Kingston has a few different solid state drives available on the market today. It started with the A400, giving us standard SATA SSD speeds and the UV500 to drop hardware encryption on top of it with multiple form factors. Last year I reviewed the A1000 - an affordable, though not the fastest, NVMe drive. Today I’m strapped down with the KC2000 - a powerhouse NVMe drive that not only promises to double the theoretical speeds of the A1000, but do it with a full security suite on board.
- MSRP: $62.40 - $410.80 (256GB - 2TB)
- Form Factor: M.2 2280
- Interface: NVMe PCIe Gen 3.0 x 4 Lanes
- Capacities: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Controller: SMI 2262EN
- NAND: 96-layer 3D TLC
- Encrypted: AES 256-bit Encryption (TCG Opal 2.0)
- 250GB - up to 3,000/1,1000MB/s
- 500GB - up to 3,000/2,000MB/s
- 1TB - up to 3,000/2,000MB/s
- 2TB - up to 3,000/2,000MBs
Random 4k Read/Write:
- 250GB - up to 350,000/200,000 IOPS
- 500GB - up to 350,000/200,000 IOPS
- 1TB - up to 350,000/275,000 IOPS
- 2TB - up to 250,000/250,000 IOPS
Terabytes Written (TBW):
- 250GB - 150TBW
- 500GB - 300TBW
- 1TB - 600TBW
- 2TB - 1.2PBW
- Power Consumption: 0.003W Idle / 0.2W Avg / 2.1W MAX Read / 7W MAX Write
- Storage Temperature: -40c - 85c
- Operating Temperature: 0c - 70c
- Dimensions: 80mm x 22mm x 3.5mm
- 250GB - 8g
- 500GB - 10g
- 1TB - 10g
- 2TB - 11g
- Vibration Operating: 2.17G Peak (7-800Hz)
- Vibration Non-Operating: (20G Peak (20 - 1000Hz)
- MTBF: 2,000,000
- Warranty: Limited 5-year warrant w/ free technical support
Right out of the package there’s not really anything special to talk about. It’s a standard M.2 2280 (80mm) NVMe drive. Every time I open one of these I still can’t get over how small they are. I still remember holding my first 3.5” hard drive in my hand and being blow away that it held an entire gigabyte of data… now we’re cramming 2TB or more into an 80mm stick no thicker than two quarters stacked on top of each other.
The KC2000 is a 3D NAND TLC drive. In my Samsung QVO review, I discuss QLC and TLC a little, but the basics are that TLC, or Triple-level Cell Flash, stores three bits of data per cell. This seems to be the sweet spot for consumer-level solid state storage these days due to its cost of production and capacity potential. On top of that, the KC2000 has hardware level encryption. This means, with the simple application of an encryption key (i.e. a password) all the data being written to the drive will be automatically encrypted. This is superior to software encryption in a few ways. Firstly, it takes the load off the CPU doing the encryption and decryption of the data (which can slow the system down) and secondly, it means the data is nigh impossible to retrieve without the encryption key. You can’t even see it like you can with some software encryption methods. It’s incredibly secure and incredibly fast.
For my review of the KC2000, Kingston sent over a 1TB for me to test, meaning my synthetic benchmarks should be seeing somewhere near 3,200MB/s Read and 2,000MB/s Write. It should be noted that these are speeds you achieve in perfect conditions, which includes an empty drive. At the time of the synthetic benchmarks, the drive was not completely empty (though nowhere near full) to give a more realistic result of what a consumer would expect to get real-world. The first test to run is ATTO Disk Benchmark. ATTO is one of the oldest benchmarks around and uses RAW or compressible data. For our test, we set a length of 256MB with transfer sizes ranging from 512 bytes to 64MBs. In general, full speeds aren’t reached until around 64kb to 128kb block sizes, which is where we see our write speeds blow passed the 2 GB/s mark and a read speeds approach, but not quite hit, the 3 GB/s mark.
Crystal DiskMark is next, where we see similar results to our ATTO benchmark. Our write speeds hit 2309 MB/s and our read speeds top out at 2865 MB/s. I’ve included the other drives I’ve been able to test to give an idea just how much faster the KC2000 is than standard SATA drives and even Kingston’s budget-friendly A1000.
Synthetic benchmarks are all fine and dandy but what’s really important to see is what the drive will perform like in the real world. How well does it handle transferring game data from one drive to another, for example? Like all the other drive reviews I’ve done in the past I have my isolated Witcher 3 folder waiting on standby. At 36.2 GB I find it’s the perfect size to a) not take too long to transfer and b) have enough range in file sizes to put the different speeds we see in ATTO to the test. To reach the average MB/s, the total time the transfer takes is divided into 36,200 MB. The KC2000 does not disappoint, far outstripping the other drives to end up in a class all on its own.
Lastly, the most important part for us here at MMORPG.com, is load time for our favorite MMOs. After painstakingly transferring Elder Scrolls Online, Black Desert Online, World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, and Star Wars The Old Republic onto the KC2000, it was time to test load times. Load times are taken from the moment a character is selected to enter the world to the moment full control of the character is enabled with all visible assets loaded. There were really no surprises in the results:
The KC2000 from Kingston is one heck of an NVMe drive. Even though I’ve never really considered having encrypted drives before I can’t help but feel better now that I have one. All my documents and pictures are safe and sound - even in the extremely unlikely event I’m hacked or someone gets physical possession of my drive. To top all that security off Kingston delivers the fastest drive I’ve personally had the pleasure of using and it was immediately noticeable. Even if it’s not the cheapest drive on the market, with this kind of security and speed it’s impossible not to recommend it.
- Hardware Encryption is a plus
- Large Capacities Available
- Larger Capacities are Expensive
- Not Everyone needs encryption
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.