The recently released SK hynix Gold S31 solid-state drive (SSD) is not a novelty. There are plenty of standard SATA SSDs on the market. But considering its fast speed, longevity, and friendly cost of as low as 12 cents per gigabyte, it’s still a great find.
SK hynix Gold S31: A new drive that’s familiar
You might not have heard of SK hynix, but this is a popular OEM storage maker. Opening a Dell or Asus computer that runs a stock SSD, chances are it’s an SK hynix drive. Having owned many Dell laptops, I’m quite familiar with SK hynix SSDs and found them to be fast and reliable.
The Gold S31 is the first retail drive from the company, and in that sense, it’s a new development. Now for the first time, you can easily buy an SK hynix SSD as a replacement drive for any computer. It’s always a good thing to have another competitive option on top of the well-known brands, including Samsung, WD, Crucial, and so on.
At its core, the Gold S31 is a standard drive, taking the shape of a 2.5-inch internal laptop drive. Like most new drives, it’s 7mm-thick as opposed to 7.5-mm of a regular hard drive — it will fit tight places. The drive will work in the place of any traditional SATA hard drive though you might need a caddy (not included) to install it in a desktop computer.
SK hynix Gold S31’s detail photos
SK hynix Gold S31’s specifications
High endurance rating, relatively low capacity
Among standard SSDs on the market, the Gold S31 has impressive endurance rating — you can write a lot to it. It has higher endurance than most SATA SSDs I’ve tested, except for the NAS-specific Seagate IronWolf 110.
Specifically, you can write up to 150 terabytes of data to the 250GB version before it becomes unreliable. So if you write some 10GB per day to the drive and do that every day, it will last for about 43 years. Keep in mind that 10GB is quite a lot of data — most days a general user writes significantly less than that to the internal drive.
The endurance progressively increases with larger capacities. So you can write up to 600 terabytes to the 1TB drive. And 1TB is the Gold S31’s top capacity for now, which is low considering you can find SATA SSDs of up to 4TB, like the Samsung 860 QVO.
What’s more, the S31 is quite a barebone. It has no user-accessible features, unlike other SSDs that include software for you to at least manage the firmware update or over-provisioning. The S31 comes with no software. In fact, for now, you can’t even find any information to check or update its firmware on the SK hynix’s website. This lack of support might change in the future, however.
SK hynix Gold S31: Fast performance
The S31 works well where it matters. The drive performed well in my testing, though not the fastest. In sequential (copy) performance, the drive averaged some 480 MB/s for writing and almost 530 MB/s for reading. When doing both writing and reading at the same time, the drive registered 215 MB/s.
In random access performance, the Gold S31 also did well, especially in write speed. Considering its low cost, the drive’s performance exceeded my expectations.
I used the S31 for more than a week as the boot drive of my main computer and found it fast enough for all of my daily needs. It wasn’t as fast as the Samsung 970 Pro, which is a much more expensive NVMe drive, but for the most part, I didn’t notice the difference.
Despite offering nothing new, the SK hynix Gold S31 is a welcome addition to the crowded pool of standard SATA SSDS on the market. It presents consumers with another low-cost option that delivers both performance and endurance. If you’re looking to upgrade your computer that still runs on a regular hard drive, this SSD is an excellent choice.