Adata XPG SX8200 Pro NVMe SSD review: Top-tier performance for a song

This NVMe SSD rivals Samsung's 970 Pro in performance, for a lot less dough.

adata xpg sx8200 pro nvme ssd 1tb heat sink primary
Melissa Riofrio/IDG
At a Glance
Table of Contents
Show More

Uber-fast NVMe storage for 20 cents per gigabyte? That’s what Adata’s XPG SX8200 Pro delivers. Of course, NAND prices have dropped recently, but until now that’s only been reflected in performance-challenged (on long writes) budget drives. The SX8200 Pro is an NVMe drive that rivals top-rated Samsung’s 970 Pro in performance but is significantly cheaper. 

Design and specs

The Adata SX8200 Pro is a 2280 (22 mm wide, 80 mm long) form factor M.2 drive using 3D (layered) TLC (Triple-Level Cell/3-bit) NAND marshalled by a Silicon Motion SM-2262EN controller. It’s a full four-lane PCIe 3.0 implementation, not two lanes like many other bargain-priced NVMe SSDs such as Kingston’s A1000

There’s a DRAM cache on board (an unspecified amount, likely 512MB), secondary cache to the tune of approximately 1.2 percent of capacity, and a tertiary cache that can expand up to approximately 15 percent of capacity. That has a lot to do with the drive’s performance, though it’s no slouch when it runs out of cache either.

sx8200pro 1tb 300 Adata

The SX8200 Pro is by far the best performing drive in its price range. Samsung’s 970 EVO matches if for relatively small amounts of data, but slows down more quickly on long writes. 

About the only outstanding physical characteristic is the logo’s heat spreader, which the company includes in the package. It’s unattached, but thermal adhesive is already applied so it’s an easy mod to make. It’s not necessary to the long-term health of the drive, but a nice touch.

The SX8220 Pro is available in three capacities: 256GB (currently about $75 on Amazon), 512GB (currently about $120 on Amazon), and the 1TB we tested, currently about $215 on Amazon. Wow. Note that I tested only the 1TB version, the less capacious models will have less cache and garner lower numbers. Speaking of which...

Performance

I took Adata’s claim that the SX8200 Pro would perform on a ,par with, or better than the top-rated Samsung 970 Pro with several very large grains of salt. Well, dye my hair red and call me Harpo—Adata wasn't kidding. It competes extremely well with the 970 Pro until you write a very large amount of data. Even when it runs out of secondary or tertiary cache, it writes at a crisp 1GBps. I’ve seen NVMe SSDs drop as low as 450MBps off of cache. 

You’ll see the 1TB SX8200 Pro in the light blue bars compared to the aforementioned 1TB 970 Pro and Intel’s 960GB 905P, a fantastically long-lived and fast, but extremely expensive competitor. CrystalDiskMark 6 ranked the SX8200 Pro as performing roughly on a par overall with both those drives. 

adata sx 8200 cdm IDG

For a drive as cheap as the Adata SX8200 to hold its own against Intel’s 905P and Samsung’s 970 Pro is impressive.

Somewhat surprisingly, the SX8200 Pro matched the 905P’s prodigious seek times in AS SSD.

adata sx8200 as ssd seek IDG

The Adata SX8200 features lightning fast seeks. Better than the Samsung 970 Pros, though there is a lot of variance in this test from run to run. Shorter bars are better.

The SX8200 Pro did better than fine in our 48GB real world copy tests. Quite a bit better.

adata sx8200 48gb IDG

There isn’t a whole lot to choose from between the Adata SX8200, the Intel 905P, and Samsung 970 Pro when it comes to everyday performance. As the SX8200 is a lot

The SX8200 Pro does eventually slow down when writing, but not until relatively late in the process. 15 percent (the amount of dynamic cache) of 1TB is 150GB, which is larger than most full 4K movies. The screen capture below shows writes slowing from about 1.8GBps to 1GBps during a 500GB copy.

adata slowdown to about 1gbps IDG

Though the SX8200 slows down at about the 30% mark of a 500GB transfer, the slower 1GBps transfer rate will still get copies done in a hurry. 

I’ve documented the drop in write speed, but it’s not nearly precipitous enough for me to sweat about it. Still, it is the one area where the 970 Pro still rules. As noted above, the 512GB SX8200 Pro will write a bit slower, and the 256GB model quite a bit slower due to less cache, and/or fewer chips and data paths. They will also likely dip in performance sooner than the 1TB drive due to less cache. Factor that into your decision on which to buy. If you’re moving up from SATA, you’ll be pleasantly surprised no matter which capacity you choose.

Extraordinary value

At the time of this writing, you could buy the 1TB Adata XPG SX8200 Pro for $80 less than the 1TB 970 Pro. You really don’t give up much in the way of performance in the vast majority of situations, and the drop isn’t earth-shattering when it does. By Grapthor’s hammer, what a savings!

That said, if you regularly write hundreds of gigabytes, then the 970 Pro will still save you time and is quite likely worth the extra bucks. Also, prices are bound to drop on other worthy drives such as WD’s Black NVMe, so take a look around. 

This story, "Adata XPG SX8200 Pro NVMe SSD review: Top-tier performance for a song" was originally published by PCWorld.

At a Glance
  • Adata's XPG SX8200 Pro is as fast as Samsung's mighty 970 Pro the majority of the time, and significantly cheaper. A great drive at a great price.

    Pros

    • A great performer
    • Significantly cheaper than the competition
    • Attractive heat spreader/cover included for gamers

    Cons

    • Drops from 1.8GBps to 1GBps on long writes
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon