Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB SSD Review

As the name suggests, Kingston's UV series brings the ultra value. The new UV400 should be a very popular product for value-focused shoppers because Kingston designed it to provide high capacity flash-based storage on a beggar's budget.

I haven't always been a fan of Kingston's low-cost SSD products, but when the price is this low, how could you go wrong? The new UV400 breaks new barriers in the cost versus performance department and allows users who might not be able to afford a mainstream SSD to enjoy the benefits of flash. For many others, the SSDNow UV400 makes a really good SSD for Steam games or data that you only write once, but read many times.

In the coming weeks, we will introduce you to a number of new storage technologies designed to reduce SSD prices. SSDs with a DRAM flash translation layer buffer are the norm, but DRAM-less SSDs that use your system memory for cache and drives with the controller, DRAM and NAND all packaged together promise to lower costs. Those products are coming, but they have to get past the Kingston UV400 first.

The UV400 series started out as a RIM project, meaning Kingston sold it in Russia, India, and Mexico. Shoppers that are looking for extreme value dominate these markets. After mastering the RIM, Kingston has taken the UV series global. Like the V series that predates the updated models, this product should become an excellent seller and will also use a variable list of build materials. The UV400 480GB we are testing may not be the same design a month, year or two years from now. Internally, the drives may (and most likely will) change over time.

Let's take a look at how the UV400 ships currently.

Specifications

Kingston will release a UV400 960GB model soon. Until then, the series consists of three capacities that range from 120GB to 480GB. There are two product numbers for each capacity. The first is a drive-only blister pack. As the name suggests, it includes just the drive. The second product number belongs to a full upgrade kit that costs a little more, but you get a handful of useful accessories.

The UV400's performance rises with each capacity increase. All three shipping products feature sequential read performance that tops out at 550 MB/s. The 120GB drive has the lowest write performance with just 350 MB/s. That shoots up to 490 MB/s (240GB) and 500 MB/s (480GB). The random performance scales the same way, with a base of up to 90,000 IOPS for reads. The random writes start out at 15,000 IOPS (120GB) and move to 25,000 (240GB) and finally 35,000 IOPS (480GB). The low random write performance leads us to believe the current UV400 models are shipping with asynchronous flash. With prices this low we can truly start to compare SSDs to hard disk drives. Impressive random write performance for a hard drive is 200 IOPS, so it's obvious the UV400 has a big advantage.

The Marvell 88SS1074 "Dean" controller is at the heart of the UV400, and Kingston paired it with DDR3 DRAM to cache the flash translation layer. Kingston has a reputation for mixing and matching various components after it launches a new series, but you don't have to worry about that as much with the UV400. This is already one of the least desirable component combinations using modern hardware that you can buy. The only step down from this point is a DRAM-less design. Thankfully, JMicron's SSD controller business has moved on, so there really isn't a step backward. Kingston wouldn't even try to pass off a DRAM-less part as a UV400, at least we hope not.

Pricing, Warranty And Accessories

There are currently six different UV400 models in three capacities. You can purchase each SSD as a bare drive or with an upgrade bundle, which includes the following items.

  • USB 3.0 Enclosure
  • USB 3.0 Cable
  • SATA Data Cable
  • SATA Power Cable
  • Desktop Mounting Bracket
  • Mounting Screws
  • 7mm to 9mm Z-height Bracket

The bundle kits sell for $52.00 (120GB), $79.99 (240GB) and $126.99 (480GB). The bundle offers the best value if you can afford to spend a little more. Most users will find many of the items useful. At the very least, you can use your older 2.5-inch drive in the USB enclosure.

The UV400 comes with a 3-year warranty that Kingston limits by the amount of data you write to the drive. The total bytes written (TBW) rating is a guideline of how much data you can write and still be within the warranty, and it starts at 50TB for the 120GB model and ends at 200TB for the 480GB we're testing.

A Closer Look

Kingston intentionally cut a lot of corners with the packaging on the drive-only version of the UV400 480GB. This is a way to reduce expenses to lower the retail price. The drive ships in a blister pack with the card portion serving as the only manual. The package does list some of the features, uses and the warranty terms.

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14 comments
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  • daglesj
    I got one of these in to test a few weeks ago. The sustained Write speeds of 100MBps matched in with my findings too. Not great but 4 times better then the awful BX200 that dropped to USB2.0 speeds. It will do the job.
    1
  • Nintendork
    So the drive is so value oriented that the review itself is half done...
    -2
  • littleleo
    The SK Hynix line is looking Better and Better.
    2
  • Lutfij
    I only hope that they didn't send cherry picked units for the purpose of this review. The issue as per their last outing was that Kingston reduced their QC on the Vnow units and were the sole reason why the customers were furious to ask for a refund or multiple RMA's.

    In spite of being a little better than lower end SSD's they should maintain that all customers and reviewers get a fair share of the performance. SK Hynix has been following that trend and it's helped them a lot in the market.
    0
  • TadashiTG
    Would take the 850 EVO any time over this thing.
    4
  • 3ogdy
    This is so close in price to the V300 where I live that I'm wondering what its point on the market is. Actually, the 120GB version is $1 more eXPensive than the 120GB V300. Go figure.

    Also, ease up on the marketing. "On a beggar's budget"? They don't provide anything special at all: Check Toshiba's Q300, Avexir's E100, Kingston's own V300, SanDisk's SSD Plus. All those are CHEAPER than the so-called UltraValue 400.
    And it's funny how the UltraValue is exactly $1.75 cheaper than Kingston's HyperX and $8 cheaper than a 120GB 850 EVO. Margins must be razor sharp.

    I for one am still waiting for the day these 120GB capacity SSDs are completelyvanished from the market and the 250GB SSDs become the new 120GB. Half a TB SSDs are still extremely overpriced - over $100 for that in 2016?! Those shouldn't be sold for more than $70, but I guess the only thing we can do is avoid the more expensive products till they come down in price or simply wait if we already happen to be on an SSD.
    2
  • hp79
    Isn't this the company that switches to inferior parts after initial release?
    0
  • cinergy
    Yet another SDD that clearly loses to 850 EVO.
    0
  • Pixdawg
    @TADASHITG & CINERGY - the point here is that you can buy two of these or one 850 EVO with the same stash of money. I guess neither of you can grasp the concept of 'value'. Your problem, nobody else's.
    0
  • 3ogdy
    Anonymous said:
    So the drive is so value oriented that the review itself is half done...


    You must be an AnandTech reader. It's known those guys have more in-depth reviews. Even with Anand gone, some reviews over there really shine in comparison with ...well...the rest of them. Their latest SSD review has three times as many pages as this one, but this one has more content on each page.

    It's definitely taken some time for the reviewer to do this and I appreciate the work. It's not Tom's that's doing a bad job - they do upper-average (if that even exists) to great reviews andsometimes hit the nail on the head, coming up with outstandingly good material. Many other websites do straight up average reviews and it definitely shows. They review things with very little material, outright missing crucial hardware comparisons and it becomes extremely irritating when such omissions occur. "Why the duck would you compare the new E-Class to a 5 year old Renault and not to something like the latest 5-series and the previous generation?". This applies to everything from CPUs to GPUs, SSDs...etc. Had they omitted the 850 EVO in the graphs, I would've called this straight up marketing.

    While in my particular case I disagree with the wording and the UltraValue moniker mainly thanks to the fact that there's no such thing as an even "positive" difference in terms of pricing vs V300, the review is OK.
    0
  • Andy Chow
    At this point, I'm thinking that 1 TB SSD costs about 5$ to produce. We are paying for the research, the "...", but really, material and manufacturing wise, a 1 TB drive probably costs $5 to produce. Let's get real.
    0
  • Musaab
    Where is the Crucial MX300 I got M2 275GB for 72$ and the and the 2.5" is even cheaper with solid performance.
    0
  • 3ogdy
    Anonymous said:
    At this point, I'm thinking that 1 TB SSD costs about 5$ to produce. We are paying for the research, the "...", but really, material and manufacturing wise, a 1 TB drive probably costs $5 to produce. Let's get real.


    I don't know if they're that cheap. I mean, the BoM must be higher. You know, the metal used, the flash chips, the controller...the transport fees from the manufacturing facility to the actual warehouses....there's more to take into account. I mean, even strictly production-wise, I think it's a bit higher than that. Sure, a half a TB SSD for over $70 is clearly overpriced in 2016, but supply / demand (or lack of the latter...if there even is) might lower prices.
    0
  • 3ogdy
    Anonymous said:
    Where is the Crucial MX300 I got M2 275GB for 72$ and the and the 2.5" is even cheaper with solid performance.


    I heard the BX drives aren't worth the hassle. Their performance is awful, evne though they should be better than a hard drive, but I remember reading that they're not far from a fast HDD.

    Now, the MX drives are usually better and 275GB for $72 sounds like the typically overpriced 250GB-ish drive that can be found on the market today.
    0