Introduction

“You make memories, we make them last!”, is the tag line motto of the relatively unknown addlink. They are a Taiwan based manufacturer having set up their office and factory there in 2014. Their specialty is in mobile storage memory. addlink’s main products are mobile accessories such as mobile phone memory cards, professional camera memory cards, USB drives, dual-use flash drives (MicroUSB, OTG, Type-C, Lightning), and other memory storage devices like SSD and memory for traffic cameras. The ‘a’ in the addlink is small and we are supposed to write the company’s name as it is so sorry Mr. Word, stop correcting my grammar here! The addlink has a presence in 25 countries using 100 business partners.

M/s PakDukkan has launched addlink in Pakistan and they reached out for a review of addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD. The S70 series from the addlink comes in the sizing of 256GB/512GB/1TB/2TB. 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 particularly in terms of long term performance and endurance but many of these have been addressed using a combination of 3D NAND and Wear Leveling, TRIMM, SCL Caching, etc. The dimension of the addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is 80x22x2.3mm (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 S70 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD is up to 3000 MB/s and sequential write speed is up to 1000 MB/s. Random Read speed is 95K IOPS and Random Write is 94K IOPS.

  • Product:               S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD
  • Manufacturer:      addlink
  • Price:                   PKR 7,999/- with 1.5 Years local limited warranty
                • PKR 8,398.95/- with 3 Years of the local limited warranty

Specifications

Packaging and Unboxing

The SSD is shipped inside a paperboard box.

The front side of the packing box has a black and yellow color theme with letter ‘a’ of addlink printed in the yellow color on the top right side in an enlarged size. Solid State Drive M.2 PCI Express is printed on the top left. Salient feature highlights are printed in bullet format on the left side in the midsection. There is a cutout on the right side with a transparent container showing the SSD in its might and prime. addlink is printed at the bottom left side.

The backside of the box has addlink printed on the top right side. M.2 PCI Express is printed on the top left side. nvm express is printed in the same line. Features of the SSD are printed in 6 languages on the main section. Company’s contact information is printed at the bottom left side. The SSD carries 5 years of warranty from addlink and it is made in Taiwan. There is a sticker pasted at the bottom right side showing the model of the SSD and its sequential read and write speeds. Sr No and Part No are also printed.

The right side of the box has Solid State Drive printed on the right whereas addlink is printed on the left. The styling on the front extends over this side of the box.

The left side of the box has Solid State Drive printed on the left. The theme and style on this side sync with the overall theme and style of the box.

The bottom side of the box has addlink printed in the middle. A seal can be seen in the middle.

The top side of the box is identical in layout as is on the bottom side. Seal is also there in the middle.

Contents

There is nothing in the box except the SSD.

Closer Look

The addlink S70 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 the modern motherboards. Here is what addlink is saying about their S70 SSDs. “addlink S70 SSD aims at high-end applications, such as digital audio/video production, gaming, and enterprise use, which require constant processing heavy workloads with no system lags or slowdowns of any kind. Powered by 3D NAND flash memory, the S70 gives you not only fast transfer speeds but unmatched reliability.”

Though in later time we have seen a reduction in the SSD prices but this is not by any large margin and a 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 a further complex with the considerations like the type of flash memory often expressed as SLC, MLC, TLC and now QLC. Each has its own Pros and Cons in terms of the 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 the 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 S70 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 than these were yet with adding element 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 S70 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 80x22x2.3mm (LxWxH) and it has a weight of 8.2g. The addlink S70 series SSDs don’t need a dedicated driver on the Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. For Windows 7, a driver is needed. Since these SSDs are using the operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated software either by the manufacturer. The color of the PCB is blue. The top side has a large size-sticker pasted over the components. In order to know which controller, DRAM cache and storage chips this SSD is using, the label sticker needs to be taken off. I did not remove it as this is actually a retail unit which is supposed to go back to the source. The top side of the sticker has addlink brand name printed on it followed by the capacity of the SSD which is 256GB. S70 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 ad256GBS70M2P is printed further ahead along with the scan bar code. nvm express logo is printed as well mentioning that it is NVMe interfaced drive.

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

This is effectively a DUAL sided PCB where components are used on both sides of the PCB. It seems like the same PCB is being used for all the densities of the SSDs in this lineup.

Speaking of features, the addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is capable of TRIMM DEVSLP, Garbage Collection, ECC, S.M.A.R.T, SLC Caching (which accelerates the sequential and 4K random read/write speeds), Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Over-Provision, RAID Protection. 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. A 1,800,000 MTBF 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. In terms of write endurance, the SSD is rated at 350 TBW.

The addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is using DDR3L caching using 3D TLC flash from Toshiba. There are 4x flash chips each having 64GB capacity on this drive. Apparently, this drive is using the Phison E12 controller. In terms of data throughput, this drive is capable of up to 3000MB/s read and 1000MB/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. The Random Read/Write speeds are 95K and 94K respectively.

The drive is using over-provisioning. Out of 256GB the 238GB is available for the user. The over-provisioning reserves the certain space of the NAND flash memory to perform some background memory management for the controller.

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
  • Corsair Vengeance RED LED 32GB @ 2667MHz DDR4
  • Alphacool Eisbaer 360
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB SSD [OS Drive]
  • Gigabyte GTX 1060 Gaming G1
  • Corsair AX1200i PSU

To test the drive’s read and write speeds, we have used the following software running on Microsoft Windows 10 x64 build version 16299 version 1709:

  • AS SSD 1.8.5636.37293
  • ATTO Disk Benchmark 3.05
  • CrystalDiskMark 6
  • Anvil Pro Storage Utilities 1.1.0
  • PCMark8

The above picture shows the SSD detected in the UEFI of the motherboard.

Let’s take a look at the results.

The sequential read speed comes to 3091.8MB/s and sequential write speed comes to the 1141.8MB/s validating the rated 3000MB/s sequential read and 1000MB/s sequential write speeds.

Next, we run the AS SSD software to test the performance of the drive. The tested read speed was 2555.48MB/s. The tested write speed was 923.63MB/s. 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.

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 10, 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 tested read speed was 2257.99MB/s with 1.7715s of response time. The write speed was 819.02MB/s with the 4.8828s response time.

Next, we ran the PCMark8 benchmark on the SSD. The Storage 2.0 score comes to be 5055 with the bandwidth of 514.36MB/s.

Our last synthetic test was using SiSoftware Sandra Storage benchmark. The result is self-explanatory.

Gaming Load Time

We copied Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt on the SSD and measures the load time from double-clicking the game executable file until it gives control to the user. It took 12.91 seconds to load the game.

addlink S70 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Conclusion:

The addlink is not a well-known quantity is making some waves and rightly so. They are giving the users the taste of fast storage possibly at the best rates at the moment. Though they are saying that they are present in 25 countries through 100 business partners they definitely are in need of some aggressive marketing and what not to bring their value-oriented products to the masses and to establish a brand name that is worth trying for. M/s Pak Dukaan has recently launched addlink in Pakistan and they gave me the opportunity to review the addlink S70 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. The addlink S70 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 the modern motherboards. The addlink S70 SSD aims at high-end applications, such as digital audio/video production, gaming, and enterprise use, which require constant processing heavy workloads with no system lags or slowdowns of any kind. They are clearly aiming at both ends of the spectrum.

The addlink S70 is taking advantage of the 3D TLC NAND. The SSD’s dimension is 80x22x2.3mm (LxWxH) with a weight of 8.2g. The addlink S70 series SSDs don’t need a dedicated driver on the Microsoft Windows 8.1 and 10. For Windows 7, a driver is needed but there is no listing of any driver on their website. It seems like the user of Windows 7 may have to contact Microsoft for the driver. Since these SSDs are using the operating system’s native NVMe driver, there is no dedicated software either by the manufacturer. This is a dual-sided PCB with components (controller, flash chips, DRAM chip) on both sides. Take a note of this in case you’d be buying this SSD and hooking it up with aftermarket heat sink cover for better thermal performance.

The addlink S70 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD is feature-rich storage solution. It is capable of TRIMM DEVSLP, Garbage Collection, ECC, S.M.A.R.T, SLC Caching (which accelerates the sequential and 4K random read/write speeds), Wear Leveling, Bad Block Management, Over-Provision, RAID Protection. 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. The MTBF is 1.8 Million and addlink is offering 5 years of Warranty on these drives. The Warranty period info is another indicator of how long you can expect the drive to last and it is usually more than that of the warranty period. 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. 350 TBW is the write endurance of the SSD.

The addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is using DDR3L caching using 3D TLC flash from Toshiba. There are 4x flash chips each having 64GB capacity on this drive. Apparently, this drive is using the Phison E12 controller (I did not remove the label of the SSD to verify the chip due to restriction from the source). In terms of data throughput, this drive is capable of up to 3000MB/s read and 1000MB/s write. Please, keep in mind these figures could vary depending upon the system specification and software being used to test their performance. The Random Read/Write speeds are 95K and 94K respectively.

The addlink S70 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe SSD is listed on Pak Dukaan at Rs.7,999/- with 1.5 years of the warranty and at Rs.8,398.95/- with 3 years of the warranty. No good reason why I would not pick the price with 3 years of the warranty when the difference is mere of Rs.400/- Though, I was expecting full 5 years of the Warranty as is being offered by the manufacturer. Still, it is a peace of mind knowing that you have a viable storage solution in the best possible pricing with local warranty. Many of the manufacturers are not shipping to Pakistan for one reason or other and this is very why products with local warranty matter a lot. My recent experience with Western Digital over a request to RMA their Black 6TB drive is a perfect example where the company is willing to provide a replacement but not to Pakistan. Anyhow, I digress. Coming back to the content, our testing has validated the speeds of the SSD making it absolutely the best buy for your bucks in this range in the local market. There are 3 more variants available including 512GB and 1TB in M.2 PCIe format as well standard 2.5” size with the prices of later even more wallet-friendly.

We are thankful to the PakDukaan for giving us the opportunity to review the addlink S70 256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD.

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