It’s the future
Solid State Drives, or SSDs, are a kind of hard drive without moving parts. They might sound like a boring and expensive upgrade to your machine, particularly when they tend to come with such paltry amounts of space like 120GB for around £100 when you can just as easily get a regular 1 TB hard drive for half the price. But there’s something special about SSDs, they’re blisteringly quick and until you use one you’ll never know how much you needed it.
Kingston have been kind enough to lend us a 120GB 3K SSD to try out, with an advertised read speed of 555mb/s and write speed of 510mb/s. We’ve been trying it out with a few basic PC tasks and games as well as a benchmarking tool to see what we’re getting out of the disk.
First of all, SSDs are incredibly easy to set up and the Kingston HyperX is no exception. It’s simply a matter of finding a place to mount it (the drives are a tiny 2’5” but come with a 3’5” mounting bracket so you can use the spaces that will usually be part of your case) and using a few screws to secure it in place. The way you do this is a little less important with SSDs as they don’t get too hot or vibrate, in one of our machines an SSD is currently duct-taped to the roof of the case and that’s been working fine for six months. You then need to connect a power cable to it (there’s only one that’ll fit, a long L-shaped plug) and finally a SATA cable needs to go from your motherboard. The SSD doesn’t come with a SATA cable but your motherboard probably came with a few spare and they’re really cheap to buy in a place like Maplin (£4.99) or Amazon (95p). Once you’ve got it all plugged in, you’ll need to activate the disk through disk management (Windows Key + ‘X’ on Windows 8 ->select ‘disk management’) and initialise the disk, creating a new volume under the big black bar that you can call whatever you want. The alternative is to do a clean install of Windows onto the SSD, which is highly recommended.
Whilst SSDs are quick and that means saving time when moving around files, saving or loading work and loading programs, the big benefit for many will be the way it affects Windows. Use even a small SSD as the base for a clean Windows install and your PC will boot up in almost no time at all, becoming more responsive and even shutting down faster. Currently with our SSD set-up our LED TV takes longer to switch on than the PC does. They’re also quieter and increasingly becoming more reliable as time goes on. With the Kingston drive you get free tech support and a three years warranty which is generous for a product that is relatively (compared to graphics cards for instance) inexpensive.
So, while I’ve hopefully persuaded you that SSDs are the way to go (while the small amount of space can be a problem it’s worth setting up one SSD for your OS, one for games you play and then have a regular hard disk for data and other files where speed is not an issue), the next question is how does the Kingston HyperX 3K SSD perform? Pretty damn well.
The drive itself is very smart and aesthetically pleasing, which will make case-modders happy. It’s not bright or flashy like some components out there, but with a sleek metallic shine and black accents around the edges it looks very smart if you’ve got it somewhere on display.
The image above shows a benchmark where we tested our regular 1.5TB Seagate drive (the green line), our 120GB Samsung 840 that we currently use for our OS (the red line) and the Kingston drive (the blue line). While our Samsung drive has been phenomenal and a massive improvement over our regular drive, it’s clear from the graph just how much the Kingston drive outpaces it, coming in at around twice as fast in a standardised test. We were using exactly the same task and filesize so while this test might be slightly unrealistic in terms of what you’d be doing with the disk, the results are plain. The advertised read speeds are easily approachable, although we couldn’t get close to the write speed, with our tests averaging out at around 340MB/S. This is still incredibly fast and the limitation could easily be down to a combination of software and our motherboard rather than the disk itself.
Overall, the Kingston Hyperx 3K SSD is right up there as one of the most desirable SSDs for anyone, not just gamers. It’s also fairly cheap so is easy to recommend. If you don’t have an SSD in your machine right now, this is by far the most cost-effective upgrade imaginable. It doesn’t just change the way you play games, it changes your whole experience with PCs. If you’re looking for an additional SSD to store games, then again this is an easy choice although it’s well worth saving up a little longer to be able to afford the larger models that all work at the same speeds. There is nothing to fault with this piece of hardware and while SSDs are a must-have for anyone who uses PCs regularly, this is currently the best of the bunch.