It’s official: solid state drives are cheap enough and reliable enough that everyone should be using one. Today, we’re looking at the cutting edge of this technology with the Silicon Power P34A80 M.2 NVME SSD (1TB). Using the same silicon pathway as your graphics card, this little drive is capable of speeds more than five times a traditional SSD and costs only $129.99 for a full terabyte. With the market becoming so crowded, however, is it worth it? Let’s find out.
- Current Pricing: $129.99 (Amazon)
- Capacity: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB
- Dimensions: 22.0 x 80.0 x 3.5mm
- Weight: 8g
- Interface: PCIe Gen3x4
- Performance Read (max.): up to 3,200 MB/s
- Performance Write (max.): up to 3,000 MB/s
- Operating Temperature: 0C- 70C
- Shock Resistance Test: 1500G/0.5ms
- System Requirement: Computer with M.2 slots supporting PCIe interface, and one of the following operating systems: Windows 7 (additional driver required)/ Windows 8 (additional driver required)/ Windows 8.1/ Windows 10
- Warranty: 5 years
Silicon Power has been making memory and flash drives for enthusiasts for more than 15 years, so they’re no newcomers to the SSD business. The P34A80 is the company’s first attempt at an M.2 NVME SSD, however, and it’s clear that they’re trying to win mindshare with their competitive pricing. At only $129.99, today’s drive boasts impressive speeds with a respectable five year warranty.
The P34A80 uses the Phison E12 controller to manage its flash memory. While this may seem too technical for gamers simply wanting a fast game drive, it’s an important consideration for system builders and upgraders. The memory controller and how it’s configured directly impacts the read and write speeds of the drive. The E12 used here has garnered praise in other implementations by competitors like Corsair with their Force MP510. The controller here has been customized to allow a slightly larger capacity, which typically means slightly reduced cache that can decrease performance on sustained writes. We’ll see how that shakes out in our tests.
The drive we’re looking at today is the 1-terabyte capacity and features read and write speeds of 3200 MB/s and 3000 MB/s respectively. It is also available in 256GB, 512GB, and 2TB capacities. It makes use of a 64-layer TLC 3D NAND architecture for improve power efficiency and reliability.
Test System: Intel Core i7-8700K at 4.7GHz, ASUS Z370 Maximum X Core motherboard, 32GB DDR4 3200MHz ADATA XPG D41, WD Gold 10TB Mass Storage, NVidia GTX 2080 Ti (SLI), Corsair HX1050 - 1050 Watt PSU, Noctua DH-14 Dual-spire/Dual-fan 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.
The first test we conduct is ATTO Disk Benchmark. It assesses sequential read and write performance to provide a theoretical best case scenario. Since many manufacturers use ATTO to determine their promised speeds, it makes for a useful benchmark to crosscheck manufacturers claims.
The P34A80 delivers respectable results, though write speeds do fall slightly below the promised 3000 MB/s. Despite this, given the modest price, the slightly optimistic rating, shall we say, feels very reasonable.
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.
In this benchmark, the Silicon Power does remarkably well. So well, in fact, that even after running the test multiple times, I had to cross-reference my results with other reviews already out there. But no, this type of sequential performance is very near to what others have experience which is frankly amazing. That said, this edge in sequential is limited to CDM.
With synthetics out of the way, we move into real world testing. To accomplish this, we track the transfer speed of a large, modded Skyrim directory of nearly 21GB. Here we can see excellent burst performance from the Silicon Power but as the drive burns through its cache, we see dips in the speed which drags down the average speed compared to the other drives tested here.
Finally, we come to game load times. These are conducted with MMORPGs upon their first load so there is no opportunity for caching which would skew results. As you can see, these drives perform so close to one another that it is easily within margin of error in most cases. The Silicon Power P34A80 offers respectable results within seconds of the other drives.
Taken as a whole, the Silicon Power P34A80 offers solid performance that falls within the middle of the pack when compared to the other NVME drives we tested against. Where it clearly wins is in value. At only $129 for a full terabyte of NVME storage, it’s an easy recommendation to make. It may not be the fastest drive but the few extra seconds it might take compared to something like the 970 PRO are well worth it when you consider the cost differential. The P34A80 is the first Silicon Power drive we’ve tested but the price to performance ratio on display here leaves me excited to try others in the future.
- Solid performance
- Excellent value
- 5-year warranty
- Larger capacity means lower cache for sustained transfers
The product discussed in this review was provided by the manufacturer.