Kingston SSDNow V300 120GB SSD Review

Author: AkG
Date: February 7, 2013
Product Name: V300 120GB
Part Number: SV300S3D7/120G
Warranty: 3 Years
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Even though Kingston’s HyperX and HyperX 3K enthusiast-focused SSD lineup may be the one getting most people’s attention, their more established SSDNow V series of value orientated drives has also earned a sterling reputation for delivering excellent performance at reasonable prices. These value-oriented drives have naturally been fast sellers and some updates are now being worked into the newest iteration: the SSDNow V300.

By looking at specifications alone, it’s obvious that Kingston isn’t targeting the high end market here. The V300’s sustained performance puts it firmly into the upper mid-tier echelon but for a mere $118, the 120GB version affordable and can provide a significant boost over spindle-based drives.

In the past Kingston’s value orientated drives were able to offer such reasonable prices by simply using lower performance NAND. This formula has been used time and again and it has worked reasonably well for the previous SSDNow series. This time things are bing done quite differently since Kingston has taken advantage of new technology to create a drive which promises to have excellent performance while still not breaking the bank.

As with all SSDNow drives, the new V300 comes in barebones drive and “upgrade” versions. The later consists of the same SSD but with software and hardware accessories that simplify data migration for average consumers. In this instance. these accessories consist of a Molex to SATA power adapter, SATA cable, 2.5” to 3.5” mounting hardware and Acronis True Image HD software. The USB enclosure found in some of their other models is conspicuous by its absence but the excellent 3-year warranty remains intact.

With its gray exterior the V300 may not have the eye candy of its blue clad HyperX brethren, but as any storage enthusiast knows; looks can be deceiving. It is what resides inside the chassis that matters most and in this regards the V300 is full of surprises.

As with most of the solid state drives available in the consumer marketplace, the SSDNow V300 makes use of a LSI SandForce SF2281 controller. This is the same controller which resides in Kingston’s HyperX and HyperX 3K lines along with countless other products from the competition. This does help explain the very similar internal architecture between the HyperX line and this new V300. However, this is an SF2281 with some interesting differences; its functionality has actually been customized and no longer carries the Sandforce mark. Rather, Kingston’s name is emblazoned on the chip.

Unfortunately, Kingston has remained mum about what’s been changed but as you will see in the charts, the V300’s behavior is markedly different compared to other SF2281-based drives. In all likelihood, the “Intel route” has been taken whereby this customization takes the form of revised firmware rather than different hardware.

In order to save some money and differentiate the V300 from their higher end HyperX line, Kingston has moved away from the use of ONFI NAND. Instead this budget-focused drive uses cutting edge yet less expensive to produce 19nm Toggle Mode NAND. On the 120GB version there are sixteen 8GB Toshiba fabricated – but Kingston branded - 19nm Toggle Mode NAND ICs, making the V300 one of the first drives on the market to make use of this NAND technology.

Much like their HyperX drives, the SSDNow V300 also uses multiple heatpads to help transfer heat from the various chips to the metal chassis. This helps the drive run cooler and is something very few SSD manufacturers actually do.

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