Kingston HyperX Max 3.0 Review

4 January 2011
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Author: Anthony Garland
4 January 2011, Comments: 0

Kingston’s USB 3.0 SSD is one mean machine. It has both the performance and the looks to make even the most cynical consumer lust after it. With a price tag of about $300, it is actually pretty affordable considering all the power it offers. 

Anthony Garland

Form Factor & Design

At first glance, you could easily be forgiven for thinking the Kingston HyperX Max 3.0 was an internal 2.5″ Solid State Drive, and to be honest you wouldn’t be far off the mark. Basically, the HyperX Max 3.0 is a SSDNow V+100 Solid State Drive that has been slightly modified. In what is a very brilliant move Kingston took their new mid-level Solid State Drive, attached a small secondary PCB with USB 3.0 bridge to the SATA data and power port of the V+100′s PCB and stuck this conglomeration inside a slightly longer than normal case with only a mini USB 3.0 port sticking out the end.

From left, ST SuperCrypt USB 3.0 flash drive, a 2.5″ internal drive, HyperX Max 3.0 and FreeAgent GoFlex Portable.

What makes this a brilliant move is that it not only allows the HyperX Max 3.0 to be a real speed demon, but it also allows it to be pretty reasonably priced. At about $300 it is not exactly cheap, but for a 128GB flash based external storage solution with performance to burn it actually is very reasonable. The other great thing about modifying an internal Solid State Drive is that unlike most flash based external devices, the HyperX has a real high performance controller backed up with 128MB of RAM to help keep the drive from getting “slow” or “stuttering”.

The fact of the matter is, the internal SSDs consumer niche is extremely demanding and even a “mid level” model literally is eons faster than what is typically found in USB 3.0 “flash drives”. Heck, if my hunch is correct the HyperX Max 3.0 will not only be extremely fast at large sequential file writes but will out and out dominate even a Super Talent SuperCrypt at small file write speeds. Best of all, this beast should be able to keep itself in tip top performance via internal self-maintenance routines (what is colloquially referred to as “ITGC” or “Idle Time Garbage Collection”). What this means is if you leave it plugged in and idle from time to time it will stay near as fast after years of use as the day you bought it.

If all that is not impressive enough, what is even more impressive is the fact that this flash drive also has NAND that wont wear out as fast; (and costs a heck of a lot more than what is usually found in USB 3.0 “flash drives”) as the NAND used is built to higher standards that can handle the rigorous demands placed on a computers’ operating system drive. This level of durability in both its speed and MTBF really does place the HyperX Max 3.0 in a league all its own. When you add in a durable all metal case, with sexy blue and silver color scheme to all that performance the end result almost has to be good.

Crystal DiskMark Benchmarks

As you can see, the HyperX Max 3.0 drive is no slouch. The sequential and medium size read speeds may not make it the “best of the best” but it awfully close; more importantly the HyperX Max has better low end read speed than any USB 3.0 flash drive I have ever seen. This all by itself is impressive, but what is really, really impressive was the write speed of this beast. My god, this thing is fast at writes. It not only dominates on sequential speed but the real area the beefy “SSD” controller shines is in small file write speed. Here in writing those itty bitty files the HyperX Max 3.0 is a league all its own. Color me impressed.

Real World Performance

As I said earlier in the testing stage, your internal hard drive is going to be the bottleneck if transferring files to and from the Kingston HyperX Max 3.0. Let me say that again: this drive is so amazingly powerful at all sized files that the only way you will ever test its limits is if you setup a RAID of ultra fast hard drives (or used Solid State Drives). That right there makes this external device so worth its cost; as even years from now, when newer generation hard drives are out this USB 3.0 device will still be able to keep up. This drive really is as close to “future proofing” as you can get as it is more than big enough for most users needs, and boy is it ever fast.

Recap

When all is said and done the best way I can sum up the HyperX Max 3.0 external drive is by saying: “wow”. It has a elegance and style that is both aesthetically pleasing and is also durable. I personally am a fond lover of all metal enclosures as they can simply take much more abuse than plastic cases can. In this case, the blue case really is very pleasing to the eye, yet is not overly garish.

While good looks it all well and fine, what really impressed me with the USB 3.0 SSD is the performance of the drive. It is an out and out beast of a drive with great small file performance and large file performance. Honestly, there really is nothing bad to say about this drive. Even the price, while seemingly high really is not all that bad for what it is. Heck, you can spend a lot more money for a flash based drive that won’t perform as good as this drive; so while it is a lot to ask, Kingston’s HyperX Max 3.0 SSD is actually a pretty good bargain when looked at from a performance vs. price point of view. In the end, all I can say is it should be on your ultra short list of drives if you are looking for a fast, durable and drop dead sexy external storage solution.