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SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)

SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)

Manufacturer: SK Hynix
UK price (as reviewed):
£67.98 (inc VAT)
US price (as reviewed): Currently unavailable

Over the last few months, SSD prices have continued to fall steadily as NAND manufacturing processes mature and die density grows. Of course, the talk of the town in SSD world is PCI-E storage, especially so with the recent launch of Skylake and the Z170 chipset with its 20 native PCI-E 3.0 lanes. However, PCI-E storage is reserved for the premium end of the market and trusty 2.5in SATA SSDs aren't going anywhere yet. Cost per GB is the overriding factor for most enthusiasts and the mainstream crowd and, at £68, this entry from SK Hynix retails for less than 30p per formatted GB. With costs so low, there's little reason for anyone not to include at least one SSD in any new build today, even when budgets are tight.

*SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB) SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)
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The Canvas SC300 is SK Hynix's second consumer SSD offering after the SH910A. Like that drive, it's offered in mSATA and M.2 flavours (up to 256GB) as well as the regular, 2.5in form factor (up to 512GB) – all versions use the SATA 6Gbps interface. It's the latter we're dealing with today, and arguably in the most popular capacity; 256GB gives you plenty of room for an OS and numerous games but is attractively priced at under £70. Aesthetically, it's a basic but smart-looking drive with an aluminium shell, printed logo and red trim.

SK Hynix Canvas SC300128GB256GB512GB
Max Sequential Read530MB/sec530MB/sec530MB/sec
Max Sequential Write200MB/sec380MB/sec470MB/sec
Max Random Read (4K QD32)85,000 IOPS95,000 IOPS95,000 IOPS
Max Random Write (4K QD32)50,000 IOPS85,000 IOPS85,000 IOPS

As the table shows, the SC300 isn't looking to break records where speed is concerned. The 128GB model is a little limited by its lower capacity (less saturation of controller channels) as the 200MB/sec sequential write speed indicates, but the 256GB and 512GB offer respectable transfer rates for a mainstream SSD.

Advanced features like power loss protection and Opal 2.0 encryption aren't found either, but you do get support for AES 256-bit encryption as well as DEVSLP, making the SC300 suitable for mobile use.

*SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB) SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)
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SK Hynix's last SSD, the SH910A, used a controller that had also been used in drives as old as the Corsair Neutron GTX from 2012. Thankfully, it has now been upgraded from the LM87800AA to the LM87810AA, or the Pearl controller, as the company refers to it. Naturally, it is manufactured in-house by Link_A_Media (acquired by Hynix in 2012). With Hynix of course producing the NAND and DRAM as well, it's potentially in a strong position going forward with SSDs. After all, keeping everything in-house is precisely what has given Samsung such an enviable place in the market.

*SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB) SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)
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The Pearl controller is an eight-channel, SATA 6Gbps model with Toggle 2.0 support. It can be used with MLC NAND, as here, but also TLC and 3D NAND, indicating a degree of future proofing. It sports dual ARM Cortex R4 cores running at 333MHz. It can also support up to 16 dies per channel, or put another way up to 2TB of NAND (using 128Gb dies). In fact, a publicly available databook (PDF warning) from Hynix shows the company is planning to release 1.6TB and 2TB 2.5in SSDs in Q4 this year. This reveals that its NAND packaging process must be rather advanced and mature – reaching this capacity will mean squeezing 16 128Gb dies onto each of the eight NAND packages. Interestingly, the Pearl controller is also listed as supporting the TGC Opal 2.0 encryption standard; apparently Hynix just decided to leave this functionality disabled here.

*SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB) SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Review (256GB)
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Our 256GB model has a single-sided PCB featuring the new controller, a single LPDDR2 DRAM cache and four NAND packages, each containing four of Hynix's latest 128Gb 16nm MLC NAND dies. This means there are two dies assigned to each controller channel; not quite enough to saturate them, which is why the 512GB model is faster still on sequential writes.

SK Hynix Canvas SC300 Specs128GB256GB512GB
InterfaceSATA 6Gbps
Formatted capacity119.24GiB238.47GiB476.94GiB
ControllerLink_A_Media LM87810AA (Pearl)
NAND dies128Gbit SK Hynix 16nm MLC
NAND packages4 x 32GiB4 x 64GiB8 x 64GiB
DRAMSK Hynix LPDDR2
Endurance72 TBW
WarrantyFive years

Hynix offers a generous warranty: five years or 72 terabytes written, whichever comes first. The 72 TBW rating is enough for a workload of around 40GB/day for five years; more than enough for home users and most enthusiasts.

Finally, while basic data migration and firmware update tools are offered online, Hynix does not (yet?) have a universal SSD monitoring and management software solution to compete with the likes of OCZ's SSD Guru or Samsung's Magician packages, for example.