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The Swordfish combines a low cost per gigabyte with solid performance and hardware encryption.

OUR VERDICT

Adata’s swordfish isn’t the most responsive SSD out there, but it looks great and comes with AES 256-bit encryption support at a very low price.

FOR

  • Low cost
  • Large SLC write cache
  • Sleek aesthetic
  • AES 256-bit encryption
  • 5-year warranty
  • SSD Toolbox and cloning software

AGAINST

  • Slow write performance after the SLC cache fills
  • Endurance is lower than average
  • Could use further power optimization

Adata’s Swordfish is an entry-level NVMe SSD built for creatives and gamers looking for faster-than-SATA performance, without spending a whole lot. Powered by Realtek’s entry-level NVMe SSD controller, it offers up sequential performance of up to 1.8 GBps and comes with support for AES 256-bit encryption. With a stylish silver heatsink and black PCB, it’s quite the looker too. It’s just not the most responsive SSD out there, due to its lack of DRAM.

It’s not often that we see a low-cost M.2 NVMe SSD that supports AES 256-bit encryption, let alone one with a DRAMless architecture, but Adata’s Swordfish is just that. With Realtek’s RTS5763DL NVMe SSD controller, it not only sports this optional security support to keep your data secure, but it also hits the market at very low prices, as low as $0.10 per GB. Although the DRAMless architecture holds it back in terms of responsiveness and endurance rating, the Swordfish is still quite appealing for those looking to save a few bucks on a boot or game drive.

Specifications

Product Swordfish 250GB Swordfish 500GB Swordfish 1TB Swordfish 2TB
Pricing $37.99 $54.99 $99.99 $209.99
Capacity (User / Raw) 250GB / 256GB 500GB / 512GB 1000GB / 1024GB 2000GB / 2048GB
Form Factor M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280 M.2 2280
Interface / Protocol PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3 PCIe 3.0 x4 / NVMe 1.3
Controller Realtek RTS5763DL Realtek RTS5763DL Realtek RTS5763DL Realtek RTS5763DL
DRAM DRAMless – HMB DRAMless – HMB DRAMless – HMB DRAMless – HMB
Memory SanDisk BiCS4 96L TLC SanDisk BiCS4 96L TLC SanDisk BiCS4 96L TLC SanDisk BiCS4 96L TLC
Sequential Read 1,800 MBps 1,800 MBps 1,800 MBps 1,800 MBps
Sequential Write 900 MBps 1,400 MBps 1,400 MBps 1,400 MBps
Random Read 130,000 IOPS 160,000 IOPS 180,000 IOPS 180,000 IOPS
Random Write 100,000 IOPS 100,000 IOPS 180,000 IOPS 180,000 IOPS
Security AES 256-bit Encryption AES 256-bit Encryption AES 256-bit Encryption AES 256-bit Encryption
Endurance (TBW) 120 TB 240 TB 480 TB 960 TB
Part Number ASWORDFISH-250G-C ASWORDFISH-500G-C ASWORDFISH-1T-C ASWORDFISH-2T-C
Warranty 5-Years 5-Years 5-Years 5-Years

Features

The Swordfish is available in capacities of 250GB up to 2TB and is priced very competitively, especially with the 1TB capacity listed at just $99.99. With a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface,Adata rates the Swordfish to deliver sequential performance figures of up to 1.8/1.4 GBps read/write for all models over 500GB; the 250GB capacity takes a performance hit, only rated to write up to 900MBps. And, in terms of random performance, the Swordfish can sustain upwards of 180,000/180,000 random read/write IOPS.

As it is with many SSD’s, these ratings are burst rates. Sustained performance is usually a bit lower, degrading a bit under heavy workloads. Adata’s Swordfish comes with a dynamic SLC write cache that spans one-third of the available capacity to ensure responsive write performance under most use cases before degrading in speed. At 1TB, our sample’s cache should measure roughly 333GB when empty and scales down as it is filled with data. Check the performance section to see how that played out in testing.

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Leveraging LDPC (Low-Density Parity-Check) error-correcting code and with 9% of the flash set aside for over-provisioning, Adata’s Swordfish is rated to deliver up to 960 TB of write endurance at the largest capacity. Given its lack of DRAM and low cost, these lower-than-average figures are expected. Fortunately, the length of the warranty generally matters more than the actual endurance ratings. And with a five-year warranty, the drive is generously covered on that front.

The Swordfish supports Trim, S.M.A.R.T. data reporting, and support for lower power active and idle modes. We were quickly able to secure erase the SSD with our motherboard’s built-in SSD secure erase tool, too. But the Swordfish’s feature support doesn’t stop there. The company outfitted the drive with hardware-accelerated AES 256-bit encryption support. So, not only will it load up your data quickly, it will do so only for you if securely configured.

Software and Accessories

Adata provides buyers with an SSD Toolbox download and data migration utility to use. The toolbox is rather basic but can update the SSDs firmware and run some diagnostic tools. The cloning software is provided by Acronis True Image; it’s a free-to-use OEM version that allows you to migrate your old data to your new Adata SSD.

Adata’s Swordfish is an M.2 2280 form factor drive that comes with an elegantly etched aluminum heatsink which helps cool the components underneath. The 1TB and smaller capacities come in a single-sided form factor, but the 2TB comes in a double-sided form factor, meaning it’s a bit thicker. The PCB is also blacked out, which is always a plus for gamers and those who want their desktop builds to look good.

At the heart of the Swordfish is Realtek’s dual-core Arm-based RTS5763DL NVMe 1.3 SSD controller. It is designed for low cost and because of that isn’t going to be a performance leader by a long shot. While it leverages a PCIe 3.0 x4 interface, it doesn’t have the horsepower to use up all the bandwidth afforded to it. There are only four NAND flash channels and it lacks a DRAM cache for buffering the FTL mapping data, which makes it less responsive than most DRAM-based SSDs. It instead leverages HMB, which allows the SSD to utilize a few MB of the host system’s DRAM, 64MB in the Swordfish’s case, to use as FTL caching space.

Adata’s 1TB Swordfish comes with four NAND packages full of SanDisk’s 96L BiCS4 TLC NAND flash, basically the same flash as Kioxia’s 96L TLC. Each NAND package contains four dies that are 512Gb in density, 16 total. These are 2-plane dies, meaning two regions of the NAND flash die can be accessed individually for improved performance, although designs from Micron and SK Hynix feature quad-plane access per die. The flash interfaces with the controller at an I/O rate of roughly 667-800 MTps at 1.2V.

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