MyDigitalSSD Introduction

The consumer SSD market is quite similar to the DRAM market. There are only a handful of NAND manufacturers (most of which make DRAM as well) but there are dozens, if not hundreds of SSD OEMs. Compared to DRAM there are obviously more components involved because on top of the NAND you'll also need a controller and possibly DRAM as well. Thanks to Marvell, Phison and especially SandForce you don't need a huge team of engineers to make an SSD because you can buy and license everything from third parties. Even manufacturing can be outsourced so basically what you're left with is distribution and marketing. That, of course, is if you choose the easiest route, which isn't necessarily the ideal option because there are already plenty of other companies using the exact same strategy.

MyDigitalSSD is one of the not-so-well-known SSD companies. They don't have a presence on NewEgg or many of the other major online stores, though you can find some of their products at Amazon. Since MyDigitalSSD doesn't have the resources it takes to build their own controller or firmware, they are left with using commercial controllers, SandForce and Phison in this case. Unlike many other SSD OEMs, MyDigitalSSD's aim is to provide something for everyone. Typically SSD OEMs, regardless of how big they are, only offer a few products that are almost without exception 2.5" SATA drives. MyDigitalSSD's approach is totally different as they offer SSDs ranging from standard 2.5" SATA drives to PATA SSDs and half-slim SATA SSDs. We don't often see such form factors used but there are laptops that rely on some of these uncommon SSD solutions. Of course if you're buying in volumes big enough (like Apple), then anyone will build you whatever you like; that makes finding upgrade parts difficult, so MyDigitalSSD is specifically targeting that market. 

MyDigitalSSD sent us their 256GB SATA 6Gbps mSATA SSDs in for reviewing. Complete specifications are in the table below:

Capacities (GB) 64, 128, 256 32, 64, 128, 256
NAND 25nm synchronous MLC (IMFT?) 24nm Toshiba Toggle-Mode MLC
Controller SandForce SF-2281 Phison PS3108-S8
Sequential Read 550MB/s 560MB/s
Sequential Write 530MB/s 470MB/s
4KB Random Read 35K IOPS 30K IOPS
4KB Random Write 86K IOPS 45K IOPS

MyDigitalSSD's SMART SSD is a standard SF-2281 based mSATA SSD and there are other OEMs such as Mushkin and ADATA offering similar products. What is more interesting (at least from a novelty standpoint) is the BP3 ("Bullet Proof 3"). It uses a new SATA 6Gbps controller from Phison, a company that's more known for their USB flash stick controllers. Our first encounter with Phison was with Crucial's v4 SSD, which wasn't very pleasant as the v4 was one of the slowest SSDs we have reviewed in years. As far as the specs go, the PS3108 seems to provide a much needed improvement to the random IO performance segment; we'll see how the PS3108 holds out in real world in just a second.

There aren't all that many commercially available mSATA SSDs because most are sold directly to OEMs, so most SSD manufacturers have chosen not to have a retail mSATA SSD lineup. MyDigitalSSD doesn't have presence at NewEgg or other major online resellers, but they do have their own store called MyDigitalDiscount which is also at Amazon. I took MyDigitalSSD prices from MyDigitalDiscount whereas the rest are from NewEgg:

Price Comparison (1/21/2013)
Capacity 60/64GB 120/128GB 240/256GB
MyDigitalSSD BP3 $65 $100 $180
MyDigitalSSD SMART $85 $140 $270
Crucial M4 mSATA $70 $115 $185
Mushkin Atlas $95 $110 $210
ADATA XPG SX300 $80 $125 $260

In terms of pricing, the BP3 is very appealing. It's easily the cheapest mSATA SSD that I could find and by a fairly large margin. The SMART, on the other hand, is one of the most expensive mSATA SSDs so MyDigitalSSD is clearly trying to position the BP3 at the low-end while offering the SMART for the high-end.

Meet the Drives
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  • Chupk - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    I love to read your reviews. And just want to give U thumbs up here knowing U R dealing with important exams at the same time while U R publishing high quality reviews.
    It's interesting to know U R stuck with word processing & HTML editing! >.<
    I have long passed my days in University & I'm working as a Consultant in a Hospital. Just want to say the exams U R facing R kinda important. They should be your 1st priority at least for the moment!
  • Stranman - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    It would be nice to see a comparison or charts of mSata only drives (apples to apples), not apples and oranges. If I'm looking for a mSata drive, I don't care to see standard 2.5" SSD drives listed.
  • Kristian Vättö - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    I thought about that at first but the problem is that we have only reviewed two mSATA SSDs on top of these MyDigitalSSD ones. I do have a couple more in the lab now, so stay tuned for more mSATA stuff. I think it's also worthwhile to compare them to similar SATA 2.5" drives because there is a performance difference and some might go with the 2.5" because of that.
  • Sp4rrowhawk - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    I'm a big thinkpad fan. And while my T410 doesn't have an mSata bay, both the T420 and T430 do.

    Also I own a home server and have a dedicated system drive. My (new) motherboard has 8 Sata ports or 7 plus 1 mSata port. As such I can't add one more drive but I can save up a 3.5" bay that would otherwise be used by my system drive. So I'm planning on buying one for that use-case. Obviously I don't need 256GB for my system drive though...
  • ChristopherD - Wednesday, January 23, 2013 - link

    Being a traveling photographer, speed and portability is always crucial.
    mSATA SSD form factor coupled with an external thunderbolt chassis would be a great combo that I would purchase myself. When I have only 30mins to edit and backup a 100GB folder of photos/videos and leave a site an external SSD this small would be great.
  • Sottilde - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    It seems that the M4's performance is (surprisingly) just a bit worse than the BP3's, and the M4 mSATA is just a bit more expensive. However, I'm doubtful of the longevity of Toggle-mode MLC; the last review I read on it said that it was guaranteed for only 1000 cycles. In addition this brand has a bit of a dubious name.

    Given those facts, which mSATA drive would you all choose?
  • JeBarr - Friday, January 25, 2013 - link

    A full size ATX desktop board or even some mATX board users could make use of mSATA PCI-E x1, x4 or x8 with 1, 2, 3 or 4 drives in "raid". These add-on cards already exist but the price is out of reach for most outside of enterprise.

    I'd much rather swap out a dead mSATA drive rather than purchase another Revo drive that slowly dies.
  • SSDuser101 - Tuesday, February 12, 2013 - link

    MyDigitalSSD has been around a while now. Since 2007 when they introduced the 1st upgrades for netbooks like the Asus 901 Mini PCI-e SSD.

    They have been selling mSATA SSD longer than anyone with nothing but great reviews.

    Also regarding Sottidle’s post about Toshiba toggle nand. He must be thinking of TLC Triple Layer Cell Flash like what ships on the Samsung 840 drives because those do have around a 1K Cycle life span. On the contrary Toshiba Toggle NAND is the best on the market when it comes to MLC flash with a 5K R/W/E cycle minimum.
  • systemBuilder - Saturday, June 27, 2015 - link

    Since 99% of all macbooks are shipped with a disk drive that is too small, because of Apple's horrific pricing policies, well yes, there is a huge market for mSATA drives, but only for macbooks from 2014 and earlier. The new 2015 macbooks have new PCIe drives that run 3x faster, but are not compatible with mSATA.

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