Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB
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Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB Review

June 6th, 2012 David Leave a comment Go to comments

Overview

 

Kingston entered the memory market way back in 1987 and today is the largest supplier of memory in the world. So who could be better qualified in bringing solid-state drive technology to consumers today…

My gaming rig build did not have the budget to include any form of SSD, so it is with great delight that I am getting to review the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB which has been built with enthusiasts in mind and has manufacturer stated Read speeds of up to 555MB/s and Write speeds of up to 510MB/s!

 

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - box front Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - box back

 

The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB comes packed in a stylish black hard cardboard box with a picture of the SSD on the front and the eyes of what looks like a red robot mask staring out at you! Various details including the capacity, product details, warranty details (3 years), free tech support logo, SandForce Driven logo and the manufacturer quoted read and write speeds (while using ATTO Disk Benchmark v2.41) are also shown on the front of the box.

The rear of the box contains details and pictures of the contents provided inside, manufacturing/safety logos as well as a few key highlights about the SSD itself written across 22 different languages.

 

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - box open front Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - box open back

 

Slipping the cardboard lid off the top reveals what’s inside. The SSD is encased by black hard foam to protect it from being damaged which is good, although the specifications do say that it is fairly resilient even when dropped, but I won’t be testing that out!

Taking the foam packaging out and turning it over reveals the 3.5″ bracket on the other side, with the rest of the contents lying within the box.

 

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - box contents

 

The box contents include the main 2.5″ SSD (inc screws), a blue 3.5″ mounting bracket (inc screws) and a Getting Started Guide covering all the same languages that were listed on the back of the box.

This is not the bundle kit (SH103S3B/120G) that comes with all the extras and is instead the OEM version (SH103S3/120G) which is £16 cheaper and is currently retailing for around £105 at the time of this review.

 

Specifications/Features

courtesy of Kingston

FEATURES

High-speed SATA
Rev 3.0 (6Gb/s) transfer speeds
Controller Technology Sandforce
User-Configurable Over Provisioning
Yes
Performance Incredible speeds for enhanced productivity
Reliable
Much less likely to fail than a standard hard drive
Shock-Proof Dropping your notebook no longer means losing your data
Cool & Quiet
Runs silent and with no moving mechanical parts to generate heat
Innovative Uses NAND Flash memory components
TRIM Support
Enhances device wear leveling by eliminating merge operation for all deleted data blocks
S.M.A.R.T. Support Supports Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology
Advanced Wear-Leveling Technology
Yes
Guaranteed Three-year warranty (KC100 features a five-year warranty), free technical support and legendary Kingston reliability

SPECIFICATIONS

Capacities
90GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Sequential Reads SATA Rev. 3.0 90GB / 120GB / 240GB – 555MB/s 480GB – 540MB/s
Sequential Writes
SATA Rev. 3.0 90GB / 120GB / 240GB – 510MB/s 480GB – 450MB/s

* Additional details available here

 

First Impressions

 

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - front Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - back

 

My first impressions of the Kingston HyperX 3K were good, especially having never seen an SSD up close before! I like the slimline design with the black plastic and grey aluminium working well together. The drive is also quite light compared to my existing 3.5″ HDD as it is smaller in design and has no moving parts (so no more drive noise!); it looks more like something I would use in a laptop!

On the back is a sticker (Warranty Void if Removed!) which has details about the SSD itself including the Model Number as well as various safety and manufacturing specifications. The side features standard power and SATA connections for connecting to your motherboard. There is no cable supplied (support for 6GB/s) but my Motherboard did come with some anyway which I will be using.

 

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

 

The blue metallic mounting bracket looks very stylish and goes well with the black and blue colour scheme of my rig (my Corsair Carbide Series 300R case does natively support 2.5″ drives, but I did however want to test the mounting bracket). So, the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB certainly looks great, but now let’s see how it actually performs!

 

Testing Methodology/Setup

 

My rig was used as the test bed for this review which had a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) installed onto the SSD prior to testing. I also ensured that AHCI was set in the BIOS, although this seemed to have been set by default in the BIOS. The drive was connected to one of the AMD (not the additional JMicron) SATA 6.0 GBs ports on my Asus M5A97 Pro motherboard using a 6GBs SATA cable.

I will be performance testing the SSD using the synthetic benchmarks below:

    I will then spend some time playing the games below to measure level loading & game start-up times to get a feel for the performance that an SSD has to offer.

  • Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition
  • Crysis 2
  • Battlefield 3

Prior to doing any of this, I will also do a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (service pack 1) onto my Western Digital Caviar Blue HDD, as well as install all the games. No performance enhancements like Short Stroking will be used.

At no point will I be running either storage device at the same point in time. This means that Windows and the games themselves will be installed onto each of the seperate drives. Both Windows and games will also be installed onto the same partition. Each drive will be swapped out as and when required for its own testing cycle.

 

Hardware Performance

 

WINDOWS INSTALLATION/BOOT RESULTS

Installing Windows 7 on the Kingston HyperX 3K took around 10 minutes to complete (I did not add on any time taken to install specific hardware drivers) and did not require any other setup, as my Motherboard had already set AHCI by default in the BIOS. I then restarted my PC and was amazed at how little time it actually took to boot, an astonishing 12 seconds! There was no need to do any firmware updates to the SSD or install any software (although you can download the Toolbox software if you wish), therefore I was up and running in the space of less than 20 mins!

Installation of Windows 7 onto the Western Digital Caviar Blue took approximately 13 minutes and had a boot time of 39 seconds. That’s 27 more seconds spent staring at the loading screen than the SSD! The same settings and cable were used for both drives throughout the testing period. It would appear, even at this early stage, that the performance increase of the Kingston HyperX 3K are already beginning to shine through!

Manufacturer/Model Windows Install Time (seconds) Windows Boot Time (seconds)
Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 600.0 12.0
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 780.0 39.0

 

I then ran the synthetic benchmarks on the SSD to see if I could hit the manufacturers stated read/write speeds. In theory I should see comparable results with the Kingston HyperX 240GB which is the more expensive version in the HyperX range, but offers exactly the same performance. The same benchmarks were run again on my HDD as a comparison of the speed increases of an SSD vs an HDD.

 

SYNTHETIC BENCHMARK RESULTS

  • ATTO Benchmark Results
ATTO Results for Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

ATTO Results for Kingston HyperX 240GB

Kingston HyperX 240GB

 

For some reason, I didn’t quite hit the results I expected even though they aren’t really that far off to be honest. Since this was my first delve into SSD’s I started to worry that I had done something wrong. After various conversations with James and advice from Kingston themselves, it seemed to boil down to the fact that my Asus M5A97 Pro with its AMD SB950 chipset maybe the limiting factor. If this is indeed the case, then by installing the drive into a system with an Intel chipset there should hopefully be a performance increase seen across any Benchmark results.

 

ATTO Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - Intel Chipset

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB - Intel Chipset


 

The above results speak for themselves. After installing the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB onto a platform utilising an Intel chipset, a big improvement to the performance was noted. This indeed proves that the AMD SB950 chipset did seem to be the limiting factor here.

 

  • ATTO Benchmark SSD/HDD Comparison
ATTO Results for Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

ATTO Results for Western Digital Caviar Blue 500G

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500G

The benchmark results clearly show the advantages of using an SSD over an HDD when it comes to reading and writing data, the Kingston HyperX 3K wipes the floor with my existing HDD!

 

  • CrystalDiskMark Benchmark Results
CrystalDiskMark Results for Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

CrystalDiskMark Results for Kingston HyperX 240GB

Kingston HyperX 240GB

 

The benchmark results yet again prove what we already know, with the AMD SB950 chipset holding back the maximum performance of the HyperX 3K.

 

  • CrystalDiskMark Benchmark SSD/HDD Comparison
CrystalDiskMark Results for Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB

CrystalDiskMark Results for Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB

CrystalDiskMark showed there really is no comparison between the two, my existing HDD is blown out of the water by the performance of the Kingston HyperX 3K!

 

REAL WORLD BENCHMARK RESULTS

  • Crysis Level Load Results

The first set of tests I performed were to see how long it would take to load the initial level ‘Contact’ in Crysis.

Manufacturer & Model Run 1 (seconds) Run 2 (seconds) Average (seconds)
Crucial C300 128GB (Intel) 17.4 17.2 17.3
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB (Intel) 15.1 16.7 15.9
Kingston HyperX 240GB (Intel) 14.6 16.7 15.65
ADATA S510 120GB (Intel) 14.0 14.0 14.0
Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB (AMD) 16.0 16.0 16.0
(HDD) Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB (AMD) 279.0 17.0 148.0

 

Looking at the results, it seemed that 16 seconds was the fastest load time I was going to get from the Kingston HyperX 3K. No matter how many times I ran the test, the result was always 16 seconds (consistent though, unlike some of the other SSD results!), so I would suspect (as noted earlier) that some sort of limitation had been reached somewhere in my gaming rig.

Since I am still currently using the Asus VS247H (1920×1080), I also switched back to my Samsung Syncmaster (native resolution 1680×1050) and got the exact same results! I also tried adjusting the graphics settings from Very High to Medium and this also didn’t seem to make any difference which I thought was interesting.

The Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB certainly held its own when it came to this test, as its results are marginally different from its brethren and marginally faster than the Crucial C300. Although 2 seconds slower than the ADATA S510, I would however take these results with a grain of salt, especially if rig components are causing performance limitations.

Notice the results from the HDD test though. On the first run it took approximately 279 seconds to load the level the first time and then 17 seconds after! I would suspect some sort of caching has gone on there, maybe that’s why I never got around to finishing the game as it took ages to initially load the game levels! There were no such issues when loading the level from SSD however which always seemed to measure 16 seconds, even on the first run.

 

  • Crysis Game Start-up Results

As a seperate test I also measured how long it took to get to the Main Menu in Crysis compared to my Western Digital Caviar Blue HDD.

Manufacturer/Model Average Load Time (seconds)
Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 22.0
(HDD) Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 49.0

The results basically speak for themselves, a whopping 27 seconds difference in loading time!

 

GAME LOAD TIMES

  • Kingston HyperX 3K SSD Results

With the tried and tested Crysis test out the way, it was time to go about measuring the level load times of the various games, as well as give an overall impression of how I felt the game ran while playing (did it stutter when auto saving data etc). Again, these results will be compared against my existing Western Digital Caviar Blue HDD to see how my overall gaming experience could potentially be affected.

Game Run 1 (seconds) Run 2 (seconds) Run 3 (seconds) Average (seconds)
Crysis 2 15.0 17.0 17.0 16.3
Battlefield 3 12.0 12.0 12.0 12.0
Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.3

 

  • Western Digital Caviar Blue HDD Results
Game Run 1 (seconds) Run 2 (seconds) Run 3 (seconds) Average (seconds)
Crysis 2 28.0 16.0 17.0 20.3
Battlefield 3 28.0 14.0 14.0 18.7
Fallout: New Vegas – Ultimate Edition 9.0 8.0 8.0 8.3

 

As the results show, you can certainly gain some benefits from running an SSD in your gaming rig, especially on particular games. Games load faster, levels load faster (dependant on the game as Fallout New Vegas saw no improvement) and the overall experience is a lot smoother with mostly no stuttering while gaming during auto saves or any other caching. To be fair, the only real stuttering I saw when using the SSD was in the original Crysis running at maximum quality settings in an enemy heavy area. This could have been caused by some other bottleneck though as I experienced no such other notable pauses in newer games.

 

Final Thoughts

 

I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB which has performed well and has put my current Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB to shame (but that’s to be expected I guess as technology advances further and there are now no moving parts!).

The drive came well packaged and the box itself was a nice touch too (the last time I bought an HDD it came in just a plain brown box in an anti-static bag!). The drive was very lightweight and thin, with the sleak black and grey design matching well with my current black and blue gaming rig. The drive was very easy to install and I did not have to do anything extra on top of what I would have normally done when installing an HDD, which was certainly a bonus!

Performance of the HyperX 3K was excellent and although the limitations of my Motherboard with its AMD SB950 chipset held it back from performing at its best, this was through no fault of the drive! As far as performance against my existing HDD when it came to Windows and Gaming, there was just no comparison. Windows booted lighteningly quick and games loaded far faster, which meant more time actually playing them than staring at loading screens!

Cost is always an issue when your trying to run a budget gaming rig and currently the price per GB is far higher with an SSD than an HDD. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and with the HyperX 3K you will certainly get what you pay for with its major boost in performance over an HDD. The HyperX 3K is also slightly more expensive than some of the other SSD’s out there, but it does come with a 3 year warranty, free Tech Support and the fact that there are no Firmware updates (that’s always a good sign!).

Overall, I would highly recommend the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD and if given the choice and the budget, I would never go back to using an HDD ever again!

 

Verdict

 

  Design/Quality pcGameware awards the Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB a Gold
Performance
Value
Overall

 



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