Where once the SSD was the preserve of enthusiasts with deep pockets, these days there are so many drives to choose from that the struggle to get them out to the market at a competitive price has become especially cut throat.

As prices continue their slow downward fall, the 120/128GB capacity has become the sweet spot, so much so that at these capacities the magic £1 per gigabyte barrier has at last been broken for SSDs. And that's been a long time coming.

To try and leverage a better price point for the HyperX 3K series, Kingston has used 3K NAND memory (hence the 3K tag) instead of the 5K NAND of the original HyperX drives. The 3K label means the NAND should last up to 3,000 full writes of the new drive's maximum capacity versus the 5,000 full writes of the original HyperX.

Because of this the NAND is less expensive helping to drive the price down while retaining the pace you expect of a drive carrying the HyperX branding.

Kingston quote sequential read/write figures of 555MB/s and 510MB/s respectively for the drive, confirmed by a quick bash through the ATTO benchmark. Our drive produced figures of 551MB/s and 512MB/s for read/write speeds respectively.

As with all SandForce controlled drives its handling of incompressible data isn't anywhere near as impressive as it is with compressible files; something that is quite nicely illustrated in the AS SSD benchmark. When tested in the default incompressible mode the drive gives up a sequential write score of 171MB/s. Switching to testing compressible data with CrystalMark this jumps to an impressive 466MB/s.

Hyped drive

For incompressible performance, then, it drops behind the likes of the Marvel-based Corsair Performance Pro, but the HyperX 3K still manages to hold its own against the other SandForce drives.

When it comes to the drive's internals, Kingston has turned to Intel for the NAND chips. With eight chips housed on either side of the PCB, and with the SandForce 2281VB1 controller joining one group on the board.

Although the new drive uses NAND with reduced program/ erase cycles than the original HyperX drives, in practice most people will come nowhere near the drive's write limits. What it does do, however, is put a drive with enthusiast performance at a price point in reach of a lot more people.

Benchmarks

Sequential read performance
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Bigger is better
KINGSTON HYPERX 3K 120GB: 458
PATRIOT PYRO SE 120GB: 507
CORSAIR PERFORMANCE PRO 120GB: 492

Sequential write (compressible data)
ATTO: Megabytes per second: Bigger is better
KINGSTON HYPERX 3K 120GB: 171
PATRIOT PYRO SE 120GB: 166
CORSAIR PERFORMANCE PRO 120GB: 332

4K random write (incompressible data)
AS SSD: Megabytes per second: Bigger is better
KINGSTON HYPERX 3K 120GB: 15.54
PATRIOT PYRO SE 120GB: 19.46
CORSAIR PERFORMANCE PRO 120GB: 24.65

Our review drive was a standalone product that comes with just a 3.5-inch bracket and mounting screws. If you're looking for more extras, then the drive is available in a full upgrade bundle, which adds a 2.5-inch USB external enclosure, cloning software, a fancy screwdriver and SATA data cable to the mix for £130.

At the standard price tag there is simply nothing not to like. It's a great-performing drive for a fantastic price. The SandForce controller may not be the fastest any more, but will still make a difference to your PC.