Solid state drives of M.2 format are becoming increasingly popular. Compact dimensions, no additional wires in the system and significantly increased performance. Even this short list of advantages is enough to understand why the owners of various form factor systems have opted for high-speed M.2 PCI-E drives. Of course, if you can do it financially, because productive SSD of this format are still much more expensive than SATA-drives. Manufacturers are looking for ways to make it easier for users to move from one category to another. For example, the company Kingston recently introduced a line of M.2 NVMe drives of the initial class - Kingston A1000. Let's see what such devices are capable of, getting better acquainted with a 480 GB model.
The new lineup at the start includes three models of the most popular volumes - 240 GB, 480 GB and 960 GB. The hardware platform of the Kingston A1000 drives includes a 4-channel Phison PS5008-E8 controller, a new 64-layer Toshiba BiCS3 3D TLC NAND flash chip, and a DDR3L buffer. The controller also allows you to create models with a capacity of 120/128 GB, but obviously the manufacturer already leaves such volumes for budget SATA-drives.
The Kingston A1000 is offered in M.2 2280 format, uses a PCI Express interface and supports the NVMe 1.2 protocol. Let's pay attention to the fact that two lines of PCI-E 3.0 x2 bus with total channel capacity of up to 16 Gb/s are enough for SSD to work properly.
The stated reading speed for all Kingston A1000 drives is up to 1500 MB/s, while the recording speed depends on the device's capacity - 800 MB/s for 240 GB, 900 MB/s for 480 GB and up to 900 MB/s for 960 GB SSD
The performance of reading/writing random 4K blocks also varies for devices of different sizes: 240 GB - 100,000/80,000 IOPS, 480 GB - 100,000/90,000 IOPS, 960 GB - 120,000/100,000 IOPS. In contrast to linear transfers, such indicators are more typical for the best SATA-drives.
Despite the use of flash memory with 3-bit cells, Kingston offers a decent amount of guaranteed recording (TBW). For a 240 GB drive, this is 150 TB, 480 GB is 300 TB, 960 GB is 600 TB. The multi-layer memory layout improves durability, and it allows increasing the resource of drives recording. It is confirmed by a 5-year manufacturer's warranty.
Of the interesting features can be identified the claimed maximum power consumption of the drive during recording - up to 0.9 watts. Often the M.2 PCI-E drives have about 4-8 watts. Well, at least, we make a note that the manufacturer focuses on the good economy of SSD.
Packaging and Design
The drive is supplied in a compact plastic blister. Complete with SSD short guide, as well as a coupon with a serial number for free download of the Acronis True Image HD application.
The module has a one-sided layout. All elements are placed on the front side of the PCB. The record seems almost weightless. The storage mass is 7g only.
The components cover a protective sticker with basic information about the device - here you can find the name of the model, the volume of the drive and the mention that removing the sticker automatically deprives the owner of the manufacturer's warranty, so excessive curiosity will have consequences.
Attention is drawn to the presence of B + M keys on the interface connector. Often this configuration is used for SATA drives made in M.2 format, while high-speed models have a connector with one M-key. However, this connector design is also suitable for SSDs using two PCI Express lines. This option is used for the Kingston A1000. At the same time there can be PCI-E x2 drives with one M-key, as well as SATA-versions (in practice this is an exception). As you can see, we can not speak with confidence about the data transfer interface, being guided exclusively by the connector design.
There are no elements on the back of the drive.
One-sided layout allows using the Kingston A1000 even in those cases when the landing pad for the M.2-drive is as limited as possible. For desktops, this does not matter, but it can make a difference for ultra-thin laptops or mini-PCs.
As we already mentioned, a coupon with a serial number for the Acronis True Image HD application is offered with the drive. The utility allows cloning the system partition, avoiding a long reinstallation of the OS and related software.
The model volume of 240 GB is offered for $110, 480 GB is worth about $210, and the most capacious version at 960 GB is near $390.
Kingston A1000 480 GB – is a bright representative of the emerging segment of budget drives M.2 PCI-E. By the standards of high-speed and high-priced M.2 PCI-E A1000 performance is not a record, but in comparison with the best SSD with SATA interface performance of new models of Kingston look very dignified. Separately, it should be noted that the Kingston A1000 has no problems with overheating of the controller even under heavy load, and therefore does an excellent job without additional cooling. In general, the basic models of M.2 PCI-E devices are very promising. Such devices facilitate the transition to fast drives, finally allowing you to get rid of the legacy and limitations of SATA. However, manufacturers here should find a balance between price, volume and productivity. It is important that such devices were attractive to the potential customer, that is worth much cheaper than top solutions M.2 PCI-E and are competitive in price with SATA-drives, significantly ahead of the latest high-speed parameters.