KingFast Unknowingly Sends Counterfeit SSD With Fake Memory For Review

COUNTERFEIT MEMORY IDENTIFIED

In examining the photographs that we had taken for our planned review of the KingFast F3 Plus, we observed a funny pattern when we enhanced the shot.  This was only visible when hitting the face of the memory a certain way in the light.  On the left is what we saw initially, followed by just a bit of light change on the right.  If you can’t see what we see, click on each picture for a higher resolution:

KingFast F3 Plus Counterfeit SSD Memory Shot 1KingFast F3 Plus Counterfeit SSD Memory Shot 2

Are you starting to see it yet?  Believe it or not, it still hadn’t become apparent to many at this point.  Lets make it a bit easier…

KingFast F3 Plus Counterfeit SSD Memory Shot 3

It was at this point that we finally understood what the term ‘blacktop’ meant.  In the case of this SSD, all eight modules of NAND flash memory had been coated with a hard black coating and re-designated as Micron Memory with a product number of 29F256G08CJAAA.  Accordingly, this specific memory was labeled as Micron 25nm MLC memory of a 32GB capacity.  In searching the web, this specific product number was very common in flash drives, however, we could not locate another SSD containing same.

From there, we checked all other reviews available on the internet and learned that KingFast has utilized Intel NAND flash memory in every product reviewed, whereas this specific instance used Micron.

CONTACT AND RESPONSE

Our next step was to contact KingFast directly in order to advise them.  That occurred on the same night and the KingFast representative stated that the website was being shut down and shipments immediately halted in order to conduct an internal investigation.  I hate to say it but I can be a bit pessimistic at times.  We all understand the term lip service and I thought this was definitely the case.  This time I would be wrong.  After all, this was a company that shipped 50,000 SSDs monthly.

Within 15 minutes, the website was shut down and shortly thereafter we were notified by their Canadian distributor that they were to return their present stock immediately.

In the next few weeks, several e-mails were exchanged between TSSDR and KingFast.  Their investigation concluded that a bad batch of memory had been received from a new distributor (HongWang International (HK)) in December of 2012.  That batch was utilized in the production and distribution of approximately 30 SSDs, all of which were able to be located and recalled as this issue had been identified in such a short span of time.  We questioned KingFast with respect to quality control, as it appears that each SSD is inspected personally, and they provided:

  1. that a more detailed Supplier Evaluation was being prepared;
  2. IQC (Quality Control) would be required to conduct a 100% check of the new flash supplier; and
  3. enhanced final inspection procedures were being initiated.

KingFast F3 Plus Fake SSD Picture 5

In situations such as this, the consumer loses and one of the hardest things to do is see both sides of the story.  Our natural first thought would be that such mistakes should not occur, especially with such stringent quality control in place.  Conversely, our reasoning behind providing pictures as we have is to demonstrate just how hard it is to distinguish between authentic and fake memory.  In our examination of its occurrence, we provide benefit of the doubt for three specific reasons:

  1. it is quite possible that IQC simply checks the SSD as a final product as well as ensuring the packaging and accessories are correct before shipping;
  2. even if they were able to inspect the printed circuit board (PCB) of the SSD itself, the quality of such counterfeit memory is very good and such that this would be hard to detect, especially coming from a new supplier; and
  3. the fact that KingFast identified the source of this fake memory as being from their new supplier HongWang International (HK) has merit.  HongWang International (HK) sells NAND flash memory and making such a statement without proof could prove costly to KingFast.

We did not include the fact that KingFast insisted on shipping a new sample F3 Plus for our evaluation (review forthcoming), as well as comparison to the original counterfeit SSD. We believe this provides support to their intentions of conducting an investigation, along with assisting us with our report.

45 comments

  1. Excellent job as always Les. Great investigating skills 🙂

  2. Fake Crucial ssd’s turned up on the Crucial forums about 4 to 6 months ago, the older M225 ssd’s and at least one M4, I placed a caution in the news section of my thread at extreme overclocking, These ssd drives were not manufactured by Crucial and were discovered when the ssd’s were rma’d, the M225 is a old Crucial drive that’s been EOL for a while now, the rma’s were naturally turned down by Crucial and a warning was placed in the Crucial forums.

  3. Would be interesting to find out if it’s possible for an ID/serial# to be burned into a NAND chip during manufacture. The controller would then verify the chips ID at power-up.

  4. Love the CSAM image! That really puts the ID on where they came from originally!

  5. michael joshua pabia

    Wow! I’m stunned! Good read too! Gives important to benchmarking hardware we buy and see if it is up to par to what it is claiming.

  6. That is Agility 4 Asynchronous NAND that didn’t make the cut or was resold by OCZ. What most likely happened was that Kingfast put an ASYNC board in an SYNC (or just the wrong sticker) enclosure by mistake. This was intended to be sold as one of their ASYNC drives which would have been legit except for the consumer not knowing that re-branded and potentially inferior NAND was utilized although it may not even be NAND that didn’t make the cut it could just be good Async NAND that OCZ sold as surplus to raise capitol.

    • Credible thought but the memory in use was fraudulently marked as Micron memory which would be synchronous, although never having been used in an SSD prior. Kingspec informed us that the belief was that they were purchasing suitable memory for the F3 Plus.

      • That memory is async and OCZ async memory is micron

      • Ok, I have to ask why you might feel this is Agility 4 Async? To start, when a wafer is purchased from Micron, there is no separation from sync/async and this becomes part of the build and packaging process. For any OCZ purchases where they package their own memory, their purchase from Micron (or any other) are not sync/async wafers. Next, the high sequential and 512 write performance of incompressible data is far worse than our testing of, not only the Agility 4, but any drive we have tested to date. Did you see matching numbers on an Agility 4 or can you provide a bit of background?

      • Les, the Agility 4 uses Micron Asynchronous 29F128G08CFAAA nand memory, the numbers slightly different, this numbers from a 256gb drive.

      • Yes we were aware of that, however, the numbering is counterfeit. It does not match the internal make up of the die, but to say that it is 32GB (ie 256). Remember, when one purchases a wafer, as they did here, that wafer hasn’t been determined to be sync or async at the point of sale so nobody could qualify such afterwords. We can attest to the fact that the counterfeit Micron LABEL does not match the die within.

      • I’m quite sure your right about the fake nand, the fact that it’s the OCZ numbering that’s been blacked out and not the Micron number would mean it as little do with the Agility 4 as they retained the Micron number even though the number does actually exist, not sure about wafers, but the the actual chips are ordered as either Asynch or Synch, there’s a third option as well, I only know that the triple A stands for Asynchronous memory and those 256gb chips may be used on the 512gb Agility 4, all I’m saying is Bill might be right at least as far as the numbers concerned.

      • With the information available, there is no way of knowing the specifics of the memory we are discussing, including whether it is sync or async. When wafers are purchased, there is no discussion whatsoever of whether wafers will be synchronous or asynchronous, they are only labeled as NGD wafers. The decision to produce such or asynchronous memory only occurs in the packaging process when the memory is built.

      • Thanks Les, I should add this was a great article and I am interested to know why some memory is sold as Asynchronous and some, the better Synchronous memory, nand memory differentiates a good or not so good ssd drive, it and the controller are the main things I look at when checking out a ssd drive, so more the I know about the memory within a drive, the better I can assess how good the drive is, or likely to be, looking forward to your article.

        It’s pretty obvious by the tests that the memory is sub-standard and fake, even poor asynchronous memory performs far better than the benchmarks you released. Thanks for the info Les.

  7. Wow! I really appreciate the investigative work you did for this article. Knowledge is power, and you taught us what to do if we have doubts about an SSD recently purchased. Thanks man!

  8. great and thorough Article!

  9. Outstanding article. I give you the utmost respect for giving each of the vendors a chance to provide information before posting this story. There are many sites that would have just blasted them as selling fakes since they are a lesser know company. Great Job on looking for the truth instead of just a story.

  10. Crazy, Les. Great catch though! SSD Sherlock Holmes.

  11. You caught big fish this time, that bastards always try to scam the consumers ! Great Job !

    • Yes, we have no less than 20 Asian sites that have grabbed it as well (of course breaking copyright with several of our pictures), but are nevertheless glad to see that it was a cause well worth fighting.

  12. This poses an interesting quandry when SSD pcbs are under sealed covers with warranty seals on them.

    Did the snowblower (and screwdriver) survive?

  13. a Very-very Good Article (y)
    Thanks for bringing this up (y)

  14. very informative… everyone should read this.. for additional information

  15. “…a concern may be evident in SMART IDs 01, C3, c9 and CC where read errors seem to have occurred.” I would not be concerned with these results in CrystalDiskInfo. I have 2 SSDs in my system with the same or also same figures (and no, they are not counterfit, I tested them)

  16. to be frank, this is sort of “norm” in this industry. someone “junk” can be others “treasure”.

  17. Some guy over [H], who told me he used to work for PNY, said they’ve done this before. I told him that he was BS’ing me and that a company like PNY wouldn’t be doing such thing. Then he went on to tell me that it was my money and that I was wasting it. I wasn’t though as I have a pair of Deneva 2R SLC’s that retail $1450 each LOL.

    That said, KingFast has a load of RANDOM drives on eBay. Just look up for KingFast and you’ll find many colorful and silly pages of SLC SSD’s being sold…

    and those SLC’s are mostly based on that old Micron JMF controller with the shuttering bug. You know, the first SSD controller that got into the public back in late 2007.

    They still sell proper and nice SLC drives though they’re all SATA2 drives based on old Indilix Barefoot controllers.

  18. Huh, that micron NAND is definitely Async Only.

    https://www.micron.com/~/media/Documents/Products/Part%20Numbering%20Guide/numngnand.pdf

    The last A in the product number means it is Async Only.

    This is kingfast playing loose and fast with it’s NAND control, not even checking what it is soldering onto the board, and the sandforce happily using whatever it is given.

    I was worried the NAND was fake, and we would start seeing strange barely working solid state drives like we do for counterfeit USB chips

    • Also:

      a) I should read reviews before commenting. I see how they are faked now … however the micron marking is correct. They have been marked Aysnc only.

      b) For the SMART IDs 01, C3, C9 and CC on sandforce drives, this raw counter is some kind of internal error rate tracker. It will be always non-zero on sandforce drives after they have been reading/writing for a bit. Even drives with high quality NAND will show non-zero here. The important number is the normalised number of 01, if that falls below 50, it means the drive is having to correct too many errors internally and will likely show external errors.

  19. So much technical stuff. So, do we buy Kingfast SSDs or avoid like the plague?

    • KingFast has not encountered any similar problems since this posting 2 years ago. They are still going strong without issue.

    • Kleftico-

      This is an interesting story and string. If you had not commented on it I would probably not have seen it since it is over two year old.

      I am beginning to come to the conclusion that one should probably try to get an “enterprise” SSD; anything else is a crap shoot. Or go for a cheaper SSD and just plan on upgrading again in a few years.

      This is an excellent article and investigation that went as far as it possibly could; the players – KingFast, Micron, and OCZ – should have investigated this further at the time and identified exactly where the procurement breakdown occurred.

      Jim

      • While it is true that enterprise SSDs will have a BOM, remember the fact that the memory here was blackballed to be seen as a higher grade; this could have hapened in consumer or enterprise.

        Further, Kingfast did institute better QC immediately after this occurrence and it was limited to a single batch that was recalled. We have yet to see this duplicated.

      • Les-

        I agree that this is primarily a QC issue but it appears to me that consumer level drives aim for lower performance and lower costs, which both imply lower reliability and quality control. Just look at the number of last years’ heroes that are this year’s goats. If KingFast had not sent a bad one to you, I wonder if this would have been known.

        I don’t think Cadillac, Lincoln, or the NSA (National Security Agency) put up with the levels of performance and reliability that are acceptable, it seems, for consumer SSDs even now.

        Jim

      • Yes I would agree that the BOM requirement of enterprise drives ensures a much better QC because the components arent open to be changed without recertification.

      • Les – thanks for your reply. Ordered one. And thanks for the article.

        Jim, – Glad I did then. Fascinating – a right royal cockup on their part. Red faces at Kingfast. I came here while seeking reviews for Kingfast SSDs as I had my eye on one. Les replied to my query, “KingFast has not encountered any similar problems since this posting 2 years ago. They are still going strong without issue.” That and my belief that they are still going to be vigilant – even though it’s two years ago, whoever placed the order will still be getting ribbed about it – allowed me to cast caution, and I’ve just ordered one on Amazon – 240Gb. The reviews were all very good when price accounted for, but even without the price factor, the reviews were still all good.
        Coincidentally, Giveawayoftheday, have today offered full program Minitool Partition Wizard Professional for free, and it contains a menuitem for transferring current OS to SSD. How’s about that! Downloaded, installed, and awaiting delivery of the drive.
        I’ll get back when I’ve used it for a while.

      • Great news and thanks for relying on us for your decision. It is nice to get the support and know we are helping.

  20. Even if this discussion is quite hold, I would like to add a new note: some time ago I bought (from cartft.de) two Kingfast SSD “wide”, that means they are guarantee to work from -45 to 80 degrees. That feature doesn’t appear on any sticker on the disk and, opening it, I’ll find a Toshiba NAND chipset TC58TEG6DCJTA00 that, from their datasheet, is the 0 to 70 degree model, the “right one” being TC58TEG6DCJTAI0. Now, the seller, CarTFT, says that that model, 2701MVS, is a wide temperature model but the fact is that it’s not. Who’s frauding? CarTFT or Kingfast?

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