Silicon Motion's SM2246EN SSD controller was a highly successful solution for SSDs using MLC NAND flash. It offered a great combination of power efficiency, solid performance, and low cost. Last year we got an early look at the successor SM2256 controller for drives using TLC NAND and found that despite being made for TLC it didn't do a very good job of mitigating the performance and power consumption problems inherent to TLC NAND. At the time there were only a few mainstream TLC drives and the SM2256 was one of the first controllers designed specifically with TLC in mind. That preview was based on a reference design drive using Samsung 19nm TLC and prerelease firmware, so we were hopeful for improvement in final retail products that would be using different NAND and firmware.

In November we looked at the performance of the Crucial BX200 based on the SM2256 controller and Micron 16nm TLC NAND, and we found that the situation had gotten much worse: performance was bad and power consumption was high. In the meantime, Phison's S10 controller (and Toshiba's custom branded variant of it) became the most popular solution for TLC SSDs and the market was flooded with nearly-identical drives from new and old players in the market.

That brings us to today's review of ADATA's Premier SP550 SSD. ADATA manufactures drives with almost every controller available on the open market, and the Premier SP550 is their SM2256 offering. ADATA has in turn positioned the drive as the entry-level model of their mainstream consumer Premier product line. Meanwhile with a different choice of flash (SK Hynix 16nm TLC NAND) and updated firmware, the SP550 has the chance to partially redeem the SM2256 controller.

ADATA Premier SP550 Specifications
Capacity 120GB 240GB 480GB 960GB
Controller Silicon Motion SM2256
NAND Flash SK Hynix 16nm TLC
Sequential Read 560MB/s 560MB/s 560MB/s 520MB/s
Sequential Write 410MB/s 510MB/s 510MB/s 490MB/s
Random Read IOPS 60k 75k 75k 80k
Random Write IOPS 70k 75k 75k 35k
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Management Slumber and DevSleep
Warranty 3 years
Current Retail Price $38.99 $57.99 $112.99 $219.99

With pricing starting at $39 for 120GB and even the 480GB model staying under $0.25/GB, the pricing is a good start, as the SP550 has consistently been one of the cheapest drives on the market. No TLC drive has yet reached a price low enough to completely excuse its shortcomings relative to MLC drives and earn an unconditional recommendation, but at least the SP550 has kept pace with the price drops in recent months. Its primary competitors are Phison/Toshiba-based SSDs with Toshiba's A19nm TLC, as their successors based on Toshiba's 15nm TLC are still new enough to the market to be selling for higher prices closer to the MSRP. This means we'll be looking at the OCZ Trion 100 as the most likely alternative, though similar drives from Silicon Power and PNY are available in the same price range and newer drives like the OCZ Trion 150 may match its price it in the near future.

AnandTech 2015 SSD Test System
CPU Intel Core i7-4770K running at 3.5GHz (Turbo & EIST enabled, C-states disabled)
Motherboard ASUS Z97 Deluxe (BIOS 2501)
Chipset Intel Z97
Memory Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1866 2x8GB (9-10-9-27 2T)
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 4600
Desktop Resolution 1920 x 1200
OS Windows 8.1 x64
Performance Consistency
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  • Kristian Vättö - Sunday, March 27, 2016 - link

    It takes about 25 to 30 minutes. The software doesn't try to playback the trace as fast as possible because that would result in unrealistic queue depths. All QDs are the same as in the trace, but idle times are truncated to 25µs to speed up the test. Reply
  • bogdan_kr - Friday, April 01, 2016 - link

    Thank you, sir! It's good to know this. Reply
  • eek2121 - Saturday, March 26, 2016 - link

    Just bought the 960 gb version of this drive to use for my Steam folder. A lot of people are bitching about TLC in this forum, but I've had 0 issues with my 840 EVO that I ordered 3 years ago. Reply
  • adam261222 - Thursday, June 23, 2016 - link

    That moment you get 2 put them in raid 0 but you get speeds of 480MB/s read... Can you think of any fixes or reasons for why this is happening? Reply
  • Derrick Lo - Friday, July 01, 2016 - link

    So far, I've been using the Adata Premier SP550 SSD (240GB) for about 4 months (since Mar-2016), and things are good: My laptop bootup speed is up by about 3 times, to under 30 seconds! Worth the upgrade from HDD to SSD!

    Only thing was the need to use a disk imaging software to copy the laptop OS & setup from the old HDD to the new SSD.
    Reply

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