Adata S596 Turbo SSD £115

20th Oct 2010 | 09:23

Adata S596 Turbo SSD

A solid SSD with a great new twist

TechRadar rating:

4 stars

Like:

Great all-round specification, including USB port; Strong application performance;

Dislike:

Some anomalies in synthetic tests
; Long term performance an unknown;

ADATA S596 Turbo review: Overview

Being an early adopter of new technology can mean getting your fingers burned. So it was for the buyers of early solid state drives (SSDs) based on JMicron flash memory controllers. Their digits were scalded to the third degree.

The problem was stuttery, laggy drive performance. But that was then. The now is a brand new controller from JMicron and a glimmer of hope that the brand might just be resurrected in the eyes of performance enthusiasts.

Our first taste of the JMicron JMF616 comes in the form of the new ADATA S596 Turbo, a 128GB 2.5-inch SSD. It not only has that new controller going for it, but also the relative novelty of a built-in USB port. In other words, you can use this SSD as an external USB drive without the need for an enclosure.

Elsewhere, the ADATA S596 Turbo clocks in with pretty competitive specifications, including official read and write maximums of 260Mbps and 210Mbps respectively, and support for the all-important Windows 7 TRIM command.

ADATA S596 Turbo review: benchmarks


SSD benchmarking is packed with peril. For starters, maintaining a level playing field is extremely tricky, what with drives tending to degrade with use and motherboards coming and going. With that in mind, our benchmarks should be treated as a rough guide rather than a gold standard. Put another way, mileages with SSDs vary significantly. Nevertheless, the new JMicron controller is clearly much more competitive and makes for an interesting alternative to the default SandForce-powered SSDs, including Corsair's Force F100.

Size
Formatted capacity: Bytes, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 119GB
Intel X25-M 160GB – 149GB
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 93GB

Synthetic drive performance
ATTO Sequential read: MBs/second, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 241MB/s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 270MB/s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 281MB/s

Synthetic drive performance
ATTO Sequential write: MBs/second, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 201MB/s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 108MB/s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 250MB/s

Synthetic drive performance
HDTach Burst rate: MBs/second, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 249MB/s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 234MB/s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 220MB/s

Synthetic drive performance
AS SSD random readss: MBs/second, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 18MB/s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 17MB/s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 15MB/s

Synthetic drive performance
AS SSD random writes: MBs/second, bigger is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 36MB/s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 30MB/s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 42MB/s

Application performance
File decompression: Time taken, lower is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB – 28s
Intel X25-M 160GB – 37s
Corsair Force F100 100GB – 37s

Application performance
Application install: Time taken, lower is better
ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB - 27s
Intel X25-M 160GB - 45s
Corsair Force F100 100GB - 37s

ADATA S596 Turbo review: Conclusion


ADATA's new JMicron-powered S596 Turbo 128GB has something of a public relations battle on its hands, given SSDs' turbulent history.

The good news is that the S596 Turbo 128GB's features an excellent spec. Not only do you get Intel NAND flash memory and a fat 128MB-sized chunk of cache memory, you also get two drives in one thanks to the integrated USB port.

Admittedly, an expensive SSD like this is overkill as USB drive. But the USB socket certainly makes things like dropping drive images on a lot easier. Put simply, we think every SSD should have a USB port. Intriguingly, the port is a function of the JMF616 controller, so there's at least one area where JMicron has carved out an advantage over the competition.

As for performance, the news is mostly good. The ADATA S596 Turbo 128GB doesn't quite hit its claimed numbers, but it puts in a pretty strong all-round showing, including in the crucial random read and write benchmarks.

We liked
Contrary to any expectations you might have, this effort is much, much improved. Synthetic performance is competitive with drives based on the popular SandForce controller, if not quite a match in random reads and writes. Actual application performance, however, looks right on the money. Throw in the USB port and you have an attractive package.

We disliked
In testing, the S596 Turbo exhibits a few inconsistencies, with sequential throughput varying markedly from one run to another. It's just enough to have us worried whether JMicron has the long-term performance thing truly licked. If we're really splitting hairs, it would be nice if the USB interface was 3.0 compliant, too.

Verdict
A promising drive that seems to have overcome some of SSDs' unwelcome heritage. We're interested to see how it fares in the long-term, though.

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