NVMe on a budget? Why Not?

As I mentioned in my last review, I’ve decided to upgrade my recording setup with an i5 Dawson Canyon NUC. In that review, I talked about the first step, which was to add three extra USB ports to the NUC so I have plenty of room for my cameras and other stuff. Now it’s time for me to add storage and RAM to the NUC, and I decided to go for another upgrade, this time on the SSD side.  My current system, the Maple Canyon, has been running an 80GB Intel SSD (ok, stop laughing). 80GB isn’t much, but for this setup it works fine because I store my recordings and editing files on a NAS. Space has never been an issue, but I always felt I could get a more responsive SSD.

Enter Ben’s Bargains, my very favorite deal site. The other day I was perusing the dozens of fantastic deals on things I don’t need, when I came across a crazy deal on an NVMe m.2 SSD.

sx6000 box

It was the Adata XPG SX6000, which had solid reviews on Amazon.  Mostly 5 stars, with a handful of 1 stars, some of which could be easily dismissed (“it wasn’t new when I got it” isn’t a problem with the PRODUCT, it’s a problem with the SELLER). It was only a 128GB model (I said stop laughing), but it was NVMe. I’ve never worked with an NVMe drive, but I HAVE fallen prey to the not-so-subtle marketing of naming a technology “envy me”. I’ve heard great things about the speed of NVMe SSDs, and here was one for less than $40. Even someone as “budget-minded” as me couldn’t say no to that, so I ordered one.  I wasn’t in the market for the fastest drive in the world, just a pretty fast drive, and this one certainly looked to be that. The 5 year warranty didn’t hurt, either.

Installation was a breeze:

In fact, the toughest part was deciding whether to apply the heatsink to the SSD, or let the NUC’s rubbery tape handle heat dissipation. In the end I decided on both.

Once I had the NUC back together, I powered it up and the drive was detected with no problem. So I set about installing Windows. I still hadn’t decided if I would ultimately go with Windows or Linux, but I figured I’d run Windows for testing. I noticed Window installed in record time…from boot to the regional info screen was just under 9 minutes, and that includes the extra reboot needed because I’d forgotten to remove the USB install stick.

After Windows was installed, I updated all drivers and ran Crystal Disk Mark to check the SSD’s performance. I’d run the same test on the old setup so I had something to compare.  This isn’t a fair side-by-side test, comparing an aging Intel SSD with a brand new ADATA, but the results are a good indication of how much of a boost my new setup will get:

That’s a huge difference.  But I expected a big improvement. After all, I’m not only going from older tech to new, I’m going from a SATA drive to an m.2 drive. Numbers aside, I could easily tell the difference just in booting and web browsing. Everything…EVERYTHING was noticeably faster to load.  Even installing the driver packages from Intel was surprisingly fast.

It’s safe to say I’m happy with this little upgrade.  NVMe really does provide I kick in the butt to the system, and this SSD seems to bring the “envy me” magic.  For the price I got it, I really should’ve grabbed two more of them and used them in my Skull Canyon in RAID 0, but by the time that little nugget of an idea hit me, the sale was over. So I’ll keep watching for another “shell shocker” deal. Not long ago NVMe SSDs were out of my price range, but I’m in the game now, and for under $40!

Next, I need to decide whether 8GB of RAM is enough, or if I should go to 16GB.

And then there’s that whole Windows vs. Linux question.




3 thoughts on “NVMe on a budget? Why Not?

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