Essencore is part of the SK Group in South Korea, but is not directly linked to SK Hynix. It's trying to break into the ODM memory maker market, but, at the same time, wants to sell products in retail. To avoid overtly competing with its own customers, Essencore built its more public-facing Klevv brand.
This isn't the first time we've tested a product from Klevv. The company first introduced system memory in 2014, and in March 2015, we published Klevv Cras 16GB DDR4-3000 Memory Review. To date, all of Klevv's products put an emphasis on aesthetics, and its first SSD is no exception. The drive features a brushed aluminum and piano black finish that goes above and beyond any solid-state repository we've tested before.
But there's more to her than a pretty face. Klevv's Urbane uses the Phison PS3110-S10 controller, which recently received a performance bump by virtue of a firmware update. The S10 picked up momentum over the past year with fabless SSD vendors in part because it doesn't take a big R&D investment to get it ready to sell. Phison handles the firmware, programming, controller and, in many cases, even the manufacturing. All you need to do is slap a label on the drive, create retail packaging and convince the public you have something special.
Klevv's Urbane ships in three capacities: 240GB, 480GB and 960GB. What sets this drive apart from other SSDs with the same controller is its flash. The Urbane uses Toshiba 15nm Toggle-mode MLC. Historically, Toggle-mode NAND has outperformed IMFT's ONFi flash, and manufacturers not tied to a specific flash maker often sell Toshiba's memory at a premium thanks to its higher random read and write performance.
A much more noticeable performance improvement comes from Phison's new 1.6 firmware for the PS3110-S10 controller. In our previous testing, we determined that the update increases random read speeds with incompressible data, but also slightly reduces compressible data performance. he end result, however, is a more balanced and consistent experience across both data types, improving the S10's usability.
In our opinion, the PS3110-S10 is one of the most advanced controllers available today. It was designed to support both MLC and TLC flash. To make the latter possible, the S10 had to be overbuilt for MLC. The processor offers a number of advanced reliability features, such as end-to-end data path protection and Smart ECC. Powering those features is a quad-core engine dedicated to ensuring consistent throughput, even when the drive is nearly full of data.
Pricing, Warranty And Accessories
We don't have any pricing information for the Klevv Urbane family. Newegg does carry Klevv's products, include its Urbane system memory. But this SSD was just recently shipped to reviewers, so we're expecting it to show up for sale soon.
The Urbane SSD ships with a three-year warranty and Acronis' True Image HD 2015 software for quickly and easily cloning an existing drive's data.
We found SSD Toolbox software on Klevv's website, in the Downloads section. However, it's far from fully functional. The software only recognizes the primary system drive. Worse, none of its functions currently work. It looks like the software will eventually support Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology, secure erase and system optimizations. Moreover, the software shows both user and raw drive capacity, so it could facilitate some degree of user-adjustable over-provisioning at one point.
A Closer Look
Klevv differentiates the large 960GB model with different packaging and a reversed chassis color scheme. The box the Urbane ships in looks really good, but we expected that since the brand tries to marry sharp looks to technology (its tagline is The Beauty of Technology). Don't expect a lot of substantive information on the packaging, though. It lacks performance data and vital specs, but at least you're told the warranty length.
Inside, the Klevv SSDs are accompanied by an installation guide, along with a second piece of paper that includes a code and download instructions for Acronis True Image HD 2015.
As mentioned, the 960GB Urbane's design is slightly different from the lower-capacity models. It flaunts silver brushed aluminum, while the others still look sharp in black brushed aluminum.
The Urbane is 7mm tall, so it fits in Ultrabooks that require the slimmer form factor. This is becoming increasingly common as mobile enclosures are built for the smallest components available.
At the heart of all three Klevv Urbane SSDs is a Phison PS3110-S10 controller. They currently ship with Phison's version 1.6 firmware, which increases performance over previous releases. Klevv pairs the processor with Toshiba 15nm Toggle-mode MLC flash and Nanya DDR3 buffers. We expected to find SK hynix 16nm MLC and SK hynix DRAM, but that wasn't the case.