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Kingston SSDNow UV400 480GB SSD Review

As the name suggests, Kingston's UV series brings the ultra value. The new UV400 should be a very popular product for value-focused shoppers because Kingston designed it to provide high capacity flash-based storage on a beggar's budget.

Our Verdict

The Kingston UV400 480GB is a low cost, but low-performance consumer SSD for users looking for the former more than the latter. The drive is cheap, even by entry-level SSD standards. In the same vein, the performance is also low by entry-level SSD standards.

For

  • Low cost
  • Drive only and bundle options
  • High overall value
  • 3-Year warranty

Against

  • Low performance
  • Variable build of materials
  • Low notebook battery life
  • No direct-to-die sequential algorithm

Specifications & Features

I haven't always been a fan of Kingston's low-cost SSD products, but when the price is this low, how could you go wrong? The new UV400 breaks new barriers in the cost versus performance department and allows users who might not be able to afford a mainstream SSD to enjoy the benefits of flash. For many others, the SSDNow UV400 makes a really good SSD for Steam games or data that you only write once, but read many times.

In the coming weeks, we will introduce you to a number of new storage technologies designed to reduce SSD prices. SSDs with a DRAM flash translation layer buffer are the norm, but DRAM-less SSDs that use your system memory for cache and drives with the controller, DRAM and NAND all packaged together promise to lower costs. Those products are coming, but they have to get past the Kingston UV400 first.

The UV400 series started out as a RIM project, meaning Kingston sold it in Russia, India, and Mexico. Shoppers that are looking for extreme value dominate these markets. After mastering the RIM, Kingston has taken the UV series global. Like the V series that predates the updated models, this product should become an excellent seller and will also use a variable list of build materials. The UV400 480GB we are testing may not be the same design a month, year or two years from now. Internally, the drives may (and most likely will) change over time.

Let's take a look at how the UV400 ships currently.

Specifications

Kingston will release a UV400 960GB model soon. Until then, the series consists of three capacities that range from 120GB to 480GB. There are two product numbers for each capacity. The first is a drive-only blister pack. As the name suggests, it includes just the drive. The second product number belongs to a full upgrade kit that costs a little more, but you get a handful of useful accessories.

The UV400's performance rises with each capacity increase. All three shipping products feature sequential read performance that tops out at 550 MB/s. The 120GB drive has the lowest write performance with just 350 MB/s. That shoots up to 490 MB/s (240GB) and 500 MB/s (480GB). The random performance scales the same way, with a base of up to 90,000 IOPS for reads. The random writes start out at 15,000 IOPS (120GB) and move to 25,000 (240GB) and finally 35,000 IOPS (480GB). The low random write performance leads us to believe the current UV400 models are shipping with asynchronous flash. With prices this low we can truly start to compare SSDs to hard disk drives. Impressive random write performance for a hard drive is 200 IOPS, so it's obvious the UV400 has a big advantage.

The Marvell 88SS1074 "Dean" controller is at the heart of the UV400, and Kingston paired it with DDR3 DRAM to cache the flash translation layer. Kingston has a reputation for mixing and matching various components after it launches a new series, but you don't have to worry about that as much with the UV400. This is already one of the least desirable component combinations using modern hardware that you can buy. The only step down from this point is a DRAM-less design. Thankfully, JMicron's SSD controller business has moved on, so there really isn't a step backward. Kingston wouldn't even try to pass off a DRAM-less part as a UV400, at least we hope not.

Pricing, Warranty And Accessories

There are currently six different UV400 models in three capacities. You can purchase each SSD as a bare drive or with an upgrade bundle, which includes the following items.

  • USB 3.0 Enclosure
  • USB 3.0 Cable
  • SATA Data Cable
  • SATA Power Cable
  • Desktop Mounting Bracket
  • Mounting Screws
  • 7mm to 9mm Z-height Bracket

The bundle kits sell for $52.00 (120GB), $79.99 (240GB) and $126.99 (480GB). The bundle offers the best value if you can afford to spend a little more. Most users will find many of the items useful. At the very least, you can use your older 2.5-inch drive in the USB enclosure.

The UV400 comes with a 3-year warranty that Kingston limits by the amount of data you write to the drive. The total bytes written (TBW) rating is a guideline of how much data you can write and still be within the warranty, and it starts at 50TB for the 120GB model and ends at 200TB for the 480GB we're testing.

A Closer Look

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Kingston intentionally cut a lot of corners with the packaging on the drive-only version of the UV400 480GB. This is a way to reduce expenses to lower the retail price. The drive ships in a blister pack with the card portion serving as the only manual. The package does list some of the features, uses and the warranty terms.

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