We receive many Solid State Drives for review every now and then from popular brands but as odd as it may sound we never had the chance to get our hands onto the SSD from one of the most ambitious & interesting manufacturer of them all, if not the best, the South Korean semiconductor specialist SK Hynix!
SK Hynix is not only an old company founded back in 1983 derived from the very well known HYundai electroNICS but is also the second largest memory chip maker on this globe making it something that you might've used in one form or the other without even knowing, hell most of the DDR4 or DDR3 RAM kits that we receive use Hynix MFR chips.
So today on my table I have the SK Hynix Canvas SL300 500GB Solid State Drive for review, its the faster cousin of the SC300 which is a bit slower and comes in a variety of form factors.
What we have today is a 2.5" drive based on a triple cell TLC NAND drive rated at 540MB/s and 470MB/s of read and write speed respectively. This is an impressive speed for an entry level drive with 500GB of storage.
Packing and Closer Look
The SK Hynix Canvas SL300 comes in a hard cardboard box pack which is decorated in a canvas style art work, even the font used is no the usual bold one seen on most products. The product photo occupies a large portion of the front which is a good sign.
I personally like this approach by SK Hynix of using a different style of packing rather than the usual blister pack which we are used to seeing most of the drives in.
Open the box and you'll find yourself the SL300 securely resting in a cavity wrapped in an anti-static pouch. Under the drive itself is a User Instruction guide that provides basic installation instruction for inexperienced users or first timers.
Looking at the front we see that SK Hynix has retained its style and designed the SL300 in a brushed aluminum finish with red plastic curves at the corners for aesthetic appeal as well as for better protection against vibrations & shocks. The SK Hynix logo is laser engraved adding a premium touch to the product.
At the back there is nothing much but the tool less design, that is there are no screws to hold the PCB in the outer enclosure, along with a sticker that gives you all the details about the product like its serial number, product number etc which you'll need in case of technical assistance or warranty claim. Our product number is HFS500G32TND-3112A. Ignore all those standards and stickers you'll never need them *wink*
Once we pop the cover open and put the PCB on the table we can clearly see the layout. The Controller on the Canvas SL300 is not clear but is some in-house controller by SK Hynix itself, next to it is a DDR2 cache working at 800Mhz and four 16nm NAND chips totaling to 500GB in capacity.
Since no mapping unit is present and its a entry level SSD I can best guess that the controller over here will be a Link A Media Devices (LAMD) LM 87810 which has been reprinted as the SK hynix "SH87810" on the chip.
SK Hynix unlike other manufacturers has a heavy leverage of having its own Controller, Firmware, DRAM and NAND making the SL300 a more powerful product at this price due to cost reduction.
Test Setup and Benchmark
For testing the Sk Hynix Canvas SL300 500GB SSD we got a great test-bench with components that would not bottleneck the drive at all delivering precise results in all scenarios. The configuration of our test bench is as follows --
CPU: Intel Core i7 5960X 3Ghz octacore processor
Motherboard: GIGABYTE X99 SLI
RAM: Kingston HyperX Predator 16GB DDR4 (4x4) 3000Mhz Memory Kit
Cooler: Corsair H100i GTX 240mm Liquid Cooler
Graphics Card: Asus Strix GTX 980ti 6GB DDR5
Storage: SK Hynix SL300 500GB SSD || Corsair Neutron GTX 480GB SSD
Power Supply: Corsair AX860i 860W 80+ Platinum
OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Installing and formatting the Canvas SL300 for a clean install of Windows 10 OS was simple and we ran a range of tests on the drive one by one after an interval of 5 minutes each filled with miscellaneous local files & web browsing to rest the controller & clear the cache.
CrystalDiskMark 5.0.2CrystalDiskMark 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.
As seen the SK Hynix SL300 gives you 466GB out of the 500GB as usable which is a substantial amount and also the overall performance of the drive is exceptional throughout with 562MB/s and 477MB/s of read and write speed which is more than the advertised speed!
ATTO BenchATTO 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.
With 564MB/s of read speed the SL300 is the fastest we have seen so far! Write speed is also good with 479MB/s.
AS SSDThe 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.
As the suite uses incompressible data and yet the reading obtained are high & tally with the spec sheet, the controller used is surely not a SandForce but Link A Media (LAMD)
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. Anvil also includes Threaded IO tests, which test IOPS. We ran both the random read and random write tests. The results are below-
AIDA64 Extreme Edition
Other than the fact that the drive only has a 0.06ms average read access time the graphs are the most consistent ones we've ever seen on any SSD even the expensive NVMe SSD don't show such consistency! Truly Impressive indeed.
PCMark Vantage X64 HDD SuitePCMark Vantage can be used to test a variety of hardware but the HDD suite that consists of eight sub tests emulating real life scenarios and circumstances such as Window's Boot time or Music import/export is one of the most punishing yet productive suite. The results can be regarded very close to real life performance.
The highest score recorded was for the Windows Media Center at 407.8MB/s whereas the lowest went down to 179.4MB/s which is not at all bad for any SSD especially at this price tag.
PCMark 8 Professional EditionPCMark 8 Storage Test unlike PCMark Vantage scores and records the SSD performance through a set of application execution and related tasks depending upon the test you choose. We ran the Home Accelerated to see how well does the SL300 fairs out in common day to day tasks such as photo editing, web browsing and casual gaming.
A 4946 score is definitely impressive and rest the picture above speaks for itself. The SK Hynix SL300 passed with flying colors for sure.
My VerdictWhen I got the SL300 for review I had my own apprehensions regarding its performance even though it came from an established manufacturer, mainly because SK Hynix is not popular for its SSD but its chips in memory kits. But this was all until I hooked it up with the system and ran the first benchmark, it performed and it performed brilliantly!
On the down side SK Hynix has marketed the product very poorly & I could find only a few online retailers selling it at around £ 112 whereas amongst the Indian sellers its a myth! Upon inquiry I came to know that its priced at around Rs. 11000 in India available through a handful of retailers. What is the point of painting a great 'canvas' if it never reaches in front of the admirer's eyes...
I give it a 8.5/10