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Thursday, 14 January 2016


Kingston SSDNow KC380 60GB 1.8" SSD Review and Specifications

Now and then we keep coming across SSDs of from various brands and since the launch of the NVMe SSD from Intel we come across SSDs of standards aswell! But it is highly unlikely that we come across a SSD of a particular size of form factor and Kingston has sent over a drive such as that to me for review and its none other than their KC380 60GB SSD that comes from their SSDNow drive categories aiming solely at compact PC owners, including netbooks and tablet PCs, who are looking for a worthy replacement to their conventional l.8" HDD just to achieve that maximum performance level that their machines are truly capable of!

Since the KC380 is a SSD it will consume far less power than than a normal HDD along with less heat generation taking away some unwanted heat from the system's total temperature increasing the performance of the entire machine as a whole. It offers advanced data integrity protection and a second-generation SandForce SSD controller with DuraClass technology. DuraClass features include DuraWrite and advanced wear-leveling to extend the life of the drive and garbage collection and over-provisioning for consistent performance and a longer life for your SSD and your data.

Packing and Closer Look

The Kingston KC380 SSD comes in clean clamshell packing with the drive nicely placed near the bottom. The Kingston logo and the product name are clearly mentioned in one corner and one worth mentioning point is the placement and font of the drive capacity neatly highlighted placed right over the vital read/write speeds. This lays out everything right in front of the customer making it a tad bit easier for them to pick it right off the shelf!

Looking at the ultra thin 1.8" SSD itself we notice its clean and boxy finish from the very first sight. This is complimented by the Kingston's signature grey color with a metallic sheen imparting a premium feel to the drive. It is 5 mm thick and weighs in at just 27 grams. The dimensions of the device are 7.8×0.5×5.4cm which are ideal in terms of physical compatibility with most of the laptops out there.

The back has nothing to notice but the four screws that keep the drive in one piece. Also you can notice the four black plastic pads on the corners to protect the drive from vibrations or shock in the compact enclosure of a compact PC.

Since the KC380 SSD is aimed at laptops, ultrabooks and even tablet PCs the drive utilizes a Micro-SATA port in contrast to a mSATA or SATA connector tat we find in normal PCs. So just in case you plan to use the drive in your desktop etc make sure that you have a PSU that comes with a power connector for such drives or best you buy yourself a Micro-SATA to SATA adapter.

Popping the lid open you immediately notice that its actually a Kingston mSATA drive hiding there connected to an adapter to convert it into a Micro-SATA drive! I don't blame Kingston since the brand already has a good lineup of mSATA drives taking a step like this will not only save them ample of money but also broaden their market along with delivering a more consistent performance to the end user.
The sticker gives you all the details needed and also hides two of the four NAND chips that constitute the 60GB of memory that the drive has to offer.

Flipping the PCB you get to see the entire story of this drive clear and loud, the Kingston KC380 SSDNow employs the SandForce SF-2241 as its memory controller. The controller is famous for its reliable-long term performance but has noted issue with inconsistent readings for random data. We'll be looking into that later on in the review though.
The four NAND drives are from Toshiba and are model no TH58TEG8DDJTA20. These are Multi Level Cell (MLC) NAND chips that for a drive of this standard are perfectly fitting and should deliver some promising results. Each chip is a 20GB module and since there are four of these present the total comes to 60GB of memory.

Test Setup and Benchmark

Since the drive is a Micro-SATA unlike what we come across generally I had to test the drive on my laptop rather than my usual test setup which is a desktop! This is the prime reason why this review got delayed.
The laptop used was the HP Pavilion AB 220TX with the below key configuration: 

CPU: Intel i5 5200U dual core 2.2Ghz
RAM: 8GB (4x2) DDR3 1600Mhz
GPU: Nvidia GeForce 940M 2GB DDR3
Storage: Kingston SSDNow KC380 60GB 1.8" SSD
OS: Microsoft Windows 10 Professional Edition 64-Bit

The drive was easy to fit in and installed without a problem. We formatted the drive after which a clean install of Windows 10 was done, the drive was filled up with a set of random data to keep the tests fair and square. The entire test suite was run twice to obtain the best possible reading, each session performed after a fresh system restart.
A thing worth noticing is that only 56GB out of the promised 60GB is available rest goes in over provisioning making 6% of the total space unusable.

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 quite consistent in read and write activities.

The read access and write access timings are recorded at 0.13ms and 0.30ms respectively which is an impressive stat.

ATTO Disk Benchmark 

ATTO is  yet another disk benchmark software that specializes in finding almost everything about a disk including its read/write speed. The suite is so much trustworthy that even manufacturers use it to bench their products prior to release!

The reading are right on the mark with read and write speeds hitting 557MB/s and 532MB/s respectively.


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.

We see the random data drawback coming into play of the SandForce controller but the copy benchmark is showing a good reading and is most relevant to the consumers aswell since its the most common task that one performs.

CrystalDiskMark v3.0.2

A small and simple utility that anyone can use to find out the true potential of their drives. It give you a clear insight of what the drive is actually capable of and rarely will you find its result varying or fluctuating.

The results are on the down side showing reading that go south of what is actually advertised.

HD Tune Pro 5.0

Its yet another popular storage drive benchmark that records a drive's read/write speed along with finding out its consistency in speed during access. You can also find out all the details about the drive to find out what all features a drive comes with.

The read and write speed are shown correctly with 363MB/s as read and 306MB/s as write speeds.

The read and write access speed are well within the expectations so no complains from the drive over here.
The IOPS test shows reading quite less than what has been put up on the spec sheet but is still above average.
The info lays out things quite clearly and also shows the fact which I'd noticed myself during the PCB analysis that there is no Buffer or Mapping unit present on the drive! This is one reason why the drive shows inconsistency in some tests that disables the use of system buffer.

PCMark Vantage

PCMark Vantage is a test specializing in  stressing the CPU,RAM and HDD of the system to come up with a cumulative score. Benching on various criterion such as gaming, multimedia and even Windows Vista boot up it gives a thorough analysis of the drive's performance.  

With 24189 as the total score and minimum speed at 149.9MB/s in the 'adding music to media library' test the drive comes up with some very impressive stats. This is important since these are emulation of real life usage!

My Verdict

Kingston has had a legacy of some really impressive storage devices in terms of performance and looks. The Kingston KC380 60GB 1.8" SSD on the other hand comes with a mixed bag of feelings, priced at $82 and Rs 9000 in India the drive is a much needed upgrade for some old netbooks/laptops especially those with a very strong CPU and GPU combination but struggling with HDD bottlenecks. The Micro-SATA interface sure shrinks its consumer base since not many machines support this standard but those who do nothing can be better for them than the KC380!
Kingston showed cleverness by putting a mSATA drive inside so when you feel the need you can pop the drive out and fit it in any of the modern day laptops or NUCs including the Gigabyte BRIX that we tested a few months back, this adds tons of value to the product. Due to the old SandForce controller inconsistency in speeds is there in some tests like Crystal Disk but that's still worth it over a conventional HDD when you are in desperate need of speed with short funds for an entirely new machine.
I give it 7.5/10

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