Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 2280 2TB SSD: Fast and small

Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 2280 2TB SSD

Background

The following is a review of the Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 2280 2TB SSD.  I was supplied the Kingston KC 2500 by Kingston Technology Company Inc. for an independent long-term review.

NVMe M.2 solid state drives are the latest iteration of solid-state drives (SSDs).  They differ in several ways from SSDs you possibly have in your computer or laptop.  Instead of being similar in shape and size to a small cell phone (standard SATA SSD), the NVMe M.2 looks more like a memory stick.  They are designed to be significantly faster than regular SATA hard drives as well as faster than SSDs.  To fully realize their speed, however, your motherboard needs to be a newer model that has native M.2 module slots built in.  These M.2 modules have direct lanes to the CPU, unlike going through typical expansion slots first.  It is possible to use the NVMe M.2 in either internal adaptor cards, or externally through a USB 3.1 C or Thunderbolt™ connection[1], but again, the resulting speeds will be less than you can achieve with a native M.2 module slot on your motherboard.

For this preliminary review, I look at the Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 2280 2TB SSD technical specifications, run software benchmarking, and conduct ‘real world’ tests, to evaluate its performance.  For the tests, the KC 2500 was directly inserted into a native PCIe M.2 module slot on the motherboard.

Unpacking: What is enclosed



Here is the KC 2500 being inserted in one of the motherboards native M.2 module slots (right below another NVMe M.2 model by Samsung.

In this image, the Kingston KC2500 is enclosed in the MSI FROZR heat dissipater.

Manufacture’s Published Specs and list price

“Kingston’s KC2500 NVMe PCIe SSD delivers powerful performance using the latest Gen 3.0 x 4 controller and 96-layer 3D TLC NAND. With read/write speeds up to 3,500/2,900MB/s1, KC2500 delivers outstanding endurance and improves the workflow in desktop, workstations, and high-performance computing (HPC) systems. The compact M.2 design gives greater flexibility, increasing storage but also saving space.

Available in capacities from 250GB–2TB2 to meet your system’s needs. KC2500 is a self-encrypting drive that supports end-to-end data protection using XTS-AES 256 bit Hardware-based encryption and allows the usage of independent software vendors with TCG Opal 2.0 security management solutions such as Symantec™, McAfee™, WinMagic® and others. KC2500 also has built-in Microsoft eDrive support, a security storage specification for use with BitLocker.”[2]

Cost: Around US$400.00 for 2TB.  5-year OEM warranty.

How the testing was done

  • The NVMe M.2 were tested in the following system using native PCIe M.2 module slots on the motherboard
    • OS: Intel Core i9-9900K Coffee Lake 8-Core, 16-Thread, 3.6 GHz (5.0 GHz Turbo) LGA 1151 (300 Series) 95W with Noctua NH-D15S 140mm SSO2 D-Type Premium CPU Cooler
    • EVGA GeForce RTX 2060 KO GAMING Video Card
    • Motherboard: MSI MEG Z390 ACE LGA1151
    • Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 64GB (4 x 16GB) 288-Pin DDR4 SDRAM DDR4 3200 (PC4 25600)
    • Power supply: EVGA SuperNOVA 650 G5, 80 Plus Gold 650W

Software speed tests

Three different software programs were run to establish benchmarks.  The first was the UserBenchmark™, the second Samsung Magician™, and the third the ATTO™.  In the tests, Sequential testing replicates reading/writing video and music files, while Random replicates reading from multiple locations like starting up a computer, or where data is stored in available spaces on an existing drive.  Deep queue replicates typical server activities.  The Kingston KC2500 was compared to a Samsung 970 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD 1TB drive, both inserted in native PCIe M.2 module slots on the motherboard.

UserBenchmark results


In looking at the UserBenchmark results, the Samsung is faster than the Kingston on most of the sequential tests, while the Kingston is faster than the Samsung on the random tests.  The Samsung is faster on two of the three Deep queue tests.

Samsung Magician results

On the Samsung Magician tests results, the Samsung is faster on the Sequential Read but the Kingston is faster on the Sequential Write.  The Kingston is faster on both the Random Read and Write than the Samsung.

ATTO (Attotech 4.01.0f1) results

Samsung 970 PRO NVMe M.2 SSD results

Kingston’s KC2500 NVMe M.2 SSD results

The ATTO benchmark measures the maximum speeds at which data can be transferred to and from a disk.  The ATTO testing starts with 512B of I/O data and increases by doubling each test, up to 64MB.  The performance difference between the Samsung and the Kingston transfer rate somewhat flips back and forth, with the Kingston writing at a higher speed up to about 16KB, while the Samsung reads faster up to 16KB.  Then from 16KB to 256KB I/O they are about even in performance.  From 256KB up to the 64MB, the Kingston is consistently faster in writing the data, with little difference between the Kingston and Samsung in reading the data in that range.

‘Real world’ tests

For a representation of typical (non-gaming) end user outcomes, two tests of writing files to the respective drives, were conducted.  The first comprised of 30.1GB collection of 1448 files that included a mix of text (Word and WordPerfect documents), PDFs, images, and MP4 video files.  The second comprised of 75.8GB collection of 1450 files that included a mix of text (Word and WordPerfect documents), PDFs, images, and MP4 video files.  All the respective test files were stored on a Samsung 970 PRO NVMe M.2 SSD 1TB drive plugged into one of the motherboard native M.2 module slots.

As with the benchmarking software, comparisons were run the Samsung and the Kingston drives.  Additionally, a comparison was run with a standard 3.5 inch hard drive, the WD Blue 4 TB SATA 6gb/s  3.5″ WD40EXRZ.

‘Real world’ writing time results:

Samsung 970 Pro NVMe M.2 SSD

30.1GB 00:18.64 seconds

75.8GB 00:43.40 seconds

Kingston’s KC2500 NVMe M.2 SSD

30.1GB 00:17.95 seconds

75.8GB 00:43.31 seconds

WD Blue SATA hard drive

30.1GB   03:17.01 minutes:seconds

75.8GB   08:49.85 minutes:seconds

The Kingston was marginally faster than the Samsung with both the 30.1GB and 75.8GB writes, but not a practical significant difference.  However, both the Kingston and the Samsung were much quicker, by almost three minutes in writing the 30.1GBs, and by eight minutes in writing the 75.8GBs when compared to the WD Blue SATA hard drive.

Preliminary Conclusions

The Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 2280 2TB SSD is a well designed NVMe M.2 drive that delivers on its promise of fast read and write times across all three benchmarking tests and the ‘real world/real data’ tests.  Overall it had slightly better performance outcomes than the Samsung 970 Pro it was directly compared with, though from an end user perspective, the difference between the two probably won’t be apparent.

The Kingston KC2500 comes with a 5-year warranty, and some on-board software as well as a link to download and activate Acronis® True Image HD Software.  This is particularly useful if you plan on replacing your existing hard drive which houses your OS, since it will automatically copy and transfer everything you need to change out the hard drive with the Kingston KC2500.  It is a self-encrypting drive that supports end-to-end data protection using XTS-AES 256 bit hardware-based encryption of your data.

The Kingston KC 2500 NVMe M.2 is well worth considering especially in cases where you read and write large files such as in editing, building, and rendering a movie comprised of a mix of photographic images and shorter videos.

Overall rating:

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Super Hot! 5 out of a possible 5

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Best regards,

   Jeff

Jeff Daum, Ph.D, PPA

Photojournalist, Technology & Product Analyst

Website: www.DaumPhotography.com

Blog: https://insight.daumphotography.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jwdphotog/

Muck Rack: https://muckrack.com/dr-jeff-daum


[1] For example, see my review of the OWC Envoy Pro Ex external drive https://insight.daumphotography.com/2020/10/04/owc-envoy-pro-ex-with-usb-c-2tb-ssd-m-2-drive-ultra-portable-and-fast/

[2] Kingston website https://www.kingston.com/unitedstates/us/ssd/kc2500-nvme-pcie-ssd

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