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Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD Upgrade Kit (SH100S3B/120G)

February 16th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

5 Stars
Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD

SandForce-based SSDs are dominating the SSD market right now, because of their terrific read/write performance. Buggy firmware in the early-going, gave a lot of SSD manufacturers, big-time PR headaches. The good news is, SandForce seems to have finally remedied the bugs that reacquainted a lot of Windows users with the blue screen of death (BSOD).


  • Comprehensive upgrade kit
  • Gorgeous drive
  • Great performance
  • Great website support
  • Backed by a 3-year warranty


  • Firmware can only be updated in Windows

The Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD upgrade kit is a SandForce-based SSD, that performs similarly to other SandForce SSDs––wicked fast. What is different about the HyperX SSD, is the sharp, visual aesthetics and the killer bundle in the upgrade kit.

There’s no question that Kingston paid special attention to the packaging. Unlike many SSDs, the HyperX SSD comes in a high-quality box with foam inserts that protect the contents. The packaging is so nice, that you might want to actually keep it as a storage box for spare 2.5-inch drives.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- in foamKingston HyperX 120GB SSD- accessories

Upon opening the lid of the box, you see the beautiful blue HyperX SSD drive in a foam insert. In the underside of the foam insert, is the desktop adapter plate. Beneath that, you’ll find another foam insert with the external enclosure and screwdriver. Also included is a USB cable for the external drive enclosure, blue SATA III cable, mounting screws and a software CD that includes a bootable-only version of Acronis True Image cloning software.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- contents

Desktop adapter plate
The blue 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch adapter plate is a nice-to-have, if you ever plan on using the HyperX SSD with a desktop computer. Many newer ATX computer enclosures, like the Corsair 600T, now include drive trays that support 2.5-inch drives, but in just case your enclosure doesn’t, having the adapter is a nice convenience. Buying an adapter on your own would run you about $10, but it wouldn’t match your HyperX SSD with the cool blue color or have the logo.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- adapter

The magnetized screwdriver matches the blue HyperX color of the drive and includes two small driver bits (one flathead and one philips). It’s not the highest quality screwdriver, but for those that find the branding to be cool (like me), the screwdriver is a great addition. An almost identical, but unbranded screwdriver, can be found at discount stores like Big Lots, for about $10.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- screwdriver with bits

External USB drive enclosure
The USB enclosure is a fantastic way to migrate your current system to the new drive, especially for laptops. Laptops don’t generally have multiple SATA ports like desktops, so without the USB enclosure, you’d have to connect both the HyperX SSD and the original laptop drive, to a desktop system to clone. Using the USB enclosure, I was able to easily clone a mechanical drive inside a MacBook Pro to the HyperX SSD. The USB enclosure is made out of plastic, which is fine for solid-state drives, since they give off much less heat than mechanical drives. Besides, its primary function is to use it temporarily for migration purposes. I wouldn’t recommend using it with a mechanical drive as a permanent external drive, because of its lack of cooling properties. Similar enclosures sell for about $10-$15.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- USB enclosure openKingston HyperX 120GB SSD- USB enclosure SATA port

Acronis cloning software
The software CD includes a version of Acronis True Image that you can use to clone entire drives or image and restore individual partitions. It’s not the full version that you install, but a boot-only version that lets you do most of the vital cloning and backup operations when installing or migrating drives. The full retail version of Acronis True Image costs about $30. Acronis True Image does not support Macs, so Mac users should download SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner for free.

The generous upgrade kit is a refreshing departure from SSDs that don’t include anything but the drives. I recently spoke with a rep from Monster Digital, who are just entering the SSD market with the full force of Monster Cable’s marketing machine. When I asked them how they intended to differentiate their drives, he said that their packaging and bundle would set them apart. The thing is, Kingston’s already done that with the HyperX upgrade kit.

The Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD was awesome inside a current MacBook Pro 13-inch laptop, and this was before I even upgraded the firmware to the latest version (3.3.2). Boot up times were reduced significantly, programs loaded almost instantly, and it ran stable for three straight weeks. Unfortunately, the MacBook Pro’s display crapped out before I could run my benchmarks. To run my benchmarks, I ended up installing the HyperX to a desktop system with native SATA III ports on a Z68 motherboard.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- top
Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD- portsKingston HyperX 120GB SSD- logo

ATTO Disk Benchmark
ATTO tests the raw performance of a drive and is the benchmark tool normally used when manufacturers advertise read/write performance.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD ATTO Disk Benchmark

The HyperX 120GB SSD achieved max read speeds of 559MB/s and max write speeds of 518MB/s. As you can see from the chart, the HyperX 120GB SSD’s performance is very close to the Patriot Pyro 120GB SSD that I tested not long ago.

CrystalDiskMark is a commonly used benchmark that can test performance of drives using random, incompressible data. Using incompressible data to measure performance can reveal the benefits of the faster, synchronous NAND flash, that the HyperX SSD uses. Many value-oriented SSDs use slower, asynchronous NAND flash.

Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD CrystalDiskMark

Read performance was exceptional at 489MB/s. From the chart, you can see the performance impact of synchronous and asynchronous NAND flash. The Patriot Pyro uses asynchronous memory, so it can’t keep up with the HyperX when using incompressible data. Write performance on the HyperX 120GB SSD was good as well (161MB/s), but the difference wasn’t as pronounced as it was in read performance.

The Kingston support website provides a good bit of information on the HyperX SSD. You can download the install guide, a data sheet, and recent firmware revisions. Beyond that, the website also has a good FAQ section and a form you can fill out for support questions. Kingston warranties the HyperX SSD for 3 years.

The Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD upgrade kit is a very attractive bundle. Its high-end performance, visual appeal, and matching accessories, make the HyperX stand out. Gamers and performance enthusiasts should be extremely happy with the HyperX SSD upgrade kit. At about a $15 premium over the standard HyperX 120GB SSD, the upgrade kit is well worth the cost difference. If you’re looking for a sweet-looking SSD with sweet performance to match, take a look at the Kingston HyperX 120GB SSD upgrade kit.

Available from Amazon.com.

*Review unit provided by Kingston

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