Over the past few months, we have had a chance to review several M.2 PCIe x4 drives from the budget level up to high-performance drives. Regular readers may remember we have reviewed both the SX8200 (non-pro) as well as the Gammix S11 both offering similar performance, but different pricing. Today we are looking at another drive towards the high-end of the performance spectrum in the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro. The SX8200 Pro is updated with the new, faster, Silicon Motion controller allowing for speeds up to 3500 MB/s reads and writes up to 3000 MB/s, SLC caching and DRAM cache buffer, and LDPC ECC technology all backed by a 5-Year warranty. ADATA says the SX8200 Pro is designed for “discerning gamers, PC enthusiasts, overclockers, and video content producers – a broad swath of users. We put the drive through its paces and see how it stacked up against the rest!
Specifications and Features
The XPG SX8200 Pro series of drives range from 256 GB all the way up to a 1 TB, all in the M.2 2280 form factor. A 2 TB model option may be made available in the future. The module is double sided and uses four Micron 64L 3D TLC ICs along with two DRAM modules (one on each side) for a total of 1GB (952 GB formatted) and matches it with the new SMI SM2262EN controller. ADATA includes a thin metal heatsink with double-sided thermal tape to stick to the device and help with heat mitigation, though it’s awfully thin and without fins, so at a glance, I can’t say it looks terribly efficient. It does cover up some of the ICs though and gives a cleaner look. Below the DIY heatsink, the ICs are mounted to a black PCB giving it overall a nice sleek appearance.
The EN version of the controller includes eight flash channels and four chip enable lines and with the new controller supports DDR4 DRAM as a cache buffer. It also uses SLC caching which brings performance up and over native TLC write performance. Speeds increased all around with sequential reads reaching 3500 MB/s and writes up to 3000 MB/s (compared to 3200/1700 for the Gammix S11 and the previous generation controller). Random IOPS also get a boost at 420K for both reads and writes (versus 310K/280K).
The controller is said to be more efficient and higher performing due to firmware updates as well as an improved data path. The drive includes E2E Data protection and RAID Engine to help deliver an extended lifespan and data safety/integrity according to ADATA. The drive has an industry average of 2,000,000 hours MTBF and total bytes written ranges from 160 TBW to 640 TBW depending on the capacity of the drive. Regardless of size, all SX8200 Pro’s carry a 5-year warranty. The SX8200 and Gammix S11 are nearly identical twins outside of the new controller and the speeds it brings.
Performance is clearly up over the last generation and the drive also has other improvements, this time focusing on delivering the same or better performance using a more efficient power envelope. The drive does this by supporting multiple NVMe low power states and while active uses just 0.33 W of power and just 0.14 W when it sleeps.
Below are the specifications as seen on the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro website.
|ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro Specifications|
|Capacity||256GB, 512GB, 1TB|
|Interface||NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4|
|Controller||Silicon Motion SM2262EN|
|Flash||Micron 64L 3D TLC|
|Form Factor||Double-sided M.2 2280 B + M Key|
|Dimensions (LxWxH)||80 x 22 x 3.5 mm|
|DRAM Cache||Nanya DDR3L 1 GB|
|Sequential Read/Write Speeds||Read: 3500 MB/s
Write: 1200-3000 MB/s
|4 KB Random Read / Write (QD32)||380k IOPS
|Active / Idle Power||0.33 W / 0.14 W|
|Service & Support||5 Years|
|Endurance / MTBF||2BT
1 TB – 640 TBW
512 GB – 320 TBW
256 GB – 160 TBW
|Pricing||1 TB – $179.99
512 GB – $119.99
240 GB – $102.90
ADATA’s packaging of the SX8200 Pro comes in a mostly black box with a picture of the drive on it as well as branding and high-level features. The back of the package includes similar information but in several different languages. When opening up the package, owners are greeted by the drive sitting securely in form-fitted plastic along with the heatsink below it. The drive does not include anything else with it. All manuals or software can be downloaded from the ADATA website.
A closer look at the drive itself shows the SM2262EN controller, one of the two NANYA DRAM cache buffer chips, as well as two of the Micron 64L 3D TLC ICs. The back of the module contains the second DRAM cache chip accompanied by the other two TLC chips.
Below we can see a closeup of the SM2262EN controller, 64L 3D TLC NAND, as well as the DRAM cache.
ADATA includes a couple of applications with their M.2 storage devices used to help monitor and maintain as well as backup and restore the drive. The first is the SSD Toolbox which is used to monitor the drive as well as optimize and diagnose any problems with the drive. The software will monitor temperature as well as show drive life, run quick/full diagnostic scans and also optimize the system for use with the drive.
Also included is Acronis True Image HD 2015 which is a software suite that can be used to migrate your old drive to the new one, as well as for backups and restore.
Test System and Test Methods
We install the drive as a secondary device on the test system and run the listed benchmarks against it. While typically, many will use these drives as system drives, the test machines can be different as will people’s OS implementation in the first place, so we try to isolate as many variables as possible in an effort to have the results as repeatable as possible with any reviewer who may test drives.
Below are the tests we run with a brief description.
- Crystal Disk Mark – Run at Default Settings (5 Passes)
- AS SSD – Run at Default Settings
- ATTO – Run at Default Settings except for the QD Set to 10
- Anvil Storage Utility Benchmark – Default Settings
|Test System Components|
|Motherboard||ASRock Z370 Taichi|
|CPU||Intel i7 8700K|
|CPU Cooler||EVGA CLC 240|
|Memory||2×8 GB G.Skill Trident Z 3200 MHz CL15-15-15-35|
|SSD||Toshiba OCZ TR200 480 GB (OS), Toshiba OCZ RC100 480GB|
|Power Supply||EVGA 750W G3|
|Video Card||NVIDIA RTX 2080 FE|
A special thanks goes out to EVGA for providing the CLC 240 CPU Cooler and 750W G3 Power Supply to cool and power the system, G.Skill for the Trident Z DRAM, and Toshiba OCZ for the 480GB TR200 SSDs storage running the OS, benchmarks, and games. With our partners helping out, we are able to build matching test systems to mitigate any differences found between using different hardware. This allows for multiple reviewers in different locations to use the same test system and compare results between reviewers minimizing system variance.
In our CDM read results, the XPG SX8200 Pro is the fastest drive we tested thus far reaching 3500 MB/s in sequential reads with 32 queue depth. In 1QD sequential, it came in second behind the SX8200. For 4K reads, the drive also did well here leading all drives tested in single queue depth with 63 MB/s and second in 32QD at 500 MB/s. For the all-important writes, again we see the SX8200 Pro blasting past the rest of the drives we reviewed here in the sequential 32QD hitting 2936 MB/s (second place is 1742 MB/s). 4K 32QD results show the drive in second place here, and surprisingly, matches the slowest drives in 1QD writes at 142 MB/s. That said, these drives are all fairly close together.
With higher queue depths, this drive is one of the fastest we have tested overall.
Read performance in AS SSD was off the charts across the board leading the pack for each set of tests. Sequential reads hit 3016 MB/s with 4K reads reaching 65 MB/s, and the higher queue depths reaching 1507 MB/s, notably faster than all drives we have reviewed so far. Write performance here was similar easily beating the pack in both sequential writes and 4K with higher queue depths. To put it in perspective, sequential writes hit 2459 MB/s while the second place drive reached 1686 MB/s. Low QD 4K writes reached 167 MB/s and while not a leader of this pack, that is a solid result.
Access times in SSD also proved to be better than most other drives. Looking at the overall score, the ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro scored 4606 with the next highest reaching 3846. AS SSD confirms this is the fastest drive we have tested so far as well.
Our ATTO testing showed much of the same result, the SX8200 Pro is fast. While it didn’t reach its rated speeds in this test, reads peaked at 3347 MB/s with 4K reads and writes ramping up quickly.
Anvil Storage Utility
Last, we present a screenshot from Anvil Storage Utilities. This benchmark runs the drive through a wide variety of testing for both reads and writes and in the end spits out a score for reads and writes alone as well as a total. In this case, the drive hit 16,254.xx which, as one may have guessed by now, is the highest score we’ve seen in this benchmark. The next fastest card, the Gammix S11, reached 13,279.xx.
The ADATA XPG SX8200 Pro can be found on Amazon for $190 and $200 from Newegg via 3rd party seller for the 1 TB model, just a bit over its MSRP. The Mushkin Helix-L still does not have a price tag at the time of this writing though it should be less expensive (and is slower). Toshiba’s RC100 was priced at $155 for a 480 GB model and is also notably slower. The Samsung 970 Evo comes in at $247 from Newegg, but is spec’d out to be a bit faster in sequential writes. Sadly, we do not have a Samsung drive to test and see how it compares against one of the industry’s best, but a quick look around shows positive performance there and for less money.
The ADATA’s XPG SX8200 Pro has proved to be quite a fast drive surpassing everything we have tested thus far in overall performance. We saw good read and write performance at the 4K level mixing it up and beating at the time, some more expensive drives per GB. Larger file writes, especially sequentially, really shows solid performance here. Until we get our hands on more expensive drives, the SX8200 Pro holds the speed crown at Overclockers.com and has a good price to performance value as well!
Joe Shields (Earthdog)