LAS VEGAS, NV -- Mark our words: HP will become a real player in the consumer SSD market in 2018. The company released me-too SSDs in 2017 when the flash available was not competitive with Samsung's V-NAND. The transition to new 64-layer flash from Micron and Toshiba has leveled the field, and now every company has the ability to join the high-performance ranks, if they can engineer quality firmware.
In our Plextor M9Pe review, we talked about going back in time to around 2012, when the market was flush with flash and heavy competition from the number of companies involved with SSDs pushed low consumer pricing. We're inching closer and closer to those conditions. By mid-year the prophecy will be fulfilled, but the inertia will keep pushing these conditions as 512Gb flash comes online. There will be very few exceptional SSDs that stand above the sea of very good products with ample performance.
HP will begin shipping the EX920 M.2 and the EX900 M.2 NVMe 1.3 SSDs by February. The EX920 sits at the top of the stack and comes loaded with the Silicon Motion, Inc. SM2262 controller that will ship in SandForce SF2281 numbers. We keep hearing great things about the SM2262 and our own performance numbers look exceptional. That comes in part from Micron's new 64-layer flash that instantly elevated third-party products to South Korean performance levels. The EX920 will be right in the mix—all HP has to do is keep the cost down.
The SM2263XT HMB DRAM-less controller is in the HP SSD EX900 M.2. The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update made millions of PCs compatible with Host Memory Buffer technology. With the feature enabled, your system memory substitutes the drives memory to cache the map table. The result is near DRAM SSD performance with a hefty price reduction.
HP Portable SSD P800 (Thunderbolt 3)
HP also has two portable SSDs coming to market. The P800 features Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for the best in carry-around storage performance. The device features an embedded cable with a Type-C connector. A leverage lever on the side pushes the connector away from the case for quick connectivity that you will never lose. What makes HP's Thunderbolt 3 system unique is its ability to also work over USB as long as you have a Type-C port to plug it into.
HP Portable SSD P600 (With A Magnetic Personality)
We've seen portable SSDs in all shapes and sizes dating back to 2010, but we've yet to see one with a hidden case that is drawn to the drive. The HP Portable SSD P600 comes in two sections that link together with magnets in the case. The top section is the SSD with a USB Type-C connector. The bottom tray hides the small cable and a USB Type-A to Type-C converter. Pieced together, the drive is bulkier than some that we've reviewed in the past, but you will never have to raid the office to find a compatible cable.