Silicon Power S60 60GB SSD Review

Silicon Power S60 60GB SSD Review

As we’ve mentioned in a previous article, choosing the correct hard drive for each application is critical to the performance and longevity of the drive. Different types of drives may be well-suited for some applications, but much less so for others.

Server OS Drives

One area that’s becoming somewhat challenging is finding drives to serve as operating system drives in our lab servers. On the surface, the requirements for such a drive do not seem too difficult to fulfill – we need drives that work well in a RAID1 array, display good read characteristics, are durable, and are inexpensive. Incidentally, modern consumer drives fit this bill quite well – with one caveat. You see, finding good consumer SSDs is an easy task. There are excellent options from Samsung, Crucial/Micron, Western Digital, SanDisk, Silicon Power, Toshiba/OCZ and many others. In fact, if we were looking for a 500GB SSD, the hardest part might be choosing between what seems to be an endless number of similarly performing drives.

If we were looking for a 500GB SSD, that is. In selecting a server OS drive, a 500GB drive would mostly be wasted space. A Windows Server OS might use 20GB – 30GB, unless you run a large database locally. Domain Controllers typically stay under the 15GB mark. Linux servers are considerably smaller, yet – a storage server with a few applications might consume 10GB – 15GB of disk space including swap. And it would be pretty egregious if a mail server used beyond 6GB -7GB. Obviously, this is where virtualization and shared resources becomes so advantageous. And while we firmly believe virtualization is a key component of any good home or work IT lab (which we’ll discuss in great detail later), you may not either be at the point where you need to virtualize or may not have the resources to do so. Furthermore, even if you virtualize, there are still several use cases where physical boxes are desirable or even necessary. And physical boxes need OS drives.



The Silicon Power S60

While in the hunt for a small, inexpensive, consumer SSDs, we’ve run across a few models that have worked well. Initially, we employed several of the Mushkin ECO2 60GB SSDs, as they were inexpensive, sized right, and, though they never got dreamy reviews, seemed pretty solid. In the end, however, these drives have appeared to be phased out by the manufacturer, and we have admittedly had about a 20% failure rate over a few years. So, in an effort to find a suitable replacement to the now defunct Mushkin ECO2s, we stumbled upon the Silicon Power line of SSDs. Like many SSD manufacturers, Silicon Power offers a number of SSD model ranges, and it can be sometimes hard to discern significant differences among the models. From entry-level consumer “laptop upgrade” S55 and S60 models, to “prosumer” gaming models like the S85 with a five-year warranty, as well as the TLC 3D NAND-based A55 model, Silicon Power has an offering for most applications. This ultimately led us to the Silicon Power S60. The S60 is a “consumer plus grade” SSD, which means it’s designed to fit the inexpensive laptop upgrade niche. And while it’s quite suitable for such duties, we like the fact that it’s available in a 60GB model – perfect for operating system drives. Best yet, it can be regularly found for under $35 per drive, making it a relative bargain given it’s small capacity. Consumer reviews of the S60 drive are solid as well, with nearly 200 reviews averaging 4.3 stars on Amazon at the time of this post. Since, we run a double-digit number of these drives, I always keep a couple cold spares on hand, but it’s still nice to know I can have a replacement at my door in two days if necessary (shameless Amazon Prime plug).

From the Silicon Power site, the S60’s specifications are listed as follows:

Capacity 32GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Dimensions 100.0 X 69.9 X 7.0mm
Weight 63g (max.)
Interface SATA III
Performance Read(max.) ATTO:
480GB: 560MB/s
240GB: 550MB/s
120GB: 520MB/s
CDM:
480GB: 520MB/s
240GB: 500MB/s
120GB: 420MB/s
Performance Write(max.) ATTO:
480GB, 240GB: 500MB/s
120GB: 490MB/s
CDM:
480GB: 460MB/s
240GB: 300MB/s
120GB: 170MB/s
MTBF 1,500,000 hours
Operation Voltage 5V
Vibration Resistance Test 20G
Shock Resistance Test 1500G Max
Warranty 3 years
Note Performance result may vary, depending on system platform, software, interface and capacity.

Performance and Features

Though Silicon Power doesn’t list the performance specifications of the 60GB model, we tested the drive performance with both the manufacturer’s software, SP Toolbox, as well as ATTO Disk Benchmark and Crystal Disk Mark. These tests were performed in Windows Server 2012 R2 on a Supermicro A1SRI-2558F’s SoC SATA3 (6Gbps) ports.

As you can see, we found that this drive performs quite well for a smaller drive, and our read performance numbers in CDM actually exceeds the manufacturers marks for a 120GB drive by ten percent at 472MB/s. ATTO read numbers fell in line with what we’d expect – just shy of the numbers cited for the 120GB model at around 475MB/s.  Likewise, the write performance numbers for ATTO fell inline with expectations, though somewhat lower than 120GB model at around 265MB/s, while we exceed the listed speeds for the 120GB model in CDM by over 50% at 262MB/s!

Additionally, one might notice that the SSD controller is conspicuously absent from the drive specifications. There has previously been some concern that drive manufacturers may use multiple controllers in budget drives such as the S60. It would seem that this is indeed the case with the S60, which has been known to contain a SandForce or Phison controller. It doesn’t seem that Silicon Power is trying to hide this fact, however, as some manufacturers have been accused of, nor do they claim that it is one controller vs. the other. In fact, one can easily see that they reference both controllers in the SP SSD Firmware Update User Manual, indicating that your SSD may contain one or the other. To be truthful, we’ve had success with both controllers, though we ran the Firmware Update just to satisfy our curiosity. Unfortunately, we were not able to get the SSD Firmware Update to recognize the S60 in multiple systems, and were therefore unable to confirm whether the drive we tested contained the SandForce or Phison controller. Again, the drive performs as expected in both RAID and single-drive configurations, so this is not a major concern to us.

Finally, Silicon Power lists the drive’s features as follows:

  • Adopts MLC NAND flash and “SLC Cache Technology” to improve overall performance
  • 15 x faster than a standard 5400 HDD*
    *Based on “out-of-box performance” using a SATA Revision 3.0 motherboard. Performance result may vary, depending on system platform, software, interface, and capacity.
  • 7mm slim design suitable for ultrabooks and ultra-slim laptops
  • Supports TRIM command and garbage collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • ECC (error correction code) technology to guarantee reliable data transmission
  • S.M.A.R.T. monitoring system
  • Low power consumption, shock and vibration-proof, noiseless and low latency
  • Free SP ToolBox software download for disk information such as self-monitoring analysis report, extent of consumption, and SSD diagnostics

It is heartening to note that RAID is specifically listed as a feature. It’s worth noting that all of our S60s are in RAID1 arrays, so while we cannot comment on stability or peformance of the S60 in parity arrays, we have successfully tested them with numerous disk controllers such as the HP P410i, LSI/Avago SAS 92xx HBAs in IT/IR modes, Adaptec SATA HostRaid, and software RAID via numerous onboard SATA controllers. All seem to work flawlessly with the S60, though controllers like the HP P410 will not report SSD Wear Status, which is not unexpected from a consumer drive without HP firmware. In a few cases, we even replaced failed Mushkin ECO2 60GB drives with an SP S60, and now have mixed RAID1 arrays with one 60GB Mushkin and one 60GB S60. Though the S60 reports slightly larger capacity than the Mushkin, rebuilds proceeded quickly and without issue.

Conclusion

All in all, we’re quite pleased with the the Silicon Power S60. And though we’re probably not using it in a capacity that Silicon Power ever intended, it seems to fill this niche nicely. Heck, we’ve even used a few of the larger S60 models for their intended purpose: to breathe new life into old laptops to throw around in the garage as dataloggers (we’re occasional drag racers) or machines for the kids to beat on. Regardless of the application, the S60 has thus far dutifully served it’s purpose. And though it may not be as fast as the latest generation of drives out there, it’s not hard to make the case that the S60 is one a heck of a value.

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