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SK Hynix Gold S31 SATA SSD Review: SK Hynix Barrels Into US Market

SK Hynix barrels into the U.S. SSD market

Editor's Choice
(Image: © SK Hynix)

Our Verdict

SK Hynix’s Gold S31 is a top SATA SSD pick. With performance figures of up to 560MBps, it trades blows with some of the best and is competitively priced.

For

  • Competitive performance
  • Competitive pricing
  • Cloning software included
  • Five-year warranty

Against

  • Small write cache capacity
  • 1TB maximum capacity

SATA SSDs are a fast and reliable way to add more storage space and possibly gain some performance, too. Typically we recommend one of the top drives, like the Crucial MX500, Samsung 860 EVO, or WD Blue 3D, but with specs and killer performance that rivals even Samsung’s 860 EVO, we have a newcomer to add to our list: The SK Hynix Gold S31.

(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

SK Hynix, a South Korean memory semiconductor, is best known for its DRAM, but it also produces NAND and SSDs for OEMs, too. However, SK Hynix hasn’t attacked the US consumer SSD market like it has the OEM, enterprise, and data center spaces. At least until now.

The Gold S31, SK Hynix’s latest SATA 6Gbps SSD in the company’s SuperCore series, is out to prove itself against the most popular SATA SSDs. Does the Gold S31 have what it takes? Based on the specs and support, it just might. 

Most manufacturers will launch next-gen M.2 NVMe SSDs this year, but SATA is still one of the most popular and reliable choices for PC upgrades. SATA SSDs aren’t the fastest storage available, but if you're looking to save a few bucks compared to M.2 NVMe SSDs, SATA gets the job done. 

That's why SK Hynix chose to launch a SATA SSD: It makes for an easy entrance into the market. However, SK Hynix plans on diving deeper in this year when its new 128-Layer 4D NAND flash NVMe SSDs launch.  

Specifications

SK Hynix Gold S31 250GBSK Hynix Gold S31 500GBSK Hynix Gold S31 1TB
Pricing$37.99$53.99$105.99
Capacity (User / Raw)250GB / 256GB500GB / 512GB1000GB / 1024GB
Form Factor2.5" 9mm2.5" 9mm2.5" 9mm
Interface / ProtocolSATA 6GbpsSATA 6GbpsSATA 6Gbps
ControllerSK Hynix QuartzSK Hynix QuartzSK Hynix Quartz
DRAMLPDDR3LPDDR3LPDDR3
MemorySK Hynix 72L TLCSK Hynix 72L TLCSK Hynix 72L TLC
Sequential Read560 MBps560 MBps560 MBps
Sequential Write500 MBps525 MBps525 MBps
Random Read54,000 IOPS90,000 IOPS95,000 IOPS
Random Write87,000 IOPS87,000 IOPS87,000 IOPS
EncryptionN/AN/AN/A
Endurance200 TB300 TB600 TB
Part NumberT253TM250G3C302T253TM500G3C302T253TM001T3C302
Warranty5-Years5-Years5-Years

SK Hynix offers the Gold S31 in three capacities of 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB, which is a bit limited compared to what other brands offer. But pricing is very competitive at $0.11 – $0.15 per GB. Endurance figures are similar to Samsung’s 860 EVO; the Gold S31 is warrantied to withstand up to 600TB of writes and has a five-year warranty period (whichever comes first).

As a SATA 6Gbps SSD, performance is quite limited compared to NVMe competitors, but the drive should still saturate the SATA bus with up to 560/525 MBps of sequential throughput. It also weighs in with up to 95,000/87,000 random read/write IOPS.

Like most modern SSDs, the Gold features an SLC write cache. That means write performance degrades after you write a few gigabytes of data, which we'll cover a bit more on the following page. Additionally, the drive supports the secure erase command so you can wipe your data, but it lacks the AES 256-bit hardware encryption support that has become a standard feature with the top competing SSDs.

SK Hynix designed and built the SSD from the ground up around its own SSD controller and NAND, just as Samsung does with its drives. In contrast, both the Crucial MX500 and WD Blue 3D use a third-party SSD controller.

Software and Accessories

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SK Hynix doesn’t have an SSD Toolbox out quite yet, but the company does offer a free cloning/data migration utility for download.

A Closer Look

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The SK Hynix Gold S31 adheres to the 2.5” 7mm form factor, and the metal casing is fairly rigid compared to some SSDs that come in plastic cases. The PCB, which houses two NAND packages, a controller, and a DRAM chip, is just a fraction of the size of the case. 

SK Hynix’s own Quartz SATA controller powers the drive. It's a fourth-gen design that uses the company’s LPDDR3 DRAM cache for FTL table mapping. It interfaces with SK Hynix’s fourth-generation 72-Layer 3D TLC flash.

MORE: Best SSDs

MORE: How We Test HDDs And SSDs

MORE: All SSD Content

  • mdd1963
    Impressive results...

    (I rarely use a SATA SSD larger than 500 GB or 1 TB anyway)

    However, with pricing roughly equal to Crucial's MX500, I'm not sure I'm willing to make the leap without someone else first taking the risk on reliability/endurance testing, etc...

    Given a need for a SATA drive, when someone else is paying, I'll take Samsung's 860 EVO

    When I am paying , it's Crucial MX500... :)

    Given a year's worth of history of lots of samples tested with few to no failures noted, I'll gladly try this Hynix unit, but, they will have to undercut Crucial by more than $3 or so.... Given equal pricing (which seems to be the case based on 1 TB unit current prices), I'd stick with Crucial at this point....
    Reply
  • computerprogrammer2028
    Currently I have a WD VelociRaptor 500 GB Workstation Hard drive: 3.5 inch/10000 RPM. The speed of which was blazing for a HDD. But is aging since I got it back in 2013 (7 years ago). So I decided to take a dive into the world of SSD's. I ran across the SK Hynix Gold and was impressed with the price for a 500GB SSD and the speed. I'm not so much concerned about reliability since I'm keep my old Raptor HDD and use it to backup the SSD. But with the review + a 5 year warranty, how can you lose here? The price is competitive as well with provided friendly migration tools. I'll miss using my Raptor, but no more noisy HDD mechanical drive, and welcome to the world of quiet and fast HDD's. One day I'll replace my Raptor HDD backup probably with a 1TB WS Blue drive(7200RPM) to take over backup chores, but at least it won't be due to a failed drive and lost data.
    Reply