ADATA likes to produce a broad range of SSDs, sampling from all the controller and NAND manufacturers. To that end, they have wholeheartedly embraced the use of 3D MLC NAND even as most brands are using the 3D NAND transition to entirely remove MLC from their consumer product lines or relegate it to niche models instead of treating it as the mainstream default. ADATA is selling multiple SATA and NVMe models using Micron's first-generation 3D MLC NAND. On the SATA side of things, they have the Ultimate SU900 and XPG SX950 as the MLC models (positioned above the SU800 and SU700 using 3D TLC). For the NVMe market, they have the XPG SX8000 and XPG SX9000 pairing 3D MLC with Silicon Motion and Marvell controllers respectively. So far, all of their 3D NAND SSDs have relied on Micron's first-generation 32-layer 3D NAND, the only 3D NAND available in volume on the open market.

The ADATA XPG SX950 is their top of the line SATA SSD. Technologically, it is very similar to their Ultimate SU900: both use the same Micron 3D MLC NAND and Silicon Motion SM2258 controller. The SX950 is distinguished by reserving more spare area (yielding usable capacities like 480GB instead of 512GB) and a six-year warranty instead of five. There may be significant firmware tuning differences, but there are no obvious signs such as one model providing TCG Opal encryption support (both lack that feature). ADATA did their own NAND packaging for the SX950, so it may be using flash binned for better endurance. The SU900 has a 2TB model listed but not yet available, while the SX950 line only goes up to 960GB, with limited availability of the largest model.

ADATA XPG SX950 Specifications
Capacity 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB
Model Number ASX950SS-240GM-C ASX950SS-480GM-C ASX950SS-960GM-C
Controller Silicon Motion SM2258
NAND Flash Micron 256Gbit 32-layer 3D MLC NAND
Sequential Read 560 MB/s
Sequential Write 520 MB/s 530 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 80k IOPS 90k IOPS 90k IOPS
Random Write IOPS 90k IOPS 90k IOPS 85k IOPS
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Consumption Active: 0.82 W
Slumber: 0.41 W
Warranty 6 years
Write Endurance 200 TB 400 TB 800 TB
MSRP $139.99 $249.99 $449.99

The construction of the ADATA XPG SX950 is similar to ADATA's other recent SATA SSDs: a metal base and plastic lid are joined by a single screw through the center of the drive. The PCB occupies only half of the case, and has pads for eight NAND packages and two DRAM packages. On our 480GB sample, all eight NAND pads are occupied with dual-die packages, for a total raw capacity of 512GB.

Micron recently re-introduced MLC NAND to their consumer product line with the Crucial BX300, using their 32L 3D MLC and the SM2258 controller. The Crucial BX300 is positioned as more of an entry-level model, with a focus on lower capacities that cannot perform well when using their 3D TLC. The ADATA SX950 has twice the warranty period and up to five times the rated write endurance, but any performance differences will come down to firmware tweaks, and ADATA hasn't updated the firmware since the SX950 launched earlier this year. Current pricing for the SX950 shows that ADATA has not responded to the introduction of the BX300: for the two capacities where the models match up, the ADATA is more expensive by 25% and 45%. That's quite a premium for a longer warranty.

AnandTech 2017 SSD Testbed
CPU Intel Xeon E3 1240 v5
Motherboard ASRock Fatal1ty E3V5 Performance Gaming/OC
Chipset Intel C232
Memory 4x 8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR4-2400 CL15
Graphics AMD Radeon HD 5450, 1920x1200@60Hz
Software Windows 10 x64, version 1703
Linux kernel version 4.12, fio version 2.21
AnandTech Storage Bench - The Destroyer
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  • Cliff34 - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    It is almost for almost all your needs, budget or performance, better stick with Samsung's SSDs. Reply
  • Chaitanya - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    Sadly Adata has diarrhea when it comes to releasing SSDs. They drop too many SSDs on market too fast. Reply
  • chrnochime - Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - link

    You!= everyone under the sun. And no not everyone wants to be stuck with a freakin TLC SSD, as much as you'd like to believe. How hard can that be to grasp? Wait rhetorical question LOL Reply
  • Dr. Swag - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    Is ADATA out of their minds? This drive performs on the budget end of the spectrum yet they're pricing it above the 850 pro?!? Reply
  • jardows2 - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    Before I read the article, I thought I knew the conclusion - It will perform under Samsung products, and be priced a bit too high for the comparative performance. I guess I was highly optimistic about this drive! What is up with that price? Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    ADATA's pricing is truely perplexing. Maybe their market is "people who don't read SSD reviews", so they think they can write "premium" on the box and it justifies the price. Maybe they're pricing just so they can have it 50% off MSRP all the time. Regardless, I'd argue there isn't really such thing as a premium SATA SSD anymore because even budget NVMe drives throttle them.

    4x PCI-E 3.0 is 32Gbps, Fully 4 times the bandwidth of SATA 3. That's not a generational leap, it's a whole new ballgame, especially if you consider the reduction in overhead that comes with NVMe. SATA drives are now relegated to being upgrades for older desktops and notebooks, there is no "high-end" left.
    Reply
  • ddriver - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    sata 3 is 6 gbits, IIRC 6 * 4 is 24

    Also, 4 times faster drive doesn't make a system 4 times faster. It is true that before SSDs, storage was pretty much the bottleneck, but if you look at real world benchmarks, the difference between a SATA and a NVME SSD is a few percents in 99% of the cases.
    Reply
  • xeroshadow - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    I can attest to this. I went from an Intel 330 series to NVMe Samsung 960 and barely noticed any difference except in some launch speeds of certain programs. I was disappointed. Reply
  • Samus - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    It's like CPU's. Programs just haven't caught up to their capability yet. Other than mass data transfer (between SSD's no less) you are likely to see any real-world performance boost from NVMe over SATA3. Decompressing is the only area I personally benefit from NVMe; it unRAR's files much faster than a SATA3 drive.

    But gaming, general usage, and even content creation I don't notice a difference.
    Reply
  • saratoga4 - Monday, October 09, 2017 - link

    It's because while the transfer rate of high end NVMe drives is much higher, that really doesn't help you load a few dozen 10 MB files all that much faster. For lots of small to medium sized files, you need lower access latency, and NVME drives are little better than SATA, so until that improves the main place NVME will have an edge is copying files between NVME drives. Reply

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