Kingston KC2000 full review
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The KC1000 drive that Kingston launched in mid-2017 was a bit of a disappointment. The storage giant is now back with the KC2000 and here's our full review.
That old model used the Phison PS5007-E7 controller and older MLC NAND technology to deliver an NVMe storage device that was reasonably fast at reading but lacked the raw writing throughput seen on the best competitor products. The KC2000 has a new controller and more concurrent NAND memory model.
But can it confront Samsung, Corsair and Crucial for high-performance PC upgrades at affordable prices?
Kingston sell the KC2000 in four capacities; 250GB, 500GB, 1000GB (reviewed here) and 2000GB.
They’re priced at £70.19, £125.51, £213.71 and £429.75 respectively directly from Kingston, including delivery and VAT. US customers get a slightly better deal, paying $62.40, $114.40, $201.50 and $410.80 for the same drive and capacities.
Those prices undercut the Corsair MP510, Western Digital Black and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus series across the board. Although the Corsair drive has 50% faster write speed for only a little more money.
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Design & Build
As you'd expect, the design of this M.2 NVMe is like all the others. They’re exact size and shape is entirely dictated by function rather than any aesthetic choices.
The KC2000 is a typical M.2 2280 stick that you can mount either directly on to a board that supports the M.2 PCIe interface, or via a separate riser card that goes in a 4X or 16X PCIe slot. This accessory isn’t supplied, so you will need to purchase one if you don’t own a motherboard with an M.2 PCIe slot.
As is the fashion these days on these types of hardware, Kingston stuck a label over the visible chip tops and emblazoned it with ‘Warranty Void if Removed’ to dissuade prying eyes.
We assume this is so production can change the chips on it without someone complaining that it was better with the original type. Whatever the reason, the buyer is meant to accept that whatever is under the labels is fine, and if it isn’t and you’ve not lifted the label, Kingston should replace it within the 5-year cover period.
Specs & Performance
There is certainly a feeling of ‘out with the old, in with the new’ about the KC2000, because it’s not derivative in any way from its predecessor.
Using TLC (Triple-Layer Cell/3-bit) 3D NAND and a Silicon Motion 2262EN controller brings this module right up to date and in-line with what other performance module makers are offering.
The layout of the memory on these drives, and the amount of cache each capacity gets does slightly enhance the performance on the 1TB and 2TB options giving them 3,200MB/s reads, and 2,200MB/s writes.
The smaller drives have marginally less read speed, at 3,000MB/s, but just 1,100MB/s writing on the 250GB drive, and 2,000MB/s on the 500GB drive.
The other downside of the smaller drives is that they, by definition, have a lower TBW (Total Bytes Written) lifespan, given that all writing takes places with fewer cells to recycle.
The 250GB is only 150TBW, and that doubles at each drive above that, with the 2TB model getting a whopping 1,200TBW. In our experience, anything above 300TB as on the 500GB is unlikely to be an issue unless you edit UHD video for a living.
In addition to the standard drive functionality, and excellent performance, the KC2000 also sports 256-bit AES hardware encryption and is compatible with TCG Opal 2.0 security protocols. It even works with Microsoft eDrive for those that have embraced BitLocker.
While it isn’t practical for us to test TBW, we did put the 1TB review hardware through its paces using a variety of benchmarks including CrystalDiskMark 6.0.2 and AS SSD.
The results mostly supported the quoted Kingston numbers, although reading was often closer to 3,100MB/s and writing was mostly better than predicted, being at least 2,250MB/s.
It also delivers some good numbers from the tests were the IOPs (Input/output operations per second) scores, with around 300k on 4K random reading and writing.
There are quicker drives available, but the KC2000 isn’t slow by any standards.
There are lots of things to like in the KC2000, a product that addresses many of the limitations of its predecessor and is also very competitively priced.
For anyone moving from a SATA connected SSD, the performance boost of this technology is dramatic, as the drive reads and writes more than six times faster under certain circumstances. Booting and launching applications will see the biggest impact, anything that involves network transfers, external drives or moving contents from lower specified storage will be bottlenecked elsewhere.
In the current market for PCI NVMe drives, Kingston is up against the Samsung 970 EVO Plus and Crucial Black SN750, with the KC2000 being marginally slower on reading (3,200 vs 3,400MB’s) in both cases. But they’re well matched in write speeds, and the Kingston product is generally cheaper.
More of an issue for the KC2000 is the Corsair MP510, a drive with 3,000B/s writing, more IOPs and an even greater TBW that costs only a few pounds (or dollars) more.
It may be that tactically Kingston decided to reduce the read performance slightly to have fewer warranty returns over the five-year cover. Whatever the logic, most users won’t notice the difference, we’d contest.
Overall, the KC2000 is a much more competitive offering than the KC1000 was and put Kingston into closer competition with the biggest NVMe sellers.
With excellent performance that doesn’t gouge the consumer to own, Kingston should do very well with the KC2000 with those that want to elevate their desktop PC or laptop to a whole new level.
Kingston KC2000: Specs
- Capacities: 250GB/500GB/1TB/2TB
- Capacity tested: 1TB
- Tested 4KB performance: 52.40/126.2 MB/s
- Tested sequential performance: 3,085.9/2268.6 MB/s
- Controller: SMI 2262EN
- Encryption: AES 256-bit
- Flash technology: 96-layer 3D-NAND 3bit TLC
- Connection: PCIe Gen3 x4, NVMe 1.3
- Claimed power consumption: 7W active / 3mW idle
- Warranty: 5 years
- Form Factor: M.2 80mm Single Sided
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