Value and Conclusion
- The 1 TB Silicon Power P34A80 SSD currently retails for $132.
- Very affordable, great performance per dollar
- Low cost per GB
- Excellent sequential write performance
- Relatively large SLC cache
- Five-year warranty
- Much higher sequential speeds than SATA drives
- Compact form factor
- Very low 512K sequential mixed performance
- Large performance loss due to thermal throttling
- Reduced write performance when SLC cache is exhausted
The Silicon Power P34A80 is one of the most affordable TLC drives on the market. You might see some cheaper 1 TB SSDs listed at your favorite store, but those models are either SATA-based M.2 SSDs or use the slower (but more affordable) QLC flash chips. Thanks to its Silicon Motion SM2263 controller, the P34A80 does well in our benchmarks. All major synthetics deliver impressive results, the only problem is the extremely low 512K sequential mixed performance. This test simulates the typical "read data, process, and write back" process in a lot of programs, or when you copy a large file in Windows Explorer to a different folder on the same drive. I reached out to Silicon Power, but they don't expect a firmware fix soon. A while ago, I reviewed the HP EX950, which uses a Silicon Motion controller as well, and it exhibited exactly the same problem. This suggests that this is a SMI firmware issue—HP was able to work around it within a few days, resulting in much higher performance. Let's hope Silicon Power can do the same.
Looking at real-life performance numbers, the P34A80 does well, but definitely falls back a bit in some benchmarks, probably due to the low mixed sequential write performance. On average, the drive is 3% faster than the QLC-based Crucial P1 and 6% faster than Sabrent's Rocket Q SSD. Performance is nearly identical, within a few percentage points, compared to the ADATA SX6000 Pro, Intel 760p, and Samsung 950 Pro. The fastest drives in our test group are up to 6% faster, which is not a lot.
Our review shows that the SLC cache is quite big, sized at 150 GB (or 15% of the total capacity), which will suffice for all but the largest workloads, such as restoring a full-drive backup from a sufficiently fast source (such as another NVMe SSD, however unlikely). Once the SLC cache is exhausted, write rates drop to 700 MB/s—still better than most other TLC SSDs. Of course, once write activity stops briefly and the SLC cache had time to flush to TLC in the background, write speeds are quickly restored to the full 2.7 GB/s.
Probably the weakest test result was our thermal testing. Since the P34A80 lacks a heatsink, it will heat up quickly when heavily loaded. While the first stage of thermal throttling is well-behaved and results in only a 50% drop in write rates, the drive will still heat up further. Once temperatures hit 75°C, performance falls off a cliff, delivering write speeds of only 150 MB/s. It seems Silicon Power was a bit too conservative with this throttle state. Similar drives do allow slightly higher temperatures, which avoids that sharp drop.
The most compelling argument for the Silicon Power P34A80 is without any doubt its price. At just $132 for the tested 1 TB variant, the drive is more affordable than nearly all competing options out there. The only exception are QLC flash based drives, which are around $10 cheaper—not sure if that's worth it considering their lower performance. If you are willing to spend a few bucks more, there are several alternatives with higher performance. For example, the HP EX950 at $145 and ADATA SX8200 Pro at $150. If Silicon Power ends up fixing the low 512K sequential mixed performance, this could become the go-to drive for any system builder. The higher performance would put it on performance levels similar to the previously mentioned drives from HP and ADATA, at better pricing.