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Adata Falcon M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Soaring above SATA

Adata’s Falcon is dressed to impress

Adata Falcon
(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Like the last Realtek-powered SSD we reviewed, the Adata XPG Spectrix S40G, the components at the heart of Adata’s Falcon make for an interesting mix of performance and endurance that lands somewhere between the entry-level and mainstream. Dishing out sequential performance of up to 3.1/1.5 GBps read/write, Realtek’s RTS5762DL 8-channel architecture, and Micron’s latest 96-Layer TLC flash, Adata’s Falcon soars well above its slower entry-level competition. And, with a large dynamic SLC write cache that spans one-third of the Falcon’s available capacity, it can handle most file transfers you throw its way at its rated speeds.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

But other things matter just as much, if not more, than peak performance. While Adata’s Falcon proved quite capable under most sequential workloads, its DRAMless design isn’t the most responsive under random workloads and hindered it a bit during application benchmarks. Also, writing to the SSD after the SLC write cache fills can be quite slow.

Host memory buffer (HMB) tech, which uses system memory instead of memory on the SSDs, can only help so much with a DRAMless architecture, which is why WD opted to go without the feature on their DRAMless Blue SN550. Using controller SRAM instead, WD’s 1TB Blue SN550 offers faster responsiveness in day-to-day use. It’s even solid when we hammer it with heavy application workloads, handling them with very consistent performance for $10 less than the Falcon at the time of publishing.  But it doesn’t look nearly as sleek, nor does it come in a larger 2TB capacity to compete with the Falcon on the high-end.

On the higher end of the market, Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro is very tough competition for the Falcon, though. With a Silicon Motion SM2262EN 8-channel NVMe controller clocked at 650MHz, onboard DRAM and Micron’s 64L TLC NAND flash, it is one of the fastest SSDs on the market. In our benchmarking, it dished out performance figures that exceed the Falcon’s for only $10 more at the 1TB capacity and $20 more at 2TB. And, although the black finish isn’t as glamorous as the Falcon’s golden finish, it comes with a heat spreader to keep it cool, too.

Adata markets the Falcon as a more of an industrial/prosumer device and has even gone as far as to include AES 256-bit encryption support, but the flashy gold heat spreader looks better suited for a sleek custom-built system rather than a boring business workstation. Adata’s Falcon is a perfect fit for those on a budget with motherboards without M.2 heatsinks, The drive also comes in a single-sided form factor, even at the 2TB capacity, so the Falcon should fit into almost any laptop and keep cool, too.

If you are in the market for a new NVMe SSD and are on a tighter budget, the Adata Falcon isn’t without its faults, but it will deliver fairly good performance, and look good doing it. Not to mention, Adata’s Falcon endurance ratings match it as well as more costly competitors such as Samsung’s 970 EVO Plus and WD Black NVMe SSDs, while also being backed by a five-year warranty. Be sure to give Adata’s Falcon your consideration.

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