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Saturday, 14 July 2018

Kingston A1000 M.2 SSD Review

The Kingston A1000 M.2 NVMe - Fast & Reliable performance on a budget!


Kingston is a name well known when it comes to high performance memory kits and storage drives especially through their HyperX lineup which offers their top of the line hardware that holds its own grounds against what other brands have to offer. Some time back they came up with their first ever NVMe SSD in form of the KC1000 which is a premium PCIe based SSD in the ever popular M.2 form factor. With that all done and dusted Kingston now decided to tap on the newly emerged and fast growing budget NVMe drive market with their latest Kingston A1000 NVMe M.2 SSD which happens to be their second NVMe SSD ever and with that A in the nomenclature signifies the budget nature of the product.

With a price tag of $70 the Kingston A1000 iks powered by a Phison PS5008-E8 controller and happens to be competitively priced boasting a read and write speed of 1500MB/s and 800MB/s respectively which is what we expect from a drive of this nature. Its directly aiming to replace a conventional SATA SSD in your PC for a boot drive or for loading vital softwares and to be a nifty replacement/addition to slim laptops and ultra-books just to keep things clear here. Coming in at 240GB, 480GB and 960GB only the drive doesn't offer a a 120GB which I don't think anyone needs but a full 1TB version would've been a welcome move since the 960GB won't offer full capacity like any other storage drive on the market.
The Kingston A1000 also comes with a 5-year limited warranty and our model is rated for 150TBW while all of them compliant with the newest NVMe 1.3 protocol.

Packing and Closer Look


A simple clam-shell pack that's it! Kingston has packed the A1000 in the most basic packing possible housing the drive inside a clear clam-shell with a sticker cum seal that goes all the way around the pack and has all the serial and model numbers at the bottom end.
Not too big of a fan of fancy packing but this seems like a prototype packing rather than the final product, which i hope it is and Kingston atleast puts it in a cardboard box with all the logos, names etc.

Inside you get the drive seated in its own exclusive casing for added protection along with a multilingual warranty card and activation key for the Kingston cloning utility, Acronis. Its a nice addition for a semi-premium product and would save most users a ton of time by offering a free cloning utility since the product is aimed as a direct replacement for boot/primary drives.


The A1000 is a single sided drive with the controller, cache and memory chips all on the same side leaving the back side vacant. It adheres to the 2280 (80mm) form factor standards and the sticker on top is one of the hardest to pull off from all the drives that I've reviewed so far which obviously if peeled off will void you warranty.

Kingston opted for the quad-channel Phison PS5008-E8 SSD controller which utilizes PCIe3.0x2 planes over the conventional PCIe3.0x4 lanes that most NVMe drives utilize, this is interesting as Kingston is betting on improved performance by architectural refinements of the controller over more PCIe lanes to cut down the cost and make the drive more cost effective.
We also see four 64-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory from Toshiba which is their latest product and promises fast and reliable performance. As for the buffer we have a 1GB DDR3 cache by Nanya working at 1600Mhz.

Test Setup and Benchmarks

We used our usual testbench to benchmark the Kingston A1000 240GB NVMe M.2 SSD -

CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @3.6Ghz
Motherboard: Asus X370 Crosshair VI Hero
RAM: GALAX HOF 32GB 3600Mhz
Cooler: Corsair H150i Pro RGB
Graphics Card: MSI RX 580 Gaming X 8G
Storage: Kingston A400 256GB
Secondary Storage: Kingston A1000 240GB NVMe M.2
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W
Case: Corsair Obsidian 750D
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit


The drive was easy to fit in and installed without a problem. Following our usual SSD testing methods we formatted the drive and put it as a secondary drive with our main SSD loaded with Windows 10 Pro 64-bit. The entire test suite was run twice to obtain the best possible reading, each session performed after a fresh system restart. Out of the 240GB promised only 224GB on this drive is usable so around 7% of the total space is reserved for memory buffer.

TRIM Check

Since this is a very new SSD for us so it called for some new testing suits aswell, one such tool is TrimCheck which verifies if TRIM function on the drive is working perfectly or not.

The test shows that TRIM is working perfectly on the SSD.

Crystal Disk Info V7.0.5

Crystal Disk Info is a great tool for displaying the characteristics and health of storage devices. It displays everything from temperatures, to the number of hours the device has been powered, and even to the extent of informing you of the firmware of the device.

Crystal Disk Info shows us that a bunch of useful SMART attributes are presented to the end user. Total reads and writes as well as NAND writes are shown. The firmware version we are testing with today is version E8FK11.G with the drive working at optimum temperatures even during summers.

ATTO Disk

ATTO Disk Benchmark measures transfer rates across specific lengths for any storage system. ATTO uses RAW data, I set my transfer size from 0.5 to 8192kb. This is generally the most reliable benchmarks for today's SSDs.


We can clearly see that the speed put up by the A1000 are almost double to what a conventional SATA SSD does and is a perfect match to the advertised speeds on the spec sheet.

CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2

CrystalDiskMark is a disk benchmark software that analyses different types of hard drive. Giving sequential benchmark write and read statistics in MB/s. A simple program that is very useful.


A similar scenario is what we are seeing here aswell and even though the Kingston A1000 uses only two PCIe3.0 lanes instead of four the results are impressive so far.

Anvil Storage Utility

The next test is Anvil Storage Utilities, which is a really great piece of software. The SSD benchmark gives you scores for both read and write as well as a combined score.

Identical results yet again in terms of performance aswell as on the IOPS end which is same as that on the specification sheets.

AS SSD

The AS SSD software determines the performance of Solid State Drives (SSD). The tool contains five synthetic and three practice tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and random read and write performance of the SSD. These tests are performed without using the operating system caches. In Sequential tests, the program measures the time it takes to read and write a 1 GB file respectively.

With an impressive score of above 2000 points the A1000 blazes ahead of the competition in every suit here including the Copy benchmark which emulates real life performance compromising of miscellaneous data types and sizes.

AIDA64 Extreme Edition v5.60

AIDA64 is one of the best tools out there to check the system stability, error diagnostics and even to validate overclocking.
It has a set of suites for almost every hardware out there including SSD/HDD. So we started of with AIDA64 disk suites.

As we can see that the drive is hitting the advertised speeds and is extremely consistent in read and write activities. This is a very good indications since most drives including the XPG SX8000 tend to fluctuate a lot in the Linear and Random Read tests indicating towards a more solid and consistent performance by the A1000.

HD Tune Pro

HD Tune Pro is one of the most popular hard drive software suites available. It has many different benchmarks and tests built into it. Our first test is the read benchmark, which tests the average read speed and access time of the drive.
It was necessary to use it even after so many tests just to give all of you a graph of how constant the speed is on this SSD as many SSDs tend to fluctuate on the read/write speed which ultimately gives you unstable performance.

A brilliant performance presented by the A1000 yet again where its beating the competition by substantial margin! The drive is not only extremely consistent but shows really high speeds.

PCMark 8 Professional Edition

PCMark 8 Storage Test unlike PCMark Vantage scores and records the SSD performance through a set of application execution and related tasks such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Office and even through games like Battlefield 3.

The scores are quite respectable and significantly more than the SATA drives both in terms of overall score and storage bandwidth.

My Verdict 

My experience over the years tell me that Kingston doesn't disappoint when it comes to storage drives most of the times especially when we consider the likes of high end Savage to the entry level A400. The A1000 M.2 NVMe is an interesting drive to be honest, it is meant to be an entry level solution of NVMe drives that aim to replace the conventional SATA drives on PCs and laptops alike for people who don't want the highest speeds possible and feel that their current work load is bottle-necked by their SATA SSDs, on the other hand it utilizes a PCIe3.0x2 interface over the PCIe3.0x4 that NVMe drives do and we can see the performance hit in cases like that of the PCMark 8 score where the limited bandwidth chokes the A1000 under extensive loads.
The drive does run cool with a 38° at idle and 58° under full load for a long period of time even when I tested it inside a closes chassis with high ambient temperature so that's a very good thing as there was no thermal throttling whatsoever. Its priced quite well atleast in the US as I don't have the final pricing for India pitting it extremely close to SATA SSDs in terms of price per GB and at times its cheaper to some of the high end premium SATA drives that offer lower overall performance than this giving the Kingston A1000 a huge benefit.
"With a solid performance, low thermals and an aggressive price to performance ratio the Kingston A1000 is a highly recommended rive to those who want to upgrade from a SATA SSD and utilize the near double speed the drive has to offer at a marginally higher price!"
Pros - 
  • Solid and Stable performance 
  • Runs cool
  • Aggressively priced   
Cons - 
  • Only PCIe3.0x2 interface 
I give it a 7/10 earning our Silver Award

Friday, 13 July 2018

Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB Review

Cooler Master ML240R RGB - When great performance meets RGB goodness!!


Cooler Master is now a household name when it comes to PC enthusiasts and gamers thanks to its wide and very effective range of PSUs, Gaming Chassis, Coolers and now even peripherals. Last year among their new launches was the CM MasterLiquid Pro series of AIO coolers which did one heck of a job and even I had the privilege of reviewing one of those namely as the CM MasterLiquid Pro 280, a cooler with a lot up its sleeves.
Now this year they've taken a step ahead and revamped or rather improved for some people in a department that happens to be the deciding factor for most people's purchase, RGB Lighting! Yes Cooler Master this year launched the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB AIO CPU Liquid Cooler which if nothing else is all about RGB lights and customization with a few nifty additions.

Priced in at $120 or Rs 9,000 in India the ML240R RGB from Cooler Master belongs to the Regular category of coolers out of the three that Cooler Master now follows for its products namely as Lite, Regular and Pro, the names are self-explanatory in themselves. This cooler is clearly aimed at gamers and enthusiasts and nothing too extreme hence we get a cooler that has Addressable RGB controls with two ARGB MasterFan Fans and a pump header that loaded with the same while offering respectable cooling experience.

What's in the Box!?


Cooler Master brings the MasterLiquid ML240R RGB in a heavy cardboard box which is accentuated by black and purple color theme that is signature to almost all the Cooler Master Products now. The box has a large image of the cooler itself in the center, CM logo on the top left and the product name at the bottom left side. You also get to know that the RGB controller is included inside the box which is a major part and feature of this product to which we'll come later down the review.

Inside the box you will find everything snugly packed and seated inside an egg box card which is sturdy enough with respect to the weight of the product to keep this unit safe during harsh transit. All the included accessories are inside two plastic bags, one for all the brackets and nut-bolts while the other has all the wires for the cooler.

For the accessories section we have two ARGB fans which we'll discuss later on, the ML240R cooler itself, a backplate for Intel platforms, nuts-screws and stand-offs, stand-offs for the LGA 2011 socket, retention brackets for Intel and AMD platforms including the AM4, fan and radiator mounting screws, ARGB and RGB male to male connectors and a tube of thermal compound.
If that was not enough then we have a plethora of wires enlisting which is a tiring job in its own rights but here we go, a wire that ends into a USB female port from the onboard USB 2.0 port on the motherboard, a male USB to micro USB connector, a 1 to 3 ARGB splitter cable, a PWM fan splitter cable, two ARGB extension cables and a reset cable extension wire along with the ARGB controller itself.

The pair of fans provided along with the Cooler Master ML240R RGB are the CM MasterFan MF120R ARGB fans which at the time of this review are not sold separately and are available with the new ML120R and ML240R RGB AIO coolers. These fans can spin at a maximum 2000RPM with a CFM rating of 59 each and use two braided wires for power and their ARGB functionalities. One is a standard PWM connector while the other is a three pin ARGB wire for the Addressable RGB functions that can either be controlled via the provided controller or the motherboard if it comes with a ARGB port which as of now is a rarity.


Looking at the pump here we see an entirely different design and aesthetics from what we are used to seeing from CM. Its a glossy premium plastic finish with a subtle Cooler Master logo on top of a cover which holds the diffuser under it for that whole animated ARGB experience. Its a dual chamber design which used PPS (Polyphenylene sulfide) and glass fiber as prime materials for constructing the pump casing to make it "light and impervious to oxidation and corrosion" as per Cooler Master official website. 
It used a PWM fan cable along with a ARGB cable for all its desired functions which is stealthy enough and you don't have to deal with a bunch of wires running wild all over the place! Also the 360mm long and 8mm thick FEB tubing are braided which I really like and the swivel joints though hard can turn to a full 90° for easy routing and pipe management if that is a word at all.

The cold-plate is copper but isn't all glossy and shiny like the ones we find on their Pro series coolers from last year but instead this one is an off the mill plate with brushed finishing which can be an issue but on the bright side the cold-plate is flat and big which can cover CPU of every sizes easily for optimum heat dissipation including the Intel HEDT ones which we'll be using for testing.

The radiator on the CM ML240R is a successor to that on the previous Pro series AIO and like them I love these too for their clean rectangular design with no funny business going on giving it a distinct yet elegant look. Measuring in at 277x119.6x27 mm this radiator has a 23 fin/inch density which is on the denser side of a 240mm rad and with high CFM and high RPM fans such as the MF120R I'm intrigued to see the performance of this cooler in our benchmarks.

Cooler Master bundles the ML240R with a dedicated ARGB controller which is responsible for all the ARGB functions of this cooler including that of the fans and on the pump. The controller is powered by a SATA cable and communicates with the motherboard via a micro USB port for software control and even has physical buttons on top to control the animation, speed and even to switch between RGB and ARGB mode You can connect upto five ARGB devices and two RGB devices to this control box which is fantastic and more so its magnetic so it sticks to the back of your motherboard tray without any hassle or issues.

Time for the Fun Part - Installation 


For this benchmark I'll be using my X99 setup which I always use for any cooler review to bring in homogeneity and comparative analysis. Over here we'll use the Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5P motherboard with the Intel i7 5930K CPU which can generate quite a lot of heat when overclocked especially with over-voltage. All the parts and components for this are shown in the image above & you will need all of these no matter which platform you will mount this cooler upon except for the LGA 2011 stand-offs replaced by the Intel backplate kit for Intel platforms and AMD retention brackets for AMD platforms as you don't need a separate backplate for the same.  

Since everything here is pretty straightforward and doesn't need much of an explanation but I feel that most of you would bang your head with all those wires and how to connect them so let's make that part easy for you.
First you need to connect the USB cables together so connect the USB cable to the motherboard USB 2.0 port and to the then female USB port of that cable connect the other provided cable that ends into a micro USB cable that will be plugged into the ARGB controller. Now you need to plug the two fan splitter cables together so that one end is plugged into the mother fan header, one small header to the controller and that further extends to two male PWN fan connectors for the fans of the raditor. Take the ARGB 1 to 3 splitter cable and using one of the provided male to male ARGB pins just connect the wire to the right side ARGB port on the controller. That's it now simply connect the ARGB splitter cable to the pump and fans and a SATA connector to the controller to power it on. Hope that sorts out the whole process for most of you out there.

Let's put it to Test!


For testing the performance of the Cooler Master ML240R RGB we'll be using the following test bench -


CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Gigabyte X99 Gaming 5P
RAM: Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR4 3000Mhz
Cooler: Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB
Graphics Card: MSI RX 580 Gaming X 8G
Storage: Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB
Power Supply: Cooler Master V1200 1200W
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

Once installed everything powers on as desired and the ARGB controller provided along with the cooler does the desired job and works flawlessly through the physical buttons. However the newly launched software for controlling the control box did not work in my case even after numerous fresh installations and reboots. This was a bit disappointing since once the cooler is inside a closed chassis the control box would not be physically accessible rendering the ARGB controls redundant for most part of it limiting the user to the reset button in the front for less precise controls.
As for the testing firstly, the CPU is kept at stock speeds with boost enabled and temperatures are measured both at idle and at full load. Then we overclock our Intel i7 5930K to 4.5Ghz at 1.45v which by now everyone knows is a frequency where this chip tends to get real hot at, the same process as that for the stock speed testing is repeated. Temperature is measured using HW monitor with an average being taken of the temperatures recorded on all six cores. MSI Kombuster utility is what I prefer to stress test the CPU at all eight threads, I run it for a good 15 minutes before recording the temperatures since by then the temperatures reach a saturation point.
Secondly, the pump is plugged directly into the CPU Fan header while the fans on the other fan headers of the motherboard. Fan profile was kept at default from the BIOS itself to rule out any discrepancy whatsoever.
The readings would be shown in delta temperature that is after subtracting the ambient temperature of the room while noise levels are recorded from a distance of three feet from the cooler which is a reasonable and practical distance for such tests.

In our testing the Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB does a fabulous job at keeping the CPU cooled at idle and also when overclocked especially considering the fact that we are talking about a 240mm cooler which is not aimed at extreme overclocking but for day to day usage of gaming and editing. Not only does the cooler beats the similar sized Corsair H100i GTX but it also comes quite close to the much bigger CM MasterLiquid Pro 280 at considerably lower noise levels plus the added RGB functionality. Considering my ambient temperature is high and the fan profiles are set to default I'm sure if you set the fan speeds to full or to performance in a cooler environment the results would be even better.

The cooler I'd say is a bit noisy, in terms of numbers but not in reality, even when the system is under full load and surely so dead silent when at idle. Considering its size and the two 120mm fans that come into play the cooler is one of the quietest coolers in its category if not the quietest. This is an improvement over the previous AIO designs from Cooler Master which tend to be noisy hence the use of MF120R ARGB fans did the job for CM offering quieter performance for this unit along with RGB goodness.

My Verdict 

When the CM MasterLiquid Pro 280 came out last year I thought that I'd never like another Cooler Master AIO over the entire package the Pro 280 had to offer but then I met this ML240R RGB and everything changed and I mean that for the better!
Cooler Master finally heard what to all the feedback over the year and brought something that offers great performance along with a rare combination of addressable RGB functionalities which even to this day is a rarity making the CM MasterLiquid ML240R RGB a unique cooler in its own right.
The cooling performance is excellent for a cooler of its size offering low temperatures and high compatibility with cases due to its slim 27mm radiator which barely touches the 50mm mark with the fans installed. Noise levels are well within the acceptable range and we see nothing too loud or vibrating here that might disturb your gaming or multimedia experience like a bug near the ear.
Now for the star of the show, the ARGB functions are well above my expectations and are simply some of the easiest to use in the market today. The animations are apt and nothing too overdone and we get enough customization options through the box itself which also happens to make this a great product since the ARGB works on systems that don't even support RGB headers such as out test bench today providing a wide market to CM to cater to with this cooler. My only gripe for now is that the software from CM did not work on my unit probably due to a flaw in the software or maybe in the unit itself which only time will tell as a newer version of the software rolls out in future.
"Cooler Master MasterLiquid ML240R RGB is marvelous in terms of balance between much needed features, distinctive yet elegant looks and to the point pricing. Highly recommended for someone who's looking at building  a high end system or just want a cooler to make his rig stand out from the crowd!"
Pros - 
  • Solid Build Quality 
  • Excellent Cooling Performance 
  • Easy to install especially with AMD platforms
  • Brilliant implementation of RGB
  • Comes with an ARGB control box

Cons -
  • Cooler Master software did not work
  • Too many wires can be confusing for a few 
I give it an 8/10 earning our Gold Award!