We included the Intel SSD 660p (SM2263EN + Micron 64L QLC), Mushkin Helix-L (SM2253XT + Micron 64L TLC), Adata XPG SX6000 Pro (Realtek RTS5763DL + Micron 64L TLC), and Crucial’s SATA MX500 (SM2258 + Micron 64L TLC) in our test pool. Additionally, we included the Mushkin Pilot-E (SM2262EN + Micron 64L TLC) and Corsair Force MP510 (Phison E12 + Kioxia 64L TLC) as more costly alternatives. We also threw in a 6TB WD Black, a 7200-RPM HDD, for good measure.
Game Scene Loading - Final Fantasy XIV
The Final Fantasy XIV StormBlood benchmark is a free real-world game benchmark that easily and accurately compares game load times without the inaccuracy of using a stopwatch.
The Kingston A2000 delivers leading-edge game load performance. With a total load time of 18.80 seconds, Kingston’s A2000 took first place, leading even the Mushkin Pilot-E.
Transfer Rates – DiskBench
We use the DiskBench storage benchmarking tool to test file transfer performance with our own custom 50GB block of data. Our data set includes 31,227 files of various types, like pictures, PDFs, and videos. We copy the files to a new folder and then follow up with a reading test of a newly-written 6.5 GB file.
During our file transfer tests, the A2000 delivered similar performance to other entry-level NVMe SSDs. It averaged 501 MBps when copying the 50GB test folder, outperforming the HDD by five times. It also read back the 6.5GB file at 1.5 GBps, ranking fourth overall in read performance.
Trace Testing – PCMark 8 Storage Test 2.0
PCMark 8 is a trace-based benchmark that uses Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, World of Warcraft, and Battlefield 3 to measure the performance of storage devices in real-world scenarios.
Kingston’s A2000 did amazingly well in PCMark 8. With a score of 5,103 points and an average bandwidth of 708 MBps, it scores second place, landing ever-so-slightly behind the Corsair Force MP510.
Trace Testing – SPECworkstation 3
Like PCMark 8, SPECworkstation 3 is a trace-based benchmark, but it is designed to push the system harder by measuring workstation performance in professional applications. The full suite consists of more than 30 workloads, but we've opted to only run the storage benchmark which uses only 15 of them and categorizes the results into 5 market segments for scoring: Media & Entertainment, Product Development, Life Sciences, Energy, and General Operations.
The Kingston A2000 completed the benchmark in just over 40 minutes and placed third overall. It scored more closely to the Pilot-E and Force MP510 than its entry-level competitors. The drive certainly stands out if you're looking for consistent performance.
Synthetic Testing - ATTO
ATTO is a simple and free application that SSD vendors commonly use to assign sequential performance specifications to their products. It also gives us insight into how the device handles different file sizes. We tested at the default queue depth value of 4.
ATTO reaffirms the A2000’s official sequential performance specifications. The drive hit 2,200 MBps read, and actually broke the spec for write performance with a peak of 2,200 MBps.
Synthetic Testing - iometer
iometer is an advanced and highly configurable storage benchmarking tool that vendors often use to measure the performance of their devices.
Kingston’s A2000 peaked at 2,281/2,212 MBps in sequential read/write throughput. Random performance at QD (queue depth) 1-4 was also very responsive. Surprisingly, the DRAMless Mushkin Helix-L is a bit more responsive and was able to deliver slightly faster synthetic read results. The A2000’s random performance peaked at 184,000/267,000 read/write IOPS.
Sustained Sequential Write Performance
Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement a pseudo-SLC cache buffer, which is a fast area of SLC-programmed flash that absorbs incoming data. Sustained write speeds can suffer tremendously once the workload spills outside of the pSLC cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We use iometer to hammer the SSD with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the pSLC buffer and performance after the buffer is saturated.
As mentioned, the Kingston A2000 features a pSLC write cache. The drive can absorb about 165GB of writes before performance degrades from 2,200 MBps down to roughly 490 MBps.
It is also worth noting the very consistent write pattern after write performance degrades. This is significantly better than the performance the DRAMless Mushkin Helix-L. The A2000 also wrote significantly more data during the test, too.
We use the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module to gain a deeper understanding of power characteristics. Idle power consumption is a very important aspect to consider, especially if you're looking for a new drive for your laptop. Some SSDs can consume watts of power at idle while better-suited ones sip just milliwatts. Average workload power consumption and max consumption are two other aspects of power consumption, but performance-per-watt is more important. A drive might consume more power during any given workload, but accomplishing a task faster allows the drive to drop into an idle state faster, which ultimately saves power.
The A2000 ranks in the middle of the pack when it comes to efficiency during the file transfer workload. The A2000's onboard DRAM causes the A2000 to have higher power consumption than the Helix-L, hence the lower efficiency score even though both averaged similar speeds.
When at idle, the A2000 consumed just 12mW when ASPM is enabled, and a little over 600mW when we disabled the feature. So, it is still a good upgrade choice for your next laptop or efficient small form factor PC.
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