RiDATA, owned by RiTEK, has been a manufacturer of optical storage devices like CDs and DVDs since 1989 and recently ventured into the world of flash memory. This year they released the Ultra-S Plus line of 2.5″ form-factor solid-state drives. Today, I’m looking at the highest capacity model: the 128GB drive.
RiDATA is not usually considered a manufacturer of enthusiast devices, but solid-state drives have offered many benefits to tech-savvy users: improved performance, better battery life and faster access times. Thus, my approach for this review is to show just what kind of advantages one pays for when performing this kind of upgrade. With a hefty price tag of $325, there ought to be something to it.
First off, as this drive is solid-state, it has no moving parts. This an advantage for the notebook user because it means that there are less components likely to break, and one does not need to worry about jostling the PC while the drive is being accessed. However, there is much more to this drive than this basic advantage of the media. To test it, I replaced the 250GB 5,400 rpm SATA hard drive that came with my HP G60 notebook with the RiDATA Ultra-S Plus 128GB SATA flash drive.
Taking the drive out of its packaging, one immediately notices its slight weight. Compared to a traditional 2.5″ notebook drive, the RiDATA Ultra-S is very light. A difference of a few grams may not be noticeable in the assembled notebook, but every little bit can help your shoulder.
Installation was also very easy. It was a simple case of removing the covers for the old drive, slipping it out, and sliding the RiDATA drive in. Of course, the ease of the installation will ultimately be dependent on the design of your notebook, so this will be different for everyone. However, notebook hard drives are generally simple to swap with just a screwdriver.
Once it was installed and running, the RiDATA Ultra-S Plus made a surprising amount of noise. One wouldn’t expect any sound to come from this device, but it made clear and intermittent electromagnetic squeaks that were mostly noticeable when the drive was performing sequential I/O on small pieces of data.
For the rest of the information in this review, the RiDATA Ultra-S Plus was tested using combination of ATTO Disk Benchmark and MobileMeter.
The power draw for each drive made a very similar looking chart to the one above, with the mechanical drive using 50 percent more power for the same operations. And while this extra draw might not seem like much, it can mean the difference between a two-hour battery and a three-hour battery, if you use applications which frequently access the hard drive like video games or music players. In a notebook market where the battery is the least sophisticated piece of equipment in each PC, any help with preserving power is a boon.
The most significant difference is the access time. Transferring very small pieces of information saw little difference, and in some cases the old magnetic drive even beat the Ultra-S, but when it gets up in to the larger (and more frequently used) transfer sizes, the difference is dramatic. The Ultra-S writes almost twice as fast, and reads more than three times as fast as the magnetic drive. While the RiDATA’s 150/90MBs read/write scores are in the middle of the road for today’s SSDs, these transfer rates are nothing to shrug at. Most users will notice a speed boost in many operations, especially opening applications and loading files.
- Safer operation than a factory installed hard drive
- Longer life
- More power efficient
- Faster access times
- Price ($325, while keeping the factory installed drive is free)
For those who have the budget and inclination to plunk down the cash for the RiDATA Ultra-S Plus 128GB, it makes a significant and worthwhile upgrade. The rest of us can hope that they come down in price and start appearing as standard features in popular notebook models.