Today’s item on our review bench is a little-known SSD, the S357 from PQI. This is a 240GB SATA drive that claims to be capable of reaching 550 MB/s reads and 450 MB/s writes. Let’s put it to the test.

 

Specifications

This is a great product image. Thanks PQI!

  • Capacity: 120GB, 240GB, 480GB
  • Warranty: 3 years
  • Interface: SATA III 6Gb/s
  • Data Transfer Rate: Up to 550MB/s read, 450MB/s write
  • Power Consumption: 5V +/- 5%
  • Dimensions: 100 x 69.85 x 7mm
  • Weight: 35 grams
 

Design

The PQI S537 comes in a traditional 2.5-inch form factor, with a gold-coloured sticker on one side. The drive lacks any other ornamentation or additional features. The colour scheme is showy, but it may not mesh well with traditional ‘gamer-style’ primary colour schemes.

 

Software

The S537 comes with cloning software, available for download here. I didn’t test the cloning functionality, but the software seems simple enough to use.

 

Testing

In order to test the speed of the drive, we ran four synthetic benchmarks with varying payloads: CrystalDiskMark, AS SSD, ATTO and HD Tune. Combined, these should give us a good idea of the drive’s performance compared to others at a similar price.

To see our test rig’s specifications, check out our component breakdown here!

CrystalDiskMark

CrystalDiskMark has been one of my favourite benchmarks for evaluating storage speeds for a while now, thanks to its varied incompressible workload and extremely readable results. Here’s the 3.0.3 x64 version of the benchmark; all results are in MB/s.

CDM 3 ReadSeq512K4K4K QD32
PQI S537 SSD51634029118
Toshiba A100 SSD49032833350
Drevo X1 Pro SSD34222935278
Toshiba P300 HDD150480.61.6
Toshiba H200 Hybrid115380.62.5
Toshiba Canvio Premium118430.50.6
Samsung T33863513335
Sandisk Z41050835713146
Samsung 850 Evo M.250244745368
Samsung 850 Evo51347238408
Samsung 840 Evo51547335397
Corsair Neutron GTX45037627328

 

CDM 3 WriteSeq512K4K4K QD32
PQI S537 SSD417413103259
Toshiba A100 SSD43840684315
Drevo X1 Pro SSD26927288269
Toshiba P300 HDD155690.61.0
Toshiba H200 Hybrid114522224
Toshiba Canvio Premium117501.31.3
Samsung T33573526977
Sandisk Z41040735597250
Samsung 850 Evo M.2474394113316
Samsung 850 Evo50447968352
Samsung 840 Evo50039086313
Corsair Neutron GTX48046869158

 

The PQI drive shows interesting results initially, with among the fastest sequential read speeds we’ve seen from a SATA drive at 516 MB/s. Its sequential write speeds are a little behind the curve compared to Samsung’s excellent 800-series drives, but still offer good performance for the price.

However, the 4K chunk results at queue depth 32 are among the worst we’ve seen, showing perhaps a weakness in the drive’s queuing capabilities. In layman’s terms, queuing is used by the drive’s controller to speed up the transfer of many smaller files by preparing a tight sequence that minimises drive downtime. This means that activities that require the reading or writing of many smaller files (e.g. loading a game into memory) may be slower on the PQI drive than on other solid state drives we’ve tested.

AS SSD

AS SSD is another benchmarking tool quite similar to CrystalDiskMark, which uses predominantly incompressible data across a range of workloads including sequential tests, random performance and access times. First three numbers are MB/s and access time is in ms.

AS SSD ReadSeq4K4K QD64Acc. TimeScore
PQI S537 SSD51327193N/A271
Toshiba A100 SSD48937319N/A405
Drevo X1 Pro SSD32527249N/A308
Toshiba P300 HDD1550.51.6N/A18
Toshiba H200 Hybrid731.81526.315
Toshiba Canvio Premium1130.50.623.02112
Samsung T334524320.10091
Sandisk Z410501111450.045206
Samsung 850 Evo M.2493403280.093417
Samsung 850 Evo516343820.059467
Samsung 840 Evo513323300.059413
Corsair Neutron GTX507253340.068N/A

 

AS SSD WriteSeq4K4K QD64Acc. TimeScore
PQI S537 SSD415842340.069360
Toshiba A100 SSD430742880.209405
Drevo X1 Pro SSD258762470.046349
Toshiba P300 HDD1140.50.616.713
Toshiba H200 Hybrid4619518.239
Toshiba Canvio Premium1110.50.517.612
Samsung T336756710.055163
Sandisk Z410407782150.237333
Samsung 850 Evo M.2475952510.075393
Samsung 850 Evo497662990.051415
Samsung 840 Evo497692070.054326
Corsair Neutron GTX473622950.062N/A

 

Again, the PQI S537 shows strong sequential and 4K performance, but worse results at higher queue depths, good for a score of 775 overall.

Note that there seems to be a ‘read access times’ bug in AS SSD under the current version of Windows 10; there is always an error message for that portion of the test and no result is rendered.

Atto Benchmark

Atto is always an interesting test because it shows the relationship between data set size and read and write speeds in considerable detail.

Atto Read1KB4KB64KB256KB1MB8MB
PQI S537 SSD76251549561562562
Toshiba A100 SSD76286552548561561
Drevo X1 Pro SSD71232348347348348
Toshiba P300 HDD2785129123135190
Toshiba H200 Hybrid92026262626
Toshiba Canvio Premium933117117117118
Samsung T31867329371377404
Sandisk Z41078247518531536533
Samsung 850 Evo M.283286537553552553
Samsung 850 Evo80269538551558558
Samsung 840 Evo94280535551555555
Corsair Neutron GTX1561336452530540

 

Atto Write1KB4KB64KB256KB1MB8MB
PQI S537 SSD72210426413447432
Toshiba A100 SSD53231524533534543
Drevo X1 Pro SSD68201270270267271
Toshiba P300 HDD1674120113123128
Toshiba H200 Hybrid32537555353
Toshiba Canvio Premium1041115115116116
Samsung T32071315365366388
Sandisk Z41069184419423426428
Samsung 850 Evo M.279251510526525525
Samsung 850 Evo83255519529534534
Samsung 840 Evo81260515527533534
Corsair Neutron GTX15142474470493498

 

The S537 does reasonably well in the ATTO test, reaching its maximum speed relatively quickly and maxing out with read speeds above the drive’s rating. There is an unusual regression in write speeds though, with results dipping around the 256 KB chunk size mark. This is unusual, and perhaps again a sign that the controller isn’t working as efficiently as it could be.

HD Tune

We conclude with HD Tune Pro, a benchmark which produces three scores for average read speed, read access time, and burst read rate.

HD Tune Pro 5.50 ReadAverageAccess TimeBurst Rate
PQI S537 SSD332 MB/s0.0 ms (?)232 MB/s
Toshiba A100 SSD330 MB/s0.042 ms99 MB/s
Drevo X1 Pro SSD356 MB/s0.042 ms248 MB/s
Toshiba P300 HDD126 MB/s14.6 ms294 MB/s
Toshiba H200 Hybrid90 MB/s16.9 ms87 MB/s
Toshiba Canvio Premium114 MB/s17.9 ms140 MB/s
Samsung T3269 MB/s0.090 ms171 MB/s
Sandisk Z410358 MB/s0.035 ms140 MB/s
Samsung 850 Evo M.2321 MB/s0.087 ms221 MB/s
Samsung 850 Evo370 MB/s0.044 ms250 MB/s
Samsung 840 Evo358 MB/s0.041 ms231 MB/s
Corsair Neutron GTX340 MB/s0.059 ms231 MB/s

 

Here the S537 has relatively variable performance, ending up with a reasonable average of 332 MB/s (and, somewhat remarkably, an access time rating of 0.0). The burst rate is good too, at 232 MB/s. Overall, a strong result that doesn’t highlight any flaws.

 

Wrapping up

The P537 SSD offers reasonable performance with fast flash memory, despite a few concerns regarding its controller. I’d personally go with a better-known brand if both were at the same price, but if you can find it 10-20% cheaper than a comparable Samsung or Toshiba drive then I’d say it’s worth it.

Pros

* Good sequential performance
* Decent software and warranty
* Rare gold design

Cons

* Poorer than expected performance at high queue depths
* Hard to find for sale in some countries

Our Rating
User Rating
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Design
7.0
3.9
Performance
7.0
9.7
Software
7.0
9.6
The bottom line

While PQI's S537 isn't going to be your top choice, it does boast good sequential performance and it's worth a look if you can find it at a good price.

7.0
Our Rating
7.7
User Rating
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About The Author
William Judd
Editor-in-Chief for XSReviews. Find me @wsjudd or on G+.