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Appeared on: Friday, November 22, 2013
Kingston HyperX 3K SSD 120GB Na`Vi Edition

1. Features, specifications

Kingston Technology has released Limited Editions of Na`Vi branded products, created especially for the fans of Na`Vi and eSports. The products have been developed in collaboration with the world’s multiple champion eSports club Natus Vincere.

Natus Vincere or Na`Vi is an e-Sports multigaming club. It is the first team in Counter-Strike history to win three major tournaments in one calendar year - Intel Extreme Masters, Electronic Sports World Cup and World Cyber Games 2010. In 2011, Na`Vi.DotA won the $1 million grand prize at The International, the first ever Dota 2 tournament. Na`Vi attended 52 tournaments in 25 countries on 3 continents over past 2 years

The partnership of Kingston and Na`Vi has helped to create a series of stylish branded products. The Na`Vi branded limited edition product collection includes the SSD drives based on the HyperX 3K model, available with a capacity of 120 GB or 240 GB, as well as top quality HyperX Genesis memory module kits.

And today we are testing the 120GB HyperX 3K SSD - Na`Vi Edition. The 2.5-inch SSD is based on the SandForce SF-2281 controller and it is rated for sequential reads/writes of 555 / 510 MB/s. Below you see the drive's specifications:

HyperX 3K SSD - Na'Vi Edition
Part Number Capacity and Features
SH103S3/120G-NV HyperX 3K 120GB- Na'Vi Edition
SH103S3/240G-NV HyperX 3K 240GB - Na'Vi Edition

2. Unboxing

The Na`Vi drive is not packaged in a box as previous HyperX drives, as you see below. The drive comes in a blister-pack, giving you a good overview of the contents, but still you have to destroy the packaging in order to get the drive out:

The packaging includes just the instructions leaflet and a sticker.

Compared to the original HyperX series, the Na`Vi drive is similar in size but features a black and yellow theme of the Na`Vi gaming team’s brand.

The reverse side of the drive features a specifications label detailing the capacity, interface and serial number.

This drive has a SATA connection, backward-compatible with SATA 3Gb/s, Of course, a native 6Gb/s motherboard is required for maximum performance.

The drive came with firmware Ver. 506ABBF0 installed and as you see below. As it typically happens with all SSDs, the available capacity for the user is less than 120GB. The difference is mostly the conversion of GB to GiB plus a bit of space set aside for over provisioning that the controller uses to maintain the drive over time in an effort to mitigate performance degradation.

The readout on CrystalDiskInfo shows that both NCQ and S.M.A.R.T. are enabled, as well as TRIM and the interface is confirmed at SATA 6Gbps:

3. HDTachRW, HDTune

Here is our testbed:

For the tests, we used the following software:

We start the tests with the HDTachRW software, which shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with the SSD. The software measures the sequential read speed, the random access speed and sequential write speed.

The average sequential writing speed was 379.9 MB/s and the average sequential reading was 416.3 MB/s /. Both figures are not exactly those quoted by Kingston, as it typically happens with the specific benchmark:

We move on to the HD Tune Pro software, another utility we use to measure the drive's reading and writing performances. Although not necessarily representative of real-world workloads, HD Tune's targeted tests give us a glimpse of each drive's raw capabilities.

The sequential reading test showed a 300.06 MB/s average speed for the SSD and the corresponding sequential writing test returned a 210.6 MB/s average - both lower than we expected:

As you see in the screenshot below, writing was not stable across the data sequence resulting to a low overall average writing speed:

HD Tune's file benchmark consists of two parts: the transfer speed test and block size test. The transfer rate test measures three different parameters for both reading and writing:

Below you see random reading test, in which we noted a 450.156 MB/s average reading speed for an 1MB transfer size and a 393.831 MB/s average reading for transferring files with random sizes:

Random writing of 1MB files was also fast at 468.180 MB/s, and slower at 372.624 MB/s with random files:

4. ATTO Disk

The next software we used was the ATTO Disk Benchmark. The tool measures storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. The benchmark performs file transfers ranging from 0.5 KB to 8192 KB. ATTO can be adjusted to do overlapped I/O, in a variety of queue depths. We tested the SSD using the benchmark's default settings, using 256KB file length performance and QD4. ATTO probably gives the most accurate results for compressible read and write data.

As you see above the drive's reading and writing performance with compressible files was pretty stable with files larger than 128KB. Reading speed hit the 557 MB/s with 8K files while writing was 532 MB/s.

However, the drive was slower in the sequential reading of small files (4KB or smaller) staying behind the competition:

The writing of small, compressible files was also average:

Going further to larger file transfers, the drive was pretty fast in both reading and writing tests, with a performance close enough to the Kingston Hyper X 120GB SSD:

5. CrystalDiskMark

The next benchmark is the CrystalDiskMark. The software provides throughput data based on sequential reads and writes, and random (512K/4K/4KQD32) reads and writes of various sizes.

Below you see the drive's performance with incompressible data:

Writing of incompressible data was slower than some other drives, as it typically happens with the SSDs based on the SandForce SF-2281controller.

As we previously saw, the drive reads and writes random 512K files remarkably fast, and also excels in the random read/writes of small 4K files, especially in increased queue depths. But all these as long as the data is compressible. With less compressible data, writing is still adequate but lags behind the competition.



We move on with the AS SSD benchmark, which contains five synthetic as well as three practical tests. The synthetic tests determine the sequential and the random read / write performance of an SSD. These tests are carried out without using the operating system's cache. The Seq-test measures how long it takes to read and write an 1GB file. Most importantly, this sequential benchmark uses incompressible data for all of its transfers.

The 4K benchmark tests the read and write performance for random 4K blocks. The 4K-64-THRD-test corresponds to the 4K procedure except that here the read and write operations are distributed on 64 threads:

The M500's performance in sequential reading with incompressible test was 451.18 MB/s, which is a good performance but not the best we have seen from an SSD.

The sequential writing speed with incompressible files was just 240.34MB/s (average):

At the 4K random reading tests, the drive is positioned somewhere in the middle of the chart below, with an average reading speed of 21.42MB/s.

But the 120GB HyperX 3K SSD - Na`Vi Edition drive was surprisingly fast in the 4K random writing tests with 76.26 MB/s:

Multi-threaded requests for random reading of 4K incompressible files was more demanding for the drive:

On the other hand, random writing of 4K incompressible files was pretty fast:

In the following graph you see how the 120GB HyperX 3K SSD - Na`Vi Edition drive reads and writes files, which have been partially of fully compressed. It is obvious that the both reading and writing speeds heavily depend on level of file compression, and are maximized when the drive deals with fully compressible data. Reading is stabilized after the 65% mark, as you see below:

7. IOMeter

This is the IOMeter benchmark. Iometer is run by using workstation and database patterns for queue depths (outstanding I/Os) representing very light and moderate loads. Iometer is both a workload generator (that is, it performs I/O operations in order to stress the system) and a measurement tool (that is, it examines and records the performance of its I/O operations and their impact on the system). The app's ability to bombard drives with an escalating number of concurrent IO requests also does a nice job of simulating the sort of demanding multi-user environments that are common in enterprise applications. The software can be used for measurement of the performance of an SSD. We started using the IOMeter tests using the Xtreme Benchmark template .

For the specific test, we used 100% random, 67%-33% Read/write distribution, aligned with the benchmarks we had already done in the past with other SSDs.

8. PCMark 7

Below you see the results of Futuremark's PCMark 7 Professional edition. The software includes 7 PC tests for Windows 7, combining more than 25 individual workloads.

A breakdown of individual benchmarks with the testing methodology is available below. The 120GB HyperX 3K SSD - Na`Vi Edition drive scored 5241 points at the storage benchmark, while it also maintained high performances in the corresponding sub-tests:

9. Summary

Kingston’s limited edition HyperX Na’Vi SSD series is essentially just a style rehash, as the drive maintained almost similar results to the 3K HyperX SSD, as both drives use the same controller and components. The popular LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller is two-years old now but still, it offers good performance across a range of different platforms, despite its limitations when it comes to less compressible data. 

We confirmed the drive's maximum indicated sequential read speed of 555 MB/s and a maximum write speed of 510 MB/s, at least with compressible data. With incompressible data, you should expect around 450 MB/s for seq read and 240 MB/s for seq write.

The drive also was also pretty fast in the 4K incompressible random read tests, and especially in 4K incompressible random write tests with multi-threaded requests.

The IOMeter benchmark result was very close to what we had got with the 3K HyperX SSD, but the HyperX Na’Vi SSD scored higher in the PCMArk 7 benchmark.

Hardware manufacturers regularly use the names and even expertise of gaming heroes to give their products a unique look or special features. We are not sure whether this always works, as the performance and quality of the products matters much more than a name on a box. Kingston’s limited edition HyperX Na’Vi SSD series is not bad at all, but it fails to bring something new to the crowded SSD market.

The 120GB drive retails online for about £70~80 and it is backed by a 3-year warranty.


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