GAMERZ PAKISTAN has launched addlink products (SSDs and RAMs) in the local market. They have sent us the addlink S68 256GB NVMe SSD for the content. The S68 series from the addlink comes in sizing of 256GB/512GB/1TB. These are M.2 NVMe SSDs using PCIe Gen 3.0 x4 interface. These SSDs employ 3D TLC NAND technology which makes them quite a cost-effective SSD for the consumer side though TLC has its own Cons as compared to the MLC/SLC. The dimension of the addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is 80x22x3.5mm (LxWxH) and comes bearing a weight of 8.2g. In terms of the M.2 SSD sizing it is 2280 form factor. The sequential read speed of the addlink S68 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD is up to 2000 MB/s and the sequential write speed is up to 1200 MB/s. What makes this SSD cost-effective? It does not have a DRAM cache and utilizes HMB (Host Memory Buffer). Simply putting it will use a certain portion of your PC RAM as a cache.

  • Product:               S68 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
  • Manufacturer:      addlink
  • Price:                   PKR 7000/- at the time of the review

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The SSD is shipped inside a paperboard box.

addlink is aiming this valued edition SSD for gaming in Desktop and Notebook. I would be on the lookout if the notebook’s RAM is not that high if employing this SSD.

The SSD’s read speed is mentioned as up to 2000 MB/s and writes as up to 1000 MB/s. Nothing extra-ordinary there but keep in mind the pocket-friendly price tag while still offering high speeds compared to the SATA-based SSDs.

There is a user manual provided in the box.

The SSD is placed inside a transparent container.

Closer Look

The addlink S68 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD has an M.2 form factor of 2280. It is an M Key type SSD compatible with the majority of the M.2 slots on modern motherboards. Here is what addlink is saying about their S68 SSDs. “addlink S68 SSD delivers top-tier performance for gaming and hardware enthusiasts who are looking to build or upgrade their PC. Available in capacities up to 1TB, the addlink S68 NVMe SSD rivals some of the best performing drives on the market to help give gamers that competitive edge.”

Though in later time we have seen a reduction in the SSD prices but this is not by any large margin and the consistent problem with the Solid State Drives with increasing storage capacities is the price of the solution increasing manifold. The price per GB is still in favor of the 3.5” HDDs than SSDs and particularly PCIe SSDs which are even further expensive than 2.5” SSDs. This is made further complex with the considerations like type of flash memory often expressed as SLC, MLC, TLC, and now QLC. Each has its own Pros and Cons in terms of endurance and better performance and very much related factor of the pricing. TLC is employed in the majority of the consumer-grade solution in the SSDs. While the real benefit of having a TLC (3 bits per cell) is its relatively lower pricing and more data storage capacity, the considerations are lower performance over a period of time, lower endurance in particular.

The addlink S68 is taking advantage of the 3D TLC NAND. 3D NAND is a response to the scaling or density challenges of the planar NAND to have higher densities in the smaller physical space though this adds to the manufacturing cost of the 3D NAND. 3D NAND flash is a type of flash memory in which the memory cells are stacked vertically in multiple layers. 3D NAND can deliver a greater level of performance and endurance. 3D TLC NAND tries to bring the fast solutions a bit cheaper yet with adding elements of more data cycles and throughput. The above was a bit of the perspective into a background of the 3D TLC NAND that has been employed in the addlink S68 M.2 NVMe PCIe SSDs.

It is time to take a look at the addlink 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD. The dimension of the SSD is 80x22x3.5mm (LxWxH) and it has a weight of 8.2g. The addlink S68 series SSDs don’t need a dedicated driver on the Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. Since, these SSDs are using the operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated software provided by the manufacturer. The top side has a large size sticker pasted over the components. The top side of the sticker has addlink brand name printed on it followed by the capacity of the SSD which is 256GB. S68 M.2 PCIe GEN3x4 SSD is printed below the capacity. The brand logo of the addlink is printed almost in the middle. Part no of the SSD is ad256GBS68M2P.

In order to know which controller, DRAM cache, and storage chips this SSD is using, the label sticker needs to be taken off. The color of the PCB is blue. The SSD is using PHISON PS5013-E13-31 controller. This controller has support for PCIe Gen 3×4 and has compliance with NVMe 1.3 standard. The controller supports Host Memory Buffer (HMB) which would mean the SSD does not have a DRAM cache chip-on-board. The main chip of the controller is from TSMC 28nm technology and uses a 32-bit microcontroller. This controller has native support for 3d TLC and QLC NAND flash with a supportive capacity of up to 2TB. The controller supports M.2 3.3V ±5% and active power of up to 3.45W (average).

This SSD employs 2x 128GB chips having a number CA7AG64A0A making up to 256GB capacity. These chips based on their serial numbers seem to be from YMTC.

The backside of the drive shows that there is a white color sticker pasted on the left side. The website address of the manufacturer is printed on the sticker along with the capacity, model, part no information.

Speaking of features, the addlink S68 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is capable of:

  • End-to-end Data Path Protection
  • Thermal throttling SMART-ZIP
  • SMART Refresh
  • DriveLog
  • HBM (Host Memory Buffer)
  • TCG OPAL3
  • TCG Pyrite

The addlink S70 M.2 SSD is engineered with a RAID engine and LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) coding, a powerful ECC algorithm, to keep data secure. 1.5 Million hours is an indicator of NAND’s reliability in this SSD along with the 5 years of the Warranty that the addlink is offering. The operating temperature of the SSD is rated between 0°C to 70°C. The storage temperature is ranged from -40°C to 85°C.

Testing

We have tested this drive on the Intel Z490 platform. The test bench setup is as follow:

  • Intel i7 10700k
  • MSI MAG Z490 TOMAHAWK
  • T-Force NIGHTHAWK RGB 16GB DDR4
  • ASUS ROG RYUO 240 CLC
  • addlink S70 256GB NVMe SSD [OS Drive]
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 FE
  • be quiet! Straight Power 11 850W PSU

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

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

Let’s take a look at the results.

The sequential read speed comes to 2500.2MB/s and the sequential write speed comes to the 1175MB/s validating the rated 2000MB/s sequential read and 1200MB/s sequential write speeds (these are mentioned as up to).

Next, we run the AS SSD software to test the performance of the drive. The AS SSD also validates the rated speeds of this SSD.

The above picture shows the result in IOPs for this SSD. The SSD is rated for 4K Random Read/Write of 220K and 250K respectively.

The drive is slow as compared to other NVMe SSDs with the main difference coming from the DRAM-less topology of the SSD.

The above pictures show the actual result of running the AS SSD Copy and Compression benchmarks.

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 with QD 4, the rated sequential read and write speeds were almost consistently validated particularly with larger transfer sizes.

Next, we ran the Anvil Storage Utilities benchmark to test the performance of the drive. On the default test size of 1GB, the result validated the sequential speeds of the SSD though it fall short of the rated IOPS.

We put an 87GB folder with varying size files and folders in it to be copied from the OS drive to the addlink S68 drive.

Next, we put a 13GB single file to be copied from the OS drive to the addlink S68 drive.

Conclusion

The addlink S68 series is a value pack from the manufacturer aiming at the budget market segments. This series has three offers starting from 256GB in size and a maximum of 1TB. We have tested their S68 256GB NVMe PCIe 3×4 SSD. This SSD has a dimension of 80x22x3.5mm (LxWxH). It is a single-sided PCB layout meaning all the components are on one side of the SSD. Speaking of the components, this SSD has a controller and two Flash chips.

The SSD is DRAM-less hence its price is on the lower side. This would also mean that the SSD will use a certain portion of the host PC’s RAM, a feature they called HBM (Host Memory Buffer). DRAM chips contribute to the higher pricing of SSDs. The addlink S68 is taking advantage of the 3D TLC NAND. Since these SSDs are using the operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated software either by the manufacturer.

The SSD employs PHISON PS5013-E13-31 controller. This controller supports a PCIe Gen3x4 interface with backward compatibility. It has the support of NVMe 1.3 and Host Memory Buffer. The main chip is from TSMC 28nm technology and uses a 32-bit microcontroller. The SSD employs 2x 128MB Flash chips from YMTC (seems like from the serial numbers).

The addlink S68 M.2 SSD is engineered with a RAID engine and LDPC (Low-Density Parity Check) coding, a powerful ECC algorithm, to keep data secure. The MTBF is 1.5 Million hours and addlink is offering 5 years of warranty on these drives. The operating temperature of the SSD is rated between 0°C to 70°C. The storage temperature is ranged from -40°C to 85°C. In terms of data throughput, this drive is capable of up to 2000MB/s read and 1200MB/s write. Please, keep in mind these figures would vary depending upon the system specification and software being used to test their performance. The Random Read/Write speeds are 220K and 250K IOPS respectively.

The addlink S68 256GB NVMe PCIe3x4 SSD is available in the local market at Rs.7000/- price tag. This SSD is a value edition offer from the addlink and is aimed at gamers in particular. The SSD throughout the tests has performed above the rated sequential read speeds and up to the rated write speeds. The random reads and writes were a hit or miss. Despite having a DRAM-less design, the SSD has shown a relatively nice performance. The SSD was doing 50°C at an ambient of 23.9°C under load.

We are thankful to GAMERZ Pakistan for the provision of the unit for the testing.

Tech4Gamers Recommended Award

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Value
9.0
Performance
8.5
Quality
9.0
Features
7.5