ADATA Premier SP550 240GB SSD Review

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You certainly can’t accuse ADATA of sitting still as far as SSD offerings go. They’ve released a number of different SSDs over the past year featuring different NAND controllers, read/write speeds, and price points. They seemingly have something for everyone in this regard. Today’s review is on their latest Premier SP550 offering, which is aimed at users looking for an affordable upgrade without having to sacrifice performance. The SP550 is ADATA’s first foray into Silicon Motion’s SM2256 NAND controller and its NANDXtend technology. Let’s go find out how well the SP550 240 GB SSD performs and if it’s worth your hard earned dollar.

Specifications and Features

Below are the specifications as provided by the ADATA product page. The ADATA Premier SP550 is available in three different capacities – 120 GB, 240 GB, and 480 GB. The 240 GB and 480 GB versions share the exact same specifications as below, but the 120 GB has a reduced maximum write speed of 410 MB/s. The 2.5″ drive is 7 mm thick, but comes with an adapter to make it compatible with devices requiring a 9.5 mm thick drive.

ADATA SP550 240 GB SSD Specifications
Capacity 120GB / 240GB / 480GB
Form Factor 2.5″
NAND Flash TLC
Controller SM2256
Dimensions 100.45 x 69.85 x 7 mm
3.95×2.75×0.28 in
Weight 68g / 2.4oz
Interface SATA 6Gb/s
Performance (Max) 240GB Performance
Read: Up to 560MB/s (ATTO)
Write: Up to 510MB/s (ATTO)
Read: Up to 530MB/s (AS SSD)
Write: Up to 480MB/s (AS SSD)
Maximum 4K Random R/W IOPS 75K/75K
Operating Temperature 0~70°C
Storage Temperature -40~85°C
Shock Resistance 1500G/0.5ms
MTBF 1,500,000 hours
Warranty 3-Years

As we mentioned above, the SP550’s SM2256 controller also offers Silicon Motions NANDXtend technology. This gives ADATA the opportunity to include SSD technologies like low-density parity check error correction code (LDPC ECC), data shaping, and RAID engine and data shaping for added protection. Intelligent SLC caching is also used for improved performance.

Features

• TLC flash with SMI controller
• Advanced LDPC ECC Technology
• RAID Engine & Data Shaping for ultimate protection
• Intelligent SLC Caching for improved performance
• High TBW for extended drive longevity
• DEVSLP (Device Sleep) supported

Before we take a close look at the Premier SP550 SSD, let’s give the ADATA marketing folks a chance to explain what benefits and features this new offering brings to the table.

Meeting growing demand for TLC SSD, ADATA’s Premier SP550 is equipped with TLC flash and an SMI controller, providing users an affordable upgrade without sacrificing performance. Featuring LDPC ECC Engine (Low Density Parity Check ECC), RAID Engine, and Data Shaping, the Premier SP550 ensures data integrity and maintains high stability. It also features ultra-high TBW (Total Bytes Written) for superior durability. Additionally, it supports SLC Caching and DDR3 DRAM Cache Buffer, dramatically improving read/write speeds. If you’re looking for an upgrade with a superior cost-performance ratio, the Premier SP550 is undoubtedly an ideal choice!

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Faster, Stabler, And Bigger – Your Superior Upgrade Solution

The Premier SP550 uses TLC flash and an SMI controller for amazing performance. It also features advanced error correction technologies and high power efficiency. Available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB and 960GB.

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Advanced LDPC ECC Engine

Featuring advanced LDPC ECC technology, the Premier SP550 offers reliability with strong data protection and better durability than comparable products.

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RAID Engine and Data Shaping for Ultimate Protection

By supporting RAID Engine and Data Shaping, the Premier SP550 ensures data integrity and delivers extended SSD lifespan for better, longer-lasting stability and return on investment.

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Intelligent SLC Caching

The intelligent SLC caching algorithm allows NAND flash memory to operate in SLC mode and boosts SSD read/write performance.

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Extended Drive Longevity with High TBW

Total bytes written or TBW refers to the number of times an SSD can write its entire capacity in one lifespan. The Premier SP550’s TBW rating outranks comparable models, meaning a longer-lasting SSD.

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Lower Power Consumption Plus Longer Battery Life

The Premier SP550 supports DEVSLP (Device Sleep) technology for better energy efficiency. This results in lower electricity costs and prolonged battery life.

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SSD Toolbox Effortless SSD Management

ADATA’s free value-added SSD Toolbox software suite makes it easy to quickly and conveniently configure, optimize, and monitor SSDs, from overall status to specific drive health and lifespan info.

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Notebook SSD Disk Bay Spacer

The Premier SP550 is just 7mm thick – an easy fit in ultrabooks. A 2.5mm spacer is bundled for use in 9.5mm disk bays, allowing compatibility with virtually every notebook.

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Retail Packaging/Product Tour

The retail box provides a good home for the SP550 until it’s installed in a computer. The ADATA Hummingbird is on the box top, along with a list of features. There is also mention of the free download of Acronis True Image HD. The bottom of the box has a multilingual list of high-level features and a QR-Code that will take you to the software download. Inside the box, the SP550 sits in a hard plastic tray with the user guide and 9.5 mm adapter sitting below.

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A quick exterior tour of the SP550 shows the black SSD has a sticker on top with the model, capacity, and interface printed on it. At the bottom of the drive is another sticker with warranty code, model number, and electrical compliance information. The typical data and power connections are found on the back side.

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With the housing open, we can get a look at the PCB layout. SKHynix H27QEG8NDM5R-BCF TLC NAND flash is used to make up the 240 GB of storage capacity. The Silicon Image SM2256 controller is located on the backside of the PCB. Also on the backside of the PCB is the 128 MB Samsung K4B2G1646-BYK0 DDR3-1600 MHz cache memory module. It’s nice to see high quality components being used throughout the PCB.

SP550 Diagram - Source Anantech

SP550/SM2256 Controller Diagram – Source Anantech

Case Opened

Housing Opened

PCB Top SIde

PCB Top SIde

PCB Bottom Side

PCB Bottom Side

SKHynix NAND Flash

SKHynix NAND Flash

Silicon Motion SM2256 Controller

Silicon Motion SM2256 Controller

Samsung Cache Memory

Samsung Cache Memory

Testing and Benchmarks

Test System

Here is the breakdown of the components used in our test bed.

Test System Components
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VII Formula
CPU Intel i7 4790K Devil’s Canyon
Memory G.SKill TridentX DD3-2400 MHz 2x8GB
SSD Various (See Comparison List)
Power Supply Corsair HX1050 Professional Series
Video Card EVGA GTX 780 Ti Classified
Cooling EKWB Supremacy EVO Water Block – 360 mm Radiator – MCP35X Pump

Being the fourth ADATA SSD we’ve tested this year, we thought it would be good to compare all four of them. We’ll also toss in a couple recently reviewed OCZ price-conscious SSDs as well – here is the comparison list. The links provided are to their respective reviews.

• ADATA XPG SX930 240 GB
• ADATA Premier Pro SP900 M.2 256 GB
• ADATA Premier SP610 512 GB
• OCZ ARC 100 240 GB
• OCZ Trion 100 480 GB

Test Method

Each SSD is secure erased to make sure we get the best results possible. We do this before each and every test run to give the comparison samples the best environment possible for testing. Below are the tests we run with a brief description.

• CrystalDiskMark – Run at Default Settings (5 Pass)
• AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
• ATTO – Run at Default Setting with QD Set to 10
• IOMeter 2010 – Run Manually with QD32 for the 4K Tests

Performance

Beginning with CrystalDiskMark’s read benchmark, we see solid performance from the SP550 drive. It was right at the top of the heap in the sequential and 4K QD32 runs and finished in the middle of the pack on the other two tests. The write results show the SP550 losing only to the Trion 100 in the sequential test and topping the field in the 4K run. The other two tests have the SP550 finishing in the middle.

CDM Read Results

CDM Read Results

CDM Write Results

CDM Write Results

AS SSD represents an SSD’s worst nightmare as far as data transfer goes, which is due to the 100% incompressible data samples it uses. The read test has the SP550 just a tad below the ADATA SP610 and SX930 in the sequential test, but just by a small amount. The 4K and 4K 64Thrd tests have the SP550 beating the entire field. The AS SSD write testing shows the SP550 barely losing out to the Trion 100 in the sequential test, but sweeping the field in the other two tests. Access time testing shows a clean sweep for the SP550, except for a tie with the ARC 100 in the read test. AS SSD also provides a scoring system that obviously loves something about the SP550. The 1228 total score far outpaced all the other drives in the comparison, as did the read and write scores. Excellent AS SSD showing for the SP550.

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Read Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Write Results

AS SSD Access Time Results

AS SSD Access Time Results

AS SSD Performance Score Results

AS SSD Performance Score Results

IOMeter shows similar results to what we’ve witnessed so far. The 2MB read and write tests have the SP550 reaching advertised speeds, and the 4K tests have the SP550 in the middle of the pack. The 4K IOPS came in right near advertised performance claims, and the 2MB IOPS tests have the SP550 right near the top in both tests.

IOMeter 2MB/4K - Read/Write Results

IOMeter 2MB/4K – Read/Write Results

4K Read/Write IOPS Results

4K Read/Write IOPS Results

2MB read/write IOPS Results

2MB read/write IOPS Results

ATTO Bench is what most SSD manufacturers use to base their read/write speed claims off of. As you can see, the read test came up just a couple MB/s short of the 560 MB/s the SP550 claims, but certainly within the margin of error. The SP550 had no problem reaching the advertised write speed of 510 MB/s.

ATTO Read Results

ATTO Read Results

ATTO Write Results

ATTO Write Results

We like to include a run of Anvil’s Storage Utility just to see if it’s in line with the other benchmarks we run. We run the benchmark twice – once with 100% incompressible data and again using the 0-Fill option. There isn’t much difference between the two tests here, but the results on both tests are as expected. One thing worth mentioning is that the overall score was higher for the 100% incompressible test, which is a testament to the drive’s performance in real world usage.

Anvil's Storage Utility - 100% Incompressible Data

Anvil’s Storage Utility – 100% Incompressible Data

Anvil's Storage Utility - 0-Fill

Anvil’s Storage Utility – 0-Fill

Conclusion

ADATA continues to put out great performing SSDs using a variety of controllers, NAND Flash, and cache memory. It’s good for consumers that ADATA isn’t tied to one component manufacturer as it affords them the opportunity to bring us excellent “bang for the buck” drives. The SP550 fits that mold perfectly with its high-end read/write speeds and above average 4K read/write performance. So, how much is the Premier SP550 240 GB going to set you back? Currently, it’s available for $89.99 at Newegg, which works out to just 37.5 cents per GB. There are a lot of SSDs in this price bracket, but the important thing is that they perform as advertised – the ADATA Premier SP550 definitely does.

If you’ve been looking to upgrade your PC or laptop’s storage capacity or break away from a platter type HDD, the ADATA SP550 is definitely worth considering.

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Dino DeCesari (Lvcoyote)

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Discussion
  1. Thanks AA. I agree PCI-E storage is what the future holds, especially when the prices drop on those. Until then, SATA SSDs are still a worthwhile option for those on a budget.
    Price cut to $79.99 now. Nice review. I enjoyed the read. Lots of new tech tweaks. Too bad it's another SATA III interface. I prefer PCIe interface. I'm looking forward for that newer non volatile RAM speed memory in the future.