The A2000 isn’t just fast for a cheap SSD; in real-world use, it’s among the fastest ever
- Superb performance speeds
- Handy 5-year warranty
- Very reasonable price
- None to speak of
Kingston’s latest M.2 SSD hasn’t launched with anything approaching the amount of fanfare as PCI-E 4.0 drives, but hype can be deceiving, and this seemingly humble slice of storage is actually one of the best SSDs – of any kind – to launch in months.
Kingston A2000 review: Performance and design
In fairness, it has a couple of tricks that keep it from being just another PCI-E 3.0 drive. It ditches 64-layer 3D NAND, used by the vast majority of NVMe SSDs, and uses newer 96-layer memory instead, a much denser form of NAND that crams in more memory per stack. The main advantage of this – the possibility of higher capacities in the same form factors – won’t be felt much by a drive that only comes in 250GB, 500GB and 1TB models, but 96-layer NAND also happens to be cheaper to produce. The benefit, in theory, is that those savings are passed on to the customer, resulting in cheaper SSDs.
Sure enough, the A2000’s second trick is its competitive pricing. Not so much for the 250GB model, which is a middling 22.1p per gigabyte, but the 500GB works out at 17p per gigabyte and the 1TB model we tested is just 13.6p. That’s even less than the Adata XPG SX8200 Pro, an SSD that was notable for its great value.
Look closer at the specs, and you’ll see another reason why it might be so cheap. The 500GB and 1TB models both have a maximum stated read speed of 2,200MB/s, and a write speed of 2,000MB/s; miles off the XPG SX8200 Pro and the Samsung 970 Evo Plus. The 250GB model aims even lower, listed at a 2,000MB/s read speed and just a 1,100MB/s write speed.
We can’t speak for the slowest and smallest version of the A2000, but the good news is that at least the 1TB model shows those numbers to be on the cautious side. CrystalDiskMark recorded a sequential read speed of 2,281MB/s and a sequential write speed of 2,183MB/s, both slightly above Kingston’s own estimates.
This would point towards the A2000 being, if nothing else, a decent budget SSD. However, we think that too would be underselling it. In CrystalDiskMark’s 4K random test, it managed a read speed of 572MB/s and a write speed of 505MB/s: both faster than we’d expect from the premium end of the market. Write speed, in particular, is nearly twice what the XPG SX8200 Pro achieved in the same test.
This wasn’t an outlier result, either. Our file transfer tests indicate the A2000 really is that fast in realistic conditions, even if it doesn’t hugely impress in synthetic sequential tests. In the huge-file test, it breezed past both the XPG SX8200 Pro and the 970 Evo Plus with a 1,621MB/s read speed and a 1,480MB/s write speed, both of which also showcase a much smaller proportional drop from maximum speeds than we typically see.
Somehow, it even produced a higher average write speed in the large files test, with 1,525MB/s; read speeds had no such luck, but still came in at an excellent 1,572MB/s. At this kind of pace, the A2000 is even nipping at the heels of the Gigabyte Aorus NVMe Gen4 SSD, which has a whole generation’s advantage in its PCI-E 4.0 support.
Things slowed down considerably in the small files test, but the A2000 still performed well above its price range. Again, write speed was the star, averaging 739MB/s, while read speed ended up at 572MB/s. Adata’s SSD recorded a 426MB/s read and a 439MB/s write speed, so the gap was narrower, but it’s still a clear victory for the A2000.
The performance of this SSD is unprecedented; not in a sense of pure speeds, as there are plenty of PCI-E 3.0 drives that are faster in sequential tests, but in the way that it defies underwhelming sequential speeds to sprint past its rivals in more true-to-life file-transfer tests. We’ve tested plenty of SSDs that wowed in CrystalDiskMark only to crumble in our own tests, but never one that essentially does it the other way around.
It’s decently durable, too. Even the runt-of-the-litter 250GB model has a respectable 150TBW (terabytes written) rating, while the 500GB model sits at 350TBW and the 1TB model at 600TBW. Most users will reach the end of their five-year warranty well before having to worry about writing damage.
READ NEXT: XPG SX8200 Pro review
Kingston A2000 review: Verdict
Maybe it’s the 96-layer NAND, maybe it’s the Silicon Motion SM2263ENG controller, but whatever the true cause of the A2000’s data-shuffling prowess, it’s a superb performer for very little money. And since it’s both faster and even more affordable than the XPG SX8200 Pro, it’s our new M.2 SSD Best Buy.