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Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB

Date: January 22, 2010
Author(s): Robert Tanner

Want to make the upgrade to a solid-state drive, but prefer to avoid the high cost of adoption? Kingston helps ease that pain with its SSDNow V Series 40GB, a modest drive that features Intel’s NAND and impressive G2 firmware, which helps it deliver stellar performance when compared to an HDD, for an easy-to-stomach price.



Introduction

Generally, when we think of ways to increase our computer’s performance, the first thing that naturally comes to mind is to upgrade the processor. Or, as a gamer, you may think to upgrade the graphics card first. But, regardless of your preferred order, increasing the system memory usually follows in a distant third. Beyond these options, though, what else can actually increase your computer’s performance?

We aren’t talking about usability, features, aesthetics, or even cooling, as none of these inherently will increase the speed and responsiveness of the desktop that is near your foot or on your desk. There just isn’t much else that jumps out as an obvious upgrade to increase actual system performance.

An often overlooked or not considered option is the hard drive. For the better part of the past decade, enthusiasts that wanted the absolute best performance from their machines would turn to Western Digital’s Raptor series of hard drives, which offer enterprise-level performance in a typical consumer hard drive. Shaving a few seconds off of level load times, the faster launching of applications, seeing faster file transfers and generally having a slightly zippier system were enough to justify the price premiums these drives demanded.

The only constant with technology is change, and skipping forward to today, Solid State Drives have already begun the process of displacing Western Digital’s exclusive Raptor offering as the only choice. The SSD market is only just beginning to mature, but already there are a myriad of fast SSDs that will trump any mechanical disk in performance, and in price.

Before we go further to take a look at the latest SSD model from Kingston, we would like to make a request of our readers. As technology changes, we strive to stay in sync, but as with all new technology, it poses its own challenges to properly review. To help us deliver the content you are looking for, please let us know what you liked, didn’t like, or wish to see in our future SSD content, by following the link to our forum discussion thread at the very end of the review!

Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB

SSDs can offer the ultimate in storage performance, but they also offer the ultimate in sticker shock. Therefore, Kingston has decided to break the trend and deliver some of the best performance at the lowest price with its new SSDNow V Series 40GB drives. To be honest, in the era of 2TB hard drives, 40GB is obviously not very much space, so it is easy to see how Kingston was able to bring down the price.

With only 40GB to work with (37.1GB useable), Kingston has chosen to position this drive as an entry-level upgrade to any mechanical hard drive-based system. The idea is the hard disk would be relegated to provide data storage, while optimally, the 40GB SSD would be just enough to house the operating system and programs. Data and programs that don’t require a blazingly fast hard drive can simply be relegated to the hard disk drive.

Before moving on, we need to clarify a few things about the SSDNow V series. Unfortunately, there are three very different kinds of drives that feature the “SSDNow V” moniker, and two of them are worth avoiding completely. The only SSDNow V series SSD guaranteed to use the Intel controller is the 40GB model. If that isn’t confusing enough, there are still M-series drives in the market using Intel’s first generation controllers and 50nm NAND flash under the SNM125 model. The second generation M-series controllers with 34nm flash have the SNM225 model name. If the marketing department’s goal was to sell less attractive models by confusion, I’m sure it has worked, so we have assembled a quick reference table here to sort everything out.

Series
Model
Class
Controller
Density (GBs)
Price
SSDNow E
SNE125
Enterprise
Intel (Gen 1)
32, 64
~$380+
SSDNow M
SNM125
Mainstream
Intel (Gen 1)
80, 160
SSDNow M
SNM225
Mainstream
Intel (Gen 2)
80, 160
~$245+
SSDNow V+
SNV225
Value+
Samsung
128, 256
~$350+
SSDNow V
SNV125
Value
JMicron
64, 128
~$149+
SSDNow V
SNV125
Value
Intel
40
~$130

The Kingston drive in this review is an interesting one. Unlike any other entry-level SSD currently available, the controller found in the Kingston SSDNow V 40GB is Intel’s second generation SSD controller. More specifically, the same one found in Intel’s own G2 SSDs! Knowing this, we can already expect reasonably good, completely stutter-free performance of this drive. Intel’s advertised low 1.1 write amplification and wear leveling algorithm are amongst the best, ensuring that this SSD should last a respectable amount of time before the NAND memory begins to wear out.

Just about all solid-state drives offer spare area that is used to maintain performance and wear leveling operations as the SSD fills up, and the 40GB SSDNow V Series is no different. So in effect, while the formatted capacity of the drive is only 37.1GB, that remaining 2.9GB does still exist and is used by the drive for this purpose. If any of these terms need more explanation or you would like to see a primer article on SSDs and how they function, please let us know! We’d love to ‘gage’ interest on that one.

Drive Internals; Test System & Methodology

The SSDNow’s housing is aluminum, not plastic, which gives the unit a nice solid feel. As with most other SSDs, the form factor is the same 2.5″ we’ve come to expect, requiring an adapter before it can be securely installed into a typical drive bay, which Kingston thoughtfully provides as part of their “desktop upgrade kit”. “S2BD” drives include the upgrade kit, while “S2” models are just the bare drives. You can expect a ~$15 premium for these kits, which also includes Acronis’ excellent drive backup and cloning software.

Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB - Internals

Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB - Internals

Inside, there are five Intel-branded NAND flash chips. These are the older 8GB 50nm flash chips, and as the capacity suggests, exactly half of what could be installed, are installed. In effect, this drive is otherwise the same as Intel’s 80GB first generation, except that it does feature the revised Intel controller from the second generation. This is important as it means we can expect Intel’s typical levels of performance, albeit diminished given half of the default 10 flash channels are not present. It also means that if Intel had wanted, this drive could support TRIM later on, but as it appears, that’s not going to happen, as it prefers to keep TRIM exclusive to its own 40GB SSDs.

Test System & Methodology

At Techgage, we strive to make sure our results are as accurate as possible. Our testing is rigorous and time-consuming, but we feel the effort is worth it. In an attempt to leave no question unanswered, this page contains not only our testbed specifications, but also a fully-detailed look at how we conduct our testing.

If there is a bit of information that we’ve omitted, or you wish to offer thoughts or suggest changes, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post in our forums.

The table below lists the hardware used in our current storage-testing machine, which remains unchanged throughout all of our testing, with the obvious exception of the storage device. Each drive used for the sake of comparison is also listed here.

Component
Techgage Hard Drive Test System
Processor
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 – 2.4GHz Quad-Core
Motherboard
Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS4
Memory
4GB Corsair 800MHz CAS 4
Graphics
Foxconn 8800 GTS 320MB
Audio
On-Board Audio
Storage
Intel X25-M G1 80GB
Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB
OCZ Summit 60GB
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB
Power Supply
PC Power & Cooling Quad Silencer 750W
Cooling
Arctic Freezer 7 Pro
Et cetera
Lite-on DVD-RW
Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

When preparing our testbeds for any type of performance testing, we follow these guidelines:

For consistency all power-saving options are disabled in the system BIOS, and for best SSD performance, AHCI is enabled. For Windows 7 the UAC control, windows update, and power saving features are also disabled.



Our Windows 7 Desktop for SSD Testing

To aide with the goal of keeping accurate and repeatable results, we alter certain services in Windows 7 from starting up at boot. This is due to the fact that these services have the tendency to start up in the background without notice, potentially causing slightly inaccurate results. Disabling “Windows Search” turns off the OS’ indexing which can at times utilize the hard drive and memory more than we’d like.

Solid-State Drive Benchmarking

As we are using SSDs, we made sure all drives were in a dirtied state before we began testing. We recognize that TRIM support completely does away with the need to “dirty” a sold-state drive, but not all SSDs yet support this feature. Cloned test images were not used as these can result in non-aligned partitions, and the process of installing the OS will only further help dirty a SSD in addition to mirroring what the typical user can expect to receive from the drive. For obvious reasons, only the sole HDD in this review was defragmented prior to testing.

For testing, we ran all tests five times, dropping the highest and lowest results to finally average the middle three. And who said that college statistics class wouldn’t prove useful? If any anomalous results were seen, the test was run again. Given the complexities of modern computers, and especially today’s operating systems, we feel this provides the most accurate results possible.

As a result we at Techgage are going to stay current with the trends in technology and will be expanding our storage coverage to include solid-state drives, such as this one. This poses a challenge as benchmarking storage is not as straightforward as benchmarking a CPU or GPU, and SSDs make it even more difficult. The fact is there simply is no way to benchmark the snappy, responsive feel a good quality SSD will give a computer, or that overall positive user experience it should bring.

If you have any benchmarks or scenarios that are storage-dependant (that is to say bottlenecked by the hard drive) and would like to see those tested, please drop by our forums and let us know! We are always looking to expand our SSD benchmarks and provide more useful and real-world results, and not just synthetic results.

Synthetic: PCMark Vantage

There are few PC enthusiasts who are unfamiliar with the name “Futuremark”, as the Finland-based developer has been producing quality benchmarks to help us gauge our computer’s worth for years. Originally known as Madonion, Futuremark has expanded its focus to go beyond its bread and butter, graphics and gaming, and tackle other areas, such as full system performance. That’s where PCMark comes into play.

The company’s most recent addition to the PCMark family is Vantage. For most users, a full suite would be run, but because we’re focused on storage performance only, we instead run only the storage-specific tests. Fortunately, Futuremark makes this easy for us to do as it has split up the entire suite into seven separate sub-tests, one being the aptly named “HDD Suite”.

PCMark’s HDD Suite may look simple on the surface, but it’s actually quite exhaustive. While the benchmark does deliver a simple “overall” result, it actually tests I/O performance based on a variety of scenarios, from adding music to Windows Media Player, to loading applications in succession, to editing video, to running a malware scanner, and more. It even includes metrics to evaluate a simulated Windows Vista boot time, so Futuremark has done a fine job of combining many useful scenarios into a single button press.

We have included the overall PCMark Vantage score in the results above, as interestingly enough, the choice of storage medium does have an effect on some of the other non-HDD Suite tests. For example, the memory assessment features is one test where several large images are loaded into the RAM for editing. This combines with the high storage assessment results to raise the final score even higher.

All three SSDs finish close together, leaving the HDD in a distant fourth. Unfortunately, this is a foreshadowing for what we can expect from the outmatched hard disk drive.

The Summit’s great sequential write performance helps counter the second generation Intel controller’s excellent random read performance and keeps the two drives fairly close in the overall HDD score. As a brief note, it is a little unusual that the X25-M results were a bit on the low side. Even so, the results were consistent, even after a complete re-installation of the OS.

The Kingston again excels in random small read and write situations, allowing it to place constantly at or near the top of the charts and even exceeding the performance of its older sibling.

About the only thing we waited to mention was the HDD’s performance. It consistently placed a distant last in every test, save the Windows Media Player test. Results like these makes one almost wonder how people could get along with just an average consumer disk drive! Okay, we kid, but still it is clear to see that any program which involves any sort of random operations involving lots of seeking across the disk surface will make for one of the worst case scenarios for the traditional hard disk.

Synthetic: Iometer & AS SSD

Iometer 2006.07.27

Originally developed by Intel, and since given to the open-source community, Iometer (pronounced “eyeawmeter”, like thermometer) is one of the best storage-testing applications available, for a couple of reasons. The first, and primary, is that it’s completely customizable, and if you have a specific workload you need to hit a drive with, you can easily accomplish it here. Also, the program delivers results in IOPS (input/output operations per second), a common metric used in enterprise and server environments.

The level of customization cannot be understated. Aside from choosing the obvious figures, like chunk sizes, you can choose the percentage of the time that each respective chunk size will be used in a given test. You can also alter the percentages for read and write, and also how often either the reads or writes will be random (as opposed to sequential). I’m just touching the surface here, but what’s most important is that we’re able to deliver a consistent test on all of our drives, which increases the accuracy in our results.

Because of the level of control Iometer offers, we’ve created profiles for three of the most popular workloads out there: Database, File Server and Workstation. Database uses chunk sizes of 8KB, with 67% read, along with 100% random coverage. File Server is the more robust of the group, as it features chunk sizes ranging from 512B to 64KB, in varying levels of access, but again with 100% random coverage. Lastly, Workstation focuses on 8KB chunks with 80% read and 80% random coverage.

Because these profiles aren’t easily found on the Web, with the same being said about the exact structure of each, we’re hosting the software here for those who want to benchmark their own drives with the exact same profiles we use. That ZIP archive (~3.5MB) includes the application and the three profiles in an .icf file.

Ironically, despite Iometer being created before SSDs even were around, the nature of these tests are going to inherently favor sold-state drives due to their rapid, near instantaneous access times. Scenarios such as these are pretty much the bane of hard drives and illustrate why 15,000RPM SCSI drives exist. The large number of tiny, mostly random read and random write file operations will also be the anathema of any SSD controller that was designed primarily for large sequential read & write performance. Unfortunately the Summit happens to use one of those very controllers, although in its defense this is because Samsung chose to optimize their controllers for large sequential writes.

AS SSD

Intel’s second-gen SSD controllers are currently the best available for handling numerous random 4KB file operations, and despite losing half of the flash channels with half the capacity the Kingston drive has no trouble staying just ahead of its predecessor in the X25-M Gen 1.

Synthetic: SYSmark 2007 Preview

Synthetic benchmarks have typically been favored for performance testing, but the results they provide can be fairly abstract, and the methods they use to assign their scores can be dubious at times. By contrast, real-world application benchmarks provide performance metrics that apply directly to real-world usage, and we endeavor to apply both in our performance comparisons.

SYSmark 2007 Preview from BAPCO is a special case, because its synthetic scores are derived from tests in real-world applications. However, we still believe that synthetic benchmarking scores are best used to directly compare the performance of one piece of hardware to another, and not for developing an impression of real-world performance expectations. SYSmark is more useful than most synthetic benchmarking programs in our opinion, because its tests emulate tasks that people actually perform, in actual software programs that they are likely to use.

The benchmark is hands-free, using scripts to execute all of the real-world scenarios identically, such as video editing in Sony Vegas and image manipulation in Adobe Photoshop. At the conclusion of the suite of tests, five scores are delivered: an E-learning score, a Video Creation score, a Productivity score, and a 3D Performance score, as well as an aggregated ‘Overall’ score. These scores can still be fairly abstract, and are most useful for direct comparisons between test systems.

A quick note on methodology: SYSmark 2007 requires a clean install of Windows 7 64-bit to run optimally. Before any testing is conducted, the hard drive is first wiped clean, and then a fresh Windows installation is conducted, then lastly, the necessary hardware drivers are installed.

SYSmark emphasizes overall system performance with four specific tasks, not any single part of the computer itself. Only differences of 3 or more in the scores are to be considered meaningful, which means the X25-M only just edges out the other SSDs here. For the individual tests all the SSDs score similarly again leaving the single hard disk in this test trailing by a significant margin.

Synthetic: HD Tune Pro 3.5, HD Tach RW3

HD Tune Pro 3.5

HD Tune has long been one of our favorite storage benchmarks, thanks in part to its ease-of-use, and its ability to deliver consistent results (which is obviously important). Since we are using HD Tune on storage devices that also house our OS, we’re unable to test the write performance, so here, we stick to both Read and Access Times.

While the results seem less-than-stellar, in comparison to the mechanical disk, all the solid-state drives faired particularly well in HD Tune’s brutal file size tests.

One common misconception is that access times are universal, and regardless of the type of storage medium in question, this is simply not true. The smaller the file size, generally the lower the raw MB/s performance. SSDs advantage in access times and lack of having to wait on the alignment of various mechanical parts means they tend to excel in small file operations, as the incredibly low access times illustrate here. The HDD only manages 13ms, at best which is fairly typical for a standard disk drive, and based upon previous storage reviews, the the Western Digital VelociRaptor would have scored 7ms here.

HD Tach RW/3

HD Tach is a similar program to HD Tune, and although it hasn’t been updated in a few years, the program is still decent for testing SSDs. It offers a different method for calculating burst rates as well as offering access time measurements below 0.1ms, which is unfortunately the limit for HD Tune.

Even despite the older or budget nature of these SSDs, burst transfer rates still hit the theoretical max for SATA 3Gbit/s, with read speeds not much further behind.

Real-World: File Transfers, Batch Run, Adobe Lightroom

File Transfers

For this test, we took a disc image and timed how long it would take to transfer to a second partition on the same drive. Keep in mind with a hard disk, this requires the actuator arm to seek back and forth between the source and destination sectors of the disk platter, while any SSD can instantly read and write to multiple flash chips.

The Summit’s Samsung controller is optimized for sequential write scenarios so it easily takes the cake here. While the Kingston offers a more advanced version of the controller found in the G1, only having 5 of the original 10 flash channels ensures it has to settle for third in this one.

Batch Run

For this test, we created three batch files to simulate three kinds of multitasking scenarios. One of the best cases for an SSD is multitasking where multiple concurrent drive operations are in progress. With a traditional HDD, any storage-related operations would quickly slow to a crawl, but with a SSD it requires significantly more punishment before drive operations become affected. Even then a good quality SSD should allow the system to remain responsive as the tasks are carried out in the background.

Our Medium test consists of the following:

The Heavy test consists of all-the-above in addition to a concurrent anti-virus scan on a static 5GB folder. This folder was constructed by copying many Program Files directories, which are typically full of a multitude of small files. There is nothing quite like an anti-virus scan to bring a computer or your FPS to a sudden crawl, although that is not necessarily true with an SSD.

Granted, no normal user would be performing quite all of these tasks all at once unless they wish to see their computer break down and cry for mercy, but frequently we find that several of these programs or operations are open or ongoing at any one time. Whether editing a financial report while listening to music with the browser opened on the side, or creating archives while transferring files across the home network, or working in Photoshop with many small programs operating in the background, multitasking is fairly commonplace. The results show which drives are able to best to cope with severe workloads and are able to complete them the quickest.

Last but not least, the Light test consists of a batch file that will open four websites in Firefox, load five images in Photoshop, start playing our favorite FLAC music file in Winamp, and open a single Word, Excel, and Powerpoint document, in addition to a single PDF file. This batch file is placed in Window’s Startup folder, and all these programs are loaded when Windows starts. For this test in particular, we start measuring from the moment the power button is pressed until the moment the last program has finished loading.

In the Light scenario, all of the SSDs are able to boot to Windows 7 and load all the required programs in just a little over a minute. The sole HDD takes a little over two-and-a-half minutes to do the same, or about twice the length of time!

For the Medium scenario, we begin to see a bit more separation between the individual SSDs as each controller’s optimizations come into play. The X25-M leads with an average time of 7:27, followed by the Summit at 8:33, and the Kingston with 9:11. The unfortunate hard disk drive eventually finishes with 13:53, which is almost twice as long as the X25-M!

We need to mention that due to capacity constraints, there was not sufficient room to copy the 7.16GB file on the Kingston for the batch testing. Instead we copied file a third in size three times in quick succession to simulate the 7.16GB file. While not perfect, it enables us to still provide reasonably comparable results.

For those readers that still use anti-virus scanners (and especially those that do not), the heavy test performs the exact same medium scenario, but adds an anti-virus scan of a sample, static 5GB Program Files directory. For the SSDs this only adds between 2-3 minutes to the final time… but for the hard drive, this last act is to much. The HDD managed an impressively large time of nearly 24 minutes versus the 6-8 minutes required for the solid-state drives!

We should add that the hard disk drive would frequently balk and refuse to open random files as it became overwhelmed; it simply could not keep up with such a high workload queue, not to mention the computer became nearly unusable until most of the tasks had completed. Also, while the SSDs did slow down, unlike with the HDD the system remained responsive and work could still be done.

What to take away from this is even with the most brutal of scenarios it is the SSDs that are best suited and quite capable of handling any sort of workload you wish to throw at them. Or simply every type of workload at once, it is up to you. It isn’t drive throughput that matters as much as small, random read/write throughput which is a completely different animal. And, with an SSD installed, there is no longer any excuse for not having an anti-virus program installed. ;-)

Adobe Lightroom 2.5

For this test, we take 500 large RAW picture files, and import them into a brand-new Lightroom library. We time how long it takes the program to cache and import the files.

Somewhat unusual is that the Summit fares the same as the HDD here, while Intel controllers seem to be able to handle this kind of workload much better. While only having half of the flash channels available to the G1, the Kingston’s G2 controller seems more than able to make up for the difference keeping it just a second ahead of the X25. If Adobe Lightroom had been optimized to utilize more than just two CPU cores during the loading process, the results would have been even better.

Real-World: Windows Experience, Boot Times, Game Level Loading

Windows Experience

This is a test that any Windows 7 user can perform on their own system without needing to download anything. For those curious, Vista should allow the same, but we can’t guarantee the results will be directly comparable due to changes made in the WinSAT program. To run the program, hit the Windows Key + R at the same time, and type cmd into the run box. In the command prompt window type (or right-click and paste) the following without quotes: “cd c:windowssystem32” and hit enter. Once there input, again without quotes: “winsat disk -drive c -ran -write -count 10” and enter again.

This command runs a small portion of the Windows Experience Index’s drive assessment, specifically it uses small random writes and calculates how fast in MB/s the drive can sustain it. As we mentioned before with the HD Tune results, regardless of what drive is in question, its actual performance depends on what file size is being referred to. The smaller the file size generally the lower the performance for a hard disk drive, so again the small random file writes will be brutal.

Boot Time

For the boot test, we perform a cold boot, with the stopwatch starting the moment the power button is pressed until the last systray icon has finished loading. A large number of factors can change how fast a computer boots, from motherboard to just the BIOS configuration, so these times should not be used as an expectation of how fast the SSD will boot in your respective system. With some newer motherboards condensing the time taken in the boot process, boot times could reach significantly lower than these.

The Intel controller was heavily optimized for Windows startup, and those optimizations and quicker random small file reads/writes allows both drives to lead the Summit and cut as much as 18 seconds off the boot time versus the hard disk.

Game Level Loading

Crysis is still infamous for how well it could stress the entire PC, and although Crysis Warhead was a significant improvement and more optimized than it’s predecessor, it still makes for one of the better gaming benchmarks to use. For this test, we timed how long it took to load the first level, Ambush. We also figured we would use the newer Left 4 Dead 2 game, for its slightly longer-than-average load times. Here, we timed how long it took to load the final chapter in the Hard Rain campaign.

The results are fairly self-explanatory, but just to say it, level load times is one of those scenarios perfectly suited for an SSD. The best SSD was almost able to decrease the load times by half for each game, and keep in mind, this is the older first generation X25-M here.

Final Thoughts

The hard disk drive has always been a stalwart, if not a not-so-silent workhose. As long as it gets the job done, works, and gives us a reasonable assurance that our data isn’t going to vanish into digital oblivion anytime soon, it just isn’t thought about by most users as something worthwhile to upgrade.

Switching to performance RAID brings about its own set of complications, and does not solve the underlying issue that a 14ms drive + 14ms drive in RAID 0 still equals a 14ms access delay. Because data is striped across both disks, each drive must seek alternate chunks of the same files, and while having two (or more) drives reading the file concurrently increases overall throughput, it will not in fact decrease access latencies. When dealing with numerous small file reads and writes, RAID will still suffer from the inherent shortcomings of disk technology.

The simple fact is, flash technology is more than a full order-of-magnitude faster than disk drives in terms of access delay… it’s more like two. There is no penalty before a SSD can read or write data. As SSDs are only just beginning to hit the mainstream, it will be a few years before the wear and typical lifespan of SSDs becomes known, but so far it does not seem to be a major risk. HDDs that are over three years of age are generally considered a liability, as oddly not even all hard disk drives last 3 years. Perhaps here we should mention Kingston warranties this drive for a full 3 years.

This review is about the Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB SSD, specifically the “Desktop Upgrade Kit” variant that includes everything needed to plug in the SSD and go. So with that in mind we’ll quit with the SSD background and focus on just this drive’s performance.

The 40GB SSDNow V series is intended for first-time SSD buyers to replace a standard hard disk, but even compared against other SSDs, the Kingston drive performs admirably well, consistently placing at or near the top. Against the average disk-based drive, it is a clean sweep, besting the HDD in every single test we could think up, and honestly often by a very wide margin.

The “V” stands for value, and while $130 for 40GB hardly seems like a value, it honestly is with today’s SSD prices. For those that can afford it, buying a larger capacity SSD can drop the $3.25 / GB ratio down to almost $2.15 / GB and we would recommend going that route, but for everyone else that wants an admittedly large slice of SSD performance (or the whole SSD pie) would find themselves quite full with this drive. The performance ranks up with the best SSD available within our review and for now the price is about as low as it gets for a good quality SSD.

Kingston SSDNow V Series 40GB

So the final important question we have to answer is, is 40GB enough space? A full Windows 7 64-bit install (on our test machine) used 14.1GB of space. The “formatted” capacity of the Kingston is 37.1GB, which means there is 2.9GB additional space available for performance and wear leveling functions. That leaves an admittedly whopping 23GB of space for programs, but that should provide just enough for the average consumer as long as all data and file storage is kept to a secondary drive. For performance (and capacity) reasons, we recommend only using Windows 7 with this drive. (The equivalent Vista install required roughly an extra 6GB of space over Windows 7).

One trick available to Windows 7 users that becomes extremely useful here is that Windows 7 makes it easy to “store” the contents of a folder elsewhere without actually physically moving the folder. Start by navigating to the C:UsersYOURUSERNAME directory. It will work with any system folder in this directory, so for example right-click “My Documents”, click “Properties”, then click the “Location” tab. This displays the path the actual files are stored in, but by clicking the “Move” button, any folder on any other drive can be selected. This preserves the folder itself so it behaves like normal without changing anything, but any files placed inside the folder are physically stored in the new location.

Let’s be clear. Solid-state drives won’t make the CPU calculate faster and they won’t make the FPS on your favorite game increase (unless you typically run AV scans in the background in which case they just might), but what they can do is make everything load faster. And they are the best-suited for multiple concurrent storage operations, heavy multi-tasking, or any possible scenario that becomes bottlenecked by the hard drive. If you are looking to buy the most affordable SSD without sacrificing performance or reliability, and 40GB of space is sufficient for your needs, then we can easily recommend the Kingston 40GB SSDNow V SSD as a worthy upgrade to any mechanical drive. Just make sure you get the 40GB version that has the Intel controller if you do!

Editor’s Note: After this article was written, we learned from Kingston that this 40GB model has been discontinued, though it remains available at e-tailers until supplies are diminished. The reason for the discontinuation is that Intel opted to not allow Kingston use of the updated firmware that would enable TRIM. Instead, Intel’s own 40GB SSD (which costs the same as Kingston’s) does include TRIM support. Therefore, we quicker recommend Intel’s drive over Kingston’s, as TRIM is a super-sweet feature to have. Kingston will be releasing a 30GB SSD to replace this one next month, which will feature a Toshiba controller with Toshiba NAND, and also include TRIM support. The pricing will be $99.99, though there will be a special offer to get it for $79.99 after mail-in-rebate. We’re not sure how long this special deal is supposed to last, however.

Benchmarking storage without resorting to a slew of synthetic test regimens is not easy! If you have any suggestions or real-world scenarios that tend to brutalize your hard drive, or if you are wondering if a SSD might help with the type of workload you usually work with, then please drop by our forums and let us know! We are always looking for feedback and to better expand our content to be as comprehensive and real-world as possible.

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