Solid state drives have come down significantly in price over the last few years, so it’s now cheaper than ever to upgrade your PC. While 120/128 GiB units offer the best compromise between price and capacity in most cases, some users may opt for a 480 GiB model instead if extra storage space is required. Today, we are going to look at two of the latest 480 GiB models; the Seagate 600 and the Kingston HyperX 3K.
There are many components in a PC that can be upgraded to make it faster, but none are as noticeable in the real world as upgrading a hard drive to a solid state drive. A 480 GiB solid state drive is ideal for those who are confined to a single drive in a laptop or those who need a lot of storage space for large applications and games.
Even though both units have 512 GiB of memory inside, they are sold as 480 GiB, since 32 GiB is reserved for overprovisioning, used by the garbage collection and wear leveling mechanisms of the unit.
Figure 1: The two SSDs on test
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. Both of the SSDs featured in this review use MLC memory chips.
In the table below we compare the Seagate 600 480 GiB with the Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GiB. Both units use a SATA-600 interface and are based on the 2.5” form factor, but the Seagate unit is 7 mm thick (thus fitting some thin notebooks or ultrabooks that require storage devices with this height) while the Kingston drive is 9.5 mm thick.
|Manufacturer||Model||Model #||Nominal Capacity||Price|
|Seagate||600||ST480HM000||480 GiB||USD 380|
|Kingston||HyperX 3K||SH103S3/480G||480 GiB||USD 410*|
* This price refers to the stand-alone drive for comparison. The drive we actually tested came with the bundle kit, which costs USD 500.00.
We researched the prices on the day that we published this review. In the table below, we provide a more in-depth technical comparison between the two drives. Most chip manufacturers don’t detail the specifics of their chips on their websites, so we are only linking to what we found.
|Seagate 600||Link_A_Media LM87800||2x 256 MiB Micron MT47H256M8EB-25E||8x 64 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG9DDJBA89|
|Kingston HyperX 3K||SandForce SF-2281V82-SPC||None||16x 32 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG8DDJTA20|
[nextpage title=”The Seagate 600 480 GB”]
The Seagate 600 features a metal casing in the upper side, and pressure inserted metal plate in the underside. As we mentioned before, it has 7 mm of thickness, being compatible with thin laptops and ultrabooks that use this form factor. There is also a version of this unit which is 5 mm thick.
Figure 2: The Seagate 600 480 GB
Figure 3: The Seagate 600 480 GB (underside)
On the top side of the PCB there are eight 64 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG9DDJBA89 memory chips, the Link-A Media LM87800 controller, and two 256 MiB Micron MT47H256M8EB-25E cache chips.
Figure 4: The Seagate 600 480 GB PCB
There are no components at the other side of the board.
Figure 5: The Seagate 600 480 GB PCB (underside)
[nextpage title=”The Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB”]
The Kingston HyperX 3K features a plastic and metal casing which is lightweight and rigid. It looks attractive and should do a good job of protecting the internal components. The bottom cover is made of metal.
Figure 6: The Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB
Figure 7: The Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB (underside)
This SSD is sold as a stand-alone drive or as a bundled kit, which comes with an useful USB 3.0 case (which you can use to save your data from the hard drive you are replacing to the SSD, and also to keep your old HDD as an external drive if you are replacing a laptop drive), a 2.5”-to-3.5” adapter, one SATA cable, screws, a screwdriver, one support CD, and a case sticker.
Figure 8: Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB accessory set
The top side of the PCB features eight 32 GiB Toshiba TH58TEG8DDJTA20 memory chips.
Figure 9: The Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB PCB
Turning the PCB over reveals eight more 32 GiB 32 GiB memory chips alongside the SandForce SF-2281V82-SPC controller.
Figure 10: The Kingston HyperX 3K 480 GB PCB (underside)
[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.
- Processor: Core i7-4770K
- Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty Z87 Killer
- Memory: 16 GB G.Skill Sniper (DDR3-1600/PC3-12800), configured at 1,600 MHz
- Boot drive: Seagate Desktop SSHD 2 TB
- Video card: GeForce GT630
- Video resolution: 1920×1080
- Video monitor: Phillips 236VL
- Power supply: Corsair CX500M
- Case: Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus
- Operating System: Windows 7 Home Basic 64-bit using NTFS File System
We adopted a 3% error margin in our tests, meaning performance differences of less than 3% can not 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 two different programs: CrystalDiskMark and Iometer.
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.
We set CrystalDiskMark to “All 0x00 Fill mode” to evaluate the performance of the SSD when dealing with compressible data.
In the sequential read test, the Seagate 600 was 4% faster than the Kingston HyperX 3K. The Seagate 600 also performed 9% better in the sequential write test.
Moving on to the random read test using 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston HyperX 3K offered the best performance, beating the Seagate 600 by 20 percent. However, in the random write test using 512 kiB blocks, the Seagate 600 beat the Kingston HyperX 3K by 21 percent.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, the Kingston HyperX 3K beat the Seagate 600 by 23 percent. However, in the random write test using 4 kiB blocks, the Seagate 600 beat the Kingston HyperX 3K by a margin of 208 percent.
[nextpage title=”Incompressible Data Test”]
For this test, we set CrystalDiskMark to the default mode, which uses incompressible data.
In the sequential read test, the Seagate 600 outperformed the Kingston HyperX 3K by a margin of four percent. The Seagate 600 also outperformed the Kingston HyperX 3K by 90% in the sequential write test.
Moving on to the random read test using 512 kiB blocks, the Kingston HyperX 3K outperformed the Seagate 600 by a margin of 20 percent. However, the Seagate 600 came out on top in the random write test using 512 kiB blocks, beating the Kingston HyperX 3K by a margin of 134 percent.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, both drives presented the same performance. However, in the random write test using 4 kiB blocks, the Seagate 600 outperformed the Kingston HyperX 3K by 416 percent.
Iometer is an open-source benchmark which lets us synthetically test the input and output operations per second of a storage drive. We will be looking specifically at random read and write scores using 4 kiB blocks.
In the random read test using 4 kiB blocks, both the units performed the same way. The Seagate 600 beat the Kingston HyperX 3K in the random write test using 4 kiB blocks by a margin of 50 percent.
It is clear from our test results that both the Seagate 600 and the Kingston HyperX 3K offer impressive performance. However, it’s also clear that the two drives have their strengths and weaknesses in different areas.
The Kingston HyperX 3K offered higher performance than the Seagate 600 throughout all of the random read tests with CrystalDiskMark. In sequential read tests, both drives performed very similarly.
One of the key aspects of the Seagate 600 to note is the consistency of performance throughout the compressible and incompressible data tests. This is because the Link-A Media controller doesn’t rely on data compression to achieve high speeds.
The Seagate 600 performed better throughout all the write tests and, again, the results were fairly consistent through compressible and incompressible data tests.
With similar price tags, both SSDs are good deals for the enthusiast who needs a lot of high-speed storage. But while the Kingston HyperX 3K is slightly faster in random read tasks, the Seagate 600 will perform better in write-intensive applications.
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