ADATA Premier SP550 240GB Solid State Drive Review

by - 4 years ago

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Introduction


ADATA_SP550-Photo-top

I’ve had the pleasure to review several new drives with triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND recently and today it is time to take a closer look at ADATA’s Premier SP550 solid state drive. The drive is equipped with said TLC flash and an SMI controller to provide an affordable performance upgrade. The ADATA Premier SP550 is available in capacities from 120GB and all the way up to 960GB, I’m however taking a closer look at the 256GB model today.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-top angle

Let us start with the basics. The ADATA Premier SP550 is a 2.5-inch solid state drive with a 7mm height that makes it a perfect fit for ultrabooks. ADATA also packed a drive spacer along for notebooks that require a 9.5mm drive. This makes it suitable for almost any system, mobile or stationary.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-with adapter

As previously mentioned, the SP550 utilities TLC flash and an SMI2256 controller that comes with all the features that you want and a couple more. The drive naturally supports the basics such as NCQ, SMART, TRIM and Garbage collection, but it also features a low-density parity check error correction code (LDPC ECC) and RAID engine. The drive also supports SLC Caching and comes with a DDR3 DRAM cache buffer for sustained transfer speeds. All that along with Data Shaping technology should ensure data integrity and stability.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-side

The endurance is rated for 90TB total bytes written (TBW) and the SP550 has a mean time before failure rating of 1.5 million hours. The 240GB model is rated for a sequential read performance up to 560MB/s and a sequential write performance up to 510MB/s. That is pretty good for a small drive that’s TLC based. The random performance is rated for 75K IOPS on both read and write operations. Part of the good performance rating comes from the intelligent SLC caching algorithm of the drive that allows NAND flash memory to operate in SLC mode and boosts SSD read and write performance.

A feature not mentioned above is the DevSleep, or Device Sleep, that in supported systems will send the drive to an even deeper sleep state where it consumes close to zero amount of power. Instead of keeping a data channel open for a wake-up signal, the DevSleep uses a power signal to wake the drive back up.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-bottom

ADATA also got an SSD toolbox that makes maintenance of the drive an easy thing. You can quickly and conveniently configure, optimize, and monitor SSDs, from overall status to specific drive health and lifespan info. Speaking of lifespan, the ADATA Premier SP550 is backed by a 3-year warranty.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-inside open up

Inside the two-piece encasing, we find a 2/3 sized PCB where we see that nothing but quality components were used. The NAND is rom SKhynix, the cache from NANYA, and the controller from Silicon Motion.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-pcb two

ADATA_SP550-Photo-pcb one

Features

  • TLC flash with SMI controller Capacity Model Number EAN Code
  • Advanced LDPC ECC Technology
  • RAID Engine & Data Shaping for ultimate protection
  • Intelligent SLC Caching for improved performance
  • High TBW for extended drive longevity
  • DEVSLP (Device Sleep) supported

Specifications

  • Capacities: 120GB / 240GB / 480GB / 960GB
  • Controller: SMI
  • NAND Flash Memory: Toggle TLC (3-bit MLC)
  • 7mm 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/sec (SATA III) interface
  • ECC Capability: Advanced hardware LDPC engine
  • Dimensions (L x W x T): 100.45 x 69.85 x 7mm *Varies depending on exact configuration
  • Operating Temperature: 0~70°C
  • Storage Temperature: -40~85°C
  • Shock Resistance: 1500G/0.5ms
  • Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
  • MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
  • Warranty: 3 years

ADATA_SP550-Photo-connector

Package and Accessories

ADATA packed the SP550 in a simple white box that has a transparent window showcasing the included drive itself. The front also features all the relevant features that the drive sports.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-box front

The rear of the box has all the details in multiple languages as well as the rated speeds.

ADATA_SP550-Photo-box rear

Inside the box we find the drive itself as well as a 9.5mm drive adapter and a quick start guide.
ADATA_SP550-Photo-box insides

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Testing & Methodology


Hardware

Software

  • AIDA64 Storage Benchmark
  • Anvil’s Storage Utilities
  • AS SSD Benchmark
  • ATTO Benchmark
  • CrystalDiskMark
  • IOMeter
  • PCMark 8 Storage Benchmark

In a bid to make our testing as thorough and as accurate as possible, we have devised a testing methodology to give us the maximum amount of data. Whilst this means that testing each drive will take considerably longer to test – nearly 36 hours in fact, the picture that we are able to build upon the overall performance of each drive is far clearer, providing a more accurate analysis at how a drive performs under different conditions.

I will be testing the drives performance when it is clean and fresh out of the box and then start to fill it up with data, namely 25%, 50% and 75% of the drives capacity and rerun the tests under each of these scenarios. I’ll be using the same sample files under each test to keep the results as consistent as possible. The files in question are a collection of files from my personal NAS, composed of a mixture of small and big files, media, programs, and archives.

On top of this, I will also take the wear on the NAND into consideration and this process obviously takes a long time to perform – so long under real world conditions that it is simply not practical. In order to accelerate this conditioning process I will use the SSD endurance test that lies within Anvils Storage Utilities and read / write 10TB of data to the drive through a process of filling the drive with thousands of small files of various sizes and compressibility (with randomised duration between each of the writes), then reading each of them back with a randomised time between each file. After this has completed, the data is then erased and the process starts again. This process of conditioning the drive can take anywhere upwards of 12-15 hours on a typical 256GB SATA III SSD, however, the performance and capacity of the drive will influence the time it takes to condition the drive.

Following the conditioning process, the benchmarking process described above is repeated again with the volume filled with the same sample data to each percentage between test runs. Furthermore between each benchmark, the drive will get a TRIM command sent and further left alone for a while to make sure the TRIM command has done its job. TRIM can heavily impact a drives performance as it takes place, so allowing a period of time between tests will eliminate this factor and any subsequent false performance figures.

On each page that follows with the benchmark results, I have inserted the screenshots from the benchmark results, created a drive analysis chart for fill-level as well as a drive comparison chart for each software used, where possible.

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AIDA64


AIDA64 is a streamlined Windows diagnostic and benchmarking software for home users. It provides a wide range of features to assist in overclocking, hardware error diagnosis, stress testing, and sensor monitoring.

It has unique capabilities to assess the performance of the processor, system memory, and disk drives and is compatible with most Microsoft Windows operating systems. It also has a disk benchmark tool, and that is the one I’ll be using.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida suite

The Linear Read and Write tests measure the sequential performance by reading or writing all sectors without skipping any. It gives, as the name says, a linear view on the drives overall performance from start to end.

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida read linear

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida write linear

The Random Read and Write tests measure the random performance by reading or writing variable-sized data blocks at random locations on the surface of the drive. The Random tests are actually a combination of both speed and access times as it moves the position before each new operation.

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida read random

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida write random

The Access time tests are designed to measure the data access performance by reading or writing small 0.5KB data blocks at random locations on the drive surface.

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida read access

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-aida write access

Conditioned Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida suite

The Linear Read and Write tests measure the sequential performance by reading or writing all sectors without skipping any. It gives, as the name says, a linear view on the drives overall performance from start to end.

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida read linear

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida write linear

The Random Read and Write tests measure the random performance by reading or writing variable-sized data blocks at random locations on the surface of the drive. The Random tests are actually a combination of both speed and access times as it moves the position before each new operation.

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida read random

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida write random

The Access time tests are designed to measure the data access performance by reading or writing small 0.5KB data blocks at random locations on the drive surface.

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida read access

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-aida write access

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Anvil’s Storage Utilities


Anvil’s Storage Utilities is a new benchmarking utility that we have started using here at eTeknix, it’s completely free to download and has the ability to test mainly hard drives and solid state drives, but also any other form of storage medium that you can throw at it.

As well as testing the drive in a variety of benchmarking tests, it also has a drive endurance test that consistently reads and writes data to the selected medium to give days, months and potentially even years of use in a shorter period of time to see how the drive copes in the longer term.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-anvils compr 75

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-anvils incompr 75

Conditioned Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-anvils compr 75

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-anvils incompr 75

Drive Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-Anvils_compr

ADATA_SP550-Chart-Anvils_incompr

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-Anvils

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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. To give a clearer picture of the drives tested, I’ve chosen to include all tests. Special the copy test is one that I think is relevant on the consumer level as it gives the user a view into one of the operations he’s going to do many times.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-asssd

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-asssd compr

Conditioned

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-asssd

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-asssd compr

Drive Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-asssd_seq

ADATA_SP550-Chart-asssd_random

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-ASSSD_seq

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-ASSSD_random

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ATTO


The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-atto 75

Conditioned

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-atto 75

Drive Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-atto

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-ATTO

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CrystalDiskMark


CrystalDiskMark is a small HDD benchmark utility for your hard drive that enables you to rapidly measure sequential and random 4KB/512KB read/write speeds.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-cdm 75

Conditioned

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-cdm 75

Drive Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-cdm

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-CDM

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IOmeter & PCMark 8


IOmeter

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It is used as a benchmark and troubleshooting tool and is easily configured to replicate the behavior of many popular applications. One commonly quoted measurement provided by the tool is IOPS.

IOMeter allows the configuration of disk parameters such as the ‘Maximum Disk Size’, ‘Starting Disk Sector’ and ‘# of Outstanding I/Os’. This allows a user to configure a test file upon which the ‘Access Specifications’ configure the I/O types to the file. Configurable items within the Access Specifications are Transfer Request Size, Percent Random/Sequential distribution, Percent Read/Write Distribution, Aligned I/O’s, Reply Size, and TCP/IP status among others.

Sequential Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-iometer_seq

Random 4K Performance

ADATA_SP550-Chart-iometer_random

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-IOmeter_seq

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-IOmeter_random

PCMark 8

PCMark 8 Storage benchmark is used test the performance of SSDs, HDDs and hybrid drives with traces recorded from Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and a selection of popular games. You can test any recognized storage device, including local external drives. Unlike synthetic storage tests, the PCMark 8 Storage benchmark highlights real-world performance differences between storage devices.

Fresh Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchFresh-pcmark

Conditioned Drive

ADATA_SP550-BenchCondi-pcmark

Drive Comparison

For the purpose of drive comparison, I will be using the performance figures from both unconditioned and conditioned tests with 0% data-fill.

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-PCMark_score

ADATA_SP550-ChartComp-PCMark_bandwidth

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Software: ADATA SSD Toolbox


ADATA has an SSD Toolbox that provides you with both health information as well as basic utilities for your system and drive. The first page will provide information on your drive health and general details as well as temperature and total bytes written when supported.

ADATA_SP550-SS-toolbox 1

The Diagnostics page allows you to run quick and full SMART scans as well as set an alert setting for the temperature as well as one to warn you if the estimated life expectancy gets below a certain point.

ADATA_SP550-SS-toolbox 3

A secure erase function is naturally also supported and built directly into the SSD Toolbox.

ADATA_SP550-SS-toolbox 4

The last page with features is the system optimization that can trigger the TRIM command manually, something that shouldn’t be necessary anymore on modern operating systems. There is also an OS optimization feature that will set the important system factors in order to keep the health and performance up.

ADATA_SP550-SS-toolbox 5

There is one more page, but that will just show the basic system information.

ADATA_SP550-SS-toolbox 6

–~~~~~~~~~~~~–

Final Thoughts


Pricing

At the time of writing, the ADATA Premier SP550 can be had for just $62.99 at NewEgg, £65.30 at Amazon UK, or starting from €75.81 through Geizhals.

ADATA_SP550-Chart-PricePerGB

Conclusion

Triple-level-cell NAND has made the move from mechanical hard disk drives possible for a lot more people thanks to the lower purchase costs, and ADATA’s Premier SP550 is a prime example for this. You get a drive that performs a lot better than a mechanical drive in most situations at a fraction of the price that SSDs used to cost.

TLC NAND is also a more power efficient type of memory and ADATA also added a controller that supports the new DevSleep, or device sleep, power save mode to make it even better for mobile and battery driven systems. And those systems are those you don’t want mechanical storage inside, it is simply too risky in regards to shock and drive damage. A cheap SSD option here is more than welcome. TLC does have a few downsides such as slightly lower sequential writes and drops to HDD speeds on very long writes. But let us face it, how much do we actually write? most of our data throughput is generated from reads and the TLC NAND is great at that.

ADATA also added every other feature to the Premier SP550 that you would want from a drive like this, such as S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, NCQ, Garbage Collection, and wear leveling. The advanced LDPC ECC technology that the Premier SP550 offers adds reliability with strong data protection and better durability than comparable products with normal ECC. The drive also supports RAID Engine and Data Shaping in order to provide a better lifespan and longer stability.

The included 9.5mm drive adapter and key for Acronis True Image HD adds further value to a drive that already comes with a high total-bytes-written rating as well as a 3-year warranty. Overall, a worthy replacement for those old 2.5-inch laptop hard disk drives.

Pros

  • Good price per GB
  • LDPC ECC along with DevSleep, RAID Engine, and Data Shaping.
  • Included adapter and Cloning software
  • SLC caching

Cons

  • TLC NAND affects performance

“ADATA’s Premier SP550 would be a great and cost-effective drive for the move from mechanical to solid state storage.”

Bang-For-Buck

ADATA Premier SP550 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Thank You ADATA for providing us with this sample.

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Testing & Methodology
  3. Aida64
  4. Anvil's Storage Utilities
  5. AS SSD
  6. ATTO
  7. CrystalDiskMark
  8. IOmeter
  9. Software: ADATA SSD Toolbox
  10. Final Thoughts
  11. View All

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