Adata Switches to Slower Controller, NAND on SX8200 Pro
Because of its fast speeds, great value and strong power efficiency, Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro remained at the top of our list of best SSDs for more than a year and was only recently dethroned by newer models. But the drive remains very popular and often goes on sale. However, the company recently changed the controller and NAND flash on at least some units, leading to potentially slower performance than we, and many consumers, experienced previously.
A recent Reddit post called attention to the issue, pointing out that the company is swapping out the original SSD controller, an SMI SM2262EN, for the slower-clocked SM2262G, but without informing the public of the changes. This is the first time we’re aware of a company swapping out a controller on an SSD without changing the product name/branding, but Adata left itself some wiggle room by not actually listing the specific controller model on its spec sheet in the first place, stating only that the drive uses an "SMI" controller, which is still true. Adata has acknowledged the change and provided a statement, which you’ll find below.
Adata is also swapping in different NAND flash in order to fulfill demand, but changing the flash on a shipping SSD has become a more common practice in the recent past. However, these changes also haven’t been disclosed to the public, meaning customers don’t know that they are buying potentially slower versions of the originally-shipping models that were sent to reviewers.
Customers who’ve become aware of these changes are not happy, as the majority of SX8200 Pro reviews, including our own, cover the version with the faster, SM2262EN controller. The controller change was initially noted in a recent review byServeTheHome in early October. Adata told Will Taillac, the reviewer, that “The performance of drives with 2262G is the same with the drives with 2262EN, and the drives with either/or controllers can be seen in the market at the same time as well,” but our findings show that, at least in theoretical workloads, the new controller is slower.
The SM2262G and SM2262EN SSD controllers aren’t the same and seemingly do not perform entirely the same. The SM2262G may be built on the same silicon as the SM2262EN, but it lacks the same performance-tuned firmware as the EN model. We confirmed the difference with SSD utilities after a few Redditors sent us their hardware ID readouts. The SM2262G models come with the same ROM as the standard SM2262, ROM version SVN00235, while the SM2262EN models we have all feature ROM version SVN047.
The two Cortex R5 cores on the SM2262EN typically operate at 625 MHz, with the only exception to this being our 1TB SX8200 Pro sample from the launch that is clocked even higher at 650 MHz. The SM2262G popping up on new purchases operates at a slower, 575 MHz.
Adata’s official response states:
“SM2262EN = SM2262ENG, and SM2262G is an updated version of the SM2262EN. According to SMI, the reasons why there are slightly different on the naming, just because the timing of releasing the controllers are different and also because the controllers were designed for different customers. For SM2262G, SMI designed this model for some specific customer who emphasized on the durability. Therefore, the switch to the G model was to provide longer SSD life. We don’t guarantee the controllers we would use among the three (SM2262EN / SM2262ENG / SM2262G) or NAND brand on our SX8200 PRO, but we do guarantee that every SX8200 PRO will perform to spec within the regular variations since the drives have been tested stringently.”
Adata also changed the NAND flash on the models - the company swapped out the IMFT 64-Layer TLC flash for Samsung’s previous-gen 64-Layer TLC V-NAND, which is often purchased by vendors on the spot market. Adata has swapped out the flash even before this, too. A post on Reddit reveals that a customer received an Adata XPG SX8200 Pro with UNIC2 packaged NAND two months ago, and another user on Overclock.net made a similar report as far back as January.
Unfortunately, not only does the controller run at lower speeds, but the flash channel interface also operates slower too. Sample data we acquired on a model with Samsung flash reports interface speeds of just 525MT/s on the new SSDs, while the majority of SM2262EN-flashed SSDs operate at 650MT/s (or faster) to provide higher performance in sequential workloads.
Note that, like most SSD vendors, Adata's published specs are extremely broad so the XPG SX8200 units with the new controller may meet them, while still being slower than those with the old one. The company's spec says only that the drive has a max performance of 3,500 MBps read and 3,000 MBps write, along with a maximum 4K random read / write of 390,000 and 380,000 IOPS. However, as with all storage specs, these are theoretical maximums and, even with the original version of the drive, we never hit them, nor did we expect to.
However, we were able to compare our test results in ATTO, a popular storage benchmark, with those from both ServeTheHome and an end user on Reddit. In both cases, our numbers were significantly higher than those with one of the new drives.
The above are results from my current early sample 1TB Adata XPG SX8200 Pro on the left and ServeTheHome’s recent sample results on the right. As you can see, at the 64MB block size, our read and write rates were 23 and 31 percent faster than theirs. The performance gaps are similar at different block sizes.
We also obtained sequential performance benchmarks with a 512GB model from a Redditor with the new SM2262G variant that comes with Samsung’s 64-Layer TLC flash. Again, our results are on the left and the Redditor’s results are on the right. At this capacity, the gaps are smaller and, in a few block sizes, the new drive actually beats the old one with 0.1 GBps faster writes. However, at the small block sizes that matter most, including 4K, performance on the old drive is still much faster.
It's important to note that ATTO is a synthetic test so it's unclear how these changes will impact real-world workloads such as loading a game level or opening an app. However, sequential transfers like this usually have an impact on large file operations like copying, backing up or saving big chunks of data.
These tests also aren’t exactly apples-to-apples because we don’t have a sample of the newer model tested on the same system. To find out what differences occur in the real world, we plan to get a new XPG SX8200 Pro drive and run it through our test suite.
Apparently, not every unit for sale has the new controller as some Reddit commenters claimed to have bought SX 8200 Pro drives as recently as October 8th and received them with the older, SM2262EN controllers inside. fai
LEVEL UP WITH INCREDIBLE PERFORMANCE
XPG SX8200 Pro PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280 Solid State Drive● Experience Stunning Speed
● In Pursuit of Higher Performance
● 3D NAND Flash - Higher Capacity, Efficiency, and Reliability
● LDPC ECC Ensures Data Integrity
● E2E Data Protection and RAID Engine
● Backed by a 5-Year Warranty
● Cool XPG heatsink included
Where to Buy
The SX8200 Pro M.2 2280 SSD is XPG’s fastest SSD to date and is designed for avid PC enthusiasts, gamers, and overclockers. It features an ultra-fast PCIe Gen3x4 interface that offers sustained peak read/write speeds of 3500/3000MB per second, outpacing SATA 6Gb/s by a wide margin. Supporting NVMe 1.3, the SX8200 Pro delivers excellent random read/write performance and multi-tasking capabilities. With SLC caching, a DRAM Cache buffer, E2E Data Protection, and LDPC ECC, it maintains high speeds and data integrity, even during highly intensive applications such as gaming rendering, and overclocking.
In Pursuit of Higher PerformanceWith intelligent SLC caching and a DRAM cache buffer, the SX8200 Pro can accelerate sequential and 4K random read/write speeds to shorten system response time, making it especially suitable for multimedia editing and gaming.
LDPC ECC Ensures Data IntegrityThe SX8200 Pro supports LDPC (Low-Density Parity-Check) error correcting code technology to detect and fix a wider range of data errors for more accurate data transfers and a longer SSD lifespan.
Backed by a 5-Year WarrantyEvery component on the SX8200 Pro has passed meticulous screening, testing, and certification.
What’s more, it comes backed by a 5-year warranty.
XPG SX8200 Pro Series: 1TB Internal Solid State Drive PCIe Gen3x4 M.2 2280
Pros: Great NVMe PCIe 3.0x4 ssd. Same components as many other drives so I was willing to give Adata a try. Not disappointed at all with the performance, it does deliver on the specs from the documentation. I just tested with CrystalDiskMark and got sequential 3009.6MB/s read, 2196.9MB/s read, 4KiB Q8T8 1428.6MB/s read, 1536.1MB/s write, 4KiB Q32T1 393.8MB/s read, 291.3MB/s write, 4KiB Q1T1 68.45MB/s read, 166.3MB/s write. By far the fastest NVMe drive I have owned.
Cons: No cons so far. Only things I would be pointing out would be comparing reliablity to MLC drives but I am using this in consumer application, combo work/gaming system so no need for MLC longer term reliability and I wanted the speed with the cost savings.
Overall Review: So far I love it. Love the speed and cost/GB. Will update if I encounter any problems but I expect this drive to work great with normal use as a work+gaming system drive.
What’s the best way to achieve affordable solid-state performance? A slightly dusty old drive based on superseded high-end features? Or something shiny and new but with a more mainstream specification? The Adata XPG SX8200 Pro M.2 SSD, tested here in 1TB configuration, is a textbook example of the former.
Adata XPG SX8200 Pro Specs
Interface: PCIe 3.0 x4
Controller: Silicon Motion SM2262EN
NAND: Micron 64-layer TLC flash
DRAM cache: 1GB
Rated seq. read: 3,500 MB/s
Rated seq. write: 3,000 MB/s
Warranty: 5 years
Price: $140 (£100)
First seen in 2019, it’s an intriguing alternative to new SSDs with the latest features like PCIe Gen 4 support but with their wings clipped to achieve a cost cut. Indeed, Adata can meet your needs either way with the Adata XPG Gammix S50 Lite offering the alternative route. More of which in a moment. First, let’s take a closer look at what makes the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro tick.
Memory wise we’re talking 1GB of 64-layer Micron flash chips. Micron’s latest memory chips are 96-layer, so as with pretty much all aspects of this 80cm M.2 2280 drive, this is not the very latest hardware. However, it is TLC or triple-level cell memory.
That’s one of the advantages of going with an older drive. Instead of going after, say, the very latest controller chipset features like PCIe Gen 4 support and then cutting corners by using much slower and less robust QLC flash memory, you can have decent TLC chips, just hooked up to an older PCIe Gen 3 controller.
Speaking of which, the SX8200 Pro is powered by the Silicon Motion SM2262EN controller chip. Back in 2019, it was SM’s latest NVMe controller and boasted various improvements, including a 50% boost to both random and sequential write speeds.
In the here and now, the SM2262EN’s specification still looks decent. It’s an eight-channel controller with DRAM support, runs a pair of ARM Cortex R series processor cores, and supports NVMe 1.3. What you don’t get, of course, is the latest PCIe Gen 4 interface. This is a quad-lane Gen 3 item.
Other features of note include a dynamic SLC cache mode, where a portion of the drive is operated in faster pseudo single-level cell mode, plus 1GB of DDR3 DRAM cache. Finally, the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro is available in a wide range of capacities starting at 256GB and scaling up to 2TB.
As for claimed performance, sequential throughput is very much in line with expectations for this class of drive with 3,500MB/s reads and 3,000MB/s writes. The IOPS or random access performance, on the other hand, of 390K read and 380K write IOPS is some distance behind the best PCIe gen 3 drives, with the likes of the Samsung 980 Pro and WD Black SN750 achieving over 500K IOPS.
Of course, the latest PCIe gen 4 drives often exceed 7,000MB/s for sequential performance and achieve as much as one million IOPS. But it’s the alternative approach to affordable performance represented by mainstream rather than high-end PCIe 4.0 drives, including Adata’s own XPG Gammix S50 Lite, that makes for the more interesting comparison.
That drive is available for very similar money, sports a PCIe 4.0 controller, albeit four-channel not eight-channel, and on paper delivers better numbers all-round, including faster sequentials and better random access performance.
But what about actual benchmarks and tests of real-world performance? In terms of peak throughput, the mass-market PCIe gen 4.0 option is a little quicker, but not to the extent that you’re going to be able to feel the difference. This SX8200 Pro kicks out 3.25GB/s reads and 3GB/s writes. The Gammix S50 Lite is only a little quicker.
Likewise, random 4K performance is behind that of the newer but more mainstream drive, but again only by a small margin. More of a concern is sustained performance. In our drive-filling internal file copy testing, the initial performance of 1GB/s drops off to around 500MB/s to 700MB/s after approximately 125GB of data. That’s the underlying performance of the TLC memory being exposed.
At around 650GB of data, performance drops again, fluctuating between 300MB/s and 600MB/s as the remaining TLC capacity limit is approached and data in the SLC cache is flushed and converted to TLC storage. At no point do we believe thermal throttling is a factor, with peak temps well controlled at 52 degrees centigrade despite the absence of a heat spreader or cooling block.
Game load performance, meanwhile, proves a moot point. With both options, you’re getting quick load times. Moreover, at 1TB for $130 (£100) at the time of writing, it’s nice to know you can have 1TB of storage and therefore sufficient space for a decent library of games installed on your primary OS drive.
All told, there’s little to pick between this legacy-spec PCIe Gen 3.0 drive and a mainstream PCIe Gen 4.0 drive at least in most day-to-day tasks. The question marks mainly centre on longevity and sustained performance. The SX8200 Pro’s 640TB of rated write endurance is nothing special and the way performance drops off with really large amounts of data isn’t impressive. On the other hand, you do get a healthy five-year warranty and that write endurance still translates into 350GB of writes each day, every day for five years. Few will need anything like that much endurance.
Ultimately, then, it all comes down to money. Pricing is obviously a bit of a moving target, but as we write these words the cost of the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB is pretty much identical to that of its Gammix S50 Lite sibling. While that remains the case, we prefer the newer drive. But it would only take a very small adjustment downwards for the SX8200 Pro to become the better value proposition.
If you're in the market for a new drive, be sure to check out our guide to the best SSD for gaming.
TODAY'S BEST DEALS
Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB
If you’re looking for a quick M.2 drive that you can afford, the TLC-powered Adata XPG SX8200 Pro is a decent option. The only major concern is the sustained performance which is disappointing
Pro adata sx8200
12/20/2019 Update: We've updated this article with new testing for the 2TB XPG SX8200 Pro on page 4.
12/15/2019 Update: We've updated this article with new testing for the 512GB XPG SX8200 Pro on page 2.
Original Review published 2/12/2019:
One of the best SSDs you can buy, Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro, is designed for gamers, overclockers, and video content producers. The drive features speeds of up to 3.5 / 3 GBps of read/write throughput and power efficiency that outclasses any other SSD we've tested, making the SX8200 Pro the performance leader out of the gate. The black XPG heat spreader makes it an even 'cooler' buy. Best of all, the SX8200 Pro's pricing undercuts the Samsung 970 EVO and PRO, as well as many other competitors. As of publication time, the 1TB model was selling for just $117 on Amazon (after you click a coupon button).
Jam-packed with Micron’s 64L 3D TLC, Adata’s SX8200 Pro is nearly identical to the SX8200 and GAMMIX S11 we reviewed previously, except this time around the SSD comes armed with the new SMI SM2262EN controller that is a significant upgrade over the previous-gen SM2262.
The controller brings higher performance and better efficiency thanks to an improved data path and firmware enhancements. It also supports the NVMe 1.3 spec and comes with end-to-end data protection, a RAID Engine, and LDPC ECC to maintain data integrity over time. The drive also leverages SLC caching, which helps improve performance beyond the native TLC write performance.
|Product||XPG SX8200 Pro 256GB||XPG SX8200 Pro 512GB||XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB||XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB|
|Capacity (User / Raw)||256GB / 256GB||512GB / 512GB||1024GB / 1024GB||2048GB / 2048GB|
|Form Factor||M.2 2280 D5||M.2 2280 D5||M.2 2280 D5||M.2 2280 D5|
|Interface / Protocol||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3||PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3|
|Controller||SMI SM2262EN||SMI SM2262EN||SMI SM2262EN||SMI SM2262EN|
|DRAM||NANYA DDR3||NANYA DDR3||NANYA DDR3||NANYA DDR3|
|Memory||Micron 64-Layer TLC||Micron 64-Layer TLC||Micron 64-Layer TLC||Micron 64-Layer TLC|
|Sequential Read||3,500 MB/s||3,500 MB/s||3,500 MB/s||3,500 MB/s|
|Sequential Write||1,200 MB/s||2,300 MB/s||3,000 MB/s||3,000 MB/s|
|Random Read||220,000 IOPS||390,000 IOPS||390,000 IOPS||390,000 IOPS|
|Random Write||290,000 IOPS||380,000 IOPS||380,000 IOPS||380,000 IOPS|
|Endurance||160 TBW||320 TBW||640 TBW||N/A|
The SX8200 Pro model doesn't have as much over-provisioning as its predecessor, but that doesn’t mean less performance. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. The new SM2262EN controller powers the SX8200 Pro up to 3. 5/ 3GBps of throughput in sequential read/write workloads. As per usual, performance varies based on the capacity of the drive, with write performance being slower on the smaller models. The SX8200 Pro also provides up to 390K/380K random read/write IOPS.
Adata makes the Pro in 256GB, 512GB, 1TB and 2TB models. At publication time, U.S. prices came in around $0.11-13 cents per GB for the 512, 1TB, and 2TB models, while the 256GB retails for a much-higher $0.19 cents.
|Adata XPG SX8200 Pro 1TB||640||0.35||5|
|Intel SSD 660p 1TB||200||0.11||5|
|Corsair Force MP510 960GB||1700||0.93||5|
|Samsung 970 PRO 1TB||1200||0.66||5|
|Adata XPG GAMMIX S11/SX8200 960GB||640||0.35||5|
|Samsung 860/970 EVO 1TB||600||0.33||5|
|WD Black 1TB||600||0.33||5|
|WD Blue 3D 1TB||400||0.37||3|
|Crucial MX500 1TB||360||0.2||5|
The SX8200 Pro wouldn’t be a pro model SSD without a Pro-class warranty, so Adata added a lengthy five-year warranty paired with an endurance rating that spans up to 640TBW (terabytes written) for the 1TB model. Other new SSDs with Phison’s E12 controller do offer more endurance, but the Pro's rating it is still plenty for the average gamer or PC enthusiast.
SMI also turned its eye to improving power consumption with its new SM2262EN controller. An improved data path helps boot performance, but other enhancements focus on delivering the same or better performance within a more efficient power envelope. The SX8200 Pro supports multiple NVMe low power states and has an active rating of just 0.33W. It also has a slumber rating of just 0.14W.
Product support wouldn’t be complete without a software package, right? Like others, Adata provides an SSD Toolbox as a download, which can be used to monitor the drive and perform firmware upgrades. Additionally, you can download Acronis True Image HD, a drive cloning software, to help you clone over your existing data to your new drive.
A Closer Look
The XPG SX8200 Pro comes in an M.2 2280 form factor and uses a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface to connect to the host system. Aesthetically, the SX8200 Pro is quite appealing. It features a black PCB and even a stick-on heat spreader that improve looks but also helps dissipate heat a bit more efficiently.
The 1TB model we're testing has components on both sides of the PCB, meaning it is double-sided and a bit thicker than the Samsung 970 EVO. The SM2262EN uses a DRAM cache to help maintain a steady level of performance. The drive has two DRAM emplacements, one on each side, that total 1GB, complemented by four Micron 64L 3D TLC NAND emplacements. After formatting, the 1TB SX8200 Pro exposes 953GB of usable capacity.
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