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.
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.
|SK Hynix Gold S31 250GB||SK Hynix Gold S31 500GB||SK Hynix Gold S31 1TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||250GB / 256GB||500GB / 512GB||1000GB / 1024GB|
|Form Factor||2.5" 9mm||2.5" 9mm||2.5" 9mm|
|Interface / Protocol||SATA 6Gbps||SATA 6Gbps||SATA 6Gbps|
|Controller||SK Hynix Quartz||SK Hynix Quartz||SK Hynix Quartz|
|Memory||SK Hynix 72L TLC||SK Hynix 72L TLC||SK Hynix 72L TLC|
|Sequential Read||560 MBps||560 MBps||560 MBps|
|Sequential Write||500 MBps||525 MBps||525 MBps|
|Random Read||54,000 IOPS||90,000 IOPS||95,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||87,000 IOPS||87,000 IOPS||87,000 IOPS|
|Endurance||200 TB||300 TB||600 TB|
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
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
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.
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