SSDs are all the rage these days as gamers crave faster loading times to get in the game faster. NVME drives are a highly competitive developing market, striving to give faster speeds and bigger storage capacities to consumers at a lower price. The Kingston A1000 is the latest budget friendly drive to come across our desk and we put it through its paces to discover if it’s pricing is consistent with its performance. Coming in 240gb, 480gb and 960gb flavors, the A1000 is an entry level NVME that promises to provide noticeable speed increases to your PC.
- MSRP: $104 (240gb), $189 (480gb), $374 (960gb) [Current on Kingston Webpage]
- Form Factor: M.2 2280
- Interface: PCIe NVMe Gen 3.0 x 2 Lanes
- Capacities: 240GB, 480GB, 960GB
- NAND: 3D TLC
- 240GB: up to 1,500/800MB/s
- 480GB: up to 1,500/900MB/s
- 960GB: up to 1,500/1,000MB/s
Random 4k Read/Write:
- 240GB: up to 100,000/80,000 IOPS
- 480GB: up to 100,000/90,000 IOPS
- 960GB: up to 120,000/100,000 IOPS
- Dimensions: 80mm x 22mm x 3.5mm
- Operating/Storage Temperatures: 0°C - 70°C / -40°C - 85°C
- Weight (240/480/960): 6.4g/7g/7.6g
- Life Expectancy: 1 million hours MTBF
- Warranty: Limited 5-year warranty w/ free tech. Support
- Total Bytes Written (240/480/960): 150TB / 300TB / 600TB
I remember when I got my first SSD, a Samsung Evo 850, and felt the blazing speeds that come with departing mechanical drives. It’s a change that almost feels required to have a computer feel speedy these days and true to form we consumers have wanted our drives to be even faster. The Kingston A1000 is my first real foray into M.2 NVMe drives and even the speed increase from a traditional SSD is downright amazing. Unlike most people, I didn’t end up putting my OS on the drive, my thought process being that Windows 10 loads fast enough on a regular SATA SSD that gaining the one second on boot time was less of a goal than the massive reduction in game load times.
Packaging was nothing to write home about. You may see all those fancy boxes and wrappings on some NVMe drives that make you think you’re unwrapping a phone and not a drive - but I was glad to see the Kingston skipped the fluff. A simple plastic protective packaging with a small folded piece of paper with some warranty and other standard information. Installation of the drive was a snap. It was just a matter of locating the M.2 slot on the motherboard, which much to my annoyance was located in between the first two PCIe slots, so I had to remove my graphics card to install it. Here’s hoping that I don’t have to get at it anytime soon.
The first stop before testing game load times and real world transfer speeds was to run some benchmarks to review the speed claims of Kingston. Crystal Disk Mark is the first program used to test our new drive with the following results:
For the review we were sent the 480GB version and Kingston’s specification page claims that our sequential read/write should be 1500/900MB/s, a mark we blew passed by a little over 100 MB/s on both counts. In my past experience, usually the benchmarks don’t live up to the claims (hence the “up to”) so snagging the extra speed was a most welcome surprise. The next specification is a 4k random read/write of 100,000/90,000 IOPS. IOPS, or Input/Output per second, is another common measurement we see in SSD benchmarks. CrystalDiskMark doesn’t measure IOPS for our 4k Random Read/Write but luckily there is a conversion to figure it out. After busting out the calculator the drive gives us 125,390 IOPS Read and 113,452 IOPS Write - so again we find ourselves well above the claims of Kingston.
ATTO is one of the oldest benchmarks around and uses RAW or compressible data. It’s kind of a “best case scenario” for drive performance. For our test we set a length of 256MB with transfer sizes ranging from 512 bytes to 64MBs. ATTO revealed that we continue to surpass the cited speeds delivering over 1700 MB/s reads and just 1000 MB/s writes. At this point the drive has proved to be a contender in the realm of quality consumer drives.
The next couple of charts are both real world data collection. The first chart is from moving around an Elder Scrolls Online folder to see what kind of average transfer speed we get on the NVMe compared to other drive types. The second chart are load times in various MMORPG relevant games. The load times were recorded on a first time load from the character select screen until game load. All recorded load time are +/- 215ms (median average) to account for human reaction time.
If you are using a standard 7200RPM hard drive, it’s clear to see that there are some massive performance gains you have the potential to snag by picking up the Kingston NVMe. If we’re honest, most of us don’t actively play terabytes worth of games so sticking your few favorites on an SSD is going to bring you quite the improvement. I wanted to compare my Samsung EVO, but it’s nowhere close to a high capacity drive and currently holds my operating system. Basically, space on my EVO is very limited. Next we have some MMO load times for your ocular pleasure:
It may not seem like much, but seconds add up - and quickly in my opinion. Maybe I’m just competitive but I do get real joy out of being the first person to load into a dungeon or spawn in a first person shooter. In many cases you are loading into game at least twice as fast as a traditional hard drive and that means more time gaming and less time waiting.
I’ll let the graphs speak for themselves but it is perfectly clear the there are significant performance gains when using Kingston’s A1000 NVMe drive. Games install, load, and move noticeably faster which translates into more time spent in your favorite game. With competitive pricing and top notch speeds I have no problem recommending this drive as the main goto for most consumer level PC builds.
- Faster than they claim
- Small and easy to install
- Great price/performance ratio
- There are faster NVMe drives available
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.