When SSDs were first introduced to the consumer way back in 07/08, many companies understood the value of what could be brought to the table and jumped aboard the new SSD train. SanDisk was the first to appear, followed by Samsung and Intel, all being NAND flash memory manufacturers. Several third-party companies were quick to join in through contracts with these SSD manufacturers, subsequently selling these SSDs under their own branding. There might be a slight variation in hardware or firmware, but for the most part, the SSDs were identical. Through time, this practice had become extinct, or so we thought.
This review of the ADATA Premier Pro SP920 SSD displays an SSD that is the spitting image internally of the Crucial M550 we reviewed just two weeks ago, right down to the fact that this SSD is now only the second manufacturer to introduce power failure protection to the consumer as a standard feature. This makes sense because the M550 already had this standard and the PCB of the SP920 is the twin of that drive. Physically, the only difference that we could find in our 1TB SP920 sample and the Crucial M550, is the different branding sticker and the fact that ADATA elected to place that sticker on the base plate rather than upper shell where it is normally seen. Even the firmware is the same.
As much as many may shake their head at what appears to be a ‘SSD oddity’, pay close attention as ADATA did this with the intent of making their product more attractive to the consumer than the Crucial twin. Not only has ADATA made this a more attractive, and competitive product through pricing, but also, key attributes that we identified previously are standard with the SP920 where they are not with the M550. They are the included link to a full retail copy of migration software and the included desktop adapter.
If you are thinking that ADATA used a questionable practice in any way, follow along as we explore things throughout this report and make your own mind up. You just may find yourself making the new ADATA SP920 your new SSD soon enough.
The ADATA Premier Pro SP920 SSD is available in capacities of 128, 256, 512 and 1TB, the 1TB sample being the subject of this report. It is a SATA 3 SSD with a host of features to include the full capacity format without the 7% over provisioning requirement, NCQ and SMART support, TRIM, AES-256 encryption and several other certifications. Unlike the M550, there is no mention of greater performance being achieved through native write acceleration but the performance shown in higher capacities shows that this is still evident and this can be seen in test results afforded us by ADATA themselves, using benchmark software that we typically use.
Examining this chart, we can see that the performance of the 1TB and 512GB capacities is actually better than that of the Crucial M550, however, the 128 and 256GB write capacities drop drastically. Although we haven’t a 128/256GB sample in hand, we can pretty much assure that the memory itself is different in these lower capacities, either through ADATA’s own design or through the fact that Crucial/Micron reserves their premium memory selection for their own SSDs. Another key spec that is evident in both the M550 and SP920 is the high IOPS count of 98K read and 88K write, this being a definite plus for the new Marvel controller that we will discuss a bit later.
ADATA also includes two things that the Crucial M550 SSD does not, a 3.5″ desktop adapter and a link to free migration software. The software is actually a retail copy of Acronis true Image HD which is a must have for those migrating to a new SSD and a $49.99 value.
The exterior shell of the ADATA Premier pro SP920 SSD is of a two piece aluminum construction, both pieces protecting the interior printed circuit board (PCB) by four screws. Unlike most SSDs these days, none of the exterior screws are covered with security tape (at least in our retail sample), thus allowing the removal of the plate for a peak inside….which we definitely don’t recommend.
In checking the Micron FBGA Decoder, the NAND flash memory is identified as product # MT29F512G08CKCABH7, this being 20nm mlc NAND flash memory with each module having 64GB in capacity. Also visible on the PCB face is the row of beige striped capacitors that ensure that all data makes it from the cache to the memory should a power failure occur. Typically though, this comes in handy at times when we quickly shut a system down without remembering to save our work.