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Kingston A2000 M.2 NVMe SSD Review: Security, Endurance, and Low Pricing

Kingston's A2000 may not be the fastest, but it offsets that with enhanced security and low pricing.

(Image: © Tom's Hardware)

Our Verdict

Looking to outfit your Ultrabook or new build with a fast and secure NVMe SSD? Kingston’s A2000 is a top pick with hardware encryption, competitive performance, and great pricing too.

For

  • Competitive price and performance
  • Secure
  • Software package support
  • Respectable endurance
  • Five-year warranty

Against

  • Unattractive

Like its bigger brother the KC2000, Kingston's new A2000 uses a Silicon Motion controller and Micron’s 96L TLC flash. However, the SSDs' controller limits performance to about 2.2/2.0 GBps read/write, which results in lower pricing. The drive still performs well, has a long warranty, and also features heavy-duty hardware encryption options that also offset the more conservative performance specifications.

The combination of features makes Kingston’s A2000 a formidable entry-level M.2 NVMe SSD. With a four-channel Silicon Motion SM2263EN PCIe NVMe controller and Micron’s latest 96L TLC powering it, it has got a lot of fight in it. Need to load up your favorite games fast? Easy. Want to host multiple virtual machines? Not a problem. Edit high bit-rate video? It should be a piece of cake with the A2000.

The A2000 is also a great pick if you have sensitive data and want to upgrade your business laptop. The self-encrypting drive supports 256-bit XTS-AES hardware-based encryption at the controller level, so you can password-protect your data with no performance loss. And, with TCG Opal 2.0 support, you can manage the security with Symantec, McAfee, WinMagic, and other business-class security software. As a byproduct of its eDrive support, it also supports BitLocker.

Specifications

ProductKingston A2000 250GBKingston A2000 500GBKingston A2000 1TB
Pricing$39.99$59.9999.99
Capacity (User / Raw)250GB / 256GB500GB / 512GB1000GB / 1024GB
Form FactorM.2 2280M.2 2280M.2 2280
Interface / ProtocolPCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
ControllerSMI SM2263ENSMI SM2263ENSMI SM2263EN
DRAMDDR4DDR4DDR4
MemoryMicron 96L TLCMicron 96L TLCMicron 96L TLC
Sequential Read2,100 MBps2,200 MBps2,200 MBps
Sequential Write1,100 MBps2,000 MBps2,000 MBps
Random Read150,000 IOPS180,000 IOPS250,000 IOPS
Random Write180,000 IOPS200,000 IOPS220,000 IOPS
EncryptionTCG Opal, AES 256-bit, eDriveTCG Opal, AES 256-bit, eDriveTCG Opal, AES 256-bit, eDrive
Endurance150 TBW350 TBW600 TBW
Part NumberSA2000M8/250GSA2000M8/500GSA2000M8/1000G
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years

Kingston’s A2000 is available in mainstream capacities that stretch from 250GB up to 1TB. MSRPs come in at $39.99, $59.99, and $99.99, respectfully. If you need a larger drive, you should look into the KC2000 as an alternative. 

Kingston rates the A2000 for up to 2.2/2.0 GBps of read/write throughput, and it can dish out 250,000 / 220,000 of random read/write IOPS, too. It comes with high-end endurance ratings that match both the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and WD Black SN750. And, like them, it comes with a 5-year warranty.

Feature-wise, other than the AES 256-bit encryption, the drive has a pseudo-SLC write cache that absorbs inbound writes. It supports TRIM, S.M.A.R.T. data reporting, and you can secure erase it (Format NVM) to ensure your data is completely gone when you sell it, or to restore performance if the drive gets into a degraded state.

Software and Accessories

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Except for a serial key for Acronis True Image HD, Kingston doesn’t include any accessories in the package. You can use True Image to easily migrate your existing data from your old drive to your new one. Kingston's SSD Manager toolbox also comes with your purchase. It allows you to manage the security features, adjust overprovisioning, update firmware, secure erase, or just monitor your drive.

A Closer Look

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Kingston’s A2000 is an M.2 2280, single-sided form factor SSD. This makes upgrading almost any M.2-based system an easy task without any clearance issues.

Unlike classier M.2 drives, the A2000 lacks a black PCB. Instead, it is a dull blue. Like the KC2000, the white sticker over top of the drive detracts even more from the aesthetics, as it is just plain ugly.

However, the underlying components are anything but. Kingston outfitted the A2000 with Silicon Motion’s SM2263EN, a PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe 1.3 controller, and the company paired it with four packages of Micron’s 96L TLC flash. The SM2263EN supports a DRAM cache for more consistent performance over its DRAMless counterpart (SM2263XT). Kingston slapped on one of its own branded DDR4 NAND ICs for the task.

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