Temperature

The XPG SX8100 does come with a heat spreader if your motherboard doesn’t have its own M.2 heatsink.  It is recommended that you use this heat spreader or your motherboard heatsink cover with a good thermal pad.  This SSD can thermally throttle if it gets too hot.  For our benchmarking today we actively cooled the SSD with a fan in an open-air test bench so that it would not thermally throttle. 

But we also turned this cooling off and looked at the temperature without any cooling at all, no heatsinks installed at all.  In this way, we could see the difference in temperatures.  We also have another SSD we included for comparison, the 1TB Mushkin 2.5” SATA SSD.

With the XPG SX8100 cooled with our active fan cooling, it hit a maximum of 44c.  This is a good temperature and shows that it won’t thermally throttle when cooled well. 

Without any cooling at all, no heatsinks installed, no heat spreaders, nothing, it reached 67c in our testing.  However, keep in mind we are testing in an open-air testbench.  Inside your computer, in a closed case, with tight components around it, the temps could be even higher, cresting 70c.  This shows the need for some kind of passive cooling with a heatsink or the included heat spreader.  We highly recommend installing it or using your motherboards M.2 heatsink.

For comparison, the 2.5” SATA SSD reached 54c.  The reason it runs cooler is that the components are more spread out on the larger 2.5” form factor versus M.2’s compact size. 

Here is a screenshot of HWInfo’s temperature readings on the drive without a heatsink installed.  The minimum was 37c and maximum 67c. 

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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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