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RiDATA Ultra-S Plus SSD review

RiDATA Ultra-S Plus SSD review

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.

The RiDATA Ultra-S 128GB SATA flash drive

The RiDATA Ultra-S 128GB SATA flash 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.

The Ultra-S is about half the weight of the old hard disc drive

The Ultra-S is about half the weight of the old hard disc 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 Ultra-S uses about 2/3 the power of the notebook drive during the same operations.

The Ultra-S uses about 2/3 the power of the notebook drive during the same operations.

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.

The Ultra-S is decisively faster than a notebook SATA drive.

The Ultra-S is decisively faster than a notebook SATA drive.

Rundown

Pros

  • Safer operation than a factory installed hard drive
  • Longer life
  • Lighter
  • More power efficient
  • Faster access times

Cons

  • Price ($325, while keeping the factory installed drive is free)

Last Word

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.

Comments

  1. Winga
    Winga Hopefully there will be a big take-up on this technology and the price will be driven down quickly.
  2. MiracleManS
    MiracleManS While the random read/write of small amounts of information is still a problem, I'm not aware of too many consumers who do a whole lot of .5kb reads/writes.

    Great review CB
  3. pragtastic
    pragtastic I could very well be wrong on this, but I was under the impression that you would see most small read/writes come from OS tasks.

    But as I said, I could easily be wrong on that.
  4. Thrax
    Thrax The average write size from a consumer is only 50KB.
  5. CB
    CB I'm looking forward to the day when SSDs are comparable in price to magnetic drives. When that day comes, there will never be a reason to use another magnetic drive.
  6. Eric Chen
    Eric Chen This isn't a very good SSD article. There aren't any comparisons to other SSD's, and you didn't score the response time.
  7. Winga
    Winga The article is not about comparing other SSD's it's about how it compares to traditional magnetic notebook drives commonly found in today's notebooks. Also how will scoring response times add to the value of the article?
  8. GHoosdum
    GHoosdum I'm not incredibly surprised at the sounds made by the drive; my iPod Nano makes similar squeaks when writing music to it.
  9. CB
    CB
    Eric Chen said:
    This isn't a very good SSD article. There aren't any comparisons to other SSD's, and you didn't score the response time.
    Thanks for your input. I actually agree to an extent: I would very much have liked to compare this drive to other SSDs, but we have to start somewhere, and this is our first SSD. When we get more, I'll start comparing them to each other. ;)
  10. Tom
    Tom Aside from comparing against other SSDs, it would also help if you did a real-world kind of test of the drive, using it as the system drive for your main system for at least a couple of days (not just running benchmarks). If your system locks up like crazy all the time, or your system stops booting after a day, or you notice some other bad stuff, you should report it in your article. (It's great that you noted the noise issue, although why didn't you put that under cons? Wouldn't it disturb you if you bought one of these?)
  11. GnomeWizardd
    GnomeWizardd i want to buy a OCZ SSd whenever there is one at a good price! because OCZ is the shiz
  12. shwaip
    shwaip SSDs tend to have shorter battery life than HDs. Just a heads-up.
  13. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm I hate you so much right now, shwaip, because you know (or should know) that's not true.

    The studies you're thinking of are failures by Tom's Hardware that said, indeed, that a laptop ran out of battery faster than a mechanical drive - but they failed because they did more than twice the work in the same time span. They ran a looped HDD read/write test - and the SSD did work so much faster, it kept the processor busy requesting more instructions until it drained. If they had done a logical test, such as watching a video or music on a loop, which streams data at the same rate on both, you'd have seen a battery life increase.
  14. Thrax
    Thrax Not only that, the most recent SLC SSDs have an MTBF that vastly eclipses mechanical drives. You'd have to write more than 100GB of data per DAY for FIVE YEARS to approach the write failure threshold.
  15. Leonardo
    Leonardo
    You'd have to write more than 100GB of data per DAY for FIVE YEARS to approach the write failure threshold.
    You just answered the question I was about to post. Thanks.

    What was the breakthrough? Just one year ago it was an unofficial consensus that the flash memory being used for SSDs would not hold up well.
  16. Snarkasm
    Snarkasm NAND architecture and better wear-leveling algorithms, in part.
  17. Thrax
    Thrax Wear-leveling, superior cells, and write amplification.

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