Everyone is still feeling the effect of the Thailand flooding last year as HDD prices still refuse to go down to what it used to be and among those people that are feeling that effect are solid-state manufacturers who are taking advantage of the situation and are continuously rolling out new products. With the massive influx of solid-state drives, competition has shaped a more competitive landscape which ultimately led to an all-time low in SSD prices. This is good news for consumers out there but makes it harder for manufacturers to sell their products in a vastly saturated market. One of those companies is KINGMAX and today we have their Sandforce-powered solid-state drive: the KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro. We'll check out the drive, see how much juice it gives us and as usual we'll make this very showy!
To those not familiar, KINGMAX (yes, it is supposed to be spelled that way) is a memory solutions provider. Most enthusiasts will probably not have them in their radar but they've recently released some enthusiast-class products including high-end gaming RAM and SSDs which is what we'll be checking out today. KINGMAX joins the cast of Team Sandforce in the SSD game and we have their 240GB SMU35 Client Pro solid-state drive for review. Let's see some specs and images before we hit performance figures.
» High-speed transmission & faster start-up
» Capacity: 60GB/120GB/240GB/480GB
» Operating Voltage: DC 5V +/- 5%
KINGMAX packages the SMU35 Client Pro SSD in a small, square box with a plain shot of the product indicating its capacity as well as some marketing highlights. The back of the box writes down the data we have in the specifications section above and some multi-language translations of those.
Our sample is the Desktop Upgrade Kit bundle which bundles a 3.5" tray, some retention screws, MOLEX-to-SATA power cable, a SATA cable, a manual and of course the SSD itself. This is sort of a disappoint for an upgrade kit and is rather bare when compared to other Upgrade Kit in the market most notably Kingston who bundles cloning software, along with many other goodies.
The SMU35 Client Pro SSD is clad in an aluminum body with holographic labels on the top and bottom. It looks like whoever designed this was on an acid trip but to each his own. We could've had our way with this sample and tear it apart for your viewing pleasure but we've elected not to do so for the benefit of other reviewers who will test this drive in the future. If we did open this up, we'll see 32GB ONFI chips rated for 3,000 P/E cycles of the synchronous variant. What that means is that this SSD will have a shorter lifespan than it's 5K P/E brothers but rest assured, there is no way a regular desktop user can wear out a 3K P/E with normal usage. We have always relied on the formula that if you save 10GB a day, 3K P/E NAND flash will last for 8 years. So much more so for 5K and so on rated NAND cells.
Processor Intel Ivy Bridge Core i7 3770K 3.5Ghz (Turbo up to 3.9Ghz)
Motherboards ECS Z77H2-A2X Golden Board
Cooling Corsair H80 (Maximum Fan Speed)
Power Supply Antec EarthWatts Platinum 500W
Memory Kingston HyperX T1 DDR3-2400
Video Cards ASUS HD7870 DirectCUII
Storage Kingston HyperX SSD 120GB, Corsair Performance Pro 128GB,
KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro SSD 240GB
Operating System Windows 7 64-bit SP1
*We chose the ECS Golden Board as our testing platform as it provides the best SATAIII performance amongst all the Z77 motherboards we have. Even though we did not include a subsystem performance graphs in our reviews, we still keep an archive of such performance figures for reference.
We used HD Tach to measure the potential read speed of our SSD. The average read speed is what matters in this test as this is more indicative of the drive's performance on a day to day basis. HD Tach is at end of life status right now but we believe the program still manages to present a valid picture what to expect from a storage product.
Right off the bat, KINGMAX impresses but not enough to excite us. Still though, the SMU35 Client Pro's walks off with 2nd place. We have not yet released our Corsair Performance Pro review, but we're including it in here for comparative purposes. For potential write testing, HD Tune was used to measure the drive's write performance. Again, we focus on the average results for real-world relevance.
Basing on maximum performance, the SMU35 Client Pro manages to hold its own against the HyperX 3K, but it's bigger brother the flagship HyperX SSD takes the crown. Looking at the average performance though, we see the KINGMAX SSD squeeze out 200MB/s of write performance good enough for only 4th place. Crystal Disk Mark is storage benchmarking software was developed by “hiyohiyo” of Japan, and is available for free. Crystal Disk Mark measures sequential, and random read/write speeds of storage devices.
We can see very competitive figures from the KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro in this chart and manages to get some very respectable figures in the sequential tests. AS SSD is a benchmark tool that determines the performance of Solid State Drives but can also be used to measure hard drives, it just takes longer. The tool contains six synthetic and three copy tests .
Again, we provide a top-end synchronous Sandforce SSD in the HyperX and a very capable Marvell SSD in the Performance Pro, both flex their muscle on different situations trading positions where they excel and this leaves the KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro wallowing at 2nd best. The good news though is that it's fairly consistent in it's performance. ATTO Disk Benchmark benchmarks a drive's read and write speeds with increasing file sizes and graphs them.
Most companies use ATTO as their benchmark tool to create figures used in their marketing figures. KINGMAX rates the SMU35 Client Pro at a maximum 550/520 MBs read and write and based on our tests, the SSD manages to squeeze out way more than that topping out at over 559/536MBs read and write. Certainly very good figures and given the best conditions will for in favor of the product. To measure boot-up time we used BootRacer. BootRacer is a free program that measures Windows boot-up times.
With a freshly installed Windows system, our drives managed some very good figures.
To measure Windows copy performance, we use TeraCopy. We use our standard compression test files for the transfer test, a total of 2.80GB of files ranging from 1KB to 10MB of various file types mostly consisting of typical MP3s and images to simulate common usage scenarios. The higher transfer bandwidth works in favor of the KINGMAX SDD and shaves of a good 2 seconds off our transfer time.
One thing about SSD manufacturers is that they give the consumers some sort of false image of what their products can do. Solid-state drives by their very nature tend to go down a few levels after some usage and settle at a certain performance point which will be it's "steady" state. What this means for you, the consumers, is that even though this drive can do 560/536MB it will not do that after you've used the drive over time. We've had our sample for a little over 10 days now and we didn't manage to get some quality time with it so that means the drive is pretty much pristine. To speed up the aging process we ran HD Tune Write Test a total of 10 times. Giving the drive a 10-minute break after each test to let the controller do it's work and then resume. Immediately after the last run we perform a Crystal DiskMark run to see what happens.
Out of the box is presented for comparison against the steady condition of the drive. We see performance hits everywhere especially in write performance. In all seriousness, the figures we presented for the HyperX SSD in the performance section were all taken from a 6-month old sample. How's that for worn-out? So in all seriousness, we expect this SSD to still perform very well well throughout it's 3K PE lifespan.
TEMPERATURE & POWER CONSUMPTION
Most SSDs are promise three things: better performance, lower power consumption and in turn lower heat output. As we've already checked the first reason, here we will see the two remaining ones. We disregard software measurements as the Crystal DiskInfo is showing us some funky readouts on the KINGMAX SSD, giving us a 17*C IDLE temps and 20*C LOAD temps on a 29-30*C AMBIENT temp room. To be more accurate, we used a contact thermometer and capture the chassis temperature. To measure power consumption, we used a separate power supply to power our SSDs and capture load and idle wattage. Power consumption is measured from the socket.
We can see that both drives have very low idle state consumption. Once active though, the KINGMAX consumes a bit more power. This is probably due to its larger capacity components but this is still respectable numbers.
As we've mentioned earlier, KINGMAX has a funky way of reporting temps. Case temps are a bit more realistic, even though we're not 100% accurate on these they are as close to what's really boiling inside those aluminum cases. Do note that SSD's are rated for some very extreme temperatures, with the KINGMAX rated for operation at freezing point all the way to 70*C so these figures are way within their specifications.
As we've pointed out, the solid-state drive market is one that is very crowded. It's hard to stand out. Period. One thing though that catches the eye of most consumers is price, and if you're the lowest in your capacity/price range you'll have some work cut out for you. In the case of KIGNMAX's SMU35 Client Pro, the 240GB model is expected to retail at around Php9,300 locally. This puts it right around the same position as most SSDs with synchronous NAND.
All of that said, the KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro is a tough-sell. With name-brands that have more solid reputations, it'll certainly be tough for KINGMAX to stand out. If the price was a bit cheaper, around Php300-500 less, then it'll be an easy win for KINGMAX. Despite whatever figure you see on graphs and whatever, SSDs will always be faster and having one this big is certainly a good deal. The KINGMAX SMU35 Client Pro is a capable SSD and only needs a bit of a price-cut to make it stand-out in the SSD game. KINGMAX provides 3-years warranty for the SMU35 Client Pro.
» Solid performance
» Could use a price drop
About the contributors:
bigbossmac is the tech and hardware editor for Back2Gaming (http://www.back2gaming.com).