KingFast F3 PLUS 120GB KF2510MCF 2.5" 9.5mm SATA 3 MLC SSD Review @ ModSynergy.com
By: Michael Phrakaysone

KingFast SSD SATA 3 Ultrabook

So the next generation of the Microsoft Windows Operating System is finally here, fittingly named Windows 8.  There is a buzz surrounding the release of the new OS and it's funky tile system meant for tablets and touch screen systems. With Windows 8 and its updated graphical interface, it's now more intensive than before making use of such components as the hard drive.  The hard drive is an integral part of the performance of a computer system, and if you've been keeping track of the prices of storage solutions, you might have noticed that prices have been steadily dropping at a rapid pace. Storage mediums such as the conventional spinning hard disk are finally dropping in price from the recent price hikes seen by retailers due to what they claim were the floods that affected Thailand not too long ago. 

The negative that came of out of the hard drive situation made way for the solid state drive (or SSD) to increase its awareness as manufactures took this opportunity to implement deals to place their SSD's price in line with the price of normal conventional spinning hard disks. Now you can purchase an SSD for even less than before, some models more affordable than others.  Sure the price per GB needs improving, but that will improve in time.  With the prices of SSD's being similar to normal hard drives on the market it gives an enticing argument. 

As SSDs continue to fall in price and offer incentives such as main-in-rebates to entice customers to buy their products, most customers are not sure who's product is better. Most people who know a bit about SSDs know that there are a handful of companies that offer them. The most popular brands you have out there right now are companies such as Intel, Patriot Memory, Corsair, Crucial, Kingston and maybe OCZ. But what about the companies you don't know about? Do you just turn a blind eye and not give them a chance? 

This leads me into introducing the KingFast brand.  New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen, China founded in 2008 by experts in the field of digital data storage technology.  They are one of the leading professional manufacturers of the solid state drive in China today, and do everything in-house from the beginning of research and development, to full-fledge production while their products pass international certifications for as FCC, CE, ROHS to ensure product quality.  It doesn't hurt that they also work with first-tier companies around the world as well.   

Always looking to review the products from companies that most have never heard of and looking for the unique products that customers might want to own, I jumped at the possibility in reviewing their mSATA 3.0 based SSD in the form of the KF1310MCF and was rather intrigued how well something so small could pack that much performance!  If you didn't see that review yet, I suggest you look at it here: KingFast KF1310MCF SSD Review

In my second KingFast review I tested their 2.5" SATA 3 based SSD in the KF2509MCF, but it just missed the mark with how I felt about it with its slower asynchronous NAND flash memory.  The part I didn't enjoy was having to open the SSD up to see why it performed the way it did, there were no indications anywhere on the product, packaging, model name, or even website information that informed the customer that they were getting an asynchronous product.  If you didn't see that review yet, I suggest you look at it here: KingFast KF2509MCF SSD Review.

Well today marks the third time I will be testing and sharing with you, my readers, regarding a KingFast product.  Will this be review be saving the best for last? Or will it continue where the off the mark asynchronous KingFast KF2509MCF SSD left off?  Read on to find out as we go through our analysis of the KingFast 120GB F3 PLUS 2.5" KF2510MCF Solid State Drive, and as it goes through our gamut of testing.

Sporting 120GB of Intel MLC NAND flash memory while making use of the SandForce SF-2281 controller, read on to know more about the KingFast brand, and what you can expect from their SSD products.  With a three year warranty on the KF2510MCF, read on to see new results with the latest fixed TRIM firmware version 5.0.4.

About New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd.

New Shenzhen Kingfast Storage Technology Co., Ltd. is a Chinese company based in Shenzhen, China founded in 2008 by experts in the field of digital data storage technology.  They are one of the leading professional manufacturers of the solid state drive in China today and do everything in-house from the beginning of research and development to full-fledge production and products pass international certification such as FCC, CE, ROHS to ensure product quality.  It doesn't hurt that they also work with first-tier companies around the world.   

KingFast F3 PLUS Series KF2510MCF Product Overview

Available in 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB capacities. The Kingfast F3 PLUS series is the result of the latest breakthrough in SSD technology. The F3 PLUS series KF2510MCF SATA III SSD delivers the incredible performance, they are tested in professional lab. Additionally, the drives feature speeds up to blazing 559MB/s sequential read and 522MB/s sequential write, while increased system responsiveness and the speed of access time, and superior durability compared to conventional hard drives with superior shock resistance.

High capacities and low power consuming NAND flash technology provide the necessary performance on desktops and battery life boosts generated by notebook laptops. And Kingfast SSDs are more rugged than traditional hard drives.  All Kingfast SSD drives have 3-years warranty and Kingfast legendary service and support. Super fast, reliable with TRIM and SMART support.

Editors Note: This is our first look at the F3 PLUS series designation.  We have previously looked at only the F3 Series SSDs from KingFast.  Are they any different?  Who knows, but we will find out.  This is the conventional 9.5mm standard version that we are reviewing.  KingFast is really pushing the new 7mm version which can be installed on new ultra-thin notebooks offered by Intel through various PC manufactures. This one we are reviewing IS NOT meant for ultra-thin notebooks.

The KingFast F3 PLUS Series KF2510MCF is a 2.5" SSD that operates through the SATA 3 6Gbps interface.  This  SSD is designed for use in desktops and notebooks and measures the conventional 100x70x9.5mm in size.

The KingFast F3 PLUS KF2510MCF sports the reliable SSD controller from SandForce.  This is not our first time across the SF-2281VB1-SDC controller because this same processor was seen in many of our past SATA 3 SSD reviews, in fact this same controller is widely used from a variety of manufacturers SSD offerings.  SandForce dominates the market with their SATA 3 controller.   

However, that is about to change with SSD's coming with controllers from Link_A_Media Devices, Indillinx, Samsung, and other opposition.  Samsung has actually been out for a while, along with Indillinx.  They just haven't really released SSD's with their own nametag until not too long ago.

KingFast F3 PLUS Series KF2510MCF Product Specifications

First off, on our previous KingFast reviews, the actual product box had at least general bits of information that included the rated performance of the SSD.  It baffles my mind that they did not carry this over to the packaging of the KF2510MCF.  The box contains absolutely no information whatsoever.  This is a colossal mistake on their part.  If I was a customer browsing in the store and found no specifications or features of the SSD on the box, something the KF2510MCF absolutely does not have, no matter how fancy it looked, I would skip past it and look at another product.  Does KingFast realize how absurd it is to have an SSD product box with zero information regarding what it can do on the box?  I'm very surprised the packaging even made it through production.

I had to go to the KingFast website and figure out the product features and specifications of the KF2510MCF.  What I found out was the rated sequential read and write numbers are 559/522MB/s. 

The website says the maximum random IOPS read and write numbers are 77,515 read IOPS, and82,846 write IOPS.  It's funny how specific they were with the numbers, I've never seen something like it. 

Intel NAND Solid State Drive

About SandForce

‘SandForce Flash Storage and SSD Processors are designed to provide innovative and differentiated solutions for standard NAND flash memory to reliably operate in enterprise storage environments. SandForce Flash Storage and SSD Processors with DuraClass technology provide SSDs with best-in-class reliability, performance, and power efficiency.’

‘SandForce® Flash Storage and SSD Processors use DuraClass™ technology with RAISE™ and patented and patent pending DuraWrite™ to drive ubiquitous deployment of volume flash memory into primary and I/O intensive data storage applications. SandForce Driven™ SSDs dramatically optimize mission-critical application reliability, IT infrastructure ROI, green power preservation, and everyday computing user experiences.’

About SandForce SF-2200/2100

‘Today’s award-winning SandForce Driven™ SSDs are well known for their performance and features. The SandForce® SF-2200/2100 - the second generation of SandForce SSD Processors - continue accelerating SSD deployment in enthusiast and mainstream client computing platforms. The SF-2200/2100 is an ideal solution for portable storage applications where power consumption, boot-up time, application performance, responsiveness, and small form factor are important.

The Client SSD Processors have integrated enhanced DuraClass™ Technology that is architected to leverage today’s densest SLC and MLC NAND flash memory. They deliver best-in-class performance, endurance, security, and power efficiency in a “DRAM-less”, single chip solution.’

Features:

  • Second generation SSD Processor with enterprise-class features for cost-sensitive client environments
  • 6Gb/s SATA III with NCQ support
  • Best-in-class, consistent read and write performance (500MB/s, 20K Random Writes IOPS) for client applications
  • Automatic double encryption (AES-256, 128), TCG OPAL and password at the drive level ensures secure data protection
  • Supports the latest 3xnm & 2xnm SLC & MLC flash memory with Asynch/Toggle/ONFi2 interfaces
  • DuraClass™ technology provides best-in-class endurance, performance, and low power
  • Optimized, single-chip eliminates need for external memory saving cost, power and space
  • High integration supports up to 512GB on a 2.5” or 1.8” drive
  • Power balancing optimizes energy consumption (# active flash devices) vs. performance
  • Ultra low-power mode to maximize battery life
  • RAISE™ provides RAID-like protection for single SSD client systems
  • Highly intelligent block management & wear leveling optimizes SSD longevity
  • Complete solution provided through ASIC, FW, turnkey reference designs, tools, documentation and support

First Impressions

The design of the box for the KF2510MCF is environmentally friendly because it's very compact and easy to dispose of.  The design follows a consistency of previous KingFast products reviewed on ModSynergy.  Comprised out of a paper outer shell, a well thought out cardboard enclosure seals the SSD out of harm's way with foam padding for security.  No plastic is used within the packaging meaning it's even easier to recycle.  There was not even a hint of damage to the SSD being travelled through China to Canada. 

Solid State Drive SATA 3

Out of the three KingFast product box designs I've seen, the KF2510MCF is easily the best of them all, at least the front of it.  A blue aura of colors makes you feel its floating in space.  It would actually be a very nice background on the computer.  From top to bottom on the left side is the respective KingFast logo, general product information including model information and capacity, and finally like I wanted, an actual SSD image to fill in the negative spaces placed on the right side.  No more empty spaces like on previous designs.  But turning around to the back, we see only a KingFast logo and no other information regarding the product.  It makes absolutely no sense.   When I complain about the other two boxes having negative spaces, but having product information, KingFast does the complete opposite with the KF2510MCF.  Now this has a beautiful front design with no negative space, but no product information!

As I mentioned earlier, the website states the performance of the KF2510MCF SSD is: Sequential Read/Write (Max): 559/522MB/s.  Like I suggested before, KingFast really needs to have specifications on both packaging design, and sticker on the SSD, exactly like CoreRise does.  Why should you have to figure out this information?

Open the box and you find there is a enclosed corrugated insert which is simple but effective.  It slides right out.  Inside there is foam padding protection that holds all of the items.  It contains the KingFast logo on the front and folds open to reveal the generous bundle.

You have to appreciate the bundle KingFast offers with their KF2510MCF because it's the most complete bundle I have seen, and continues the consistency of past KingFast products.  In the box there is the KingFast 120GB KF2510MCF SSD, 2.5" to 3.5" SSD metal bracket, screws for mounting the SSD into the adapter, short SATA 3.0 data cable, and a KingFast warranty card for three years warranty along with generic installation instructions.   Most SSD manufacturers don't offer a 2.5" to 3.5" bracket, so I have to commend KingFast for providing a complete bundle, making it more flexible for owners to use this SSD for desktop and notebook applications.  These brackets alone can also be quite expensive.  And this one is muscular and strong.   I've seen some brackets retail for $30 which is unbelievable.  Brilliant move KingFast! 

Visual Overview

SSD IOPS CACHE

The 120GB KingFast KF2510MCF SSD comes in a conventional enclosure as you see with any other SSD on the market.  Nothing really makes it stand out from the rest of the crowd.  It's just a another typical aluminum exterior that is painted dull black and has a bright blue sticker on top of it.  The only nice touch is the edges have a chrome polished look to it.  Painting it shiny would have been better.  No brushed aluminum look, no fancy paint job, just a bright blue product sticker placed on the top.  The sticker gives a description of the product, model number, and capacity of the SSD.  It doesn't mention performance numbers, which KingFast could have noted on the drive.

You have your standard four screw holes on the bottom and sides of the SSD to mount it the way you desire, either in a notebook computer, or in a desktop machine with the included KingFast 2.5" to 3.5" bracket.

Tearing it down -- I mean opening it up :)

Please note that by opening the KingFast KF2510MCF SSD, you forfeit the 3-year warranty that comes along with the drive.  Luckily I will take that burden for you by breaking the warranty seal on the side and top, and opening it up to see the components that make up the KF2510MCF.

LSI SandForce Controller

Have a look at the internals of the KingFast KF2510MCF 120GB solid state drive.  I believe this is the first black colored PCB I've seen inside an SSD reviewed on ModSynergy, and it's shiny!  It's funny how the inside of the SSD looks classier than the outer shell.  Instead of predictable green color printed circuit board, KingFast uses a shiny, clean black PCB.  It looks really beautiful in shiny black.  You can read the words SSDT10-SF2K-T16 on the back of the PCB that reveals the internal model number and SandForce SF2000 based controller that is used. 

You can tell it's finished on a SMD machine since all the solder contacts are flawlessly finished with no goops or mess. There seems to be no mistakes on this board.  There are no re-works on the board, the last thing you want to see on a PCB.   Maybe it is the shiny black PCB with contrasted colors of all the solder contacts and pins, but this one sure looks very nicely executed.

The layout of the board is spacious, and well spaced apart.  You can see some spots on the PCB that haven't been filled, so I'm sure on a higher end model such as in an Enterprise offering, these spots will be filled in with the correct components.   

One of the first things you become aware of is the SandForce SSD controller.  It's very close to the gold SATA contact pins to ensure the least amount of latencies and fastest operational speed.  This SandForce SF-2281VB1-SDC processor is  used to support features such SATA 6GB/s with Native Command Queuing support, TRIM, automatic data encryption AES-128, 48-bit LBA, APM, and has a host of algorithms that control and extend the life of the SSD with features such as Garbage Collection, read and block management for wear leveling purposes. 

On this KingFast KF2510MCF 120GB SSD there are a total of 16 individual Intel 29F64G08AAME2 chips that are marked as made in 2009.  They are based on the 25nm lithography process, have 1 Die per chip, and are MLC NAND Flash Memory.  As to whether or not these are the slower a-synchronous types or the faster synchronous types, I found conflicting information. One source says a-synchronous, and the other says its synchronous.  Since I already tested the KF2509MCF with a-synchronous memory and saw how much slower it was compared to synchronous memory, we'll see if the results for this KF2510MCF follow that type of consistency to determine what type of memory it uses.

16 pieces of Intel 29F64G08AAME2 (8GB each chip) MLC NAND flash memory chips cover and occupy both top and bottom of the PCB, 8 on each side.  They equal 128GB in total space, however, 8GB is reserved for SandForce firmware, provisioning, and other functions pertaining to the SandForce firmware.   

Performance Benchmarks and Real-World Tests

ATTO Disk Benchmark is a trusted and established application that tests raw data in compressible form within the drive being tested. It's demonstrated over the years to supply steady and consistent results, one of the reasons why ATTO Disk Benchmark is the preferred benchmark in order to give a baseline score of maximum throughput performance. Most SSD manufacturers' maximum sequential read/write speed claims are done with ATTO Disk Benchmark for this very reason.

The numbers you see here are the best case scenario numbers you can expect from this SSD. The default transfer size of 0.5 to 8192KB was selected to be tested along with a length of 256MB.

All remaining benchmarks used here such as AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark are testing with (for the most part) Incompressible data, which some SSD drive controllers may or may not struggle with. That is why on occasion you see the disparity between numbers that are in ATTO Disk Benchmark compared to those of other benchmarks. If the numbers are drastically different, you can draw the conclusion that the particular SSD drive controller suffers when reading/writing incompressible data.

For example, in AS SSD benchmark, the write numbers are much different than those of seen on ATTO Disk Benchmark, and the reason is because one is testing Compressible data, while the other Incompressible data.  Without further ado, let's see what the KingFast KF2510MCF can do in our Intel based 2012 PC build.  Full specifications on our test bed can be found here.

I also found a new and interesting SSD benchmark called Anvil's Storage Utilities that I will start to use from this point on because it tests a variety of scenarios and combines many of what the other benchmarks do separately into one full fledged benchmark with more flexibility.  The SSD is tested under different queue lengths for read and write testing, it reports on access times and also IOPS performance.  The version I am using is RC2.  More information can be found here regarding Anvil's Storage Utilities.

URL: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?273661-Anvil-s-Storage-Utilities

Editors Note [SandForce 5.0.4 = TRIM fixed]: This is Sandforce firmware 5.0.4 that addresses and fixes broken TRIM functionality. This affected any SandForce SSD's that had firmware 5.02 or 5.0.3. Broken TRIM on these SSD's firmware means the SSD performance would degrade over continued normal usage without the user knowing a thing, even if it was being reported as working. The performance drop would continue the more you used the SSD, TRIM wasn't able to do what it needed to keep performance at optimum levels. The guys from TweakTown were the ones that found this issue first. It's best to read their article to know more about this issue.

TweakTown Article URL - Broken TRIM SandForce Firmware

KingFast was contacted about this issue and responded the best they could.  They initially provided the Sandforce Field Updater software and Sandforce 5.0.4 firmware for us to flash our KingFast SSD's, but it was unsuccessful after many attempts.

Apparently they had issues re-coding and creating another firmware for our specific SSD's signature and serial numbers, thus we ended up shipping the drives back to be flashed by KingFast themselves, and it was sent back to us with the new firmware.  We are assured that all new batches of SSD's will have the latest firmware installed from the factory.

The Results

Intel MotherboardATTO BenchmarkHD Tune ProBenchmarkCrystalCrystalDiskMarkSSDSMART

I calculated with a stop-watch the boot up time into a brand new Windows 7 installation takes only about 12 seconds, whereas using a 2.5" 10,000RPM hard drive took between 30 seconds. 

As I mentioned before, the KingFast KF2510MCF was found with Intel 29F64G08AAME2. These are MLC based NAND flash memory, but I found conflicting information as to if they were slower asynchronous memory, or faster synchronous memory.  I said that the results would confirm what they actually were based on consistency of following past reviews.

Well it's very apparent that these are in fact the faster synchronous memory type as the results show.  The results show that the KingFast KF2510MCF is very fast, and is actually the second fastest SATA 3 SSD we have ever reviewed on ModSynergy!

The KF2510MCF surprisingly beat it's rated sequential write number of 522MB/s, and also achieved exactly what it said its rated sequential read specification would be (559MB/s).  In the ATTO Disk Benchmark it managed in our Intel Core i7-2600K/Intel DP67BG(B3) combo a maximum of 559MB/s read, and 527MB/s write, beating and meeting its rated specifications.

Anvil's Storage Utilities 0-Fill compressible benchmark test revealed a high of 83,392.48 write IOPS for its 4K QD16 test.  This is a very high performing score, but well below the 91,730.44 score posted by the CoreRise Venus 3S SSD. 

We saw a high of 33,100.72 IOPS 4K QD16 read which is substantially higher than any other previous KingFast SSD could achieve.  This is about 8189 more IOPS than what the KF1310MCF managed to achieve, and about 11,982 more IOPS than the KF2509MCF achieved with its slower asynchronous memory.  Compared to the CoreRise Comay Venus 3S, the KF2510MCF achieved about 10,160 more IOPS in the same 4K QD16 0-Fill compressible test. Fantastic results! 

I find it odd that in one spectrum the drive managed a 4K QD16 score of 83,392.48 write IOPS, but in the other spectrum only managed 33,100.72 IOPS for its 4K QD16 read score. The gap between the two is too large. The SandForce controller obviously excels more with compressible data as opposed to incompressible data when looking at the results, so take that into consideration when SSD hunting. 

AS SSD Benchmark is one of the areas where the KingFast KF2510MCF showed its true performance.  AS SSD Benchmark typically shows the worst possible performance scenario you can expect from the SSD.  Well the KingFast F3 PLUS KF2510MCF manages to put up the second highest overall score we have ever seen from a SATA 3 SSD on ModSynergy.com.  It managed to score an overall score of 574, only trailing the overall score of 650 posted by the Patriot Memory Wildfire, while being substantially more expensive.  It only lags behind by 76 points, the least of any other SSD when compared to the Wildfire. Just excellent!

In AS SSD Benchmark, the KingFast KF2510MCF achieves 489.70MB/s read, and 172.34MB/s write with a total combined score of an impressive 574, placing the second highest overall AS SSD score we have ever seen.  We saw a high of 42419 write IOPS and 36770 read IOPS, more than any other previous KingFast and CoreRise SSD's we previously reviewed!

Anvil's Storage Utilities incompressible benchmark test revealed a high of 44,150.26 write 4K QD16 IOPS, and a high of 22,174 read 4K QD16 IOPS score.

CrystalDiskMark showed that the KF2510MCF achieved 507.2MB/s read, and 183.3MB/s write sequential speeds for its incompressible test.

Don't forget about the 4K QD32 test in CrystalDiskMark because this one also is something that can determine real world performance, and makes use of the NCQ and AHCI support of the SSD. The KF2510MCF manages 234.7MB/s read, and 182.7MB/s write for its 4K QD32.

CrystalDiskMark showed that the KF2510MCF achieved 512.0MB/s read, and 501.3MB/s write sequential speeds for its 0-Fill compressible test.

Access time numbers posted by the KF2510MCF were one of the highest seen as well.  It went head to head with the Toggle NAND Patriot Memory Wildfire and beat it a few times in HD Tach benchmark, and beat the Patriot Memory Wildfire in the AS SSD Benchmark posting up excellent access times of 0.099ms read access time, and very low 0.202ms write access times!

About the only interesting and unusual sight were the write graphs that the HD Tune benchmark demonstrated. For the write benchmark tests, those lines are not smooth and consistent as in some of my other SSD reviews, but rather squiggly and atypical. The graph for the write benchmark, those orange lines are consistently large, meaning the SSD performance isn't as consistent throughout the whole drive capacity. Sometimes the performance is fast, then drops for a bit, then picks back up, this cycle would continue throughout. 

Compared to the Patriot Memory Wildfire, the squiggly lines are much closer in comparison, and shows it can sustain consistent performance for a longer period of time.  It holds a higher average speed for the write benchmark compared to the KingFast KF2510MCF.  The SATA2 Patriot Memory Torqx original was the closest thing you had to a straight line that I could remember. I thought this was something interesting I should bring up, but I didn't feel it was that detrimental to its performance because it still churned out great numbers.  The average speed of 328.7MB/s puts it a slower than the Patriot Memory Wildfire average write speed of 342.1MB/s.

Conclusion

The KingFast F3 PLUS 120GB KF2510MCF manages to be the second fastest SATA 3 SSD we have ever tested on ModSynergy. Supposedly they were saving the best for last!  It provides blazing fast performance that can hang with the best of them, offers a complete and generous bundle that includes a sturdy 2.5" to 3.5" mounting bracket, and the price point is highly competitive with the 120GB model selling for only $109USD (minus shipping). 

If you desire top level performance and a complete bundle for a competitive price point, I can easily recommend the KingFast F3 PLUS 120GB 2.5" KF2510MCF SSD.  It earns our highest rating, our Editor's Choice Award Rating!

No longer will availability be a factor for North American customers.  Customers in Canada and USA can now easily order any KingFast SSD product and have it shipped to their door.  KingFast has actually set up its own online website aptly named http://www.kingfast-ssd.com since October 2012.  According to the website, its location is in Mississauga, ON, Canada. 

The KingFast F3 PLUS KF2510MCF I reviewed sells for $75USD for the 60GB model, $109 for 120GB, $199 for 240GB, and $449 for 480GB.  For example, if you purchase the $109USD 120GB model, you have shipping options from Canada Post, UPS, or USPS.  For our American friends, shipping ranges from anywhere from $3.15 to $29.25 depending on how fast you want the parcel.  Ontario HST (13%) tax is added to the order for Canadians.

Christmas time cannot come earlier folks!

Editors Choice

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