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Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit review: What first-time SSD buyers have looked for

The Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit comes with all one might need to upgrade their older laptop (or desktop) to solid-state storage.

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Dong Ngo
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Dong Ngo

SF Labs Manager, Editor / Reviews

CNET editor Dong Ngo has been involved with technology since 2000, starting with testing gadgets and writing code for CNET Labs' benchmarks. He now manages CNET San Francisco Labs, reviews 3D printers, networking/storage devices, and also writes about other topics from online security to new gadgets and how technology impacts the life of people around the world.

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5 min read

The Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit is a complete -- possibly the most complete -- solution for those wanting to migrate to a solid-state drive (SSD), by including everything you need for the job.

Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit - solid state drive - 120 GB - SATA-600
7.5

Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit

The Good

The <b>Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit</b> comes with all necessary accessories for first-time SSD buyers and offers fast performance.

The Bad

The Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit is comparatively expensive, especially for those who don't need its accessories.

The Bottom Line

The Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit makes a great buy for first-time SSD upgrader.

The SSDNow KC100 drive itself also proved to be very fast in my testing and can be used in both desktops and laptops, except for systems that require drives that are 7mm thin. It's the first drive I've seen in a long time that uses the traditional 9.5mm thin, 2.5-inch standard, instead of the newer and increasingly popular 7mm thickness.

All things considered, however, at the street price of $287 for 240GB (or $645 for 480GB and $156 for 120GB), the Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit makes a very good buy for those who plan to upgrade their laptop/desktop for the first time. If you already have other upgrade-related accessories or are looking for a thinner drive, check out those on this top-five list.

Design and features

Drive type 9.5mm-thick, 2.5-inch standard internal drive
Connector options SATA 3 (6Gbps), SATA 2, SATA
Available capacities 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
Product dimensions 2.5-inch standard
Capacity of test unit 240GB
OSes supported Windows, Mac, Linux

Out of the box, the a long list of items, including: a SSDNow KC100 drive, a USB enclosure with USB cable, a set of 3.5-ich brackets and mounting screws (for use with a desktop computer), SATA power and data cables, and a CD of drive cloning software. These are all you need to upgrade a laptop computer to the new SSD. After that, you can use the old hard drive as an external bus-powered hard drive with the USB enclosure.

Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit comes with all you need as a first-time upgrader.
Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit comes with all you need as a first-time upgrader. Dong Ngo/CNET

The enclosure itself, unfortunately, doesn't support USB 3.0; just the good-old USB 2.0. This is not a big deal, though, since I suspect that most existing computers that need to be upgraded to an SSD don't support USB 3.0 anyway, and the KC100's included Acronis-based bootable cloning CD doesn't support USB 3.0, either.

The SSDNow KC100 drive itself is very similar to a standard 2.5-inch hard drive, with the same dimensions and thickness. The drive's casing is made of solid aluminum painted to look like plastic. The drive is about as heavy as a regular hard drive and feels very solid.

Like many other SSDs, the SSDNow KC100 comes with overprovisioning. Overprovisioning is a feature that enables the use of part of an SSD's storage space to enhance the drive's performance. This explains why the drive's capacities are 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB, instead of 128GB, 240GB, and 512GB in the case of drives don't have this feature.

The drive's included cloning CD is bootable, and the cloning software it contains only works if you boot a computer using the CD. You can't install the software and expect to use it within Windows. In this regard, the upgrade process is almost exactly the same as in this CNET How-To. The software also supports Windows only; if you want to clone other operating systems, such as a Mac, you'll need to use different software.

In my trials, the SSDNow KC100 worked well with all popular operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X. For better performance it's recommended that you use the latest version of the OSes that support the TRIM command, such as Windows 7 and Mac OS 10.6 or later. Kingston says the SSDNow KC100 is designed for business users, and it's the only drive from the company that comes with a full five-year warranty, instead of a three-year like others.

The Kingston SSDNow KC100 drive (top) is clearly thicker than other 7mm drives.
The Kingston SSDNow KC100 drive (top) is clearly thicker than other 7mm drives. Dong Ngo/CNET

Cost per gigabyte
The Kingston SSDNow KC100 costs slightly higher compared with other SSDs on the market. However, it's not really expensive considering the amount of useful accessories included in the Upgrade Bundle Kit. At the current street price of some $287 for 240GB (or $156 for 120GB), the kit costs about $1.30 per gigabyte. However, the external enclosure and the cloning software are already worth about $40 if you have to get them separately. It's a little bit unfair to compare the Kingston SSDNow KC100 with others in terms of value based solely on the cost per gigabyte, since many don't include any accessories. But then again, the Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit is a great deal only for those who need to do the upgrade for the first time and don't already have the accessories.

Performance
Though not the fastest I've seen, the Kingston SSDNow KC100 performed very well in my tests. When used as the main drive, which is its main purpose, the SSDNow KC100 improved the boot time a great deal, helping the test machine take just 11 seconds to fully load Windows 7. The machine also took just around 5 seconds to shut down. When the system used the hard drive as its main storage, it took about 50 seconds to boot and 15 seconds to shut down; the SSDNow KC100 offered about an 80 percent improvement. There was no delay when the computer resumed from sleep mode, either. All the applications I tried opened noticeably faster, especially those that generally take a long time when a hard drive is used, such as games or Photoshop.

In data copy tests, which is generally not the strength of SSDs, the Kingston SSDNow KC100 offered 136MBps when used as the main drive and performing both writing and reading at the same time, slightly higher than the average. When used as a secondary drive and performing just writing, it scored much better at 253MBps, being among the top four on the chart of all SSDs. Compared with just 9.5mm-thick SSDs, however, the SSDNow KC100 is probably the fastest I've seen.

Bootup and shutdown time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown  
Boot Time  

Samsung 840 Pro
5.21 
10 

Corsair Neutron GTX
5.28 
10 

Sandisk Extreme
6 
11 

Plextor M5 Pro
6.21 
11.1 

Corsair Neutron
6.2 
12 

OCZ Vertex 4
6.8 
12 

Samsung 830 Series
6 
13.3 

SanDisk Ultra
7.2 
13.5 

Crucial M4
6.8 
13.7 

OCZ Agility 3
6.7 
14.7 

WD VelociRaptor 600GB
7.9 
45.4 

WD VelociRaptor 300GB
12.2 
56.2 

Data-transfer scores (in MB/s)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive  
As OS drive  
Corsair Neutron GTX
273.62 
161.38 
Samsung 830 Series
261.63 
172.88 
Samsung 840 Pro
256.63 
168.18 
Kingston SSDNow KC100
253.39 
136.39 
Plextor M5 Pro
251.19 
155.65 
OCZ Vertex 4
246.55 
168.36 
Corsair Neutron
237.69 
138.44 
RunCore Pro V 7mm
236.71 
155.89 
Crucial M4
235.51 
117.99 
Sandisk Extreme
234.15 
117.66 
Intel 520 series
230.01 
154.01 
Monster Digital Daytona
209.04 
108.32 
OCZ Agility 3
207.75 
101.67 
RunCore Pro V Max
186.78 
92.55 
Monster Digital Le Mans
177.56 
121.11 
WD VelociRaptor 1TB
149.73 
62.21 
WD VelociRaptor 600GB
126.33 
58.05 
Seagate Barracuda XT
115.71 
51.1 
WD VelociRaptor 300GB
112.59 
47.12 

Conclusion
With fast performance, a five-year warranty, and a generous bundle of accessories, the Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit makes an excellent choice for first-time buyers who want to upgrade their laptop or desktop to solid-state storage.

Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit - solid state drive - 120 GB - SATA-600
7.5

Kingston SSDNow KC100 Upgrade Bundle Kit

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 7Performance 7Support 10
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