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Wednesday, 22 July 2015

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ADATA Premier Pro SP920SS 256GB SSD Review


I review almost everything that's related to computers on my blog but never had we got a SSD but thanks to ADATA that's a thing of past and today I'm reviewing one of their high grade products, the ADTA Premier Pro SP920SS 256GB SSD.
ADATA is famous for its wide catalog of products worldwide and is slowly making its presence felt here in India, its huge lineup of storage drives are the flag bearer for the company and the  Premier Pro series is one such example which is aimed at high end users who especially like to indulge in a lot of Multi media editing and stuff.
So before we move further on with the review lets take a quick peek into its specifications.
As its clear from the generic spec sheet the ADATA Premier Pro SP920SS solid state drive features Marvell’s 88SS9189 controller and Micron’s new 128 Gbit NAND. The 256 GB version of the drive that we are looking at today will have sequential read and write speeds of 560 MB/s and 360 MB/s respectively. So is this the perfect drive that you were looking for, lets read on to find out.

Packing and Closer look

The Pack


The ADATA Premier Pro SP920SS 256GB SSD comes in a standard traditional ADATA white cardboard box packaging. It has the company logo along with some key details abou the drive itself enlisted on the side of a transparent window that allows you to peek inside and take a look at the packed product.
On the back the same story continues with a generic sticker placed pointing out all the details of the drives in the Premier Pro lineup as it is available in 256GB, 512GB and 1Tb variants. The 256GB drive we are assessing today has speeds advertised as 560/380 MB/Sec Read/Write.

Opening the retail box up inside you will find the SP920SS drive, quick start guide, 7mm to 9.5mm adapter, and 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter. It is great that ADATA has included both adapters as this makes the product universal for both, ultrabook and desktop users. Also included is a downloadable copy of Acronis True Image HD 2013 disc cloning software. We could not think of anything extra we would like to see so ADATA deserve recognition for the included accessories.

Closer Look

The Premier Pro SSD is white in color and framed in an aluminium case and measures 100 x 69.85 x 7.0mm and weighing just 70g. On the front you can see the company logo of a colorful humming bird but this time in a black background. The back has the sticker which sports the serial and model number along with the warranty code and key for the downloadable Acronis software.

Taking a look inside the casing we observe that the ADATA SP920SS looks strikingly similar to the Crucial M550 both in layout and component choice right down to the last capacitor. Keep both of these in bare PCB and one cannot distinguish between the two easily.

The drive features Marvell’s 88SS9189 controller that is accompanied by a DDR3 buffer, which in this case is also made by Micron (FBGA Code: D9QNP). Its 256MB DDR3 memory with an effective clock of 1600MHz. Both the Cache and Controller receive cooling via a thermal pad.

There are eight 20 nm 32GB Micron Synchronous MLC NAND flash chips. These are the new 128 Gbit NAND chips, that do bring prices down as they are cheaper than the 64bit NAND chips, but also cause decreased NAND parallelism. This is why the lower capacity versions of this drive have slower speeds making it the new mainstream choice for users who require faster load for everyday computing requirements.

Test Setup and Benchmarks

I formatted the provided unit and then installed a fresh copy of Windows 8.1 along with some test software and nothing else. Opening up SSD Z we can see all of the information about the drive especially that it has 238GB of useable space. It supports S.M.A.R.T., NCQ and most importantly TRIM. The optimized firmware allows for full utilization of the NAND flash chips, resulting in a 7% increase in the usable space of the drive over many other models.

The test setup was as follows:
CPU: Intel Core i7 5930K (OC at 4.5 GHz)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 UD5 WiFi
RAMs: ADATA XPG 2400 Mhz DDR4 (16 GB 4x4)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H110 CPU Liquid Cooler
Graphics card: Gigabyte R9 290X windforce 3X OC 4GB DDR5
Hard disc: ADATA SP920SS 256 GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum Modular

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.
Its clear from the above image that the Premier Pro reached its maximum read and write speed as advertised which is a great sign.

CrystalDiskMark 3.0

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.
The read/write speed again can be seen in almost coherence with the specifications.

Anvil

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.
Anvil also includes Threaded IO tests, which test IOPS. We ran both the random read and random write tests. The results are below.
Since the Premier Pro is advertised with 98,000 read and 88,000 write IOPS the obtained score of 93,188.6 read and 7909.3 write IOPS isn't bad at all but is infact greatly impressive!

AS SSD

The next test is the AS SSD Benchmark. The name itself suggests that its aimed specifically at testing SSDs making it a reliable tool for benchmarking. This benchmark contains four synthetic as well as three practice tests.
Again it not only confirms our previous results obtained but also matches with what ADATA has to say about the SP920SS.

HDTune 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.
The graph is a solid and constant line showing a stable read speed across the test with an average read speed of 441.5 MB/s
The write test was also pretty solid, with an average speed of 302.5 MB/s.

My Verdict 

I've always seen ADATA as the dark horse especially of the storage industry and the ADATA Premier Pro SP920SS 256GB SSD is one such example. ADATA advertised it wrong by saying that it has a read and write speed of 560MB/s and 500MB/s respectively. The 1TB drive may well have write speeds of 500MB/s but the lower down the capacity ladder you go, the lower the write speeds get so when we double checked our speeds against the actual specification of the drive and not the bold print advertisements, we found that the 256GB drive has a rated write speed of 360MB/s which was more in-line with our own results!
With that said this drive and the Marvell 88SS9189 controller really do perform great, especially when it comes to reads, they are solid across the board. This is very evident in our HDTune Pro tests.
The Premier Pro SP920SS is not a bad drive at all. It is priced very aggressively at just around $200 and comes with a plethora of accessories like brackets and Acronis cloning software to make backing up your SSD as breeze, is one of the cheapest 256GB SSD's available which is to it's credit because while there are faster drives on the market, few offer similar read speeds at this price point which is the SP920SS's main selling point - 'bang per buck'.
I give it 8/10

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