Just a few years ago, I couldn’t imagine being able to afford a SSD. Sure, they were fast but their high price tag kept a bulk of potential customers at bay. In the last year, and especially in the last six months, the industry has seen a number of price cuts. This is largely due to the fact that NAND flash producers dropped their prices. Well…that’s great! The question now is not one of affordability but of “when?”
Well it just so happens that I have in my hands Kingston’s latest offering of their SSDNow. This is the V300 and it sports LSI’s Sandforce SF-2281 controller. For those of you who just love keeping track of PC hardware and other boring stuff, this is good news. The previous model, the V200 actually leveraged JMicron’s controller which had its run of reliability and stability issues.
When Kingston released the first SSDNow V100, it shipped as a kit. The kit included a mounting bracket and certain adapters for anyone who did not have the necessary mounting space nor the necessary data and power cables. The V300 is also an upgrade kit. Included among the hardware is Kingston’s easy-to-use data migration software which is supposed to ease the user’s transition pains. Personally, I skipped the proprietary software and went straight for my free Paragon Backup and Restore – which incidentally, I highly recommend.
For my “real life” testing purposes, I decided to use my workhorse Sager NP8662 laptop as a guinea pig. Before creating an image of the drive, I ran the Windows Experience Index and received a score of 5.9 for the current hard drive which was a Western Digital Blue 640GB. With the V300 installed, the score was raised quite a bit to 7.7. That’s not bad considering the highest score is 7.9.
I also ran an ATTO test. ATTO is a benchmarking program that is widely used in the industry to measure hard drive performance. In this case, most likely due to the slightly older hardware in my laptop, the SSD could not reach advertised speeds of 450MB/S. However, for a regular user, the difference will be negligible.
Regardless of what the benchmarks say, any migrant from the world of mechanical hard drives would notice a huge improvement in performance. Seriously, changing out the HDD is currently the easiest way to revitalize an aging machine and my laptop is now proof of that.
Performance aside, the SSD kit is priced a little weird in my opinion. I get that the kit comes with necessary hardware and adapters and software to ease swapping out a hard drive but I can’t really recommend this SSD at its current price point. A few online vendors that carry this model have it listed anywhere from $120 to $139. The model I reviewed is the 120GB but if you were to browse any reputable online vendors such as Newegg, Tigerdirect, and Amazon, 120-128GB SSDs can be had at less than $100 in many cases. If this SSD was available at its current price a year and a half ago, I may have recommended it but sadly that is not the case. The adapter brackets, if needed could be purchased separately online for less than $10 and unless your PC is more than five years old, chances are that you have the necessary power and data connectors and headers. If you are looking to purchase an “all inclusive” package so that you won’t have to purchase adapters separate, by all means go with the V300 for the sake of convenience but there are other brands out there such as Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin and SanDisk to name a few that offer faster speeds, same size and at a lower price point – all it takes is a little shopping around.
If you are somehow dead set on purchasing this kit, wait until the holiday shopping season is in full swing (think Black Friday and beyond). SSDNow won’t be on most enthusiasts’ radars but this kit may be a good buy for someone who want to make the jump from mechanical HDD to SSD but seriously, wait for the deals to roll in before purchasing.