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[nextpage title=”Introduction”]
Today we tested one more value SSD, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB. Let’s see how it performs.
Recently, we compared the SanDisk SSD Plus and the Kingston SSDNow V300, both with 120 GiB, which are nowadays two of the most inexpensive SSDs found on the market. Now, we are including to this roundup the newest value SSD from Kingston, the SSDNow V400.
Before proceeding, we highly suggest that you read our “Anatomy of SSD Units” tutorial, which provides all the background information you need to know about SSDs.
The UV400 has, as a highlight, the use of TLC (triple level cell) memories. This kind of memory stores not two, as on most MLC memory chips, but three bits instead. It allows a higher data density and, thus, a smaller manufacturing cost for a same capacity chip.
The issues with TLC memory chips, compared to the two-bit MLC chips (and even more compared to the SLC memory chip, that store only one bit per cell) are the smaller speed (due to the error correcting mechanism) and a shorter lifespan, because there is more cell wearing on the erasing process (executed before writing new data).
This can be noticed at a specific characteristic of this model: the TBW (total bytes written, which means the amount of data written on the drive before it begin to experience tearing problems) for the 120 GiB UV400 is 50 TiB, while the V300 of same capacity has a TBW of 64 TiB. Obviously, this is a very high number and must not worry most users, but it makes this model inadvisable for applications that need a big amount of data writing, like servers, for example.
In the table below, we compared the tested units. All of them use SATA-600 interface and the 2.5” form factor, with 7 mm height. All the tested drives have 128 GiB total memory, but they are sold as 120 GiB because 8 GiB are reserved for “overprovisioning”.

Manufacturer

Model

Model #

Nominal capacity

Price

Kingston

SSDNow UV400

SUV400S37/120G

120 GiB

USD 41

SanDisk

SSD PLUS

SDSSDA-120G

120 GiB

USD 45

Kingston

SSDNow V300

SV300S37A/120G

120 GiB

USD 48

Prices we researched at Newegg.com on the day this review was published.
In the table below, we compared technical specs of the tested drives.

Model Controller Buffer Memory
Kingston SSDNow UV400 Marvell 88SS1074 256 MiB Nanya NT5CC128M16FP-DI 8x 16 GiB Kingston FT16B08UCT1-0F
SanDisk SSD PLUS Silicon Motion SM2246XT 2x 64 GiB SanDisk 05446 064G
Kingston SSDNow V300 CL13826Z (SandForce) 8x 16 GiB Kingston FT16B08UCT1-DD

[nextpage title=”The Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB”]
Figure 1 shows the package of the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB, which uses the blister format. This model can also be found as a desktop kit, with adapters and cables.

Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GBFigure 1: UV400 120 GiB package

On Figure 2, we see the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB, which has an aluminum case.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 2: the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB

On the bottom of the drive, there is a sticker with unit info, as seen in Figure 3.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 3: bottom side

Opening the SSDNow UV400 (which is a difficult task because it requires a very specific and hard to find screwdriver), we see the PCB. At the component side, we see eight flash memory chips, a DDR3 memory chip that works as a buffer, and the controller chip.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 4: component side of the PCB

On the solder side, there is not any chip.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 5: solder side of the PCB

The controller used by the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB is the Marvell 88SS1074, presented in Figure 6.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 6: controller chip

There is a DDR3-1600 memory chip, with 256 MiB capacity, model Nanya NT5CC128M16FP-DI, that works as a data buffer.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 7: buffer memory

The flash memory chips are from Kingston, and unfortunately they don’t publish the chip specs.

Kingston UV400 120 GBFigure 8: flash memory chip

[nextpage title=”How We Tested”] During our testing procedures, we used the configuration listed below. The only variable component between each benchmarking session was the SSD being tested.

Hardware configuration

Software Configuration

  • Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit using NTFS File System

Benchmarking Software

Error Margin We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% cannot be considered meaningful. Therefore, when the performance difference between two products is less than 3%, we consider them to have similar performance.
[nextpage title=”Compressible Data Test”] As you will have gathered from the previous page, we measured the performance of each drive using CrystalDiskMark.
It is important to note that we connected the SSDs to a SATA-600 port on our motherboard rather than a SATA-300 port, which could cause performance limitations.
First, we set CrystalDiskMark to “All 0x00 Fill mode” to evaluate the performance of the SSD when dealing with compressible data.
Kingston UV400 120 GB
On the sequential read benchmark, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 11% faster than the V300, and had similar performance to the SanDisk SSD PLUS.Kingston UV400 120 GB
On the sequential write benchmark, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 22% slower than the V300, but 77% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.
Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random read test with 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 15% slower than the V300, but 13% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random write test with 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 57% slower than the V300 and 4% slower than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random read benchmark with 4 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 12% slower than the V300 and 29% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random write benchmark with 4 kiB blocks, all the drives performed the same way.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random read benchmark with 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 217% faster than the V300, and 74% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random write benchmark with 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 50% slower than the V300 and 16% slower than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.
[nextpage title=”Incompressible Data Test”] For this test, we set CrystalDiskMark to the default mode, which uses incompressible data.
Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the sequential read benchmark, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 14% faster than the V300, and obtained similar performance to the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the sequential write benchmark, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 219% faster than the V300 and 76% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random read test with 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was on a technical tie with the V300, but was 21% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston UV400 120 GB

On the random write benchmark with 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 114% faster than the V300, but 5% slower than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.
Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GB

On the random read benchmark with 4 kiB blocks, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 8% slower than the V300, but 57% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GB

And on the random write benchmark with 4 kiB blocks, all the models performed similarly.
Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GB

On the random read benchmark with 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 251% faster than the V300 and 103% faster than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.

Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GB

On the random write benchmark with 4 kiB blocks and queue depth of 32, the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was 164% faster than the V300, but 17% slower than the SanDisk SSD PLUS.
[nextpage title=”Conclusions”]
Analyzing the data obtained on our tests, the first conclusion is that the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB does not suffer from the same problem of performace drop with uncompressible data we found on the V300 model. So, the UV400 is faster than the V300 on most writing operations with uncompressible data.
Another interesting point is that the SSDNow UV400, unlike the other two tested SSDs, used a RAM chip as a buffer, which explains the better performance on the 4 kiB blocks with queue depth of 32, which typically benefits from this feature.
Compared to the SanDisk SSD PLUS 120 GiB, we can say the Kingston SSDNow UV400 120 GiB was on average a little faster, performing better on some tests.
So, we believe the SSDNow UV400 120 GiB is a good choice for the home user that is looking for an inexpensive SSD to use as a boot drive for a desktop or laptop. However, because of its technical characteristics, it is not recommended on applications where there is a lot of writing operations everyday, where you need to choose a most expensive drive. Besides that, even performing decently for the home user, do not expect the same performance of a high-end SSD.