Product: Kingston KC2500 NVMe M.2 SSD
Type: Hard Drive (NVMe M.2 SSD)
Price: ~ $250.00 AUD (1TB Model)
Availability: Out Now
Storage has to be one of the most neglected upgrade paths for any gamer out there. It has to be. And it almost sort of makes sense, I guess. I'm not somehow going to make my car go faster by adding a trailer to it, right? And I think people apply the same logic to PC storage.
But, I have lost count of the times where I've looked at someone's build-to-be or current PC and immediately said "get a faster hard drive". It could almost work as a recorded message, like when the IT Crowd lads set up a machine to say, have you tried turning it off and on again.
It is, in many cases, the easiest and quickest upgrade a person can complete to revitalise their entire PC. For years I've relied on it to eke an extra year — or two, when I went from 7200RPM drives to an SSD — out of a build that was wearing a bit thin. It's such a reliable way to improve game performance, and fast storage seems to be around 80% of the entire strategy for the new consoles. Both the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are touting — among other things, but in big bold letters — faster storage as one of the key factors behind the next generation. Storage matters, and speedy storage matters most.
Enter the Kingston KC2500 NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD.
From the outset, it looks like a piece of workstation tech. The KC2500 is a dark black, with gold and silver circuitry — but most of it is covered by a large white and black sticker, giving it an almost 'unbranded enterprise server RAM' look. Of course, this probably won't be a problem in a gaming system — you'll probably chuck a heatsink over it anyway — but it's an odd first impression.
Storage is, in many cases, the easiest and quickest upgrade a person can complete to revitalise their entire PC.
Not many get a second chance at a first impression. Only doctors specialising in amnesia, lovable goofs trapped in time loops and computer hardware. Because after installing the Kingston KC2500 into the top M.2 slot of my motherboard (an MSI MAG B550 Tomahawk, review incoming) and covering it with a heatsink, the less-than-flashy aesthetic no longer mattered.
And after booting into Windows 10 from the KC2500 — a cinch because Kingston includes a key for Acronis True Image HD with the drive — a new first impression was formed. This thing is fast.
Reading and Writing 101
Form Factor: M.2
NAND: 96-layer 3D TLC
Interface: PCIe Gen 3.0 x4, NVMe 1.3
Sequential Read: 3,500MB/s
Sequential Write: 2,900MB/s
Average Power (In-Use): 200mW
Storage Sizes: 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, 2TB
Of course, checking the packaging again confirmed my suspicions. The KC2500 boasts 3.5/2.9 GBps Read/Write speeds, and it succeeded in meeting those expectations.
CrystalDiskMark benchmarks saw it land at 3500.33 MB/s Read and 3009.02MB/s Write — as advertised, and very competitive compared to other cards. The Seagate FireCuda fell short of those read numbers in Nathan's review, though the Kingston doesn't quite outdo the Samsung 970 EVO Plus benchmarks from the same piece. A test on a Samsung 970 EVO resulted in 3555.12 and 2341.22 Read/Write respectively.
It does what it says on the box — and what it says on the box is pretty great. Price-wise, it's a little cheaper than the Samsungs and much cheaper than the Firecuda, and it's boasting a 5 year limited warranty. One of those rare triple win situations.
Time to Chopper
But what about in real life? In my experience, there's only one true measure of loading times in-game. When you begin a round of Call of Duty Warzone, you and your teammates all load into a pre-game lobby. There, you're free to do as you please. You can shoot other players, you can pop your parachute early and just float, you can alt-tab and browse the internet until the plane flies over.
The benchmark to end all benchmarks — Time To Chopper (TTC). The time it takes for Warzone to find you a server and then load you in so you can make a dash for the chopper, measured in seconds.
What me and the boys liked to do, however, is to load in and see who can land at the nearest chopper first. Then you use the chopper to mince other players as they parachute in. Fun times.
And so I present to you the benchmark to end all benchmarks — Time To Chopper (TTC). The time it takes for Warzone to find you a server and then load you in so you can make a dash for the chopper, measured in seconds. Faster is better.
The Kingston KC2500 has a Time To Chopper of 20.3 seconds. It's fast enough to let me beat Nathan 'Nachosjustice' Lawrence, who is using the Samsung 970 EVO Plus, about half the time. It makes sense — both drives bench around the same, and it then comes down to who can actually navigate to the helicopter first.
It's also a good example of a multiplayer game where loading quicker is useful (well, sort of useful). Loading into a round of Rainbow Six Siege is blisteringly quick on this thing as well, but it doesn't matter all that much because you're still dealing with XxXG4M3RDUDE69XxX who is loading into Oregon off a tape drive on his Commodore 64.
Outside of gaming, I've installed Adobe Premiere Pro on the KC2500 and it has massively streamlined the time it takes for me to make idiotic videos.
Wait this is a thing in #codwarzone?
Going for around $250 AUD, the KC2500 1TB is well-priced for what it offers - read speeds comparable to the popular Samsung 970 EVO at a lower price point. The only real drawback is that it's a Gen3 NVMe card in what is now a (soon to be) PCIe Gen4 world - an era we've firmly entered with the launch of Samsung's 980 series this week.
Still, until Microsoft's DirectStorage comes into play Gen4 is really only providing gains in benchmarks. Which is nice if you're still spruiking your benchmark stats in your Forum Signature, but otherwise not that useful. DirectStorage and other load techniques will arrive at some indeterminate point.
In the end the Kingston KC2500 is a fantastic drive for its price, and it will give you more than a fighting chance at stealing the chopper in the warm-up round of Call of Duty Warzone. And really, isn't that what matters?
What we liked
Meets Read/Write expectations
Comes with Acronis True Image HD Key for easy cloning
Features Impressive Hardware Encryption that is of no use to me
Allows you to 'Get to the Choppa'
What we didn't like
Not very pretty
A bit obtuse defining "Limited" in its 5 Year Limited Warranty