Differentiating your product from other manufacturers' efforts is one of the toughest tasks for SSD partners, and none more so than those who opt for a SandForce drive controller. As many partners would love us to stop reminding you, all current-generation SandForce drives are inherently similar, with the same SF2281 drive controller at the heart of the drive. Any performance differences are down to the NAND flash memory used, with three varieties available: 25nm asynchronous, used in cheaper SandForce drives such as the OCZ Agility, 25nm synchronous used in standard SandForce drives such as the OCZ Vertex 3, and 32nm synchronous used in premium versions such as the Patriot Wildfire.
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It’s the 25nm synchronous sweet spot that Kingston has paired with the SandForce drive controller for its Kingston HyperX 240GB SSD, with 16 16GB NAND chips arranged on both sides of the PCB. With SandForce’s more aggressive overprovision to assist with the drive’s compression technology and assist long term reliability, this means a formatted capacity of 223.57GB, although there’s also a 120GB (111.79GB formatted capacity) version available.
SSDs based on SandForce controllers still claim the fastest peak speeds of any drive, and the HyperX is no exception, boasting sequential read speeds of 525MB/sec and write speeds of 480MB/sec. However, if you’ve been keeping up to speed on all things SSD (as all good techies should), you’ll know that SandForce drives can only deliver these speeds when handling easily compressible data, with write speeds in particular dropping off when handling incompressible data such as HD video or game installers. This is due to the drive’s reliance on SandForce’s DuraWrite technology, which performs on-the-fly data compression. In short, the drive will perform differently depending on the data you throw at it, although we’ve found read speeds to be pleasingly stable, regardless of data load.
Despite having similar insides to the competition, the HyperX hopes to tempt you with a raft of extras. Kingston really has gone to town with the included bundle, which includes a matching 2.5in-to-3.5in drive bay adapter, an external 2.5in-to-USB 2 caddy, SATA and micro-USB cables and even a fancy magnetic multi-point screw driver for putting it all together. The drive itself also looks a lot more ostentatious than its black-box-with-a-sticker-on competitors; the HyperX is done up in fancy blue and brushed metal and would certainly look eye-catching in your case. On top of this is a three-year warranty and 24/7 tech support should you need it.
Click to enlarge - The Kingston Hyper X 240GB boasts an impressive bundle of extras
All these extras come at a price though, and at £365 for the bundled-up version the HyperX is significantly more expensive than bare-bone 240GB SandForce drives, which sell for significantly less. Kingston itself sells such a version of the drive for £320, so you’ll really need to ask whether those extras are worth the £45 asking price; our inkling is probably not, although bizarrely American customers can pick up the HyperX's fancy bundle for the same price as a standalone drive.