Conclusion

We have taken a giant swan dive into the realm of SSD reviews, with our first review of a great value positioned TLC NVMe SSD packing a lot of performance for the money.  We have reviewed the XPG SX8100 2TB M.2 NVMe SSD.  This is a PCIe Gen 3×4 NVMe 1.3 SSD.  It has a rated read speed of 3500MB/s and a quoted write speed (in the best conditions) of 3000MB/s.  It also has DRAM SLC caching so that its TLC nature won’t hold it back.  Backed by the Realtek RTS5762 controller, it supports LDCP ECC and encryption.

Performance

The one thing we can say about this SSD is that its read performance is Steller for this price point.  This SSD certainly excels in its read performance over its write.  All of our read tests showed over 3000MB/s.  This SSD does an excellent job at reading performance.

The write speed though was a bit all over the place.  The quoted speed was 3000MB/s write, but that is only achieved in one benchmark scenario according to XPG’s own performance table.  In the CDM (QD32-T1) Sequential Write test the benchmark (according to XPG) will bench at 3000MB/sec.  However, this is the rarity out of the norm.  On this same table, it shows write speeds as low as 1900MB/s and even 1600MB/sec. 

In our own testing, the write speeds varied from 1900MB/s to 2140MB/s in ATTO and 2288MB/s in CrystalDiskMark.  Depending on the benchmark, these are not bad write speeds, but just not very consistent.  There are certainly SSDs out there with better write speeds, but you’ll be paying for it.  Considering this is TLC, these aren’t terrible results, we do think they could be a little better though if you spend more on a newer drive or look at different memory types.  For the money, these aren’t bad, and that’s the important thing to keep in mind is how low priced this SSD is.

Use Cases

In our opinion, anyone who is interested in read speeds will love this SSD.  This encompasses a wide variety of people. The XPG SX8100 M.2 NVMe SSD would be great for gamers, or general office use, or content creators, or even light workstation applications. 

The SSD, however, might start to suffer for those that do heavy write workloads.  There are two things that could affect that.  The fact that this SSD is TLC based means as it fills up, or with very large writes, its performance could degrade.  The endurance of writing and erasing and writing again is also not as robust as “Pro” drives that have higher endurance.  This would not be an optimal drive for applications with extreme writes.

Final Points

Otherwise though, for the money, this is a really good drive for generally anyone else.  Gamers, look here, a low-cost NVMe SSD like this will ensure you have a great gaming experience.  This will be great for new games that utilize texture or content streaming like Flight Sim 2020 will do.  Any kind of game that streams in information like this may benefit big time on a fast NVMe SSD with great read times.

The big value is the price, it has great performance for the price of $239.99 for a 2TB SSD and $129.99 for a 1TB SSD, and that’s the key point.  Thanks to its SLC like DRAM cache, TLC is not holding it back.  This allows there to be a money savings and you can actually afford large 1TB and 2TB SSDs now with NVMe performance.    

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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9 Comments

  1. Very nice to see you guys starting to review these devices. Great work Brent!

    I’m starting to fill my home lab with these devices, trying to determine if they are suitable for use as storage for a SQL Server. Since I won’t be able to hardware raid these with the host, I’m looking at simple Mirroring done within the OS for redundancy, and seeing what kind of performance I’m gonna get with 250GBs worth of SQL data.

  2. Some things that stood out. By no small means instead of by small means. ;)

    Also when you were talking access times you were using MB/s. Isn’t that a throughput number and not an access time? I was expecting some .02 MS access times.

    Otherwise good article. I would be willing to capture some performance data on my older NVME 3.0 Corsair for comparison if it would help.

  3. Only 128MB of DRAM on this drive (64M x 16b) which is par for the course on the higher-end Realtek drives, which includes the SX8100, S40G (RGB w/heatsink), and SX8800 (single-sided). Their lower-end offerings are DRAM-less with HMB.

    DRAM on consumer drives is typically used for caching metadata, particularly addressing, to translate between logical and physical locations. Such mapping can be expensive in terms of memory required, for example 32-bit (4-byte) addressing for 4KiB requires 1GB per 1TB of NAND/flash. DRAM can be used for other things but it’s not really used as a write cache (you do have coalescing of subpage or <4K writes, but this is more commonly done in SRAM). So the hottest data stays in DRAM, although all controllers have some amount of SRAM of which part is used for metadata.

    SLC caching, on the other hand, is fully a write cache. The goal is the empty it to TLC as soon as possible. ADATA tends to have large, dynamic SLC caches which has advantages and disadvantages. It’s more flexible but can add wear and is less consistent e.g. when the drive is fuller or after sustained writes. Most commonly the "on box" speeds you see for drives are using SLC program times for the seq. write speed and TLC read times for the seq. read (on the order of 200-300µs and 80µs, respectively, with 16KiB pages).

    Realtek controllers tend to run hot although I’ve heard a firmware update on these can help with that. Still, it is a legacy of Realtek controllers in general. They’re not quite as mature as the competition’s offerings (SMI, Phison, etc).

    Despite the SX8100 being rated for up to 3000 MB/s, we see that it’s closer to 2 GB/s or so, although some of that is from lower queue depths. There’s been speculation by some reviewers (W1zzard at TechPowerUp) that this uses pMLC (MLC caching) rather than pSLC (SLC). This is theoretically possible as the program time of good flash is in the 450-500µs range in MLC mode:

    x = (1/0.000475)(64)(0.015625), x = ~2100 MB/s. 64 = 64-way interleaving (8-channel, 4 dies/channel, 2 planes/die) and 0.015625 is the page size in MiB. Although there’s no way it can hit the rated 3000 with current controllers in my opinion, and further even Samsung’s 96L TLC in MLC mode is only 500µs. It’s possible it has both modes but I haven’t tested these drives myself. More likely it just doesn’t have great low queue depth sequential writes.

    Other than that for this review, I consider these drives halfway between budget options and higher-end consumer NVMe drives. You have reduced DRAM, performance isn’t quite as consistent, the controller/firmware is okay but needs optimization, it’s actually not a bad option at 2TB though.

    1. Hey my dude can you help troubleshooting my ssd? If anyone knows anything about this, please let me know. I bought the Sx8100 2 months ago and could use it without any problems on my laptop (wich uses raid for local storage), after installing and playing games as many other everyday tasks it used to be just fine, after some time i got crashes on games (precisely Cod warzone) wich would just tell me the game was broken (problem with files) and even though i tried openning the folders on the ssd, some folders were just not accessible. I have tried using the ADATA program to find any issues and when it is on this "dead" state, it wont recognize properly anything at all. It gets fixed after a reboot but it happens freqntly, I am afraid it might be some sort of compatibility issue cause if it was hardware it should come and go randomly, right?
  4. I’m starting to fill my home lab with these devices, trying to determine if they are suitable for use as storage for a SQL Server. Since I won’t be able to hardware raid these with the host, I’m looking at simple Mirroring done within the OS for redundancy, and seeing what kind of performance I’m gonna get with 250GBs worth of SQL data.

    Well, these drives are designed around a very large, dynamic SLC cache which makes them oriented at consumer workloads. They won’t be as consistent, especially when fuller or after sustained writes, and the endurance will potentially be lower (although that’s generally not a significant factor for this segment). They also have reduced DRAM; 128MB at 2TB is pretty diminutive. If you’re doing a lot of writes, especially small (file) writes, and extra-especially with a fuller drive, this is not ideal. Reads will come from the native flash (TLC) so is a different story, although MLC (e.g. 970 Pro) would be faster there. Generally I consider TLC-based drives with static SLC to be the best "consumer" (retail) drives for workspace/workstation use, that would include the WD SN750 and 970 EVO Plus for example (the EVO Plus has a hybrid cache, but I digress). More powerful controllers are also ideal. Etc.

  5. Extra note on this:

    Looks like the upcoming ADATA Falcon will be a DRAM-less version of this drive with a heatspreader, that is RTS5762DL (HMB).

  6. I’d recommend getting ahold of Adata. This sounds like a drive losing its ‘state’ and may be a firmware issue, or they may need to replace your drive.
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