Adata managed to push the SMI SM2260 controller further than any other company to date. The fact is, though, the SM2260 lacks the processing power required to compete in the mainstream NVMe market. The controller gets a nice performance bump with MLC, but it isn't enough to make it a 960 EVO killer. Adata worked hard to bring it all together and deliver a competitive product, but the company fell short of its target.
If you are looking for the best mix of performance, capacity, and cost, you have to be worried about the current trend in NVMe products. Other than the MyDigitalSSD BPX, all of the reasonably-priced products use TLC NAND. The TLC products are faster than the best SATA SSDs during normal desktop workloads, but they fail to deliver on the NVMe promise of extreme performance and near-instant load times. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's like comparing a Corvette to a Chevette with the low-cost products--they are more like a Prius.
You can put lightweight wheels and race slicks on a Prius, but that still doesn't make it a performance car. The SX8000 uses advanced technology like SLC cache, LDPC, and optimized tuning for burst performance to deliver a usable product, but the controller and the flash are still the engines that drive SSDs. At the end of the day, if one of the two components is weak, the product suffers, and performance falls back to the level of the weakest link. An SLC buffer can mask some of that, but you can still tell the difference.
There are rumors that Toshiba is actively courting Apple to buy into the profitable NAND division, so we should be worried about the future. If Apple takes all of the Toshiba's NAND, like it already does with BiCS, that leaves us without access to a viable alternative to Samsung for high-performance MLC. There isn't anything wrong with Samsung SSDs, but the company isn't known for keeping prices low just to benefit consumers. We need companies like Adata to balance the market, but we've lost that balance over the last eighteen months (when IMFT pushed 3D).
The Adata XPG SX8000 is a better option than the Intel 600p in almost every measurable way. The SX8000 has a problem with pricing, though, and that's going to keep you from taking this drive seriously. The MyDigitalSSD BPX is still a better option, but we're not sure how much longer the company can keep the 480GB model at $199.99. The drive will experience price creep in the coming weeks because planar MLC prices keep rising due to the NAND shortage. With aggressive pricing, Adata has a chance to move into the coming gap between the 600p and BPX, but it will require a price drop. Adata has a long history of delivering very good SSDs at competitive prices, but with the NAND shortage, all bets are off. We'll have to see where the pieces fit in the coming weeks.
MORE: Best SSDs
MORE: All SSD Content