Solidata's K6-32 solid-state drive (SSD) provides 32GB of storage in a 2.5in enclosure. It isn't the cheapest SSD of this capacity currently available, but is still an affordable option if you're looking to make the transition from a conventional magnetic hard drive to flash memory. This drive won't consume much power during use, but also won't compete with the likes of Intel's X25-M or performance conventional hard drives when it comes to file transfer speeds.
The K6-32 SSD uses multi-level cell (MLC) memory, which is currently the cheapest form of solid-state memory (though Intel is working on even cheaper drives). MLC solid-state drives are usually slower than more expensive single-level cell (SLC) drives, and don't perform as well in handling continual input/output operations per second (IOPS).
As such, Solidata's K6-32 SSD is best used as a replacement for a conventional 2.5in drive in a laptop, or as a boot drive in a standard desktop PC. You won't want to use it in a workstation PC or storage area network (SAN) because of its relatively slow performance. Unfortunately, at 32GB the K6-32 only provides enough space to run an operating system such as Windows Vista, along with a handful of installed applications. (An operating system such as the incredibly compact MenuetOS would be ideal to run on this drive.)
The formatted capacity of the drive is 29.8GB. At its current retail price, the K6-32 has a cost per gigabyte of $6.68, which is significantly cheaper than the $11.48 per gigabyte you would pay for the 80GB Kingston SSDNow M series solid-state drives. This still isn't as affordable as a conventional 2.5in hard drive — the 500GB Hitachi TravelStar 5K500.B has a formatted cost per gigabyte of 23.4c, for example — but is a much more tempting option than most solid-state drives.
The K6-32 SSD will easily fit into any notebook with a standard 2.5in drive bay. It can also be used in 2.5in network-attached storage devices like the QNAP SS-439 Pro Turbo NAS. The brushed metal enclosure for the drive is attractive and protects the memory chips inside the drive from accidental knocks and bumps during installation.
Solid-state drives don't have any moving parts so they require very little power. Solidata's K6-32 SSD consumes as little as 0.37 Watts when idle, 0.5W when reading and 1.28W when writing data. By contrast, Intel's popular X25-M SSD consumes 0.58W when idle, 1W when reading and 1.3W when writing. The K6-32 SSD doesn't provide a huge power saving over other solid-state drives, but remains a more frugal choice.
Unfortunately, the K6-32 solid-state drive isn't the best performer. We ran large and small file transfer tests between the K6-32 and our 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor test drive. When transferring 20GB worth of 3-4GB files, the drive recorded a write speed of 35.9 megabytes per second (MBps), a read speed of 71.1MBps and a simultaneous read/write speed of 24.8MBps. Though the K6-32 SSD's read speeds are competitive with Kingston's SSDNow M series and Seagate's Barracuda 7200.4 2.5in hard drive, it writes large files at roughly half the speed.
The K6-32 SSD performed much better when dealing with small files. It wrote 3GB worth of 1MB files at 38.9MBps, read at a rate of 46.9MBps and performed a simultaneous read/write operation at a rate of 25.4MBps. Intel's X25-M SSD performed the same test at a rate of 66.7MBps. Since smaller files require more input/output operations per second, it isn't surprising that read speeds are particularly slower in this test than in the 20GB test. These results are roughly on par with the Intel X25-M solid-state drive, though the K6-32's simultaneous read/write speeds are somewhat slower.
Overall, Solidata's K6-32 is an affordable entry into the solid-state drive market. It's not fast, but the power, noise and cooling benefits make it a useful option when upgrading from a 2.5in notebook hard drive. The small storage capacity and slow performance limits the usefulness of the K6-32 in desktops, so if you want a solid-state drive to boost your PC's performance, it's best to look elsewhere.
Follow PC World Australia on Twitter: @PCWorldAu