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Written by Olin Coles   
Tuesday, 28 June 2011
Table of Contents: Page Index
ADATA S511 Solid State Drive AS511S3
Closer Look: ADATA S511 SSD
SandForce SF-2281 SSD Controller
Features and Specifications
SSD Testing Methodology
AS-SSD Benchmark
ATTO Disk Benchmark
CrystalDiskMark 3.0 Tests
Iometer IOPS Performance
EVEREST Disk Benchmark
PCMark Vantage HDD Tests
ADATA S511 SSD Conclusion

ADATA S511 SSD Conclusion

IMPORTANT: Although the rating and final score mentioned in this conclusion are made to be as objective as possible, please be advised that every author perceives these factors differently at various points in time. While we each do our best to ensure that all aspects of the product are considered, there are often times unforeseen market conditions and manufacturer changes which occur after publication that could render our rating obsolete. Please do not base any purchase solely on our conclusion, as it represents our product rating specifically for the product tested which may differ from future versions. Benchmark Reviews begins our conclusion with a short summary for each of the areas that we rate.

SandForce SSDs have taken the market by storm, which has helped companies like ADATA to expand their reach deep into the high-performance storage hardware segment. Not only are these SandForce-driven solid state drives extremely fast, but more importantly they're capable of SLC-level operational performance I/O and NAND durability. The ADATA S511-series SSD builds from the powerful SandForce SF-2281 solid state processor, which brings innovation to the SSD industry by prolonging MLC NAND flash module lifetime and delivering RAID-like data redundancy. When one SandForce product is physically identical to another, the overall value depends on price, warranty, and customer support. If you're price shopping, a quick stroll through our Storage Section reviews will reveal how other SSD options compare.

Our performance rating considers how effective the ADATA S511 solid state drive performs in operations against direct competitor storage solutions. For reference, SandForce specifies the SF-2281 with 500 MB/s read and write, which ADATA increases this to 550 MB/s read and 510 write maximum speeds for this SSD model. In our storage benchmark tests, the 120GB ADATA S511 SSD performed at or above this speed, and many other SATA-based SSD's. Our test results proved the ADATA S511 was good for delivering 559/516 MBps peak read and writes speeds using ATTO Disk Benchmark SSD speed tests. Everest Disk Benchmark produced 467/457 MB/s, but not without some inconsistent test runs.

The 120GB retail kit AS511S3-120GM-C that ADATA sent us for testing is advertised to deliver 60,000 maximum combined IOPS, although it is unclear what tools were used to produce this figure. Using a SandForce-provided configuration for our own Iometer operational performance tests, we used a queue depth of 32 outstanding I/O's per target that measured 41,175 combined IOPS performance. In this test, the formatted ADATA S511 SSD trailed other SandForce SF-2200 products and actually competed with SF-1200 generation SSDs. In the 4K 32QD tests with AS-SSD and CrystalDiskMark, the ADATA S511 SSD continued to trail other competing SandForce SF-2281 storage solutions. The mixed results tend to give me pause, and consider that there may be something to be concerned with regarding this drive or its series.

Solid State Drives are low-visibility products: you see them just long enough to install and then they're forgotten. Like their Hard Disk Drive counterparts, Solid State Drives are meant to place function before fashion. Anything above and beyond a simple metal shell is already more than what's expected in terms of the appearance. ADATA has created a back-to-basics look with the anodized black textured finish on their S511-series SSDs. As solid state storage controllers become faster and more advanced, heat dissipation through the enclosure walls may demand that chassis designs become more beneficial than they previously needed to be. This isn't the case yet, and a metal chassis suits SandForce SSDs nicely.

Construction is probably the strongest feature credited to the entire SSD product segment, and ADATA believes their S511-series is no exception. The ADATA S511 SSD is covered by a three-year limited warranty. ADATA recommends that you register your product to receive warranty support. Unfortunately, there are no online discussion forums/chat or local telephone service numbers available for technical support.

Heading into July 2011, the following models and prices were available:

$155 60GB: AS511S3-60GM-C
$240 120GB: AS511S3-120GM-C
$520 240GB: AS511S3-240GM-C

Based on the SandForce SF-2281 SSD processor, the ADATA S511 solid state drive delivers native TRIM garbage collection and basic SMART support with impressive 559 MB/s transfer speeds. More importantly, SandForce DuraClass technology adds their proprietary RAISE and DuraWrite features not available to other SSDs, and the end result is a product that could last up to five times longer with less wear on NAND flash modules. But if you consider ADATA's product specifications, you'd suspect that their S511 SSD is on-par with all of the other second-generation SandForce-driven SF-2281 solid state drive products... and you would be wrong. On paper, the ADATA S511 looks a lot like the its competitors product's, but after some testing there seems to be more that meets the eye. My best guess is that ADATA used a recent version of SandForce's SF-2281 firmware, which is said to throttle performance in the interest of stability. A few of our benchmark results support this theory, primarily Everest, which throttled from SATA 6Gb/s speeds down to SATA 3Gb/s territory. Without an open statement from ADATA or SandForce, this 'feature' seems to be less than appreciated.

Of course, even if all things were equal we would still have product price and warranty support to consider. There are more than a few SandForce SF-2281 SSDs available for sale at the moment, so the competition is fierce. Unfortunately, ADATA's S511 is priced about 5-10% higher than competing solutions. It doesn't help that warranty support is handled rather impersonally through a web form, with the hope that someone responds in a timely fashion. The ADATA S511 has great potential and it's based on the high-performance SF-2281 processor, but the market is filled with alternatives that could also deserve your consideration. Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval

Pros:

+ Outstanding 559/516 MBps read/write speed with ATTO
+ TCG OPAL security with 256-bit AES encryption
+ SandForce SF-2281 processor supports TRIM, SMART, and RAISE
+ DuraWrite technology extends NAND lifetime
+ Top-level enthusiast operational I/O performance
+ 3-Year ADATA product warranty support
+ 60/120/240GB high-speed SSD storage capacities
+ Lightweight compact storage solution
+ Resistant to extreme shock impact
+ Low power consumption may extend battery life

Cons:

- Some manufacturers offer five-year warranty
- Expensive enthusiast-level product
- Firmware appears to throttle performance

Ratings:

  • Performance: 9.25
  • Appearance: 8.75
  • Construction: 9.50
  • Functionality: 9.25
  • Value: 6.75

Final Score: 8.7 out of 10.

Recommended: Benchmark Reviews Seal of Approval.

Benchmark Reviews invites you to leave constructive feedback below, or ask questions in our Discussion Forum.


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Comments 

 
# RE: ADATA S511 Solid State Drive AS511S3Neuromancer 2011-07-20 17:20
"SandForce claims that the 2200 series has a 0% minimum over-provisioning improvement, which could open up additional storage space if the remaining capacity made it necessary to complete a write cycle."

The second half of that sentence is not a logical conclusion to the first. If something has 0% improvement, it means it has not improved at all. It does not facilitate a declaration it is the same technology although that is usually the case.
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# RE: RE: ADATA S511 Solid State Drive AS511S3Olin Coles 2011-07-20 21:15
You're reading it wrong. SandForce SSDs previously had a 7% or more over-provisioning, and now they offer SSDs with 0% over-provisioning, which is an improvement.
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# No your reading it wrongNeuromancer 2011-07-20 22:28
I am not reading it wrong, it was structured comfusing for hte simple. 9% change means nothing changed.

As a matter of cat I have a MAX IOPS drive up for review as I type. And guess what.

One NAND chips worth of data density was set aside for OP and EC. 16 times 16GB = 256 GB not 240...


Only trying to help.
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# I cant typeNeuromancer 2011-07-20 22:29
And apparently my spell checker is changing het subject for me :P
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# RE: ADATA S511 Solid State Drive AS511S3Neuromancer 2011-07-20 17:22
*edit also it means it has not decreased at all. (sorry that explains the logic in the PC community that nothing changed architecturally, it neither improved nor degraded).
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