Silicon Power P34A80 PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 NVMe SSD Review: TLC Performance at QLC Prices

1TB Performance Results

Comparison Products

We put the P34A80 up against its near twin, the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro as well as a few other top contenders. From Samsung, we’ve added results from the 970 EVO Plus and 970 Pro. We also included the WD Black SN750 and Adata XPG SX8200 Pro. And for final reference, we’ve added in the Crucial P1, and entry-level NVMe SSD based on QLC NAND and the mainstream SATA SSD, the Crucial MX500.

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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.

Silicon Power’s P34A80 mirrors the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro in performance here. With speeds of almost 3.5/3.0 GB/s read/write, it hits its rated specs with ease. Only the Samsung 970 EVO Plus capable of surpassing its write speed, although some of its competitors were a bit faster with smaller file sizes during this test.

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark (CDM) is a simple and easy to use file size benchmarking tool.

Crystal Disk Mark confirms the sequential performance of 3.4/3GB/s, just like we saw in ATTO. This performance is at a high QD, however, and is unrealistic. Dialing things back down to a queue depth (QD) of 1, we see that the P34A80 is capable of just 2 GBps read and write speed.

As well, we see that 4K performance hits 382K/496K IOPS read/write at a QD of 64. This is very high performance, but it doesn’t help us gauge the device’s real-world application performance. For that, we look to smaller QDs, like 1-4. At QD1, where 80-90% of your workloads will land, the P34A80 delivered over 13K IOPS read and 43K IOPS write, which lands it in fifth place overall. QD2-4 show it is on par with most other devices.

Sustained Sequential Write Performance

Official write specifications are only part of the performance picture. Most SSD makers implement an 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 SLC cache and into the "native" TLC or QLC flash. We hammer the SSDs with sequential writes for 15 minutes to measure both the size of the SLC buffer and performance after the buffer is saturated.

Because it has a Phison E12 NVMe controller at its heart, we know the Silicon Power P34A80 features an SLC write cache. After testing, we can see that it is capable of absorbing up to 24GB of data at 3GBps before performance degrades to native direct to TLC write speeds. This matches the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, although it does so without the extra overprovisioning. After the cache fills, write performance will degrade to just over 1GBps until it has a break to recover. Here it ties for fourth place overall.

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.

Like most Phison E12 powered SSDs, the P34A80 isn’t a leader in this test, rather it lands dead last in our comparison pool among SSDs. This leaves a 3-second gap between it and the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro, our fastest flash-based device in the comparison. So, overall, while it is in last place, a difference in three seconds isn’t too significant, and the Silicon Power drive is still much faster than an HDD.

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 read test of a newly-written 6GB file.



Our 1TB Silicon Power P34A80 was able to copy our 50GB file folder at a rate of 281MBps. This is about the same as the BPX Pro, but overall ranks it as the slowest NVMe SSD in the group. It is, though, twice as fast as the SATA based MX500 here. As well, during the 6GB file read test, it scored second place, just behind that of the Samsung 970 PRO.

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.

The Silicon Power P34A80 achieved an overall score of 5,103 points and an average bandwidth of 705MBps here. The Silicon Motion SM2262EN powered Adata XPG SX8200 Pro managed to squeeze out a little more application performance on this test, but the P34A80 is still a high-end contender and lands in fifth place overall, just behind the Samsung 970 EVO Plus.

SYSmark 2014 SE

Like PCMark, SYSmark uses real applications to measure system performance. SYSmark takes things much further, however. It utilizes fourteen different applications to run real workloads with real data sets to measure how overall system performance impacts the user experience. BAPCo's SYSmark 2014 SE installs a full suite of applications for its tests, which includes Microsoft Office, Google Chrome, Corel WinZip, several Adobe software applications, and GIMP. That also makes it a great test to measure the amount of time it takes to install widely-used programs after you install a fresh operating system.

Similar to what we saw with PCMark 8, in SYSmark 2014 SE the Silicon Power P34A80 ranks between the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and the WD Black SN750 again.

Power Consumption

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.



With an average power consumption of 2.88 watts, Silicon Power’s P34A80 it ranks sixth in our power efficiency test. It hits a max of 5.11W, which isn’t too high. At idle it consumes 621 milliwatts with ASPM disabled, but once enabled this amount decreases significantly to just 50mW. Overall, it is a bit more power hungry than the MyDigitalSSD BPX Pro, but is still rather well regulated.

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4 comments
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  • zaphod_
    It seems Silicon Power is grossly conservative with the endurance rating. Similar drives have dramatically higher published endurance ratings. I would assume the same nand and same controller would have the same, or very similar, endurance. This is indeed the case with other E12/bics3 nand drives. The BPX Pro and MP510 are identical hardware with over-provisioning have ~1700TBW/960GB. Inland Premium (Microcenter house brand) is same hardware without any over-provisioning has a 1600TBW endurance for a 1TB drive.

    Its hard to believe the Silicon Power P34A80 has less than a third of the endurance of other drives featuring the exact same hardware.

    Where does the meager 125TBW/256GB endurance rating come from? It doesn't appear that Silicon Power published an endurance number on their website.
  • zaphod_
    Sabrent Rocket is another budget E12/bics3 drive with a rating of 1665 TBW/1TB.
    TEAM GROUP MP34 is also rated at 1665 TBW/1TB.

    Five other drives with the E12/bics3 all have 1600+ TBW for a 1TB class drive.
    Hard to believe that the Silicon Power only has 500TBW/1TB
  • seanwebster
    Quote:
    It seems Silicon Power is grossly conservative with the endurance rating. Similar drives have dramatically higher published endurance ratings. I would assume the same nand and same controller would have the same, or very similar, endurance. This is indeed the case with other E12/bics3 nand drives. The BPX Pro and MP510 are identical hardware with over-provisioning have ~1700TBW/960GB. Inland Premium (Microcenter house brand) is same hardware without any over-provisioning has a 1600TBW endurance for a 1TB drive. Its hard to believe the Silicon Power P34A80 has less than a third of the endurance of other drives featuring the exact same hardware. Where does the meager 125TBW/256GB endurance rating come from? It doesn't appear that Silicon Power published an endurance number on their website.

    I would guess that it has to do with limiting their liability. The endurance ratings come directly from the company after my inquiry.
  • zaphod_
    It seems quite likely the Silicon Power endurance information is erroneous. How could one explain that of the six drives mentioned, all with Phison E12 controller and BICS3 NAND, five have 1600+TBW ratings and one has a 500TBW rating. Logic would suggest the 500TBW rating is simply wrong.