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UD90 from Silicon Power is a top-notch, reasonably priced PCIe 4.0 SSD. Performance is on par with other drives of a similar kind and is more than enough for most users. It’s a fantastic option for projects that don’t require a lot of capacity because it offers fair price, basic software support, and a solid guarantee.
The Silicon Power UD90 is the first drive using Phison’s new E21T SSD controller that we have on our testbed.
This is a reasonably priced PCIe 4.0 drive that would be perfect for a desktop PC or Playstation 5 if you only require 1TB of storage. It’s also power-efficient enough to function well with laptops because of the DRAM-less controller and 176-layer TLC flash. It has earned a position on our list of the best SSDs and also includes some software support and a reasonably respectable guarantee. However, if at all feasible, we do advise extra chilling.
The HP FX900 and Patriot P400 drives, two drives we recently tested, are stiff competitors for the UD90. There are better alternatives if you’re searching for a high-end PCIe 4.0 drive, but this market offers the best value. The real question is whether settling for a drive like the UD90 is worthwhile given the considerable price drops experienced by many top-tier PCIe 3.0 drives with DRAM. For the PS5, without a doubt; for PCs, perhaps.
If you don’t require more than roughly 1TB of storage, these more recent drives may be quite effective for laptops and make decent primary or secondary drives for desktops.
The UD90 has a new controller but utilizes the same flash as many other fantastic drives we’ve evaluated. Since Silicon Motion is also releasing their SM2269XT controller, there is additional competition in this market.
This is advantageous since you have more options, but it might be difficult to choose the ideal drive. The price is likely the most important issue in this situation, and the UD90 should be on sale on Amazon for a very reasonable price. See how it compares to the superior but more costly FX900.
Silicon Power UD90 SSD Specs
There are three storage options for the UD90: 250GB, 500GB, and 1TB. According to Silicon Power, it will only provide the 1TB SKU at launch in the United States. For the time being, the smaller SKUs are for other markets and locations.
This drive’s maximum performance is at 1TB, which is also the “sweet spot” for mid-range drives like this one, so it’s not too bad. In multi-drive configurations, some users prefer smaller OS drives, but without a larger capacity for additional flash and interleaving, it’s challenging to maximize the performance of a fast PCIe 4.0 drive.
The 1TB drive has sequential read and write speeds of 4.8/4.2 GBps and random read and write speeds of 570K/600K IOPS, respectively. In comparison to drives like the FX900 and P400, which utilize a different controller but the same flash, these values are squarely in the middle of the pack. It outperforms entry-level PCIe 4.0 SSDs like the SN750 SE and S50 Lite in terms of speed. The UD90 comes with a rather good five-year warranty that covers 600 TB of data writes (TBW) at 1TB.
This will cost $94.99, according to Silicon Power, making it extremely competitive in the market sector it is intended for. This is a decent budget option or alternative for the Playstation 5 as well as for less expensive PCIe 4.0 setups because it is somewhat less expensive than the HP FX900 and the Patriot P400.
Silicon Power UD90 SSD Design
The UD90 features a label on top that provides basic drive details like capacity and serial number. The controller and a PMIC are visible behind the label, and two NAND packages are visible on either side. DRAM does not exist. The normal user can merely look at this sort of arrangement and envision a balance of heat dissipation, but it can have certain advantages, as WD promoted with its WD Black and SN750.
The Phison E21T is Phison’s new PCIe 4.0 DRAM-less controller, positioned to compete with InnoGrit’s IG5220 and SMI’s SM2269XT. It also competes with WD’s proprietary controller used on the SN770.
This controller has four channels with a bus speed of 1600 MT/s, capable of using current and upcoming TLC and QLC flash. It has Phison’s 4th-Gen LDPC error correction, end-to-end data path protection, and RAID error correction through Smart ECC 2.0. Encryption support for TCG OPAL 2.0 and Pyrite is optionally available but not activated on this drive.
Performance-wise, this controller can reach up to 780K/800K random read and write IOPS and up to 5/4.5 GBps for sequential read and write, respectively. This is a good match for the IG5220, which we’ve seen in previous reviews of drives like the Patriot P400 and HP FX900. Although this is our first assessment of a drive employing the E21T controller, we anticipate seeing more drives use this device. Additionally, we anticipate competition.
The flash packages are marked IA7BG94AYA, indicating that dies for Micron’s 176-layer TLC are within. Each package should host four dies, that is 4DP or QDP, at 64GB per die. This four-channel controller works best with a total of sixteen dies, which enables peak interleaving of 1TB.
Silicon Power UD90 SSD Performance
3DMark’s Storage Benchmark, designed for gamers, concentrates on actual gameplay performance. This benchmark puts a lot of storage under stress with each round’s gaming-related tasks, such as loading games, storing progress, installing game files, and capturing gameplay video feeds.
Here, the UD90 outperforms both the P400 and the FX900. The SN770 is able to distance itself from its rivals. Gaming performance, which often tends to be the same for any SSD, is not determined by this test. Although load times might vary, the benefits are typically not very substantial.
PCMark 10 is a benchmark that measures storage device performance using a variety of real-world traces from well-known apps and routine chores.
In this test, the UD90 defeats the FX900 and P400 once more, but behind the premium PCIe 4.0 SSDs. For what is essentially a cheap drive, this is still a good performance. The SN770 performs above its weight once more.
With a customized, 50GB dataset, we assess the speed of file transfers using the DiskBench storage testing program. We create a new folder, copy 31,227 files of various types—including images, PDFs, and videos—and evaluate our progress by reading a freshly created 6.5GB zip file.
Here is where the UD90 makes its first error, though it is not a significant or surprising one. DiskBench performance is constrained by a drive’s bandwidth capacity; as a result, drives with lesser bandwidth capacities, such as the SN770, FX900, P400, and UD90, perform worse on reads and copies. The UD90 is still fairly competitive with its primary rivals. If you are absolutely need to have the quickest file transfers, you should get a premium PCIe 4.0 drive.
ATTO and CrystalDiskMark (CDM) are free and easy-to-use storage benchmarking tools that SSD vendors commonly use to assign performance specifications to their products. Both of these tools give us insight into how each device handles different file sizes.
Phison controllers tend to do well with sequential reads in ATTO, and the UD90’s new controller is no different. It’s actually up there with the Fury Renegade and Platinum P41. Its sequential write performance is a bit more modest, but it still matches or beats most drives. This is a very strong showing for a drive of this caliber. Phison’s E21T controller is a bit late to the game, but it was worth the wait: This is more than a suitable replacement for the E16, popular in budget PS5 drives.
The interface or controller bandwidth, which is controlled by its channel count and bus speed, limits the sequential results in CrystalDiskMark, placing the UD90 in the bottom tiers. It is still quicker than any PCIe 3.0 drive, though. As one would anticipate from a flash with an optimized controller, random low queue depth 4K performance is good, but it lags behind the FX900 and P400 in read speed. Since all of these drives are fast in this situation, this might not matter much in reality, but InnoGrit’s IG5220 controller is better suited for that crucial measure.
The performance picture includes more than just the official write specs. The majority of SSDs have write caches, which are quick pockets of (mostly) pseudo-SLC programmable flash that take in incoming data. Once the workload spills outside of the cache and onto the “native” TLC or QLC flash, sustained write rates might deteriorate greatly. In order to gauge the SSD’s performance once the write cache is full, we utilize Iometer to repeatedly write sequential data to it for 15 minutes. Additionally, we track cache recovery using several idle rounds.
The UD90 writes in its fastest, pseudo-SLC state at over 4.6 GBps for almost 15 seconds. This implies a dynamic cache of around 69GB which, although presumably shrinking with drive usage, is sufficient to absorb random and smaller sequential writes. The UD90 then drops down to around 1.8 GBps for another eight minutes of writes. Then, finally, it hits its slowest state at about 275 MBps.
We can reasonably compare this to its peers and see that it has a significantly smaller SLC cache, a faster middle state, and a very slow worst-case scenario when SLC must be emptied. It nevertheless manages to outwrite the FX900 given enough time, but this is not a typical workload. Therefore, this design seems closer to something like a Phison E12-powered drive, as in our Corsair MP510 review, than launch Phison E16 drives like the Sabrent Rocket 4.0.
DRAM-less drives often have large SLC caches to hide their weak native performance states, but a more conservative design (as with newer DRAM-equipped E16 drives, like the MSI Spatium M470) can offer better consistency. Most users will not see the worst a drive has to offer, but dynamic cache inevitably shrinks with drive usage, and sustained writes will eventually slow down the drive. The UD90 offers a nice, balanced approach, with higher speeds in the middle state than we see on E12 and E16 SSDs, although in practice what we see with the FX900 and P400 might offer a slightly better user experience.
The UD90 did not recover its SLC cache quickly, instead bouncing back to its middle state, which is still plenty quick. This drive can better handle bursty writes, especially random ones, as befits normal consumer usage. You’ll need to jump to a high-end model if you want faster performance in sustained write workloads.
Software and Accessories
Silicon Power has a download of its “SP ToolBox” available on its site. This piece of software offers information about the drive, including SMART and other diagnostics. It’s basic but better than nothing. You can clone and image the drive with free software options.
Power Consumption and Temperature
We explore the power characteristics using the Quarch HD Programmable Power Module. Idle power usage is a crucial factor to take into account, particularly if you’re considering to update your laptop, as even the greatest ultrabooks might have subpar storage.
Some SSDs can use watts of power when they are idle, whereas better SSDs only use milliwatts. Power consumption also includes average workload power consumption and maximum consumption, although performance-per-watt is more crucial. Although a drive may use more power when under load, completing a task more rapidly enables the drive to enter an idle state more quickly, thus saving energy.
In order to determine when (or if) thermal throttling occurs and how it affects performance, we also monitor the drive’s temperature using S.M.A.R.T. data and an IR thermometer. Keep in mind that the effort and outside temperature will have an impact on the final outcome.
In our power consumption test, the UD90 ranks right up there with the FX900 and Platinum P41 in terms of efficiency. This result shows that the drive is fast enough to complete tasks without much delay, despite the fact that it was only tested with a file copy. This four-channel controller architecture without DRAM and the effective 176-layer flash make it a clear winner for laptops.
Its top power state is rated for 5W versus 3.5W for competitors, but it is more efficient in its other states with the trade-off of higher overall enter and exit latencies for idle. It can also move between active states freely with little delay. These numbers are only a guideline, anyway, but do offer a general idea of drive responsiveness and power draw. In practice, this is a flexible and efficient design.
We used SMART and a temperature gun to measure the drive temperature during idle and continuous writing. The UD90 idled in the mid-40s Celsius, but after 380GB of continuous writing, it reached 81C as measured by SMART and 73C as measured by gun. This shows that extra cooling would be advantageous for this drive even though the workload is not practical.
To lessen run-to-run unpredictability, we employ a Rocket Lake platform with the majority of background programs deactivated in the OS, including indexing, windows updates, and antivirus software. Each SSD is tested as a secondary device while being prefilled to 50% of its capacity. We employ active cooling for all SSDs unless otherwise stated.
Silicon Power UD90 SSD Comparison Products
We compared the 1TB Silicon Power UD90 to direct rivals like the Patriot P400, HP FX900, and SN770. The rest of the field includes high-end PCIe 4.0 drives including proprietary designs with the Crucial P5 Plus, Samsung 980 Pro, and SK hynix Platinum P41. Lastly, the Kingston Fury Renegade represents drives built on Phison’s E18 controller with 176-layer flash. This excellent flash is found in five of the eight 1TB drives on this list.
Silicon Power UD90 SSD Conclusion
Another successful inexpensive DRAM-less SSD that surpasses expectations is the Silicon Power UD90. Manufacturers may now deliver effective, powerful drives at competitive prices because to advancements in controller and flash architecture.
Naturally, these drives aren’t the quickest; they don’t exhaust your PCIe 4.0 connection, and in practical terms, they might not represent a significant improvement over previous PCIe 3.0 drives with DRAM. Even yet, they only function to a certain extent on PC and are compatible with the PS5.
In addition to other well-known drives like the ADATA Atom 50, the UD90 competes favorably with drives such the FX900 and P400. Peak sequential read performance over larger block sizes results in somewhat improved performance, although random read demands sometimes cause it to lag a little. Although most users generally won’t find this to be very significant, it more than meets the criteria for a top-notch user experience. Although it does imply that it should be more consistent over a range of workloads and fill rates, the SLC cache is more conservative than that of its counterparts, including the SN770, so it won’t be able to handle as many writes at full speed.
Silicon Power backs this drive with an SSD toolbox and decent support; no three-year, low-endurance warranty here. We think it may benefit from a heatsink, but it is probably not required — most other drives in this segment also lack full heatsinks. This drive should be cheaper at launch than its competition. That makes it a fantastic budget choice and hard to beat, but be aware it may not be possible to get it at capacities other than 1TB in the U.S.