AstraTech KD55SX SATA SSD Review: The New Entrant

A few months back, a small Indian Startup called AstraTech made its entry into the Indian Hardware Manufacturing Scene. The first product was an NVMe SSD called KD350X aka “Kapi Dhwaja” aimed at the mid-range NVMe segment.

The SATA 2.5″ version was released without much fanfare presumably because its a more “budget” version. We were provided with a review sample of the 240GB Version. So let’s check out the Astra KD55SX SATA SSD.

A small profile of the company can be found here. In simple terms, they are a group of like minded technology enthusiasts and Industry Personalities who wants to take Indian brands further. This SSD is a part of their opening salvo in the market.

Now, coming back to the SSD. The Astra KD55SX is designed and conceptualized in India and made in a manufacturing facility in Taiwan. So in a simple word that means the design and parts selection was done here and the end product came from the manufacturing facility in Taiwan. This might raise some brow, but till the time India makes her infrastructure ready for chip manufacturing, this is the best any brand can do.

Packaging

The SSD comes in a simple blister-like packing (without the headache that comes with it). Its not much to write home about, we have the Astra branding on one side and a glimpse of specifications on the backside. The SSD is backed with a 5-year warranty which inspires confidence and puts into the same league as Kingston.

Specifications

AstraTech KD55SX
Capacity 120 GB 240 GB 480 GB 1TB
Model Number KD55SX-120G KD55SX-240G KD55SX-480G KD55SX-??
Controller Phison PS3111-S11T
NAND Flash Micron 3D NAND B0KB
Form-Factor, Interface 2.5″, SATA 6Gb/s
Sequential Read 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s 550 MB/s
Sequential Write 450 MB/s 490 MB/s 500 MB/s 500 MB/s
Random Read IOPS 65K IOPS 77K IOPS 85K IOPS 90K IOPS
Random Write IOPS 81K IOPS 84K IOPS 85K IOPS 85K IOPS
Pseudo-SLC Caching ???
DRAM Buffer ???
MTBF 2,000,000 hours
Write Endurance 35 TBW 60 TBW 120 TBW 240 TBW
Warranty 5 years

SO from the specification we can see Astra is positing the KD55SX in the entry level SSD spectrum. As such it will compete against the likes of Kingston A400, Galax Gamer L, WD Green, Hikvision C100 etc.

We have a combination of Micron 3D TLC NAND with Phisons PS3111-S11T entry-level controller like the others in this space. Astra has gone with a tried and tested formula for the KD55SX and for the most part I cannot fault them for it. The entry-level doesn’t really have much wiggle room to play.

Testing System

Our testing system consisted of the following parts.

TechARX Test System
Processor Ryzen R5 1600
Motherboards Asus Strix B350 F
Memory HyperX Fury RGB DDR4 courtesy Kingston HyperX
Storage Sabrent Rocket Q 1TB courtesy Sabrent USA
Power Supply CoolerMaster V1000

Benchmark Results

We ran the Astra K55SX through our usual gauntlet of benchmarks. The results are inline with other SSD’s in the same spectrum as expected.

Atto Disk Benchmark
The great thing about ATTO is that one can test with predefined block sizes. So, we can test with a 32MB sequence of 4KB files, yet also 32MB in 1MB files, providing an opportunity to test with various file sizes. This benchmark is preferred among manufacturers as ATTO uses RAW or compressible data and, for our benchmarks, we used a set length of 256mb and tested both the Read and Write performances for various transfer sizes ranging from 0.5 to 8192kb with a queue depth of 4.

With Write speeds touching the 520 MB/s, we are off to a good start!

Anvil’s Storage utilities Benchmark 
Anvil Pro or Anvil’s Storage Utilities[Depending on what you’d want to call it] is an ‘all-inclusive’ storage utility that allows testing transfer speeds as well as IOPS and lets the user tweak and adjust to find just the right mix in their testing medium, the IOPS tests being fully configurable with preset testing scenarios for read, write and mixed IO. The Benchmarks menu includes an SSD test, Endurance Testing, and 3 pre-configured IOPS tests. We recently included three scores across various data compression scenarios ranging from database to incompressible data.

CRYSTAL DISK Benchmark
Crystal Disk Benchmark is used to measure Read and Write performances through sampling of highly compressible data (oFill/1Fill), or random data. Crystal Disk Mark scores usually drop a bit compared to ATTO, and this is the result of the test data now being primarily incompressible – Mostly movies, music, and photographs. We tested the drive with multiple data sizes ranging from 500MB to 1000MB.

From this review onwards, we are going to introduce Crystal Disk Mark V7 along with V5.0. The plan is to gradually phase out V5.0 scores in favor of the newer version.

AJA System Test
AJA system test is used to benchmark the performance of a drive for video production workflow across various codecs with different settings. For the purpose of our review, we chose the 4K resolution with Apple ProRes 4444 Codec with variable bit rates.

Conclusion

The Astra KD55SX is positioned as an entry-level DRAM-less SSD for entry-level builds. Apart from that, we have seen it works out pretty nice for a secondary drive for a cheap workstation or any other data-centric workloads. It will be unwise, however, to expect blazing fast speeds from this simple for the reasons that it’s not built for that. This drive is meant to be used as a fire and forget solution for entry and mid-level gaming rigs and should be left at that. For anything else, it can step up to the game as evidenced in the results but faulting it for relatively slow speed will be extremely unfair.
I am really impressed by the drive itself, more so impressed since its an Indian brand and that makes me proud. BUT the Astra marketing needs to step up its game if they want to make a mark. The SSD has NO MENTION or presence outside of Etailer or Retailers Listing and that’s at least a yellow (or orange?) flag for potential buyers.

My suggestion would be to go buy it, its a very capable SSD, you will not be dissapointed.

A Bronze from us in TechARX.