Drive Kingston A1000 - ambulance for a laptop?

    The era of HDD, as the system drives, is moving to its logical conclusion. Prices and volumes of solid-state drives come back to normal, and their speed clearly shows which technology is relevant today and which technology is slowly turning into a niche product. And when planning to upgrade your computer, there is no longer any question what type of drive to choose. But with the classification of SSD problems can arise.



    SSD are different


    Looking at the abundance of characteristics of modern drives, it is easy to get confused in numbers and abbreviations. But this is only at first glance. It is enough to conditionally divide them into two categories according to their design (case and chip form), then distribute according to the type of connection, and finally, by the type of memory used. And you can simply withdraw the four key selection criteria, and everything will fall into place, as if by magic.

    Form Factor and Connector

    It is unlikely to get entangled in as many as two form factors: there are SSDs packed in the case, and they are the same, but in the form of a conventional chip without too much weight. The first appeared during the active use of SATA II (and then SATA III) interfaces and the complete dominance of hard drives. The ones in which the proverbial iron “pancakes” have been spinning for a decade. In recent years, such SSDs have gone from “raw” and “unreliable” technology (just recall the first netbooks with a flash-drive for 8-16 GB) to a simple and understandable solution.



    The latter are a more modern incarnation of solid-state drives. Having moved from the world of laptops and nettops to the “big brother” cases, they take up much less space. Connection in most cases occurs through the connector M.2 or a PCI-Express slot, by analogy with video cards.

    Protocol

    The subject of the differences between the versions of this hardware is the classic set of SATA commands against the promising NVMe. Both versions have advantages and disadvantages.

    Memory type

    In fact, the principles of operation of all SSDs are similar: microcircuits with rows and columns of transistors have replaced magnetic heads and rows of rotating disks. This whole implementation is called NAND flash memory. However, in the structure of the microcircuits themselves lies a number of nuances. Depending on how many data bits will be stored in each cell, the total drive resource will change. With the increase in information storage density, not only the cost of SSD production, but also reliability decreases - the laws of physics have the unpleasant property of working not only per person, but also against it.



    Nevertheless, with the growth of the storage volume, its overall level of reliability still grows, even taking into account the reduction in the cell resource. The smart controller tries to evenly distribute the load on the memory banks, making their wear predictable and understandable. In addition, today, manufacturers are laying an increasing reserve volume (which is not visible to the user), which is used to extend the life of the drive - thanks to the low cost of production.

    But there is another type of memory. 3D NAND. Well-known marketers present it as a revolution, but in essence this is the same TLC-memory, clothed in a new form. Yes, some of its characteristics are significantly ahead of those of the classic NAND, especially when it comes to volume. The fact is that instead of arranging the transistors on a plane, as they always did, they were packed into vertical structures. You can say, instead of putting the books on the floor, they were collected in the cabinets. Less space is needed, the amount of information is the same, it is a bit easier to look for. And there and the second cabinet can be put, and the third, and so on. So it turned out that the 3D-NAND has an amazing chip density and the best features for random access.

    Make controller

    The type and method of memory production is important, but no less important is the controller: the same block that receives the incoming data stream and turns it into a set of stored zeros and ones. How quickly the SSD will “resist” to the volume of work dumped on it depends directly on its performance and the amount of RAM.

    M.2 vs SATA


    By itself, M.2 is not a specialized interface for drives - it is just a universal connector. You can use M.2 not only for SSDs, but also for installing Wi-fi, Bluetooth modules, and other devices. One of its key advantages is the connection without the use of additional cables and loops. The connector version (SATA and / or PCI-Express bus) depends on its location on the motherboard. Depending on the required interface, the keys of the device itself will differ.


    It is more correct to call M.2 NVMe vs. M.2 SATA1

    NVMe, a special protocol designed specifically for connecting SSDs, became a logical continuation of connecting ultra-fast drives to PCI-Express slots for video cards. Its modern version already uses four PCI-Express 3.0 lines, “wrapped” in a compact connector, and the instruction set is optimized for the flash memory features.

    NVMe linear speeds in flagship drives are 5-6 times ahead of the “classics”. But more importantly, the new protocol received a significant performance advantage when working with small files and working with random read-write operations.

    The strengths and weaknesses of both solutions


    NVMe

    The latest NVMe not only greatly benefits in terms of throughput, but is also specially adapted for the SSD architecture, minimizing delays when working with data. The interface not only supports multithreading, but also connects the processor to the drive directly, without unnecessary intermediaries. From the user's point of view, NVMe is the maximum throughput, high performance in random operations and minimal delays when accessing data. The bonus comes with less CPU load.


    The disadvantages of such drives include the demands on the revision of the motherboard (for example, outdated PCI Express 2.0 lines can be connected to slot M.2). In addition, the NVMe SSD temperature mode is significantly higher than that of SATA models: in some cases, you will have to choose between installing additional cooling and reducing performance.

    SATA

    The most obvious advantage of SATA SSD is their relatively low price. In addition, the outdated, but widespread connection interface allows the use of controllers easier, and this directly affects the power consumption. In desktop PCs, you will not notice the difference, but the laptop may not estimate the additional load on the battery.

    Accelerating your laptop with a Kingston SSD A1000


    The test bench used an MSI GL62 laptop based on the Intel Core i7-7700HQ processor with eight gigabytes of RAM and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 3GB video adapter. The system disk was M.2 SATA-drive, which performance is quite enough in everyday usage scenarios. The more interesting is the comparison with the modern, relatively inexpensive and technologically more advanced NVMe-based SSD.

    What is inside A1000?

    The drive is based on 3D TLC NAND microchips memory controlled by a four-channel Phison 5008 controller. The capacity is 480 GB, there are also versions for 240 and 960 GB. The technical performance provides almost twice as high performance as SATA-drives of the same price category.



    Kingston A1000 is made in the format M.2 2280, connects to the motherboard interface PCI Express and supports the NVMe 1.2 protocol. For full-fledged SSD, two PCI-E 3.0 x2 bus lines with a total bandwidth of up to 16 Gb / s will suffice. The stated reading speed is up to 1500 MB / s for the entire line, but the write speed depends on the size of the model. For the tested 480 GB - 900 MB / s (version 240 GB accelerates to 800 MB / s, the top version of 960 GB - up to 1000 MB / s).

    It would seem that the passport specifications do not reach the ceiling of the capabilities of the PCI Express interface - but the price of the new product is much more democratic than the models that demonstrate the wonders of peak performance.



    Installation

    The process of installing SSD in laptops differs little in order of action. The key difference is one - some vendors soar with the convenience of the user and make a special hatch for accessing expansion slots. Others sculpt a solid bottom cover, and even traitorously stick one of the screws with a “warranty” sticker. Regardless of the general situation, the algorithm is one - backup, de-energize, open, replace. Instructions for parsing is better to google in advance, so as not to break any tricky latches or not to miss the hidden screws.

    Benchmark Results

    Synthetics shows predictable results. If the SATA drive came close to the limits of the protocol capabilities (550 megabytes per second for reading and a little less for recording), then PCI-E, albeit in version 1.2, is another matter. In everyday tasks, the difference in linear reading and writing is almost not noticeable.


    The picture of the world is fundamentally transformed when it comes to loads of a random nature. Classic HDDs never excelled in such tests, and the SATA protocol was developed at a time when SSD was not thought of. As a result, the corresponding functionality was simply not laid. NVMe, on the other hand, was created specifically for solid-state drives and, above all, with an eye on large samples of random read and write commands. Pay attention to the graphics Random - that's where the power of the PCI-Express SSD.



    Exhaust in practice


    The results are quite expected: thanks to the sharpening of modern SSD hardware controlled by NVMe, it has come a long way. In particular, copying files inside the drive itself turned out to be more than 2 times higher. The laptop has become much faster in work with the operating system and browser - those loads that are directly dependent on random access to the disk.

    Soft

    There is nothing to say about the installation of applications - it is obvious that Kingston A1000 will dry out classic drives in any situation. But the work of the software - is another matter. The same "Photoshop" on 8 gigabytes of RAM mercilessly exploits the paging file and to save the change history, and for caching image layers. Here the NVME drive becomes manna from heaven. Batch processing of photos, retouching, collageing from the process of killing nerve cells are transformed into quietly solvable tasks. It's funny, but installing another 8 GB of RAM affects the performance much lower than replacing the HDD with an SSD.



    Games

    With 8 gigabytes of RAM, games more often access the hard disk. The most indicative benchmark here will be id Software technology-based titles - their engine actively applies streaming textures. On any PlayStation 4, where all of its 8 gigs of GDDR5 are both video memory and RAM (and with far from record throughput), the effect is especially noticeable. Run DOOM or Wolfenstein II: The new Colossus and that's it. Even at the base - on a submarine - if you turn sharply away, texture loading will go. This laptop also suffers: in spite of the stable 60 FPS in the game, you can notice with the naked eye how many objects acquire clarity.

    With the installation of Kingston A1000, this effect is almost gone. Instant data access and almost one and a half gigabytes per second of sequential reading do their job. The very “drawing” with the increasing detailing does not go anywhere, id Tech 5 is so arranged, but the time between the appearance of objects and details on them is reduced so much that you simply stop paying attention to small image artifacts.

    Games Blizzard (old woman Diablo 3, we are talking about) also suffer on laptops from slow and stupid HDD at 5400 rpm. The problems are not caused by extremely complex special effects, but by what the game does when the long-awaited things fall out of the killed monsters. The generation of the drop occurs on the server, but the game object model pulls from the hard disk. Lucky for you to catch two elite monsters at once, and that's it, write to the end. Clothes will come out from the first killed person, and microfreeze will kill your character. Again, the SSD solves the problem.

    but on the other hand


    On the other hand, when performing tasks that are actively exploiting the NVMe-drive, the battery life of the laptop significantly decreased. For models in which “free swimming” is at best - a couple of hours away from the socket, the damage will be noticeable - minus 10-30 minutes, depending on the profile of the loads. Laptops with a battery for 6-10 hours almost do not notice the difference - an hour more, an hour less in them, usually, the prediction error.

    The Kingston A1000 SSD is exclusively represented on the DNS network ( for more information ).

    For more information about Kingston and HyperX products, visit the company's official website .

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