gaming experiences to help gamers make every moment exciting. Comprised of two separate parts, the XPG symbol draws on the infinite power of the “energy storm”. An energy vortex full of positive power is at the center of the symbol, demonstrating XPG’s dedication to creating top-level eSports gears for all gamers’ needs. The outer edge represents Poseidon’s Trident, symbolizing aggressive fighting power and expressing XPG’s willingness to fight through challenges and break free of limitations.

ADATA has recently launched their SX950U series of SSDs with SATA 6Gb/s interface, coming in storage capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. The SX950U is utilizing the latest 3D NAND flash technology to boost system performance and provide higher reliability in comparison to 2D NAND solutions. The SX950U is equipped with Intelligent SLC Caching and DRAM Cache Buffer functions to accelerate the read/write performance. To ensure data integrity and the safety of data transmission, the SX950U features LDPC ECC and RAID Engine technologies. We will be looking at 240GB variant today.

  • Product:               240GB SSD
  • Manufacturer:      ADATA
  • Brand:                  XPG
  • Price:                   PKR 12,999/- At the time of the review

Packaging and Unboxing

The drive comes in a standard cardboard box of black color. On the front side of the packaging box, XPG brand name and logo are printed on the top left side. 3D NAND is printed on the top right side indicating the use of 3D NAND technology in this SSD. There is a picture of the SSD on the main section of the box. SX950U 2.5” SATA 6Gb/s SSD is printed on the bottom left side. The capacity of the SSD is printed on the bottom right side. The backside of the box has ADATA brand name and logo printed on the top left side. Model no of the SSD along with the interface info is printed on the top right side. Salient features of the SSD are printed in 22 different languages on the left side. SSD is rated at 560MB/s for Read operations and 520MB/s for write operations. Please, note that actual performance may vary based on the system specifications etc. The white color sticker is printed on the right side having a serial no, EAN and UPC codes. The SSD comes in 5 years of warranty from ADATA. Compliance information to various regulations is printed under the sticker. Contact info of the manufacturer is printed on the bottom left side. The product is made in Taiwan. The left side of the box has XPG brand logo printed on the far left side. Salient features are highlighted in a red color font like Advanced LDPC Error Correction Code, DRAM Cache Buffer, SLC Caching, and free migration utility that can be downloaded from their website. The right side of the box has XPG brand logo printed on the left side. There is a serial no sticker pasted in the middle. Model no and interface information is printed on the right side. Topside (opening side) has XPG brand logo printed in the middle. There is a seal on the top and the bottom sides. Info labels to various regulations that this product is conforming to are printed on the bottom side.

 

 

Accessories

Following are the contents of the box:

  • 1x 2.5” SSD
  • 1x spacer for 3.5” mounting
  • 1x Warranty and Service Guide

 

Closer Look

The XPG SX950U 240GB has a form factor of 2.5”. It has a height of 7mm making it a low profile design which is suitable for use in PCs as well as in the notebooks. Here is what the ADATA has to say about it, “The SX950U is developed specifically for gamers, which utilizes the latest 3D NAND flash technology to boost system performance and provide higher reliability in comparison to 2D NAND solutions. The SX950U is equipped with Intelligent SLC Caching and DRAM Cache Buffer functions to address the challenges that gamers encounter by accelerating the read/write performance. To ensure data integrity and the safety of data transmission, the SX950U features LDPC ECC and RAID Engine technologies. The SX950U is designed to give gamers a mind-blowing gaming experience, allowing them to focus on their glorious victory on the battlefield!”

 

A consistent problem with the Solid State Drives is that with increasing storage capacities, the price of the solution increases manifold. In a fair price of a 120GB SATA SSD, one could buy a regular 1TB HDD. This statement makes the general Pros and Cons quite apparent. One can buy high-speed storage solution with less storage capacity at almost a same price in which a storage capacity is approximately 8.5 times larger than the fast solution but comes at slower speeds. This is made a further complex with the TLC limitations at hand. Now, manufacturers are trying to bring the fast solutions a bit cheaper than these were yet with adding elements of more data cycles and throughput. This not only adds stability but longevity as well to the storage solution giving the users some peace of mind. The XPG SX950U is a classic example of this approach. ADATA is trying to bring a cost-effective yet highly reliable storage drive for the budget users and using 3D NAND this solution is available in multiple storage capacities yet at lower price adding much-desired value to the SSD. TLC based NAND flash has lower performance, lower endurance, slow read and write (subjective) and possibly best price point for the buyer. These characteristics make it a better buy for the low end of the market segment or the budget user. Now, with 3D TLC in which NAND Flash are vertically stacked, we have much higher endurance, better performance, and energy efficient solution for the same market segment. This is exactly what we are getting in the XPG SX950U 240GB SSD.

Let’s take a look at the drive. The drive’s chassis has a black matte finish with a red/black colors sticker on the top side. XPG brand name is printed on the top left side of this sticker. Solid State Drive is printed in the middle. SX950U is printed on the bottom side with the black color background. This color scheme is giving a bold look to the SSD. There is a white color sticker pasted on the backside. 2.5” SATA 6Gb/s SSD SX950U is printed on the top of this sticker. Model no of the SSD is ASX950USS-240GT which is barcoded on this sticker. Warranty Code and WWN codes are printed and bar coded as well. SSD operates on 5V and comes in 5 years of warranty. There is a scan label on the top right side. Scan it with your mobile device and it will redirect to the product page on their website. Removing this white sticker would void the warranty. The drive is made in Taiwan. The drive has a standard 7-pin Information signal segment/port and 15-pin power segment/port on it. The dimension of the SSD is 100.45 X 69.85 X 7mm and weight of 47.5g. The SX950U uses of 3D NAND Flash to reach larger capacities of up to 960GB by stacking more layers vertically and generating better performance and endurance compared to 2D NAND based SSDs.

There is a single screw with head under the black/red color stick on the top side of the SSD. One would need to peel off the sticker till the screw is visible. In order to access the PCB, one would need to unscrew it and also tempered the Warranty Void silver sticker pasted on the side of the SSD. Please, note that doing any of these steps would void the warranty of your SSD so do it at your own risk. The PCB is green and has dual sided components. The top side of the SSD has two 3D flash memory chips from Micron with a code of 7VB2D NW852. Searching this code on the Micron website revealed that this is a 3D TLC flash with 96GB capacity. There are a total of three of these chips on the SSD making it a theoretical storage capacity of a 288GB, and a nominal capacity of 240GB. ADATA seems to be keeping the 48GB of buffer space. There is a space for two more of these memory chips on the top side. These are 3D TLC chips.

 

The backside of the PCB has four more slots for memory chips with only one in the use by the same Micron 3D memory flash. On the top left side, we have a Memory Controller and Cache chip. ADATA is using Taiwan SMI Hui Rong company’s N05K81.00 S LLUS TW 1637 4D. This is basically a SMI2258 master control. It took a little digging on the SMI website to find it out. They have changed the naming convention from SMXXXX to the N05K81.00. This controller has a 4-channel design with support for SATA 6Gbps interface. This controller explains the augmented features of this SSD like LDPC correction, SLC caching, RAID Engine etc. The last ingredient is the Cache chip or simply a RAM on this SSD. SEC 725 K4B2G16 46F BYK0 indicates that it is a Samsung chip. This cache is DDR3L-1600 with a capacity of 2GB.

Speaking of features, this drive is capable of Static and Dynamic Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Low Power Management, Trim Support, and Smart Zip. In addition, this drive has LDPC error correction which helps in the NAND reliability. A 2,000,000 MTBF is a classic indicator of NAND’s reliability in this SSD along with the 5 years of the Warranty that the ADATA is offering. The SX950U supports intelligent SLC Caching and DRAM cache buffer, which accelerates the sequential and 4K random read/write speeds. Thanks to the SMI controller this SSD has RAID Engine and Data Shaping features enabled which would be helpful in extending lifespan and stability of the SSD.

In terms of data throughput, this drive is capable of up to 560MB/s read and 520MB/s write. Please, keep in mind these figures could vary depending upon the system specification and software being used to test their performance. We will try to validate these speeds in synthetic benchmarks.

Testing

We have tested this drive on the X99 platform. The test bench setup is as follow:

  • Intel i7 6850k
  • Asus Rampage V Edition 10
  • Ballistix Elite 4x4GB 3000MHz DDR4
  • Noctua NH-D15
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD [OS Drive]
  • Seagate 2TB Barracuda
  • Colorful iGame GTX 1050Ti
  • Corsair AX1200i

To test the drive’s read and write speeds, we have used following software running on Microsoft Windows 10 x64 build version 16299:

  • AS SSD 1.8.5636.37293
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 3.05
  • CrystalDiskMark 6
  • Anvil Pro Storage Utilities 1.1.0
  • PCMark

Let’s take a look at the results.

Crystal Disk Mark has resulted in sequential read to be 568.8 MB/s which is above the rated 560MB/s sequential read speed of the drive. The tested sequential write speed was 514.9MB/s which is below the rated write speed of 520MB/s. The difference in write speeds is within the error margin. The sequential read/write speeds have been validated on the Crystal Disk Mark.

Next, we run the AS SSD software to test the performance of the drive. The tested read speed was 527.27MB/s which is approximately 5.84% below the rated speed of the 560MB/s. The tested write speed was 491.81MB/s which is 5.42% below the rated write speed. Please, note that each stress testing software works differently and there would be variations between software and between two runs even on the same SSD. Next, we set the data file size of 5GB and re-ran the test which resulted in marginal improvement in the read and write speeds. Next, we ran the AS SSD Compression Benchmark. The write speed started at 500MB/s approximately. There were continuous ups and downs along the graph line with lowest write speed of 460MB/s (approximately) and as high as 500MB/s. The dips were consistent across the entire run it went to 460MB/s (approximately) just for once. The read speed, on the other hand, has shown consistency on the entire run of the test with marginal downs but no dips. It started at approximately 480MB/s and goes as high as 530MB/s approximately. Next, we ran the AS SSD Copy Benchmark. For compressed files, the speed was 286.83MB/s with a duration of 8.01s. Generally, we would like to have high speeds with less duration. Speed for Programs was 198.81MB/s with a duration of 35.41s. For Game files, the speed was 240.81MB/s with a duration of 28.69s. This is a fairly decent performance.

 

Next, we ran the ATTO Disk Benchmark to test the drive’s performance. On the transfer length of 32GB (Not default) with a complete range of transfer size, the read speed started to cross 400MB/s mark from 8KB transfer size. Whereas the drive started crossing the 500MB/s from the 32KB transfer size. For the transfer size of above 32KB, there was a consistent read performance validating the rated 560MB/s read speeds. The write speeds were with a bit of fluctuation but still remained above the 500MB/s to 520MB/s. Next, we set the Queue Depth to 10 and leave the other settings on default. The performance was consistent. This drive has shown a good performance on ATTO Disk Benchmark.

Next, we ran the Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark to test the performance of the drive. On the default test size of 1GB, the tested read speed was 528.52MB/s with 7.5684s of response time. The write speed was 489.02MB/s with 8.1797s response time. The tested Random Read speed was 43219.42 IOPS. This was with the Queue Depth of 16. With Queue Depth of 4, the Random Read Speed was 21061.87 IOPS. The tested Random Write speed was 78042.15 IOPS on the Queue Depth of 16 whereas it was 68,546.32 IOPS with the Queue Depth of 4. Response time for Random read and write was fairly good as well.

Next, we ran the PCMark benchmark on the XPG SX950U 240GB SSD. The Storage 2.0 score comes to be 4883 with a bandwidth of 234.34MB/s. The response time for gaming ranged from 59.2s to 135.7s. Adobe Photoshop response time ranged from 115.8s to 366.9s. The lowest time was for the Microsoft Excel with 9.3s. It was 9.5s for the Microsoft PowerPoint and 28.7s for the Word. This is as close a test as to a real life usage that one could experience.

Conclusion

With SX950U line up of the SSDs, the ADATA is trying to bring the fast and reliable storage solution at wallet-friendly pricing. Hence, their price-to-performance ratio is making these drives a better value for the users. We were sent a 240GB SSD for the review. The drive is following the SATA III 6Gb/s interface which is backward compatible with the SATA III 3Gb/s with Serial ATA-600 interfacing. It has a 22-pin Serial ATA connector with 7-pins for the information signal and 15-pins for the power signal. The drive is a 2.5” form factor with the dimension of the 100.45 X 69.85 X 7mm and weight of 47.5g. It has a height of 7mm making it a low profile design. Operating temperature is rated between 0 ~ 70°C. The storage temperature rating is -40°C to 85°C making it able to withstand any harsh environment. It is using 5V operating Voltage. There is a space added in the box to provide for a 3.5” mounting along with a Warranty guide. The SX950U is using the 3D NAND technology (3D TLC) which has enabled the manufacturer to provide a compelling storage solution with much better TLC than non-3D TLC. We have already mentioned some of the differences between both types in the Closer Look section above. 3D has added much-wanted stability, endurance, performance, and energy efficiency in the TLC.

The PCB is green and has dual sided components. The top side of the SSD has two 3D flash memory chips from Micron with a code of 7VB2D NW852 which are 3D TLC flash with 96GB capacity. There are a total of three of these chips on the SSD making it a theoretical storage capacity of a 288GB, and a nominal capacity of 240GB. ADATA seems to be keeping the 48GB of buffer space. ADATA is using Taiwan SMI Hui Rong company’s N05K81.00 S LLUS TW 1637 4D. This is basically a SMI2258 master control. It took a little digging on the SMI website to find it out. They have changed the naming convention from SMXXXX to the N05K81.00. This controller has a 4-channel design with support for SATA 6Gbps interface. This controller explains the augmented features of this SSD like LDPC correction, SLC caching, RAID Engine etc. This SSD is using Samsung’s DRAM buffer chip SEC 725 K4B2G16 46F BYK0. This cache is DDR3L-1600 with a capacity of 2GB.

The drive is listed at PKR 12999/- 99.99 USD at the time of the review and performance is right on the money. To be honest, within this price bracket, there is hardly a factor that could differentiate the offering from the competition and data throughput is most likely to be in the same performance delta. But, what makes this solution different from others is the use 3D NAND technology that has enabled the ADATA to provide the same cost-effective solution but with better endurance and stability. 2,000,000 hours of MTBF and 5 years of warranty speak for these factors. With features like Static and Dynamic Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Low Power Management, Trim Support, Smart Zip, RAID Engine, Data Shaping, LDPC Error Correction, intelligent SLC Caching and DRAM cache buffer, This SSD is too good a deal to overlook. In our testing, the performance of the drive is where it should be. In Crystal Disk Mark the sequential read speed was 563.8MB/s and write speed was 514.9 MB/s. In ATTO Disk Benchmark there was a consistent read speed of 560MB/s and write speeds nearing to 520MB/s mark. Anvil Storage Unities test resulted in 528.52MB/s read and 489.02MB/s write speeds. ASSSD has shown the read speed to be 527.27MB/s and 491.81MB/s write speeds. 4883 was the Storage Score in PCMark with a bandwidth of 234.34 MB/s. PCMark is a handy tool to get an idea of how the given drive would perform in real life.

We are thankful to the ADATA for giving us the opportunity to review their XPG SX950U 240GB SSD. ADATA products are officially available in Pakistan at Pacific Computers.

Tech4Gamers Recommended Award

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Value
9.0
Performance
8.5
Quality
9.5
Features
9.0
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