As SSDs edge closer to becoming the default (and only) storage option for desktop PCs as well as laptops, the market has filled with more affordable models. Even M.2 NVMe SSDs, which started out as exotic and expensive options aimed only at enthusiasts, are now extremely common. In addition to being faster than legacy SATA SSDs, these are tiny, convenient, and save you the mess of extra wires hanging around the inside of your PC cabinet. There is clearly a market for entry-level NVMe SSDs today and Kingston is aiming at exactly that with its new NV series.
The Kingston NV1 SSD is equivalent to the SATA-based A and UV series in terms of positioning. It is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities, and it's interesting to see that lower capacities aren't being offered even though this is an entry-level model. Retail pricing for SSDs usually has nothing in common with the numbers printed on the labels, and also varies often. In India, the former two are easily found selling for around Rs. 5,499 and Rs. 9,499 respectively, while the 2TB version is not as widely available and will cost around Rs. 24,500 which is not as attractive in terms of cost per GB.
The simple cardboard pack proclaims that the NV1 is 35X faster than a spinning hard drive, which is not a high bar for any SSD to achieve. You get a code to claim a free copy of Acronis True Image HD, but it's printed on the inside of the cardboard sandwich. This is almost impossible not to miss unless you already know it's there, and in fact a lot of people will very likely tear through it while opening the pack, since there's no indication that anything important is on the inside. The software lets you clone or image a drive, but it doesn't support incremental backups, scheduling, cloud or mobile backups, etc like retail versions of True Image.
Kingston doesn't make extraordinary performance claims about the NV1, but instead simply aims to deliver high capacities at low prices. What's most noteworthy about this SSD series, according to trusted source AnandTech, is that Kingston isn't specifying exactly what controller you'll get or even what type of flash memory – in order to balance costs and inventories, the company might swap out components in different batches, and the only guarantees you have are that they will meet the advertised performance and endurance figures.
Other companies have been found swapping components after SSDs are launched (and reviews are published) without saying anything, and while Kingston hasn't exactly been loud and clear about wanting to do the same when advertising the NV1, it has at least been upfront with the media that have reported this fact.
This of course makes it difficult to review a product, since you might end up with something materially different if you're making your purchase a month or two down the line, and there's no guarantee that the review unit sent to Gadgets 360 will even match what's in the market right now. That said, Kingston is a known and trusted brand, and that alone is enough for a lot of buyers. If you don't care about TLC vs QLC flash and controller bandwidth, and if you find the capacity you need at a good price, you should be happy enough.
Kingston claims 2100MBps sequential reads and 1700MBps sequential writes for all three capacities. This SSD uses PCIe 3.0 and not the faster, newer 4.0 standard. Endurance is rated at 120TBW, 240TBW and 480TBW for the 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities respectively. MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) is 1.5 million hours. These figures are all well below what Kingston's own KC2500, introduced earlier this year, offers. Even the previous entry-level NVMe model, the A2000, offers considerably better endurance ratings.
It wasn't possible to identify the specific controller and flash type on my review unit without peeling off the label covering the actual chips on the module, and Kingston has not published these details. Some third-party reports suggest that the lower capacity drives will use TLC flash while higher ones will use QLC flash, but that could change at any point. We can't verify what the bandwidth of the controller is, but we can safely assume that there's no DRAM cache. There's also no mention of encryption on the official spec sheet. We'll have to rely on performance alone to evaluate this drive.
The Kingston NV1 is a very basic SSD and so it doesn't come with a heat spreader. The circuit board itself is bright blue and looks nice enough but you won't see much of it once it's installed. Since this is a one-sided M.2 module and is only 2.1mm thick, it will fit into tight spaces such as ultra-slim laptops.
The Kingston NV1 was benchmarked on an open rig consisting of >>>>. All Windows updates and drivers were the most recent released versions at the time of this review. Windows reported the drive's formatted capacity as 465.76GB.
Starting with CrystalDiskMark 6, we saw sequential read and write speeds of 2,553MBps and 1,959MBps respectively which are a fair bit higher than I expected based on the official specifications. This could be a cushion built in so that future revisions remain within the advertised performance threshold. Random reads and writes were measured at 1370.6MBps and 1447.4MBps which is not bad at all. This is quite a lot faster than today's premium SATA SSDs such as the Samsung SSD 870 Evo, but behind the impressive Kingston KC2500.
The Anvil benchmark reported read and write scores of 4,674.33 and 6,827.63 respectively, for a total of 11,501.96. In a real-world Windows file copy test using an 80GB folder of assorted files, write speed touched 345MBps and stayed fairly steady at about that level with very large files, but dropped as low as 15MBps with assorted small files.
It's worth noting that even the latest version of Kingston's own SSD Manager software, downloaded from its website, did not detect this drive. It was unable to show diagnostic information or any security-related options.
There are questions that remain regarding the long-term viability of the Kingston NV1. I would not use this as a boot drive for my main work PC or store my most important data on it without a rock-solid backup plan in place, but that doesn't mean no one else should choose it. This would be a great inexpensive upgrade for an older PC or laptop that's serving non-critical needs, and it could also be a very good secondary or tertiary drive for saving large game install folders to since they will benefit from quick loads.
What makes it most attractive is its low pricing, but even so, there are other models that are more affordable and have unambiguous spec sheets, most notably the Crucial P1 and WD Blue SN550. Kingston's own A2000 costs only Rs. 100-200 more. Considering that this model is fairly new in the Indian market, I hope to see much better pricing a few months down the line. This SSD effectively creates a new, lower product tier so with the right pricing, it can certainly carve out a niche for itself.
That said, performance is quite good and endurance should be enough for most low-impact home and office PC use cases. You'd save quite a bit of money compared to something mainstream like the Kingston KC2500 or Samsung SSD 970 Evo Plus.
500GB: Rs. 5,499
1TB: Rs. 9,499
2TB: Rs. 24,500
Ratings (Out of 5)