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Review Renice X5 mSATA SSD (60 GB)

Allen Ngo, 02/10/2012

Super small. The Renice X5 promises write speeds and read speeds of up to 160MB/s and 240MB/s, respectively, all in a package about half the size of a business card. Find out here just how well the mSATA drive performs and if it's worth an upgrade.

Renice X5 SSD 60GB in Review

As notebooks become increasingly thinner, practically every component inside the chassis must shrink in order to keep up with tighter industrial designs. The emerging market of mSATA SSDs is the industry’s answer for even smaller drives made to fit in ultrathin notebooks and Ultrabooks as primary or even secondary drives.

Chinese manufacturer Renice Technology Co., Ltd is currently one of the few manufacturers to offer aftermarket mSATA drives, with some others being Intel, OCZ, RunCore and Kingston. The aim is to provide compatible notebook users with additional expandability options in a lighter package with less energy consumption while maintaining features and speeds normally found in 2.5-inch drives.

In this review, we examine the performance of the Renice X5 SSD, a 50mm form factor drive with a theoretical host transfer rate equivalent to that of a standard SATA II connection. This particular RCM60-PX5M model currently retails online for $199 and offers 60 gigabytes of capacity using multi-level cell (MLC) NAND flash, although the X5 family is also available in 8GB, 16GB, 32GB and 128GB models with compliancy to the JEDEC MO-300-B industrial standard. Common features and protocols, such as S.M.A.R.T., NCQ, dynamic wear-leveling and of course TRIM are supported throughout the Renice X5 series.

Manufacturer's information:

  • Flash Memory Controller: SMI
  • Host Transfer Rate: 3.0 Gb/s
  • 60GB (Max Read: 250MB/s; Max Write: 160MB/s)
  • Access time: 0.1ms
  • Form Factor: 50.95mmx30mmx3.65mm, <10g
  • Operating Voltage: 3.3V (Read/Write/Idle: 0.8W/1.2W/0.56W)
  • MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures): >2,000,000 hours
  • Manufacturer's site
60GB Renice X5 mSATA drive
60GB Renice X5 mSATA drive
The drive is similar in appearance to the more common UMTS Mini PCI-e card
The drive is similar in appearance to the more common UMTS Mini PCI-e card
The X5 next to 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA WD HDDs
The X5 next to 2.5-inch and 3.5-inch SATA WD HDDs
Overall weight of the X5 is essentially negligible if used on a notebook
Overall weight of the X5 is essentially negligible if used on a notebook

Test System and Installation

Lenovo Y570 w/ Core i5, GeForce GT 555 and 5400RPM Hitachi HDD

As of this writing, there are only a handful of notebooks with native support for 50mm mSATA drives. Presently, Lenovo offers one of the widest ranges of compatible notebooks, including many newer products as part of its T-, W- and X-Series. The ThinkPad Edge E220s/E420s and IdeaPad Y470/Y570 are compatible as well, although users looking to hookup two mSATA drives simultaneously may have to consider larger notebooks, such as the 17.3-inch Dell Precision M6600. We should note that users should check the system BIOS to make sure of mSATA support, even if there is an open mSATA slot. However, adapters do exist for mSATA drives to connect to standard 2.5-inch SATA slots in notebooks if native mSATA slots are unavailable.

Ultimately, we decided to go with the 15.6-inch Lenovo Y570 as our test notebook for the Renice X5. It may not be the thinnest or most business-oriented notebook around, but it is definitely more consumer-friendly with a fair price considering the specs and is easily upgradeable. See here for our full review of the Y570.

Installation of the X5 SSD is simple. The mSATA drive is similar in size and even connection to a UMTS module, although users should take note that mSATA drives are not electronically compatible with Mini PCIe slots despite the physical similarities. On the Y570, the X5 sits directly adjacent to the Intel Mini PCIe WLAN card and the notebook was able to automatically recognize the auxiliary hardware upon Windows startup. We did, however, have to enable the device through Windows Disk Management for the SSD to be assigned a drive letter. The user can also designate the X5 to be a boot device through the system BIOS, which would allow the mSATA drive to act as a primary drive. 

Installation is as easy as opening the bottom cover...
...locating an unoccupied mSATA slot...
...and inserting the drive as if it was RAM

ATTO

For our first benchmark, we wanted to test the theoretical maximum read and write speeds of the X5 as listed by the manufacturer. These ceiling speeds are usually attained with read/write tests in 512KB through 8MB package sizes as they would normally yield the fastest transfer rates for SSDs. For this, we turned to the ATTO benchmark.

According to ATTO, we were able to obtain a maximum read speed of 262MB/s with a transfer size of 8MB. Interestingly, this is above the manufacturer’s specification of 250MB/s, which is definitely a surprise. 

Unfortunately, we were unable to reproduce write speeds anywhere close to the claimed 160MB/s maximum with ATTO, CrystalDiskMark or even AS SSD. Instead, write speeds appear to max out closer to 90MB/s to 100MB/s. We have confirmed with a Renice representative that the theoretical maximum write speed of the X5 is 160MB/s, but our benchmarks resulted in no write speeds with 3 significant figures.

ATTO: Read speeds of the X5 are comparable to even the popular 2.5-inch Intel 320 Series of SSDs, although write speeds of the Renice drive pales in comparison. (x-axis in kB; y-axis in kB/s)
ATTO: Read speeds of the X5 are comparable to even the popular 2.5-inch Intel 320 Series of SSDs, although write speeds of the Renice drive pales in comparison. (x-axis in kB; y-axis in kB/s)

Sequential Write and Read Rates

With CrystalDiskMark 3.0 and AS SSD, the sequential read and write rates can be recorded. We were able to achieve sequential read speeds of 244.9MB/s and 243.73MB/s with the two benchmark programs, respectively. Compared to our recently reviewed Nocti mSATA SSD from OCZ, the Renice drive is blazingly faster, at least on sequential read speeds. This means that the X5 can sustain read speeds closer to its theoretical maximum, which will directly affect loading times in larger programs or games. In fact, read speeds are about on par with the SATA III OCZ Agility 3 SSD when the latter is limited to a SATA II interface.

Renice X5 60GB
Intel Core i5-2410M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
Schenker XMG A701
Intel Core i7-2630QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
HD Tune Transfer Rate Average
---172357
108%
202.9
18%
220
28%
348
102%
352.3
105%
332
93%
HD Tune Transfer Rate Maximum
---195.6381
95%
216.8
11%
218
11%
351
79%
368.1
88%
316
62%
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
24%
98%
85%
182%
88%
162%
Read Seq244.9213.7
-13%
264.3
8%
277
13%
486
98%
220.7
-10%
478
95%
Write Seq89.45144
61%
257.2
188%
230
157%
327
266%
255
185%
293
228%
AS SSD
21%
94%
62%
175%
83%
154%
Seq Read243.73204.6
-16%
251
3%
165
-32%
468
92%
212
-13%
485.6
99%
Seq Write86.24135.2
57%
245
184%
221
156%
308
257%
241
179%
266.6
209%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
62% / 49%
55% / 69%
47% / 56%
135% / 149%
91% / 89%
118% / 131%

4K Performance

4K Write speeds are a bit less impressive, but processing continuous small files have been known to be a general weak point for SSDs anyway. In the X5, the Renice drive performs notably slower compared to other mSATA offerings (e.g., 9.928MB/s of the X5 vs 19.32MB/s of the Intel 310).

Renice X5 60GB
Intel Core i5-2410M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
Schenker XMG A701
Intel Core i7-2630QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
297%
207%
170%
171%
432%
423%
Read 512220.6206.6
-6%
201.2
-9%
180
-18%
335
52%
210
-5%
436
98%
Write 51271.59144
101%
253.7
254%
219
206%
303
323%
254
255%
292
308%
Read 4k19.1828.6
49%
17.58
-8%
21
9%
20.6
7%
28.6
49%
26.7
39%
Write 4k9.92881.7
723%
57.23
476%
40.2
305%
46.4
367%
81.4
720%
82.97
736%
Read 4k QD3259.75102
71%
130
118%
142
138%
81.3
36%
145.6
144%
192
221%
Write 4k QD3214.78139.5
844%
75.3
409%
70.8
379%
50.1
239%
225.6
1426%
183
1138%
AS SSD
441%
251%
224%
114%
628%
646%
4K Read15.8418.02
14%
16.2
2%
18.7
18%
18.6
17%
18.7
18%
16.4
4%
4K Write9.1265.17
615%
49.1
438%
34.4
277%
14.3
57%
63.2
593%
43.9
381%
4K-64 Read53.0388.09
66%
113
113%
135
155%
76.6
44%
140
164%
184
247%
4K-64 Write11.16130.58
1070%
61.4
450%
61
447%
48.7
336%
205
1737%
229
1952%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
369% / 355%
229% / 224%
197% / 192%
143% / 148%
530% / 510%
535% / 512%

Access Times

As expected, access times for the X5 are, for all intents and purposes, essentially nonexistent when compared to mechanical drives. AS SSD recorded read and write access times of about 0.2ms and 0.4ms, respectively, which are a bit higher than what we would like since most SSDs offer access times closer to 0.1ms. Still, this is something users will not notice during typical notebook use as SSDs are in a league of their own relative to HDDs.

Renice X5 60GB
Intel Core i5-2410M, NVIDIA GeForce GT 555M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTS 450, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 470, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Intel Core i7-2600K, AMD Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
Schenker XMG A701
Intel Core i7-2630QM, NVIDIA GeForce GT 540M, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
HD Tune Access Time
--- *0.10.1
-0%
0.1
-0%
0.1
-0%
0.2
-100%
0.1
-0%
0.073
27%
AS SSD
31%
66%
71%
40%
31%
48%
Access Time Read *0.2030.151
26%
0.108
47%
0.072
65%
0.203
-0%
0.154
24%
0.082
60%
Access Time Write *0.4380.281
36%
0.066
85%
0.102
77%
0.089
80%
0.273
38%
0.28
36%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
16% / 21%
33% / 44%
36% / 47%
-30% / -7%
16% / 21%
38% / 41%

* ... smaller is better

Compressed Data

In the AS SSD Compression Benchmark Chart, the performance of the Renice SMI controller does not appear to depend on the compressibility of the data being processed. This is in contrast to certain SandForce-powered SSDs, such as the SATA OCZ Agility 3. As a result, it can copy poorly compressible data at relatively stable speeds closer to the drive's maximum read and write rates.

AS SSD compression benchmark: Performance doesn't drop with low-compressible data
AS SSD compression benchmark: Performance doesn't drop with low-compressible data

Copying Data

For data copying speeds, we used the integrated benchmarks in AS SSD to check the copy/transfer performance of the X5. The Renice drive achieves good results and are comparable to the mSATA Nocti SSD.

AS SSD
Copy ISO MB/s (sort by value)
Renice X5 60GB
GeForce GT 555M, 2410M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
78.81 MB/s ∼10%
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
GeForce GTS 450, 2600K, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
130 MB/s ∼17% +65%
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
209 MB/s ∼27% +165%
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
134 MB/s ∼18% +70%
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
211 MB/s ∼28% +168%
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
119 MB/s ∼16% +51%
Schenker XMG A701
GeForce GT 540M, 2630QM, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
176 MB/s ∼23% +123%
Copy Program MB/s (sort by value)
Renice X5 60GB
GeForce GT 555M, 2410M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
41.9 MB/s ∼10%
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
GeForce GTS 450, 2600K, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
99.6 MB/s ∼24% +138%
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
131 MB/s ∼31% +213%
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
97 MB/s ∼23% +132%
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
155 MB/s ∼37% +270%
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
96 MB/s ∼23% +129%
Schenker XMG A701
GeForce GT 540M, 2630QM, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
146 MB/s ∼35% +248%
Copy Game MB/s (sort by value)
Renice X5 60GB
GeForce GT 555M, 2410M, Renice X5 RCM60-PX5M
68.04 MB/s ∼8%
ADATA S510 120GB Desktop
GeForce GTS 450, 2600K, ADATA S510 S510S3-120GM-C
110.1 MB/s ∼14% +62%
Samsung SSD 470 Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Samsung SSD 470 Series MZ-5PA256/EU
160 MB/s ∼20% +135%
Intel SSD 320 Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, Intel SSD 320 Series SSDSA2CW300G310
116 MB/s ∼14% +70%
Intel SSD 510 250GB Desktop
GeForce GTX 470, 2600K, Intel SSD 510 Series SSDSC2MH250A2K5
192 MB/s ∼24% +182%
OCZ Agility 3 240GB Desktop
Radeon HD 6450 GDDR5, 2600K, OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-240G
115 MB/s ∼14% +69%
Schenker XMG A701
GeForce GT 540M, 2630QM, OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-240G
181 MB/s ∼22% +166%

As a last quick test, we loaded up the popular RTS game Starcraft 2 on the Y570, both on the internal SATA HDD and the X5 drive. Load times on the X5 is reduced by almost half on the X5, from about 22 seconds on the mechanical disk versus 13 seconds on the mSATA drive.

Verdict

With regards to 2.5-inch SATA III SSDs, the 3Gb/s host transfer rate of mSATA simply cannot match the 6Gb/s maximum of the SATA III standard, the latter of which can offer over 300MB/s transfer rates at a minimum. Of course, that would be an unfair comparison. Fortunately for the X5, the tiny SSD can definitely hold on its own against other mSATA drives such as the Intel 310 and OCZ Nocti, although we wish that its write speeds, specifically its 4K read and write, were a bit higher.

But for those with compatible notebooks, adding an mSATA drive to work in conjunction with an already installed HDD can boost performance greatly without adding any significant weight. This hybrid setup is especially useful for commonly used programs such as Photoshop or Microsoft Office and can even become invaluable if the user chooses to install the main OS onto the SSD itself. 

For this reason, the Renice X5 can make for an excellent addition in a notebook, especially because of its speedy sequential read rates compared to competing mSATA drives. In general, we don’t recommend running a notebook solely from the X5 drive or from any mSATA drive for that matter. SSDs of this size have yet to be available in very large capacities and at cost effective prices per GB to function as exclusive drives from an economic standpoint.

As of early 2012, mSATA SSDs are still a niche product and will likely continue to be until more notebooks take advantage of the ultra slim form factor of the drive. Is it worth buying a new notebook just to use an mSATA drive? We think not, but if you already have an available mSATA slot and a primary hard drive disk, then the Renice X5 can make for a quick and easy upgrade with noticeable boosts in everyday performance. 

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Renice X5 mSATA SSD (60 GB)
Author: Allen Ngo, 2012-02-10 (Update: 2013-06- 6)