SSDs are a required upgrade with how much lower the cost per Gigabyte is today. If you’re wondering what’s changed in the storage market after the past few years, there has been some improvements. NVMe is the newest form of storage that uses PCIe lanes to address the bottlenecks of the SATA interface, but for SSDs they now have a new form of adding more capacity called 3D NAND. Some SSDs rely on Planar NAND where the storage chips are placed next to each other horizontally using the 2D surface. This can get tricky when you have to keep adding NAND chips for more storage, but 3d NAND allows for greater capacities because instead of adding more chips on the main surface they can be stacked vertically to allow more space. This is referred to as 3D NAND technology. I will be looking at ADATA’s new 3d NAND drive the SU800. Let’s see if the performance improvements of 3d NAND can be seen in its early state vs 2D Planar NAND of modern SSDs. Can we finally see some affordable 1TB SSDs ?
The packaging is definitely bright with reflective rainbow colors, and it does show a 3D NAND logo in the upper right corner. I will be testing the 512GB version which should give reads up to 560MB/s and writes up to 520MB/s. You are still limited here to SATA 6Gb/s which is the limit SATA speeds can reach. The 3D NAND will help produce some larger drives though and make larger capacity SSDs more affordable.
The accessories include:
- SU800 SSD
- Su800 7mm to 9.5mm laptop adapter
- Warranty and service manual
Before I even get into the design of the SU800 I want to point out its cheap plastic housing. The red arrow above is actually pointing to the screw that holds the frames together. What’s that you say, you can’t see the screw ? Yeah, it’s behind the sticker which makes it almost impossible to disassemble without ripping the ADATA logo. This isn’t going to be an issue for most people because the general consumer doesn’t take apart their SSD drive, but for people who love to tinker this is a problem. I did not want to destroy my SU800 ADATA logo so I will be explaining the controller that is inside but will not be able to show you pictures of the actual NAND chips or controller.
You will find the standard SATA power and port connector as usual on the SU800 like other SSds. Visually the drive uses a standard black plastic housing to hold the main controller, but the magical improvements are inside with 3D NAND.
The SU800 uses 3D NAND technology, higher storage, efficiency, and reliability. I want to take some time to really explain what these means. ADATA states the drive provides “intelligent SLC caching and a DRAM cache buffer to boost read/write performance even further. Featuring LDPC ECC and technologies such as high TBW (total bytes written) and DEVSLP (Device Sleep).” The new 3D NAND will allow the drive to reach larger storage capacities reaching 128 GB to 1TB.
TBW stands for (Total Bytes Written) which allows the SSD to be written over its entire capacity in one lifespan. This will provide much higher reliability and allows your SU800 to last longer than comparable SSDs.
The drive also features a technology called ” SLC Caching & DRAM Caching.” The caching algorithm allows the NAND to operate in SLC mode ( Single-level cell) and this will boost read/write performance. SLC , MLC ( Multi-level cell), and TLC (Triple-level cell) are all forms of flash used on SSDs. SLC is the most expensive providing the fastest type of flash, MLC is common for consumer grade SSDs and TLC provides excellent price points, but is the slowest of the flash types. The SU800 is a TLC drive but uses SLC caching for a quick boost.
The controller used in the SU800 is the SM2258. It’s ideally best for HDD replacement, ultrabooks, and tablets. The controller uses TLC 3D NAND from all major suppliers. Silicon Motion’s proprietary NANDXtend error-correcting code (ECC) is used to provide 3x better durability. The SLC caching is a direct TLC and SLC caching algorithm to boost the TLC NAND’s performance. The NAND supports 4 channel flash up to 32 NAND flash devices. The DRAM interface has a 16-bit wide DRAM interface and supports DDR3/DDR3L memory.
The photo above is just a stock image of the SM2258 controller. The Sm2258 uses a 32-bit RISC CPU, high-efficiency 64-bit system bus and has built in voltage detectors. The automatic sleep states allow the device to save power and wake up easily. The voltage regulators also have built-in power-on and reset.
Testing can differ slightly from system to system. I am going to test the SU800 using ATTO Disk Benchmark , and the AS SSD benchmark. I will be testing the SU800’s 3D NAND vs a newer Planar NAND SSD and a traditional hard drive. Hopefully, we will see the improvements with 3D NAND vs Planar NAND and how much faster an SSD is compared to a traditional hard drive. I will also be taking a look at the valued software available to be used with the SU800.
My test bench is as follows:
- ViewSonic XG2703-GS Monitor
- Motherboard- EVGA Z170 Classified K
- CPU: Intel Core I7 6700K
- Network Card- Netgear AC 1200 USB
- Cooler- Enermax Liqmax II 240
- Memory- Anarchy X 16GB DDR4 2800MHz
- Video Card: Nvidia GTX 1060
- Storage- PNY CS2210 480GB (Boot) / ADATA SU800 512GB / Seagate 3TB/ Zotac Sonix 480GB
- Power Supply- Corsair RM650X / Sleeved CableMod red/black cables
- OS: Windows 10 x64 Pro
- Headphones- Creative H7
The SU800 does offer the LDPC ECC Engine which has a low-density error correcting mode that leads to fewer data errors. With the ECC Engine,SLC caching, and 3D NAND this drive is perfect for a boot drive. I did not use this as my main boot drive, but for builders that do the SU800 will offer a significant boost over traditional hard drives.
The ADATA software for the SU800 can be downloaded here. The ToolBox offers a decent value for the SU800 with utilities to keep your system’s drives healthy and offers useful information. You also get additional software from Acronis which can be used for migration from drive to drive. This software is downloaded from the same ADATA link above. The ToolBox is lacking a benchmark to test your drives performance but does offer other improvements like system optimization. You will find drive temperatures, Total bytes Written, and estimated life remaining of each system volume. The software suite included is an extremely good value with the SU800.
The diagnostic tab allows quick and full diagnostics which give you a full readout of your system’s drives. You can set estimated life to a specific percentage and control what temperatures to alert you for. The service can also be enabled or disabled from this tab for your convenience. The “utilities” menu allows you to secure erase a drive. This will permanently erase all data on your selected drive and will not be recoverable.
The “System Optimization” tab offers some useful automatic tweaks. The basic option does really basic tweaks while the advanced tab covers the same as the basic plus even more optimization. The advanced tab adds tweaks like hibernation, NTFS memory usage, and system cache features. The basic tab covers prefetch, automatic defragmentation, and superfetch. These can be restored easily just by hitting the restore button if you find any of these are causing you trouble. The SSD ToolBox has a guide for more details on each tweak. It’s included with the downloaded software.
The 3D NAND does offer some improvements but will not be seen so much in benchmarks. The PNY drive is really not that much slower than the SU800. The SSDs are pretty comparable in size and performance. The SU800 did have higher writes to the drive, but the PNhy drive had slightly higher read speeds. The traditional platter disk from Seagate is significantly slower as it should be. This should give you a good indication fo what to expect between controller level variances between SSDs. The benefit of the 3D NAND is the ability to have larger SSDs at a more affordable price. The 3D NAND will allow more space because the chips are stacked vertically.
AS SSD shows us a similar story where the overall score of the SU800 is higher but not by much. These two drives are going to really perform similar due to the limitations of SATA and its 6Gbps limit. Most modern SSDs will perform to the limit of SATA depending on the controller and port types on your motherboard. Most motherboard either have an Intel controller or Marvell controller to handle your SATA ports.
I wanted to test loading times for games, and also test the AS SSD copy benchmark for a performance overview of the ADATA SU800. You can see the difference between the traditional platter drive and the SU800 SSD. The Game load times alone are a dramatic difference.
I loaded DOOM onto the SU800 and the loading times were cut in half compared to a standard hard drive. It only took about 30 seconds to load DOOM compared to 54 seconds on a platter hard drive.
The SU800 does offer a bit more value with the included software and 3D NAND technology. For starters, much larger capacity SSDs will be available over time. The software titles included do include a great value for your purchase but the ADATA software does lack a few important features. Every software ToolBox I’ve seen includes a built-in test to measure performance. I think this is really convenient and helps compare across platforms. One of the biggest problems I had with this drive was its cheap plastic enclosure for the SSD controller and I also couldn’t open it without ruining my ADATA sticker. Overall the SU800 is a great value with all its included features. The SLC caching is another feature I liked and adds another layer of performance. You can buy the ADATA SU800 512GB right now from Amazon for $130.00.