ADATA SX8200 480 GB Review 35

ADATA SX8200 480 GB Review

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Value and Conclusion

  • The ADATA SX8200 480 GB SSD is currently available online for $170.
  • Outstanding performance
  • Even more impressive synthetic results
  • Very affordable
  • Large SLC write buffer
  • Heatsink included
  • 5-year warranty
  • Some thermal throttling, even with heatsink
  • Low write performance after SLC buffer is exhausted
  • Temperature reporting extremely inaccurate
While the numbering scheme could suggest that the ADATA SX8200 and SX8000 are very similar, the differences couldn't be bigger. The new version we are reviewing today is using TLC instead of MLC, a different controller, and comes with much bigger overprovisioning, while providing much higher performance.

It has been a while since I've been surprised by SSD performance numbers, especially when it comes to our real-life testing. The ADATA SX8200 is the first drive we test that shows significant performance improvements over older SSDs. When averaged over all our application tests, the difference to decent SATA drives is 10%-15% and around 5% to NVMe drives. Most of our benchmarks show a pretty big lead for the SX8200, with the only exception being the Microsoft Office installation test which seems to run into some sort of issue with very fast drives. I've narrowed this down to error-checking code in the installer—the installation really does take much longer, it's not a measurement error, which makes it an unpleasant but valid result.

Our synthetic testing also shows incredible numbers for the SX8200; the SSD reaches up to 430,000 IOPS in read and 275,000 IOPS in write (at rather high queue depth levels, though). At more realistic, lower queue depths, it does perform very well, too, often reaching twice the speed of similarly priced drives. Sequential speeds are excellent, too, with 3 GB/s read and 1.6 GB/s write. ADATA gave the SX8200 a big SLC buffer of 128 GB, which helps soak up very large writes. Typically, SSDs have 16 to 32 GB pseudo-SLC cache, which, when exhausted, will cause write speeds to go down for a while, until the SLC buffer can be cleared. It's highly unlikely that you'll ever fill up the 128 GB SLC cache of the SX8200; remember, your data source has to be able to provide 1.5 GB/s, too. Once the cache is exhausted, write speeds drop to only 350 MB/s, which is a steep drop from 1.6 GB/s and lower than I'd like to see. Still, the chances of that happening are very slim.

ADATA includes a heatsink in the box, which you can install yourself. This is an ingenious move because it makes things easier for people who have a motherboard that comes with its own M.2 cooling solution or want to install an aftermarket cooler. We tested thermals with and without the heatsink, and even though it looks basic, the difference is there. My recommendation is to always install the heatsink as it's really easy to use and included for free anyway. This will give you some peace of mind as you won't have to worry about thermal throttling. Thermal throttling can still happen even with the heatsink installed, but only after writing data at full speed for over 10 minutes, a duration over which you'd have filled up most of the drive's capacity.

While it was initially announced at relatively high pricing, retailers are selling the ADATA SX8200 at an extremely competitive price point now. The reviewed 480 GB version is listed for $170 at the moment, which is among the lowest prices for any half-decent NVMe SSD you can find. Noteworthy competitors that offer high speeds and achieve similar price/performance are the Samsung 970 EVO ($200) and WD Black ($200), both of which are a bit more expensive (even though they offer 500 GB of capacity instead of 480 GB). Samsung's 9x0 Pro drives are much more expensive and not worth it for the little extra performance gained. So if you are looking for a high-performance NVMe drive that's affordable, go for the ADATA SX8200.
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