Solid-state drives with a PCIe interface have become standard storage solutions for enthusiast-grade PCs these days. By contrast, gamers with budget constraints tend to buy SSDs featuring a SATA bus because of their lower price. To address such customers with something faster, SSD makers release new product families based on inexpensive controllers and NAND memory. Over the past few months, we have seen announcements of such drives from various makers, now it is Kingston’s turn to try its luck with inexpensive NVMe SSDs.

Kingston’s A1000 NVMe SSDs are based on the Phison PS5008-E8 controller (four NAND channels, LDPC, NVMe 1.2, PCIe 3.0 x2 interface, etc.) and 256 Gb BiCS 3D TLC NAND flash from Toshiba. The Kingston A1000 SSDs will come in 240 GB, 480 GB, and 960 GB configurations, thus targeting people looking forward more or less decent capacities. It is a little bit surprising not to see a 120 GB model in an entry-level SSD family, but skipping this capacity point has its rationale: Kingston avoids a race to the bottom by not competing against the cheapest SSDs with a SATA interface (something that preserves its profit margins and reserves NAND for more popular products).

Peak sequential performance of the Kingston A1000 drives is rated at up to 1500 MB/s for reads as well as at up to 1000 MB/s for writes, which is considerably higher when compared to SATA SSDs, but is substantially lower when compared to drives with a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface. As for random performance, Kingston specs the drives for up to 120K/100K read/write IOPS, which is a bit lower when compared to some competing offerings featuring the same controller and memory.

As for reliability and endurance, all the Kingston A1000 SSDs are rated for one million hours MTBF and come with a five-year warranty. The entry-level 240 GB model is rated for 150 TB TBW (to be written), whereas the 960 GB SKU is expected to handle 600 TB TBW, which equates to around 0.34 TB DWPD (drive writes per day) over five years, a rather high rating for an entry-level consumer SSD series (but naturally a bit below when compared to higher-end drives).

Kingston A1000 Specifications
Capacity 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB
Model Number SA1000M8/240G SA1000M8/480G SA1000M8/960G
Controller Phison PS5008-E8
NAND Flash Toshiba's 256 Gb 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC
Form-Factor, Interface M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x2, NVMe 1.3
Sequential Read 1500 MB/s 1500 MB/s 1500 MB/s
Sequential Write 800 MB/s 900 MB/s 1000 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 100K IOPS 100K IOPS 120K IOPS
Random Write IOPS 80K IOPS 90K IOPS 100K IOPS
Pseudo-SLC Caching Supported
DRAM Buffer Yes, capacity unknown
TCG Opal Encryption No
Power Management DevSleep, Slumber
Warranty 5 years
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
TBW 150 TB 300 TB 600 TB
Price $120 $218 $403

Kingston advertises its A1000-series SSDs as offering “twice the performance of SATA at near SATA pricing,” so their MSRPs are just as important as their performance characteristics. At present, the Kingston A1000 SSDs are only available directly from the company with a ~30% discount, but the manufacturer says that the drives will be available from leading retailers like Amazon and Newegg shortly. Right now, the A1000 240 GB is listed for $120, the 480 GB model costs $218, and the 960 GB SKU is priced at $403. A quick calculation shows that Kingston is selling its new drives at $0.41 - $0.5 per GB, which is not that high, but which is in line with prices of the speedier MLC-based Kingston KC1000-series. Meanwhile, there are faster 3D TLC-powered drives available at around $0.35 per GB, or even lower.

Since the A1000 is only beginning its life cycle, its price may be higher than it should be. The market tends to “fix” pricing of products over time.

Comparison of Kingston's NVMe SSDs
Capacity A1000 KC1000
240 GB 480 GB 960 GB 240 GB 480 GB 960 GB
Model Number SA1000M8/240G SA1000M8/480G SA1000M8/960G SKC1000/240G SKC1000/480G SKC1000/960G
Controller Phison PS5008-E8 Phison PS5007-E7
NAND Flash Toshiba's 256 Gb 64-layer BiCS3 3D TLC Toshiba's 128 Gb planar MLC
Form-Factor, Interface M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x2, NVMe 1.2 M.2-2280, PCIe 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.1
Sequential Read 1500 MB/s 2700 MB/s 2700 MB/s
Sequential Write 800 MB/s 900 MB/s 1000 MB/s 900 MB/s 1600 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 100K IOPS 120K IOPS 225K IOPS 290K IOPS
Random Write IOPS 80K IOPS 90K IOPS 100K IOPS 190K IOPS
Price $120 $218 $403 $120 $228 $420

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  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Friday, April 06, 2018 - link

    "gamers with budget constraints tend to buy SSDs featuring a SATA bus because of their lower price. To address such customers with something faster, SSD makers release new product families based on inexpensive controllers and NAND memory."
    --------------------------

    Is that statement based on IOPS, peak read/write speed or continuous (consistent) read/write speed

    Buying 850 Pros's when they were $120 @ Newegg gives the same price for 256GB drives

    IOPS are about the same

    But as for consistency and continuous read/write speed, how are these kingston drives better than an 850 Pro Sata drive?

    Peak performance and 1/2 the warranty doesn't seem like much of an improvement

    Do they exhibit less throttling than an 850 Pro when hot?

    Where exactly is the improvement over my "budget" SATA drive?
    Reply
  • WithoutWeakness - Friday, April 06, 2018 - link

    "Since the A1000 is only beginning its life cycle, its price may be higher than it should be. The market tends to “fix” pricing of products over time."

    Your answer is the last line of the article. It's brand new and overpriced and the price will drop in short order. Once reviews start to go up and we see how it compares to the competition the price will likely fall right in line with similar drives. Until we know whether it's better or worse than the 850 Pro and others don't even consider it an option.
    Reply
  • ಬುಲ್ವಿಂಕಲ್ ಜೆ ಮೂಸ್ - Friday, April 06, 2018 - link

    Good response

    Now lets look at the new 860 Pro SATA drive, keeping the following in mind.....

    It's brand new and overpriced and the price will drop in short order.

    I would expect to see the 256GB 860 Pro on sale for $80-$85 within one year of launch @ Newegg

    I would like to test speed consistency and throttling by filling the entire disk to get the average MB/sec write speed over time

    Then I would wipe the entire drive contents using Killdisk and comparing the wipe time to this Kingston drive

    Peak performance is not really relevant to me when both drives cost the same!

    If I wanted peak performance, I would use a disk cache
    Reply
  • Dragonstongue - Friday, April 06, 2018 - link

    I would expect lower pricing for a so called entry level SSD of any sort, does not seem by pricing alone to be all that much lower cost than others with similar if not superior specs.

    IMO if were say 480-500gb with read/write/iops
    1200/800...100k/80k for $165 USD it would be quite "fair" but anything above the $200 price point is not exactly entry level in my books because usually "entry level" means "budget priced" which this certainly is not, 240gb for ~$100 instead of $120, 480 for ~$170-$190 or something along these lines.

    the makers of these things for some reason seem to gouge/over price based on the speeds given even though latency and the average desktop usage does not seem to "give" the benefit over a good quality standard Sata based SSD (pci-e, NVME, M.2 etc etc) so what is one paying for, speed you never are likely to see and less resilient to throttling, seems wonky ^.^
    Reply
  • Einy0 - Friday, April 06, 2018 - link

    I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking why is the price on this so high. Reply
  • TheJian - Monday, April 09, 2018 - link

    $420? LOL. I can buy a 1TB MX500 for $246 today, $249 amazon/newegg etc etc. Uh, that's a far cry from $400 and it's a pretty fast drive per anandtech's review. I can almost buy TWO for $420. Reply

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