ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

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Solid State Drives are selling well in 2011, with a growing percentage of enthusiast users adopting one as a fast, primary boot drive. A few weeks ago we reviewed the OCZ Vertex 3 240GB drive, and today we will compare it against the ADATA S511 240GB, a hot new model set to offer the same stunning levels of performance, but at a slightly lower price point.

Performance levels are quoted at up to 525MB/s read and 500 MB/s write, which, like the Vertex 3 are staggeringly good. 4k random write performance is also rated at a very sexy 60,000 IOPS.

When compared to the last generation of drives, these are 90 percent faster on paper. As we said before, last year many had assumed that the SATA 6 Gbps interface had plenty of life left in it, but with these latest drives, the 600 MB/s limitations are already under question.

Product ADATA S511
Interface Sata III
Controller Sandforce 2281
Size 240GB
SSD Type Multi Level Cell
Trim Support Yes
Read speed (rated) 525MB/s
Write speed (rated) 500MB/s
MBTF 2 Million hours

The ADATA S511 we are reviewing today uses the SF-2281 controller which offers TCG OPAL security with 256bit AES encryption and an improved ECC engine (capable of correcting up to 55 bits per 512 byte sector).

All of the SandForce SF-2000 series controllers still utilise the patented DuraWrite technology, on the fly compression which reduces the size of the data written to the drive. When this is paired up with wear leveling and intelligent block management the drive will require fewer write cycles during regular use.

We have the first sample hot from the factory, so let us see how it performs.

ACC 01411 300x199 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

As our sample was just out of the production factory, we don’t have any retail packaging. ADATA did tell us that the retail package will contain backup and restoration software and a 3.5 drive bay mount.

ACC 01391 300x199 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

Using a very high powered flash (above) it is easier to see the anodised aluminum style finish to the drive chassis. It is opened by removing four small screws on the rear. Please be aware if you do this, you invalidate the warranty. We don’t really care, but if you buy one, you should.

ACC 01491 300x199 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)ACC 01551 300x199 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

The unit we are reviewing today is the 240GB model, although ADATA are releasing 120GB and 60GB versions as well. ADATA have placed a NAND partition of 16 ICs onto the PCB. Technically, new 25nm NAND FLASH memory has a reduced overall lifespan from 10,000 upwards to around 5,000 program/erase cycles. Industry insiders have hinted that consumer grade 25nm NAND flash memory will have a slightly lower lifespan, between 3,000 and 4,000 program/erase cycles.

While this sounds concerning, if you work out that under normal conditions only between 20-35 full SSD write cycles will be used each year, there is plenty of life in the product. Drive wearing protection also helps to ensure longer lasting flash memory. Thankfully, there is also full TRIM support.

As many already know Sandforce controllers use real time compression. The controllers store a ‘representation’ of your data, not the actual data itself which is achieved by creating a partition of the available NAND flash memory. It can handle around 63 MB/s from one of the eight available channels.

For testing, the drives are all wiped and reset to factory settings by HDDerase V4. We try to use free programs and some real world testing so you can compare our findings against your own system.

This is a good way to measure potential upgrade benefits.

CPU: Intel Core i7 2600k
Cooler: Thermaltake Frio OCK
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: ADATA DDR3 2000mhz 9-11-9-24
PSU: ADATA 1200W
Graphics: Sapphire HD6950 Flex Edition
Chassis: Thermaltake Level 10 GT
Operating System: Windows 7 64 bit Ultimate
Monitor: Dell U2410

Other Drives for comparisons:
Intel 510 120GB
Corsair F100 100GB
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB
Crucial Real SSD C300 64GB
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB

Software:
Atto Disk Benchmark
SiSoft Sandra
HD Tach
CrystalMark
AS-SSD Benchmark
IOMeter
PCMark Vantage
HD Tune
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call Of Pripyat

All our results were achieved by running each test five times with every configuration this ensures that any glitches are removed from the results. Trim is confirmed as running by typing fsutil behavior query disabledeletenotify into the command line. A response of disabledeletenotify =0 confirms TRIM is active.

Crystalmark is a useful benchmark to measure theoretical performance levels of hard drives and SSD’s. We are using V3.0 x64.

crystalmark main ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

crystalmarkadata2 300x271 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)crystalmarkvertex3 300x273 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

crystalmark compare ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

Performance is very close to the Vertex 3 drive, falling slightly behind with 4k QD32, but delivering slightly faster sequential and 512k write performance.

I have been using HDTach for many years now and always find it is an invaluable benchmark to ascertain potential levels of performance. HD Tach is a low level hardware benchmark for random access read/write storage devices such as hard drives, removable drives (ZIP/JAZZ), flash devices, and RAID arrays. HD Tach uses custom device drivers and other low level Windows interfaces to bypass as many layers of software as possible and get as close to the physical performance of the device possible.

hdtach3 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

hdtachadata 300x220 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)hdtachvertex3 300x220 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

HD Tach measures an average read speed of 377.3 MB/s via the ADATA S511 drive compared to 376.3MB/s from the OCZ Vertex 3 unit. Great results with this benchmark.

The ATTO Disk Benchmark performance measurement tool is compatible with Microsoft Windows. Measure your storage systems performance with various transfer sizes and test lengths for reads and writes. Several options are available to customize your performance measurement including queue depth, overlapped I/O and even a comparison mode with the option to run continuously. Use ATTO Disk Benchmark to test any manufacturers RAID controllers, storage controllers, host adapters, hard drives and SSD drives and notice that ATTO products will consistently provide the highest level of performance to your storage.

atto ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

atto diskadata1 235x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)atto diskvertex 234x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

atto compare ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

The ADATA S511 240GB scores slightly more than the OCZ Vertex 3 in this particular benchmark.

We use Futuremark’s PCMark Vantage in many of our system reviews and we felt that it was worth an inclusion in this review. It is still a synthetic suite, but it uses many real world characteristics to try and judge overall performance levels. We are using the 64 bit version of the HDD Suite for this testing. We also compare against a Samsung F1 1TB drive on this page.

A PCMark score is a measure of your computer’s performance across a variety of common tasks such as viewing and editing photos, video, music and other media, gaming, communications, productivity and security. From desktops and laptops to workstations and gaming rigs, by comparing your PCMark Vantage score with other similar systems you can find the hardware and software bottlenecks that stop you getting more from your PC.

pcmark vantage1 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

pcmarkadata 300x191 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)pcmarkvertex3 300x192 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

The ADATA and OCZ drives are closely matched in this benchmark, with our three highlighted results all favouring the ADATA drive. Other results in the images attached show the performance swinging a little in favour of the OCZ drive. Video editing and adding music to Windows Media Player both score better on the Vertex 3. This would indicate that both companies have tuned the drives in a slightly different way.

AS SSD is a great free tool designed just for benching Solid State Drives. It performs an array of sequential read and write tests, as well as random read and write tests with sequential access times over a portion of the drive. AS SSD includes a sub suite of benchmarks with various file pattern algorithms but this is difficult in trying to judge accurate performance figures.

as ssd ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

as ssdadata 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)as ssdvertex 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

Higher sequential performance for the OCZ Vertex 3 drive, with the ADATA reclaiming the lead when moving to the 4K-64 Thrd tests.

IOMeter is another open source synthetic benchmarking tool which is able to simulate the various loads placed on hard drive and solid state drive technology.

iometer ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

OCZ fell a little short of their claimed 4kb random/write performance of 60,000 IOPS and our results were a little lower than initially anticipated, at 58,345. ADATA have obviously tweaked the 240gb S511 drive however as it manages to score just over 60,000, which is a heck of an achievement.

SiSoft Sandra is a benchmark tool that we use fairly regularly, it is a good all round synthetic software suite. Today we are obviously concentrating on the drive sections to ascertain the S511 and Vertex 3 performance levels.

sandra tests2 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

physical discs adata 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)physical discs vertex 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

sandra fiile adata 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)sandra fiile vertex 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

The ADATA S511 drive scores slightly more than the OCZ Vertex 2 in SiSoft Sandra, although it is close.

It doesn’t matter how good any of the synthetic suites are, the real meat of the testing has to be under absolute real world conditions. This proves difficult as to record results we have to narrow down fluctuation. Therefore while we would say these are the most useful results to get from this review, there is always going to be a slight margin for error – its not absolutely scientific.

Firstly we installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit Edition onto each of the drives and performed a clean update from Microsoft with all patches and security fixes. We then install a basic suite of software, such as Office, Firefox and Adobe Design, then we install AVG free antivirus. We used a digital watch for this startup and repeated the test five times for each drive – once we had these five results we averaged the results and took that for the final figure.

windows 7 boot time ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

The sequential read time of the ADATA S511 and OCZ Vertex 3 is basically inseparable. We recorded start up times with the same system configuration and both drives scored 22 seconds. Class leading results.

stalker ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

STALKER is a demanding game, especially when waiting almost 40 seconds for it to load via a mechanical hard drive. Adata S511 and Vertex 3 record the fastest times, taking 3 seconds from the load time when compared against the Intel 510 drive. Class leading results, yet again.

The ADATA S511 240gb is an incredible performer, just as we would expect from a Sandforce 2281 powered drive. After testing the Vertex 3 several weeks ago, we had hoped the results would be close … we weren’t disappointed.

Both of these drives are twice the speed of the previous generation and in the world of technology, these kind of performance gains don’t happen often. Intel’s 510 SSD is a quick solid state product, but it does look almost crippled by comparison. Unlike many other drives on the market, the ADATA S511 and OCZ Vertex 3 are exceptionally well balanced, with no discernible weakness. Sequential performance is superb, but the 4kb results are in a class of their own.

Our synthetic tests show that both ADATA and OCZ have clearly applied their own secret brand of ‘tweaks’ behind the scenes. There are some minor differences in bandwidth performance which makes picking a clear winner almost impossible. Interestingly, while the OCZ Vertex 3 fell a little short of the claimed 60,000 IOPs throughput (scoring 58,345), the ADATA product scored 60,012. In our real world ‘everyday’ tests, both drives were inseparable.

Those of you with deeper pockets will assuredly end up with two of these in a RAID 0 configuration, ensuring almost instantaneous system responsiveness.

The ADATA S511 240gb is not yet available and has only launched today. We were fortunate to get the first device to test in Europe. ADATA say they will begin arriving into the UK by the end of the week.

We are promised several stores will stock this device including Amazon and YoYoTech. Expect pricing of around £410 on the 240GB model (Vertex 3 was £455 when released but has dropped to just under £430 in recent weeks). The 120G version of the drive should sell for around £210, which is slightly cheaper than the Vertex 3 at the same size (around £220). Interestingly the S511 will also have a 60G offering, unlike the Vertex 3. This will arrive a week or so later and we have no indication on price yet.

Pros:

  • slightly less expensive than the Vertex 3
  • class leading performance
  • IOPS results are better than Vertex 3

Cons:

  • none we can see, but many will opt for the less expensive 128GB or 60GB version.

Kitguru says: A strong challenger for the OCZ Vertex 3, and very closely matched.

MUST HAVE26 300x300 ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281)

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Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)
ADATA S511 240GB SSD Review (Sandforce 2281), 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
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  • Opensourceboy

    Excellent, these guys seem to be on the ball.

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  • Frank

    A 60gb version is coming? Count me in for a couple of those puppies

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  • xavier

    This controller is the future of ssd in the next year or two. Amazing speeds…

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  • Steven

    Price is good. How much will the 60gb version be?

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  • Techfreak

    Based on pricing of 240gb. I would say 60gb will be around 110 to 120 pounds

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  • Rothchild

    The 60GB appeals to me, ill probably get 4 for QUAD Raid 0 performance. Should only be around £500. much better than a single 240GB drive. Any chance of a test Zardon of this setup?

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  • k0rn

    ADATA seem to be bringing more cool stuff out lately. I dont often see them on stores I use however, which is concerning.

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  • Ned

    What are the warranty terms on their SSDs? in UK, and also how do we return them if they fail. to their HQ or to the dealer we bought from? I got burned on Patriot before. moer info would help

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  • Yannis

    Im still not convinced to just jump in with ADATA, but they are on my radar now, they weren’t a few months ago. This drive looks really good, I also like their tweaks on this drive, it looks like they put a lot of effort into the tuning

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  • Ben Harrington

    Very good drive, aggressive pricing too.

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  • Manny

    The 240gb is very nice, but its a hell of a lot of money for a drive. 120gb is more sensible, but I can see them selling a ton of 60gb units.

    erm.. why aren’t OCZ selling anything smaller than 120gb? whats up with that?

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  • Uriel

    very nice indeed, shame it cant be bought anywhere yet. 60GB might be a good boot option

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  • Peter T

    They certainly have the pricing right, never heard of the company however !

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