Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB SSD Review
Kingstonís new HyperX Fury SSDs are meant as a roundabout replacement for the outgoing V300 series, and not a moment too soon. While the V-series has a long history, the last generation was beset by bad press as Kingston decided to switch out the NAND originally used and replace it with modules which didnít live up to performance expectations. This was all done without advising end users so it goes without saying that the latest HyperX entry has a lot riding on its shoulders.
Excluding the recent V300 drama from the equation, expanding the HyperX lineup does make perfect sense since now thereís a HyperX model in nearly every pricepoint. On the high-end of the mainstream market is the original HyperX, for upper entry level thereís the HyperX 3K, and now thereís a Fury series for entry level needs. As time progresses we fully expect to see Kingston EOL the older HyperX models, but not until theyíre properly surpassed by upcoming models.
One thing which is particularly interesting here is the maximum capacity (so far) being offered. Instead of going for what would amount to be an expensive 480GB+ model, Kingston has instead decided to top the Fury series out at 240GB for the time being. This keeps quite well with this driveís entry level focus but thatís not to say it wonít face a ton of competition. For example, Crucialís excellent MX100 goes for nearly 10% less but then again, the Fury does have a significant edge in write performance.
To help drive home the idea that this is a new and different model the Hyper X Fury 240GB drive comes clad in a 7mm height, charcoal gray metal chassis instead of the V300ís 9.5mm form factor. 7mm has become the de-facto standard as it allows the drive to fit inside everything from Ultrabooks to Ultra Tower PC systems. Unfortunately, while Kingston does include a 2.5mm adapter bracket this new there isnít a 2.5" to 3.5" adapter plate.
Even on just a cursory glance at the internal architecture we can see the new Fury series shares a lot in common with the older V300. Both models use the same controller, similar firmware, and make use of 16 NAND ICs. The only obvious change is the increased in factory testing the HyperX line receives over that of the Value series, improved write endurance, and the actual NAND used.
For a long while now SandForceís SF2281 has been Kingston's controller of choice. This is because it offers a good blend of performance, price and flexibility that makes it suitable for a wide variety of market niches. Simply change the NAND and you change the entire characteristics of a drive. With this in mind it is not really surprising to see Kingston release a mid-2014 model that uses this rather old controller.
As most enthusiasts are well aware of now, the V300 started to use terribly inefficient (but extremely cheap to source) ONFi 1 NAND ICs instead of the ONFi 2 it was originally launched with. Since the supply of ONFi 2 NAND ICs available to third party companies (ie those not directly associated with their manufacturer) is quickly drying up, it comes as no surprise to see Kingston opt for a different solution.
In this case Kingston has opted for 128GBit ONFi 3 NAND ICs. This does neatly sidestep any possible issues raised over the Fury being nothing but a V300 with a higher price tag. By the same token, opting for 128GBit ONFi 3 NAND for the entire Fury lineup does bring a host of its own issues, the largest of which is lack of interleaving and the noticeable impact this has on a drive's real world performance.
Much like the Crucial MX100 and M500 series before it, the smaller HyperX Fury drives are going to be noticeably slower than their larger counterparts. Even if Kingston never releases a fully enabled, 480GB Fury the fact remains that the Fury 240GB model uses 16 single die NAND ICs which leads to 2-way interleaving on each of the SF2281's 8 channels. As a result the SF2281ís theoretical throughput canít fully realized and the 240GB may be slower than it could be. Put simply 128GB ONFi 3 NAND ICs are slow on writes and really do require 4-way interleaving to overcome their massive block size.
Itís important to remember however that weíre dealing with the SandForce SF2281 controller which has a unique set of abilities that may help minimize the performance impact from having a lower interleaving factor. How much of a difference the SF2281 controller makes against Marvellís own 89-series remains to be seen but Kingstonís on-paper specifications do point towards the Fury having a good lead in write-specific tasks.
With an average online asking price of $131, or 55 cents per GB, the HyperX Fury represents yet another SSD which is supposed to offer customers a reason to look beyond traditional hard drives. While capacity may still be a limiting factor (especially with many new games taking up 10GB or more), speed and enhanced system responsiveness are two key elements no one can take away from SSDs.
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