ADATA Premier SP610 SSD (256GB & 512GB) Review: Say Hello to an SMI Controllerby Kristian Vättö on June 27, 2014 2:00 PM EST
I am positively surprised by the new SMI controller and SP610. I have learned to be skeptical about value controllers because in the past the sacrifice in performance has not been worth the relatively small savings in cost. Usually the problem is that the value controller is also combined with cheaper (i.e. slower) NAND, resulting in a mediocre drive at best. Fortunately, the SP610 does not have that problem. Even though the SMI controller is paired with Micron's 128Gbit 20nm MLC, which is generally slower than 64Gbit parts and Toshiba's NAND, the drive is still extremely competitive under heavy workloads. It is also faster (sometimes substantially) than the MX100 and 840 EVO in light to medium workloads, which have been my recommended value drives.
IO consistency is really the only complaint I have regarding performance. It is not horrible but I would still rather see consistent behavior instead of a "clean later" approach where the drive pushes maximum IOPS whenever it can. For typical client workloads, this is not necessarily bad because IOs tend to happen in bursts and the drive should have enough time to do garbage collection between the bursts, but there is still a chance that the performance may degrade if the controller runs out of empty blocks. Because of that, I would recommend to keep some empty space (maybe 10-15%) to ensure a steady supply of empty blocks.
Furthermore, the lack of DevSleep support is also a minor drawback. The reason why it is minor is because DevSleep only matters if you have a Haswell laptop as the older platforms do not support it. In other words, if you are running a laptop that has a previous generation or older Intel CPU (or any AMD CPU/APU for that matter), you have absolutely no need to worry about DevSleep because your device does not support it. Obviously if you are running a desktop, the power consumption should not be a concern in the first place because there is no battery life to worry about.
|NewEgg Price Comparison (6/25/2014)|
|ADATA Premier SP610||$80||$130||$260||$470|
|ADATA Premier Pro SP600||$65||$110||-||-|
|ADATA Premier Pro SP920||$90||$150||-||-|
|ADATA XPG SX900||$80||$130||$245|
|SanDisk Extreme Pro||-||$200||$400||$600|
|SanDisk Extreme II||-||$171||$308||-|
|SanDisk Ultra Plus||$87||$110||-||-|
|Intel SSD 730||-||$210||$425||-|
|Intel SSD 530||$110||$165||$330||-|
|OCZ Vector 150||$115||$280||$408||-|
|OCZ Vertex 460||$86||$158||$293|
|Samsung SSD 840 EVO||$80||$145||$250||$420|
|Samsung SSD 840 Pro||$120||$190||$410||-|
The pricing is competitive but not low enough to make the SP610 the king of value SSDs. It is very hard to compete against Crucial/Micron and Samsung in price because they are both NAND manufacturers and have access to cheaper and newer technology NAND. From what I have heard, Micron's 128Gbit 20nm MLC is currently the cheapest NAND on the open market but of course that is not as cost efficient as Micron's 128Gbit 16nm MLC used in the MX100 or Samsung's 128Gbit 19nm TLC used in the 840 EVO.
With the current pricing, the SP610 falls in the infamous middle-class, meaning that it is not cheap enough to be the ultimate value drive but it is also not fast enough to compete against the fastest (albeit more expensive) drives. Given the performance of the SP610, I would gladly pay $10-20 more for it (depending on the capacity) over the MX100 or 840 EVO, but I do not find it to be worth the up to $50 premium in the 1TB-class. The issue is that for light and moderate workloads, the performance difference is negligible, so I would rather save the cash or put it towards another component upgrade.
The SP610 can, however, be a good compromise if you are not entirely sure whether your workload needs a high performance SSD or not, because it is significantly cheaper than the high-end drives like the Extreme Pro, yet it is not much more expensive than the value drives while providing generally better performance.
All in all, I am pleased to see more competition in the value SSD segment. Crucial and Samsung have dominated that for too long but the SM2246EN is turning out to be a platform that can challenge Crucial's and Samsung's drives in the three main aspects: price, performance, and features. With a slightly lower price tag and the updated firmware with TCG Opal 2.0 support, the SP610 could certainly warrant a recommendation over other offerings.