SK Hynix Gold P31 review: a fast and affordable SSD

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This SSD from SK Hynix is ​​the first to feature 128-layer Triple Level Cell (TLC) NAND Flash memory.

SK-Hynix's Gold P31 SSD comes with

The SK Hynix Gold P31 is not only the first NVMe SSD with 128-layer NAND TLC Flash memory, it is also the first, according to our colleague, to be delivered in a more ecological packaging.

Design and specifications

If the SK Hynix Gold P31 card uses the 2280 form factor (22 mm wide, 80 mm long) of most SSDs, the comparisons stop there. Indeed, the memory of the SSD P31 has 128 layers of TLC NAND instead of the usual 96. In its product sheet, SK Hynix describes its memory as “4D”, to distinguish it from 3D. The SSD contains DRAM cache memory, and NAND Flash is used as secondary cache memory, but the South Korean manufacturer did not provide details on the quantities. Whatever they are, they are effective. Above all, it’s a real first and there is more memory per chip for a lower price: the Gold P31 SSD in 1 TB capacity tested by our colleagues is sold for 135 dollars excluding tax on Amazon.com, and the capacity of 500GB costs $75 excl. VAT (also sr Amazon.com). Certainly, there are less expensive SSDs, but not if we consider the performance of the P31.

The SK Hynix Gold P31 SSD offers top-notch performance at a great price. (Credit: SK Hynix)

The P31 is guaranteed for five years, for an MTBF of 1.5 million hours (Mean Time Before Failure – MTBF), and an endurance of 500TBW (TeraBytes Written) for the 500 GB card and 750TBW for the 1 TB card. which is more than correct. Very reassuring outlook on the lifespan of these SSDs, although in reality there have been few real life SSD failures to date. Our colleague wishes to point out once again the ecological packaging of these products, still too exceptional in the industry, even if he recognizes that the question of recycling electronic products is far from satisfactory.

Performance

The 1 TB SK Hynix Gold P31 tested by our colleague brilliantly passed the CrystalDiskMark 6 and AS SSD synthetic benchmarks. The card nearly hit the 3.5GB/s read and write speeds advertised in the press release. Close enough to say it’s true, if we take into account the test bench of our colleagues, several generations old.

The SK Hynix P31 tops the list of SSDs with the best results in the CrystalDiskMark 6 benchmark. Longer bars correspond to better performance. (Credit: IDG)

Admittedly, the SK Hynix Gold P31 isn’t as fast as Seagate’s FireCuda 520, but it held up in all actual 48GB transfers except, oddly, in the small file read test. There the P31 turned out half a minute slower than the competition. It had more trouble reading small .jpg files than most other benchmark SSDs, a delay possibly related to the built-in compression algorithms. Our colleague repeated the test five times to confirm this result.

Leaving aside the small file reading test, the overall score of the P31 is much better. Shorter bars correspond to better performance. (Credit: IDG)

On the other hand, in the test of writing a large file of 450 GB, the P31 shows an impressive performance. It’s not the sort of task you most commonly perform, but it’s a good test for evaluating cache management, and sometimes NAND speed. Comparatively, the results obtained by the Crucial P5 and the Samsung 970 EVO Plus are not very brilliant. This is typically what happens when the SSD runs out of cache. Other tests from our colleagues show that inexpensive SSDs do much less well.

In this test, the SK Hynix P31 comes close to the level of the powerful Seagate FireCuda 520. Finally, compared to the Crucial P5 and 970 EVO Plus SSDs. Shorter bars correspond to better performance. (Credit: IDG)

As our colleague points out, the performance of the 500 GB P31 is not as remarkable, especially when the cache reaches saturation. However, the advertised performance says that this model should keep its momentum, except when writing the large 450GB file, where it would drop to 950MB/s and take proportionally longer.

The tests were carried out on a Windows 10 64-bit machine running on a Core i7-5820K/Asus X99 Deluxe system comprising four 16 GB DDR4 Kingston 2666MHz modules, a PCIe Zotac (Nvidia) GT 710 1 GB x2 graphics card and a Asmedia ASM2142 USB 3.1 Gen 2 (10Gb/s). The configuration also included a Gigabyte GC-Alpine Thunderbolt 3 card and a Ramdisk 3.4.6 from Softperfect, used for the 48 GB transfer tests.

A fantastic opportunity

The SK Hynix Gold P31 offers premium SSD performance at a price point only slightly higher than mid-range SSDs. According to our colleague, the P31 is a real bargain. And if 1TB capacity meets your needs, then the P31 should definitely be at the top of your list.

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