With the shift in mobile storage slowly making its way over to mSATA drives – especially on the ultrabook front where weight and size has a huge impact of product sales its great to see that the range of drives now available on the consumer market is growing at a rapid rate. This growth is also down to the release of Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing) where mSATA is the only storage option due to the size of the device it has to go into.
With SSDs already reaching high end capacities and speeds, thankfully these are features that we are already seeing being transplanted onto smaller devices to pack the same punch. Sadly we do have to not that whilst the drives do pack a punch, on the front of desktop motherboards, there does seem to be a bit of a delay in this transition, as whilst the boards may support mSATA, not all of them have the capability to run them at its intended speed meaning the a 2.5″ SSD is still the better option.
Sadly this bottleneck did have an impact on my testing and the consequent results are somewhat down on what we would realisticy expect to see from a NUC or ultrabook, where the mSATA ports typically run at 6Gbps natively. What we can take from the results that we have seen however is that even though the devices are small, the inclusion of SandForce’s SF-2281 VB2 controller and the lack of over-provisioning lead towards a drive that is usable to the last byte and speeds that will impress even the early adopters of mSATA.
When it whittles down to the cost of these drives, do expect to pay a little more than you would for the equivalent 2.5″ drive with prices around 10% higher, but for the likes of Ultrabooks and NUC’s, this is a price that unfortunately you won’t be able to avoid for now. As time goes on and manufacturing costs go down and the market becomes more settled, I do expect to see the prices come more in line with traditional SSD pricing and once the desktop motherboard vendors include mSATA running at 6Gbps as standard, then these will become ideal candidates for people who love the clean looks of a cable free system or in an environment where space is at a premium – in mini-ITX systems for example.
For now though I’ll have to give the thumbs up for ADATA’s SX300 drive, the performance is good (as I’ve seen them running close to their rated speeds during Computex) and whilst the pricing is a shade more than a traditional SSD, they’re worth the cost.
- Well known vendor
- SandForce SF2281 controller
- Full 256GB of storage available to use
- Notable read IOPS – even at SATAII speeds.
- Drive pricing a little higher than comparable full blown SSD
- Limited number of desktop motherboards support mSATA drives at 6Gbps
“With more and more laptops and motherboards supporting mSATA drives for primary storage, ADATA is quick to give the same performance as we would normally see from a 2.5″ drive. Its worth noting however that if you’re looking at one of these for a desktop system, its worth waiting until motherboard manufacturers start implementing 6Gbps mSATA ports as a standard feature over SATAII. On the laptop front however mSATA at 6Gbps is becoming very common so this is a worthy contender for the short-list”
Thanks to ADATA for providing this review sample.