Value and Conclusion
- The ADATA SX8200 Pro 1 TB is currently available for $215.
- Outstanding performance—fastest TLC drive we have ever tested
- Sustained write performance more than twice of most TLC drives
- Competitively priced
- Over 3 GB/s read speeds, more than 2.5 GB/s write
- Heatsink included
- 5-year warranty
- Compact form factor
- Some thermal throttling, even with heatsink
- Thermal reporting inaccurate
Yet again, ADATA manages to impress us with their SSD offerings. The SX8200 Pro comes with just "Pro" appended to the name, no doubt to compete with Samsung's 970 Pro branding. Under the hood, the only real change is the use of the Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller, while the previous non-Pro drive uses the SM2262 controller (without "EN"). This new revision of the SM2262 comes with higher read and write speeds for both sequential and random access patterns, which our synthetic testing shows in a dramatic way.
In our real-life testing, we only see small differences; the biggest gains are apparent in situations where large files are transferred sequentially, like ISO file copy. Just like on other NVMe-based drives, the MS Office installation is quite slow, which we've confirmed to be a bug in Microsoft's installer—there's nothing we can do about it, and it happens on all NVMe drives. Looking at average performance, though, the differences are much smaller than what the synthetic testing would suggest. All top M.2 NVMe drives are within a few percentages of each other, which is due to the fact that with such fast drives, disk speed starts mattering very little compared to other tasks other applications perform.
A huge improvement can be found in sustained write speeds, where we measured 1782 MB/s on average over a 15 minute duration while the drive writes as quickly as it can. This is more than 10x as fast as some other TLC drives in our test group and the best TLC result we have ever seen. The only drive that ever got a better result is the Samsung 970 Pro, which is much more expensive due to the use of MLC flash chips.
Just like all other high-performance M.2 drives, the SX8200 Pro will heat up quickly when heavily loaded, and it will start throttling after a minute of being fully loaded with writes (that's a full minute at >3 GB/s). The throttling is not nearly as bad as on competing drives since even in the throttled state, the SSD will be operating at over 1 GB/s write speeds. It's great to see a small heatsink included in the package of the SX8200 Pro, and we recommend everybody install it as long as they don't use their own heatsink. ADATA was wise to not preinstall it, so that notebook users or people who want to install another heatsink won't have to rip off the heatsink, possibly causing damage while doing so.
What's almost more important than all these performance results is the pricing of the SX8200 Pro. The reviewed 1 TB version is only $215, or 21 cents per Gigabyte, which is very affordable for a drive in this performance class. It's significantly cheaper than the Samsung 970 EVO ($300), and the SX8200 Pro is faster at the same time. The Samsung 970 Pro is still the fastest drive we have ever tested, although prohibitively expensive at the same time with over $400—the SX8200 Pro is almost half of that! More budget-oriented users can definitely consider SATA drives, which are incredibly affordable nowadays. For example, the Crucial MX500 is just 15 cents per GB nowadays, which can be a significant cost saver if you are willing to live with SATA speeds.