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SK Hynix Canvas SC300 SSD Review

SK Hynix is the least well-known NAND flash manufacturer. Most of the company's flash sells directly to the mobile market, but with increased manufacturing capacity we'll see more SK Hynix on the market.

Conclusion

It's easier to write about high-performance and entry-level SSDs than those in the middle. Up at the top of the food chain, enthusiasts don't mind spending big bucks on the best of the best. In contrast, value seekers building inexpensive machines want the SSD experience at the lowest price possible... but without sacrificing reliability. Between those two extremes, it's hard to know how much more you want to spend, or what a little extra speed is worth.

The SK Hynix Canvas SC300 512GB is definitely a mid-range performer, and its price lands between entry-level and mainstream. That's a good place for this SSD to be. However, Samsung's 850 EVO 500GB is priced similarly, and that's the benchmark by which all mainstream SSDs are measured. Under a few specific workloads, the Canvas SC300 does perform a bit better.

To be sure, the Canvas performs best against its competition when you hit it with heavier workloads. By definition, that means writing a lot of data to it in a short period of time. Unfortunately, SK Hynix hamstrings this usage model with a 72 TBW rating. The 500GB 850 EVO gives you 150 TBW, more than doubling the SC300 before its warranty lapses. As a result, we have a hard time recommending this drive over the current industry standard. You could argue that SSDs will write a lot more data than their ratings indicate and still be fine, but you're going to want warranty protection to back that assertion up.

SK Hynix is close to releasing its own 3D NAND. The company plans to start with a 36-layer implementation. But before production can begin on a large scale, factories are needed. SK Hynix forecasts aggressive expansion through new factories in South Korea. Existing facilities are being updated and expanded for planar flash. We expect SK Hynix to be more of a contender in the client SSD space moving forward. However, its existing offerings can't usurp our favorite storage devices just yet.

 

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Chris Ramseyer is a Contributing Editor for Tom's Hardware, covering Storage. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. 

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  • mavikt
    One question that pops up when reading SSD benchmarks nowadays, especially the Real world software performance, is how much the SSD's are hamstrung by the SATA interface?
    I know I'll be aiming for an M.2 NVMe model when I get a new rig next year.
    Reply
  • mamasan2000
    How is PCMark real world?
    Try transfering files, one big file, tons of small etc
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    The sequential write test at QD1 and QD2 show your large file transfers. The QD1 and QD2 random tests show what to expect when transferring many small files.

    We like to look well beyond simple file transfers. PCMark 8's Storage Tests are traces of actual workload. The trace is replayed in the software and does a very good job representing what you would reasonably expect in a real world environment.
    Reply
  • mavikt
    The rational for my question was that when looking at the "PCMark 8 Real-World Software Performance", World of Warcraft, Battlefield 3, Adobe, etc. all of them results are so alike across all the SSD's that it seems they're 'artificially' capped. Is that a SATA interface bottleneck we're seeing?
    Reply
  • CRamseyer
    Mavikt - There is more to it than just the SATA 6Gbps bus but you are on the right track. Sequential transfers (copy and paste type operations) can be limited by SATA with large block size loads.

    Most applications use small block size loads so performance can be limited by SATA's efficient overhead and Window's file system. This is why we test 4KB blocks and measure in IOPS.
    Reply