Every day, the PC gets a new challenge.  A hot new game, a video editing suite, music/movie storage conundrum and with those we need to upgrade.  I have walked you through a bit of upgrading the CPU, Motherboard, Case, video card (more coming VERY SOON) and even moving hard drives around but haven’t upgraded a storage solution until now.

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Today I give you my review of the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB SSD.  This review comes complete with an unboxing, benchmark and even how to install Windows 8 in case you don’t know how.  I want to help you feel a little more comfortable in upgrading your PC or even choosing another hard drive as a storage solution rather than an OS drive.

For a few years now, I have been running an Intel 520 Series 120GB SSD which is nice and to me turned the world around.  My previous employer, I would develop and build many PC’s and in them used SSD and myself having a mechanical HD I didn’t really feel the difference, the customers PC was my PC until it left my hands and then I went back to my own, I could never have them side by side to compare them.  My buddy at Intel gave me a great opportunity in giving me the drive and I took it home and starting playing with it.

I was amazed at the difference; alone on booting a mechanical HD would take a minute or 2, maybe longer.  With an SSD it takes less than 30 seconds and 30 seconds is pushing it on the high side.  Graphics have come a long way, as have the processors and even memory but SSD’s make one of the largest differences I have seen, from boot times to load times, it helps everything.

After having the 520 for a few years, I decided I wanted another SSD but as always money is tight so I came across a very nice deal on an Intel 320 160GB SSD, a bit slower than the 520 drive but still it was an SSD and faster than a mechanical hard drive.  While it was larger, it was slower and older so I did not want it as my main drive, so I kept it as my Gaming drive for a few years afterwards and games just took seconds to load, rather than minutes.  Perfect example is in Battlefield 4.

In Battlefield 4 I am either the 1st to load and if not the 1st I am the 2nd and then I have to wait for everyone to come in.  The wait times are horrible but then I think back to playing BF4 before I got the SSD’s and I was that guy that loaded into the game and couldn’t figure out how everyone else was already in the game and have taken all of my vehicles, totally not fair.

So we fast forward to a few weeks ago.  My drives while fast, just are out of space, all of my drives.  My main drive is full with videos (of which I upload to youtube) the OS, Office, Camtasia and etc, my Game drive is full of games and my other drives are just full of junk, but I am a pack rat and I will need it one day,… I tell myself.  I get the great opportunity to review this drive by Kingston, the HyperX 3K 240GB.  I am not only dazzled by its size but by its speeds as well, it seem a lot faster.  Enough about me, let’s get back to the drive.

Check out these specs

240GB of Storage
SATA III Interface, but will also work with SATA II
Sandforce Controller
Max Sequential Read: Up to 555MB’s
Max Sequential Writes: Up to 510MB’s
4KB Random Read: Up to 86,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4K 40,000 IOPS)
4KB Random Write: Up to 60,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4L 57,000 IOPS)
MTBF: 1,000,000 hours

Check out my unboxing

A pretty simple little package that has everything (other than a cable) to get you going.

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So with SSD’s, you cannot run a defrag and if you are running Windows 7, you should disable the scheduled defrag of this drive as over time defragging an SSD will either degrade performance and even ruin the drive.  Windows 7 can disable defragging when it detects an SSD, but it is not 100% so you should check and verify.  With TRIM, garbage collection, it allows the drive to maintain its performance although it in itself can increase wear and tear of a drive due to increase write amplification, although today, that point is mostly moot.

Windows 8 and 8.1 actually do not defrag SSD’s, where it used to “Defragment Disk” now reads “Optimize”.   Optimize now replaces “Defragment Disk” and is safe to use on SSD’s which allows you to run TRIM on drives to automatically run the garbage collection and even allows you to schedule these tasks.  Keeps you drive nice and peppy.

So now that your drive is peppy and all is good, lets run some benchmarks and tests to see the performance difference between some drives, the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB, Intel 520 120GB SSD, Intel 320 160GB SSD and a Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM Mechanical drive.

I would like to mention, testing with the mechanical drive was painful, test that took minutes on the SSD’s took hours on the mechanical drive, not because it is a Hitachi drive, I have always liked their drives but because it is mechanical and they are considerably slower, the point of this review.

My benchmarks will come from Crystaldiskmark, PCMark  and BootRacer.  Crystal Mark, basically reads what the manufacturers claims the speeds are which of course will synthetically measure performance, PCMark will benchmark very close to real life usage benchmarking Games, Graphical applications such as Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and more, Productivity software such  as Word, Excel and PowerPoint load times and last but not least, BootRacer measures bootimes, short and sweet.

CrystalDiskMark Testing

  • All : All Test (Seq, 512K, 4K, 4K QD32)
  • Seq : Sequential Read/Write Test (Block Size = 1024KB)
  • 512K : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 512KB)
  • 4K : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 4KB)
  • 4K QD32 : Random Read/Write Test (Block Size = 4KB, Queue Depth = 32) for NCQ&AHCI

Since I started the review on the Intel 520 120GB drive, I will list it first.

This was my personal introduction to SSD’s in the home and these are the specs listed for this drive.

Intel 520 Series 120GB SSD

120GB of Storage
SATA III Interface, but will also work with SATA II
Sandforce Controller
Max Sequential Read: Up to 550MBps
Max Sequential Writes: Up to 500MBps
4KB Random Read: Up to 25,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4K 80,000 IOPS)
4KB Random Write: Up to 40,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4L 40,000 IOPS)
MTBF: 1,200,000 hours

For the time, this drive was amazing, but you can see the specs listed don’t quite match up to the specs on the benchmark.  The Reads only came up to 482MB’s and writes 147MB’s.  Remember, these are max speeds they posted, the speeds listed on the benchmark are average speeds and more true than Max speeds.

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Intel 320 Series 120GB

160GB of Storage
SATA III Interface, but will also work with SATA II
Intel Controller
Max Sequential Read: Up to 270MBps
Max Sequential Writes: Up to 165MBps
4KB Random Read: Up to 39,000 IOPS
4KB Random Write: Up to 21,000 IOPS
MTBF: 1,200,000 hours

This is an older drive, I believe one of Intel’s first SSD’s and they did a good job with this shot, back then they were all around this speed.

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Then we get to the painful portion of this review, the mechanical hard drive.  This is the Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM and I know it’s slow, but I introduced it to this review to show you where we have come from, and man, I have been working on computers since 1991 and we have come a very long way, I still remember my very first computer, my IBM XT.

So, there is not much to list aside from the fact that it is only SATA 3.0, not SATA 6.0 compliant but still will work on a SATA6 controller.  It is also 7200RPM with 32MB of Cache, but there is not much more I can list but check out the benchmarks.

You can see that nowhere in this benchmark is there anything close to what an SSD can provide with performance.  On the flip side, the benefit to a mechanical hard drive is the cost to capacity side, but I will get into it a little later in the review.

Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM

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Last but not least and the reason for the review is the Kingston 3K HyperX 240GB SSD.

240GB of Storage
SATA III Interface, but will also work with SATA II
Sandforce Controller
Max Sequential Read: Up to 555MB’s
Max Sequential Writes: Up to 510MB’s
4KB Random Read: Up to 86,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4K 40,000 IOPS)
4KB Random Write: Up to 60,000 IOPS (Sustained Random 4L 57,000 IOPS)
MTBF: 1,000,000 hours

We can see here, these benchmarks ring a little more true in both read and write, but do still fall a little short.  The Read is advertised as 555MBps but only reached 517, which is still faster than the Intel 520.  The write again fell short of the advertised 500MBps, reaching only 300.6 MBps but still more than double of the Intel 520 and almost double of the 320.

Aside from the advertised speeds, its speeds across the board are much faster than those of any drive previously listed here.

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Here are all of the drives in a much better space for comparison.

We can see on this chart that the Kingston SSD dominates on all of the tests, sometimes by more than double.

Kingston SSD Bench

Now let’s jump on over to PCMark.

PCMark helps us a little more to understand what all of these charts above mean by showing us how games and applications load, a real world performance test allowing for a real performance differences.  This will help the gamer as well as the worker take more control over what they do and save them time and money by not having to wait as long for things to read and write.

Intel 520 Series 120GB SSD

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 Intel 320 Series 160GB

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 Hitachi 1TB

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Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB

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Unlike the last test, we can see here that the Intel 520 Series drive was not going out without a fight.  The Intel 520 Series drive did best the Kingston on 3 scores overall saving you about 30 seconds but the Kingston overall won the race.  The 30 seconds was not on 1 test, it was over all, a second or two on one test and a second or two on another test, but you can see the Kinston overall won.  Not amazingly surprising that some of the test actually came back as equal since they are using the same chipset but this speaks loads about the Kingston drive.

The smaller the SSD is, in capacity usually equates to more speed, being that the Kingston is double the size of the Intel, you would think that the Intel drive would have greatly outpaced the Kingston, but not so.  It looks like Kingston might have done a little more work to the overall chipset and drive itself to keep things a little more peppy.

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Another little time saver is boot times, but in this case since the top 2 drives were the Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB and the Intel 520 Series 120GB, I will only list those 2.  Another reason I will only list those 2, is because I only had Operating systems on them, so as we are showing scores to save you sometime, I tried to save myself sometime too.

For this test, I used a program called BootRacer, which comes to us from Greatis.com and can be found here http://www.greatis.com/bootracer/.  This is actually a very useful program and can help you to determine some issues on your PC, if it takes too long to boot, something’s wrong.  Unlike some benchmarks, in all of my benchmarks I use real world testing meaning that I have programs starting up like all of you would.  For example, when my POC starts up I have the following programs loading.

  • Asus AISuite3 (I will turn this program off after this review, it is worthless)
  • IAstorIcon (Part of the Intel Rapid Storage Technology, I use to manage the Intel Drives. This software is actually set to be delayed, so it means it takes my PC a little longer to start)
  • Realtek HD Audio Manager (Audio)
  • NVIDIA Capture Server Proxy (For my NVIDIA recording suite)
  • NVIDIA Settings (Part of the NVIDIA Geforce Experience Suite)
  • Logitech Gaming Framework (Software for my Logitech Mouse)
  • exe (Manages my headphones)
  • AVG User Interface (My Anti-Virus software suite)
  • System settings protector (Part of Spybot Search and Destroy’s suite)
  • ZoneAlarm (I love my firewall)
  • HID Application (Part of my keyboard from Sentey)

So it seems I had stuff loading that I didn’t even pay attention to.  This software tells you how many programs you have starting up, services and how many installed applications you have on your PC and gives you a little more PC information.

You can see here, it took my PC 40.77 seconds to load using the Intel 520Series drive.  Now before you freak out, notice that it really only took Windows 13 second to load, the other 27 seconds was used in loading all the programs and services.  So after those 13 seconds, you can use your PC and everything will work but once in windows (the 13 seconds) it will take another 27 seconds before everything has completed loading.

Intel 520 Series 120GB

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Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB

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So with the Kingston, it took a full 8 seconds less to fully boot.  Only 1 second less to get into Windows but 7 seconds less to boot to a fully usable desktop where everything is loaded, that’s a pretty nice increase I would say.

This software gives you a rating on your time, so I need to work on mine a bit and even has contests based on your bootime, maybe one day I will enter it, who knows.

So all this talk about the drive, do you know how to install an SSD?  If you don’t, don’t worry, check out this video on how to install the SSD.

This video shows you how to install the SSD, the physical SSD but do you want to install Windows on this hard drive or do you want to use it as a backup drive?  Well I have both covered.  I will show you how to install Windows on this drive in this video.

If you don’t want to use it to install Windows on and you want it as a backup drive or a drive to load games and programs off of, I will show you real quick how to install this drive within an already working Windows environment.

So, in windows when you click Start, you will get this screen

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You can right click on “This PC” and click Manage.  Microsoft’s Plug and Pray technology has gotten much better over the years so now when you plug in a drive and go to “Manage” and you will be greeted with a message to “Initialize Disk”, click OK on this prompt.

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When you click Ok, the dialog box will disappear and you have to find your drive.  If you scroll down on the list of disks in the lower portion, you will find a disk that reads “Unallocated”.  Right click on this “Unallocated” disk and select “New Simple Volume” and the “New Simple Volume Wizard” will appear.  Click Next to start this process.

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On this prompt, you will only change the “Simple volume size in MB” unless you want to partition this drive, but I will not for this so click “Next”

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On here, you will select you drive letter

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And here you will name your “Volume label”, “File System” type and “Allocation Unit Size”.  I want to use this all as default, but one thing you want to make sure you place a check in is “Perform a quick format” and click “Next”, if you don’t it will still format but it will mean the difference between a few seconds and about an hour, so make sure “Perform a quick format” has a check in it and click “Next”.

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And finally click “Finish”

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And you’re done, your drive will be formatting and once done an empty folder will appear, but I will skip the empty folder and show you the drive formatting.

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I would have to give this drive a 4 out 5 for performance and cost.  This drive provides great performance and costs less than most drives out there in the capacities but a bit higher than some of the others.  The performance is better than most of the lower cost drives and offers a 3 year warranty, though the 3 year warranty seems to be a standard.  It might have gotten a bit higher if it has encryption as it is important to some.

That’s about it guys, I tried to give you as much information as possible on this drive, how to use it, how to install it and what it’s about.  Please let me know what you guys think and if there is something you would have preferred I did in this review and of course if you have any questions, please let me know.

Iggy Castillo

Iggy Castillo

Senior Editor an Reviewer at Dragonblogger.com
I have spent many years in the PC boutique name space as Product Development Engineer for Alienware and later Dell through Alienware's acquisition and finally Velocity Micro. During these years I spent my time developing new configurations, products and technologies with companies such as AMD, Asus, Intel, Microsoft, NVIDIA and more. The Arts, Gaming, New & Old technologies drive my interests and passion. Now as my day job, I am an IT Manager but doing reviews on my time and my dime.
Iggy Castillo

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Iggy Castillo