REPORT ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSION
With all of the SandForce-powered drives on the market, it sure is easy to get lost in the crowd. Kingston differentiates the E100 with power-loss-protection, a SF-2582 controller, and some 30,000 PE cycle Toshiba Toggle. The only box lacking a check-mark is the one next to “5 Year Warranty”. Despite the premium pricing and endurance, Kingston has deemed that 36 months of warranty coverage is enough. That’s a little on the shy side for most new drives, much less the majority of enterprise drives which tout 5 year warranties almost exclusively. It could be difficult to warranty 32nm eMLC for the next five years, so its entirely possible that the 3 year warranty could have more to do with the flash on the inside than the price tag on the outside.
Pricing on the 200GB and 400GB is hovering in the mid $3/GB range — and when you factor in available capacity, that price escalates to near $4/GB. Right now, the 100GB model can be found for $430, making it by far the most expensive model. That might sound steep to readers accustomed to consumer drive pricing, but if moving to the eMLC-based Toshiba can negate the need to purchase SLC drives selling well over $10/GB, then the reduction in TCO clearly skews the value equation in the E100’s favor.
All told, the Kingston E100 is exquisite. Performance is steady, solid, and predictable. It could even be one of the finest MLC-based second-gen SandForce drives — past, present, or future. But with SSDs like the SMART CloudSpeed 500 providing near-identical performance and far more aggressive pricing — albeit with half the PE cycles — the competition is much fiercer than in the past. Add in new enterprise drives from established players like Intel, and its clear the E100 has its work cut out for it in the future. Kingston didn’t get to be a huge player by releasing subpar products though, and the superb build quality, admirable performance traits, and excellent potential endurance of the E100 more than offset the few concerns.