updated 02:14 pm EDT, Sat June 21, 2014
In some cases, sub components cause much poorer performance
Various enthusiast websites, who spend a great deal of time benchmarking and comparing competitive computer components are discovering that SSD manufacturers Kingston and PNY are changing hardware components after launch reviews are published. In one case, a website reader purchased a drive, expecting a Silicon Motion controller, but found that the drive had a different (and slower for the purchaser) SandForce controller.
A post at Tweaktown lays out the whole saga. A PNY Optima SSD was purchased, and when it failed to live up to performance metrics, the reader delved into the situation. A different (unannounced) firmware version was found on the drive, and more importantly, the swap for the older SandForce over the Silicon Motion drive controller. The speed difference isn't much, but it is noticeable.
PNY was asked about the substitution, and told Tweaktown that they were aware of the swap and did in fact "ship some Optima SSD's with SandForce controllers, but only if they meet the minimum advertised performance levels (in most of the benchmark tests, LSI controllers outperform SMI controllers). The readers assumption that PNY has abandoned SMI controllers is wrong as we have been shipping mostly SMI controllers, but also utilizing LSI to fill in the gaps."
A more dramatic "bait and switch" was allegedly performed by Kingston. The budget V300 SSD was found to have switched to asynchronous NAND at a speed penalty, over the synchronous NAND it launched with without a change in branding or consumer notification. Tests performed show that the original V300 drive transferred data more than twice as fast as the newer, slower version of the drive.
Kingston claims that "all builds of our V300 meet our published ATTO and IOmeter specifications." Puzzlingly, it notes that "We realize that we underestimated the importance of other benchmarks that the more technical segment of our customers use when testing the performance of their SSDs." Kingston's own test results show the difference in speed between the V300 120S drive, and the newer, but still sold as the V300 to consumers V300 120A drive.
Kingston's speed test on V300 drives
The V300 is faster than a hard drive, and Kingston isn't shy about pointing that out in their defense. Kingston writes that "the real-life benefits of our SSD over HDD technology coupled with our aggressive price points, we believe that the V300 will continue to be the most popular entry-level SSD in the marketplace."
Internal component swap with little impact to the consumer has happened in the computer industry for decades. This is aggravated by reviewers often receiving early hardware which may differ from what is ultimately shipped. However, when given a storage medium touted for maximum speed, swaps potentially affecting performance or other such consumer-evident metric should be announced by the company while the product is on store shelves, even if just in "some" drives.
Electronista has reached out to Kingston and PNY for more details.