With the news of Western Digital closing one of its oldest hard drive factories, the writing is on the wall: solid state drives are the wave of the future. If you’ve been on the fence, there’s never been a better time to buy. SSDs are more reliable and affordable than ever, and, in the case of our review today, even self-encrypt for added security. Today, we’re looking at the Kingston UV500 960GB Upgrade Bundle. It has everything you need to get up and running fast, but does it have the performance to match?
- Pricing (Current on Amazon): $39.99 (120GB), $70 (240GB), $109.53 (480GB), $261.59 (960GB), $510.86 (1920GB)
- Form factor: 2.5”/M.2 (2.5" tested), 2280/mSATA
- Interface: SATA Rev. 3.0 (6Gb/s) – with backwards compatibility to SATA Rev. 2.0 (3Gb/s)
- Capacities: 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB (tested), 1.92TB
- Controller: Marvell 88SS1074 Controller
- NAND: 3D TLC
- Encryption: Encryption Support (AES 256-bit)
- 120GB — up to 520/320MB/s
- 240GB — up to 520/500MB/s
- 480GB — up to 520/500MB/s
- 960GB — up to 520/500MB/s (tested)
- 1.92TB — up to 520/500MB/s
Maximum 4K Read/Write2:
- 120GB — up to 79,000/18,000 IOPS
- 240GB — up to 79,000/25,000 IOPS
- 480GB — up to 79,000/35,000 IOPS
- 960GB — up to 79,000/45,000 IOPS
- 1.92TB — up to 79,000/50,000 IOPS
- Power Consumption: 0.195W Idle / 0.5W Avg / 1.17W (MAX) Read / 2.32 W (MAX) Write
- Life expectancy: 1 million hours MTBF
Total Bytes Written (TBW):
- 120GB — 60TB
- 240GB — 100TB
- 480GB — 200TB
- 960GB — 480TB
- 1.92TB — 800TB
- Warranty/support: Limited 5-year warranty with free technical support
In the world of solid state drives, we find ourselves at a split between SATA drives and PCI-e NVME. NVME drives, while fast, are often much more expensive per gigabyte and often fall into the realm of “overkill” for most gamers. The UV500 is one of the former, a 2.5” SSD running on the SATA 6GB/s bus, offering speeds that should represent a substantial upgrade for anyone coming from a traditional hard drive.
The UV500 kit promises speeds of 520MB/s read and 500MB/s write. This is well in line with most 2.5” SSDs we’ve tested and should make for a good comparison in our performance testing. At the lowest capacity of 120GB, this does drop to 520/320MB/s. For gaming, the 520/500MB/s speed is about the perfect middle-ground to achieve fast load times without excess pricing for speeds games won’t utilize.
The UV500 is also far more secure than a standard SSD, offering hardware-level AES-256 self data encryption. As a result of this, Kingston actually suggests this drive for consumer and business use as thieves breaching the system will find themselves unable to access any data held on the drive. You can read more about Self-Encrypting Drives here but if you’re concerned at all about security, or perhaps are looking to install this drive on a laptop taken place to place, a SED is definitely something you should be considering.
As a result, the drive is more expensive. Compared against many non-secure drives, substantially so. It’s nearest counterpart that we’ve had in for testing is the Crucial MX500 1TB, which also offers hardware-level encryption on top of 40GB of additional capacity, and the UV500 is nearly $68 more expensive for the standalone drive. The pricing is surprising and somewhat concerning on value per dollar, so it will be interesting to see how it performs in our benchmark testing.
The unit we were sent for sampling included the full upgrade kit. It includes everything you would need to make use of the drive, including mounting brackets, a 5.25” bay converter, an external enclosure if you’d like to use it with a laptop or game console, SATA cable, and molex PSU adapter. If the UV500 is your first SSD, the upgrade kit is a safe buy to ensure you’re up and running fast. For my purposes, I’ll be testing it in a PC and then moving it over to my Xbox One X for a bit of extra storage.
Test System: Intel Core i7-8700K at 4.7GHz, ASUS Z370 Maximum X Core motherboard, 64GB DDR4-3200 Ballistix Tactical Elite, WD Gold 10TB Mass Storage, NVidia GTX 1080 Ti (SLI), Corsair HX1050 - 1050 Watt PSU, NZXT Kraken X72 360mm CPU Cooler, Fractal Define R6 Case.
When testing SSDs, we first begin by looking at synthetic benchmarks to cross check the manufacturers claims on speed. We then move into real world file copy tests using a large, heavily modified Skyrim directory. Finally, we look at game loading times in a variety of popular MMORPGs. Since MMOs, particularly in capital cities where our tests are conducted, require large first-time, no-cache loads, this makes for a particularly good test of real world performance implications.
Our first test is ATTO Disk Benchmark. This is a synthetic test that provides a “best case” scenario for drive speed. It assesses sequential read and write times, preventing the drive from needing to locate bits of data as it would in day to day use. As a result, these are not the most representative of the speeds you’re likely to experience, but do give us a way to cross-check manufacturers’ performance claims.
Here we can see that the UV500 turned in respectable results, passing Kingston’s speed rating on both counts. It’s read speeds do fall short on the other SATA-based drives we’ve looked at but it does offer slightly faster read speeds than the MX500.
Next, we turn to CrystalDiskMark. Unlike ATTO, CDM assesses both sequential and random performance at multiple levels. CDM tends to be a bit harder on drives in its sequential testing, so we typically see speeds drop across the board.
If ATTO provides the “best case” scenario, CDM provides us with the worst in its 4KQ1T1 tests. These benchmarks assess random access with a Queue depth of one, meaning the drive in unable to prepare for future bits of data to increase its speed. This is a valuable assessment to explore both ends of the spectrum. As the Queue depth increases to 8 and 32 bits, speeds increase to provide us a more realistic approximation of the kind of performance we’ll see on a day to day basis.
Next we come to our real world testing with a file copy test. We track the minimum, average, and maximum speeds when transfering a large folder of different file types. In this case, we use a 20.9GB Skyrim directory filled up with mods. While the UV500 had a good burst of speed in the beginning, it lagged behind the competition fairly substantially.
Finally, we come to game load times. Here, we track the number of seconds it takes from the character select screen to load into a capital city. This is a particularly well-suited test for MMORPGs as capital cities often have very high load demands, particularly when many players are nearby. This is also one of the most meaningful tests to see what kind of upgrade a drive will represent for gamers who will be encountering these screens day in and day out.
Here, the results are very close, though the overall slower speeds do come into effect with an added few seconds here or there, but nothing you’re likely to notice in actual use.
The Kingston UV500 960GB SSD is a big upgrade over a traditional hard drive but came up a bit short in our testing. The dual targeting of consumers and businesses may have something to do with that price point, as well as the excellent automatic data encryption, but it’s a hard recommendation to make for average gamers. Instead, we’d recommend it for users who use the same system for work or travel and need that added layer of security.
- Hardware level data encryption
- Very reputable brand with solid warranty
- Upgrade kit includes everything you would need
- Game load times in line with other SATA SSDs
- Quite expensive compared to the competition
- Real world performance lags behind
The product discussed in this article was provided by the manufacturer for the purposes of review.