Kingston M.2 120GB SSD Review
As you may have seen in our recent Z97 motherboard reviews we have been using a new, rather special bit of technology. This has been made possible by our friends over at Kingston Technology, because they have allowed us early access to one of their new M.2 Drives. What we have here is a Kingston M.2 120GB SSD (SM2280S3/120G), what’s M.2 you may well ask, well I’ll try to explain…
M.2 is basically a replacement of mSATA, something we have been very keen on over the last 12 months and that was an especially useful feature aboard our favorite Z87 motherboard the MSI Z87-G45 GAMING. Basically these drives (both the outgoing mSATA and the incoming M.2) can be simply described as extremely small SSDs.
The good news is that with the advent of M.2 these drives now can support transfer speeds up to 10GB/s via a new CPIe interface, impressive stuff. This Kingston 120GB SATA variant features a Read speed of 550GB/s and a Write speed of 520GB/s.
There’s not much to see when looking at these devices, as to be honest there pretty dull. This particular M.2 2280 device is 22mm wide and 80mm in length.
At the time of writing the Kingston M.2 120GB SSD is retailing for around £65 and comes with a 3 year warranty.
courtesy of Kingston
- Popular M.2 Size: 22mm width, 80mm length
- NAND Flash memory-based: shock-resistant with lower power consumption
- Supports Intel’s SRT: combines capacity advantage of HDD with performance improvements of SSD in dual-storage configuration
- Supports S.M.A.R.T.: monitors the status of your drive
- Supports TRIM: maintains maximum performance of compatible operating systems
- Guaranteed: 3-year warranty and free technical support
- Form factor: M.2 2280
- Interface: SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s) – with backwards compatibility to SATA Rev. 2.0
- Capacities1: 120GB
- Baseline Performance2:
- Compressible Data Transfer (ATTO): 550MB/s Read and 520MB/s Write
- Incompressible Data Transfer (AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark):500MB/s Read and 330MB/s Write
- IOMETER: Maximum Random 4k Read/Write up to 66,000/ up to 65,000 IOPS / Random 4k Read/Write up to 46,000/ up to 4,500 IOPS
- PCMARK® Vantage HDD Suite Score: 56,000
- PCMARK® 8 Storage Bandwidth: 215 MB/s
- Power consumption: 0.09 W Idle / 1.11 W Avg / 1.02W (MAX) Read / 2.86 W (MAX) Write
- Storage temperature: -40°C ~ 85°C
- Operating temperature: 0°C ~ 70°C
- Dimensions: 80mm x 22mm x 3.5mm
- Weight: 7.36g
- Vibration operating: 2.17G Peak (7–800Hz)
- Vibration non-operating: 20G Peak (10–2000Hz)
- Life expectancy: 1 million hours MTBF
- Warranty/support: 3-year warranty with free technical support
- Total Bytes Written (TBW)3: 230TB x 1.8 DWPD4
The test bed for this review (shown below) was treated to a fresh install of Windows 7 64Bit Home Premium (service pack 1) with all associated Drivers installed. I also ensured that AHCI was set in the UEFI (although this is now the default settings for most modern MBs). The drive was connected to the Intel SATA 3 (6GBs) port (4) of the MSI Z97 GAMING 5 motherboard. No special or other BIOS/UEFI options are required…
|Case||Cooler Master HAF XB||Power Supply||Corsair AX760i|
|Motherboard||MSI Z97 GAMING 5||CPU||Intel Core i5-4670K|
|CPU Cooler||Raijintek Themis||RAM||Kingston HyperX Beast 8GB 2400MHz|
|Graphics Card||MSI GTX 770 OC Edition||SSD (M.2)||Kingston M.2 120GB SSD (SM2280S3/120G)|
Installation is easy and a little unusual, especially if you’ve not fitted one of these types of devices before. The SSD connector is simply slid into the M.2 port (central in the MSI Z97 GAMING 5 motherboard) at an approximately 45 degree angle, the drive can then be hinged down. The SSD is then simply held down by a small screw at the opposite end.
We use PCMark 8 to help ascertain Gaming performance. The test used measures the performance of the drive while loading real game data for both World of Warcraft and Battlefield 3. In addition to this we will also use ATTO Disk Benchmark to confirm the drives claimed performance levels.
- PCMark 8 Storage Test – Results
|Drive||World of Warcraft (Load Time)||Battlefield 3 (Load Time)|
|Kingston M.2 120GB||58.5 s||134.0 s|
|ADATA mSATA SX300 64GB (SSD)||59.0 s||136.7 s|
|Kingston HyperX Na’Vi Limited Edition 240GB (SSD)||59.2 s||137.6 s||Kingston 200V+ 60GB (SSD)||59.8 s||138.2 s|
|Western Digital Black 1TB (HDD)||123.6 s||303.9 s|
As you can see from the data above pretty much all of the SSD based drives put in similar performances, although it’s still worth noting that the Kingston M.2 120GB SSD is actually now the fastest drive tested here at pcG. An that’s pretty impressive for such an unassuming looking device. The difference between an SSD and a HDD can clearly be seen with the Western Digital 1TB HDD being over twice as slow…
- ATTO Disk Benchmark
In the pure throughput test (using ATTO Disk Benchmark) the Kingston M.2 120GB SSD matches its quoted Read (550GB/s) and Write (520GB/s) with 552,841 and 521,233. As you can see from these tests there’s no drawback that we can see from using a device such as this M.2 drive from Kingston. It certainly makes a normal 2.5″ SSD look like an awful waste of space, that’s for sure… 😉
Put simply the Kingston M.2 120GB SSD is an extremely impressive piece of kit, proving at least as good as mSATA drives we have seen in the past.
Performance is also impeccable, with both the Battlefield 3 and World of Warcraft PCMark 8 tests showing the best performance we have yet seen here at pcG.
We have always been a fan of mSATA and now M.2 drives for mainstream desktop PCs, mainly due to the convenience and the complete lack of wiring that’s required. To be honest you wouldn’t even know it was there. Consider that these drives will come later in capacities up to (and no doubt beyond) 1TB and transfer speeds up to 10 GB/s (M.2 PCIe only). I feel the time of the M.2 drives is now; well I hope it is anyway…
Of course all this miniaturization comes at a cost with the Kingston M.2 120GB SSD commanding approximately £10 more than its 2.5″ partner. Money well spent in my mind! Come on, none of us like those damn SATA power cables with all their connectors sticking out, do we… 😉
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Many thanks to Kingston Technology for providing this sample for review