The ADATA XPG SX950 480GB SSD Review: In Search of Premiumby Billy Tallis on October 9, 2017 8:00 AM EST
ADATA likes to produce a broad range of SSDs, sampling from all the controller and NAND manufacturers. To that end, they have wholeheartedly embraced the use of 3D MLC NAND even as most brands are using the 3D NAND transition to entirely remove MLC from their consumer product lines or relegate it to niche models instead of treating it as the mainstream default. ADATA is selling multiple SATA and NVMe models using Micron's first-generation 3D MLC NAND. On the SATA side of things, they have the Ultimate SU900 and XPG SX950 as the MLC models (positioned above the SU800 and SU700 using 3D TLC). For the NVMe market, they have the XPG SX8000 and XPG SX9000 pairing 3D MLC with Silicon Motion and Marvell controllers respectively. So far, all of their 3D NAND SSDs have relied on Micron's first-generation 32-layer 3D NAND, the only 3D NAND available in volume on the open market.
The ADATA XPG SX950 is their top of the line SATA SSD. Technologically, it is very similar to their Ultimate SU900: both use the same Micron 3D MLC NAND and Silicon Motion SM2258 controller. The SX950 is distinguished by reserving more spare area (yielding usable capacities like 480GB instead of 512GB) and a six-year warranty instead of five. There may be significant firmware tuning differences, but there are no obvious signs such as one model providing TCG Opal encryption support (both lack that feature). ADATA did their own NAND packaging for the SX950, so it may be using flash binned for better endurance. The SU900 has a 2TB model listed but not yet available, while the SX950 line only goes up to 960GB, with limited availability of the largest model.
|ADATA XPG SX950 Specifications|
|Capacity||240 GB||480 GB||960 GB|
|Controller||Silicon Motion SM2258|
|NAND Flash||Micron 256Gbit 32-layer 3D MLC NAND|
|Sequential Read||560 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||520 MB/s||530 MB/s|
|Random Read IOPS||80k IOPS||90k IOPS||90k IOPS|
|Random Write IOPS||90k IOPS||90k IOPS||85k IOPS|
|TCG Opal Encryption||No|
|Power Consumption||Active: 0.82 W
Slumber: 0.41 W
|Write Endurance||200 TB||400 TB||800 TB|
The construction of the ADATA XPG SX950 is similar to ADATA's other recent SATA SSDs: a metal base and plastic lid are joined by a single screw through the center of the drive. The PCB occupies only half of the case, and has pads for eight NAND packages and two DRAM packages. On our 480GB sample, all eight NAND pads are occupied with dual-die packages, for a total raw capacity of 512GB.
Micron recently re-introduced MLC NAND to their consumer product line with the Crucial BX300, using their 32L 3D MLC and the SM2258 controller. The Crucial BX300 is positioned as more of an entry-level model, with a focus on lower capacities that cannot perform well when using their 3D TLC. The ADATA SX950 has twice the warranty period and up to five times the rated write endurance, but any performance differences will come down to firmware tweaks, and ADATA hasn't updated the firmware since the SX950 launched earlier this year. Current pricing for the SX950 shows that ADATA has not responded to the introduction of the BX300: for the two capacities where the models match up, the ADATA is more expensive by 25% and 45%. That's quite a premium for a longer warranty.
|AnandTech 2017 SSD Testbed|
|CPU||Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5|
|Motherboard||ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC|
|Memory||4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15|
|Graphics||AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz|
|Software||Windows 10 x64, version 1703|
|Linux kernel version 4.12, fio version 2.21|
- Thanks to Intel for the Xeon E3 1240 v5 CPU
- Thanks to ASRock for the E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
- Thanks to G.SKILL for the Ripjaws DDR4-2400 RAM
- Thanks to Corsair for the RM750 power supply, Carbide 200R case, and Hydro H60 CPU cooler
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meacupla - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkADATA's pricing of their lower end is usually in line with the competition. Or, at least, the last drive I bought from them was.
This one... not so much
KAlmquist - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkIf the intention is for these drives to sell at well below MSRP, Adata is not getting off to a good start. Amazon and B&H Photo are both pricing the 480GB model $20 higher than the MSRP, and Newegg is not selling it at all. My guess is that something tipped the retailers off to the fact that there is not going to be a lot of demand for this product, so they either went for a high markup (to compensate for the cost of holding a low turnover item in stock), or in the case of Newegg, decided to pass on it entirely.
I recently bought a Samsung 850 Pro, which proves that there is still at least one person who is (stupid? gullible? bat shit crazy?) enough to pay up for a premium SATA SSD. :-) With a premium SATA SSD, you are paying for:
1) Consistent performance. For example, in the Anandtech Storage Bench light test, the ADATA drive does well if the drive is empty, but performance plummets if the drive is full. The Samsung 850 Pro performs almost identically regardless of whether the drive is full or empty.
2) Reliability. I have no reason to believe the Adata drive is unreliable, but the Samsung 850 Pro has a 10 year warranty and, more important, a long track record in the field. So the 850 Pro wins this category as well.
IndianaKrom - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkA couple years ago when I picked up an 850 pro/1 TB, it was at the time the best SATA SSD. Today it is still the best SATA SSD, and it will probably always be. At this stage I would be surprised if anyone manages to extract any more performance out of SATA than what an 850 Pro can do.
_mb - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkWhere is the "Performance Consistency" test?
I hope you guys haven't stopped doing that one as that test is the most interesting one and sets you guys apart from other reviewers which don't do that.
Billy Tallis - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkThe performance consistency test will be reintroduced soon. Since it was the least relevant to real-world desktop usage and the most likely to kill drives, it's been the lowest priority to run on the new 2017 testbed. Now that I'm pretty much done running all my drives through the 2017 test suite, I'll start going back and running the new performance consistency test on them. Those results will probably start being included in the SSD reviews in November, and they'll be added to the Bench database as they're available.
Maleorderbride - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkI realize this is not on you Billy, but why is the Mushkin Enhanced Reactor series not part of the 2017 SSD bench? That series is one of only four that someone might actually purchase knowingly.
xype - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkSo, at which point will it become a waste of time to review SSDs? Unless such a review only takes 15 minutes, I’d assume there’s plenty of hardware where the conclusions is not a simple "Get a Samsung" >90% of the time — or am I being too optimistic?
RaistlinZ - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkQ: "So, at which point will it become a waste of time to review SSDs?"
xype - Wednesday, October 11, 2017 - linkYeah :-/
jabber - Monday, October 9, 2017 - linkI don't care. The issue is that SATAIII is saturated and all we need now are reliable mainstream hum drum SSD drives for a cheap price. There is nothing else left to achieve on SATAIII. It's like RAM FFS it's all within a few % whether you spend $100 or $200. They get away with it by adding pointless crap like RGB. I bet by XMAS we'll see SATAIII SSD drives with built in RGB on the edges. Anything to cover up and distract from the fact they are no longer anything special and all the same for day to day purposes.