TLC NAND flash based SSD has become more common nowadays as a replacement for SLC and MLC NAND flash based SSDs. Apacer as one of the renown brand for memory module and storage devices too is adopting TLC NAND flash for their latest SSD to provide affordable high speed storage solutions for the end users.

Apacer has just launched the AS681 ARMOR SSD few weeks ago, its new TLC NAND flash based SSD. The AS681 ARMOR as according to Apacer, utilizes the most advanced 8-channel synchronous transmission design that makes read/write speed of up to 545/520 MB/s possible on the TLC NAND flash based SSD, making it the ideal storage upgrade for your system.

We got our hands on one with 480GB capacity here today, just to see what kind of performance we can expect from the new AS681 ARMOR – special thanks to Apacer for making this review possible! 

(The Apacer AS681 ARMOR retails at RM229 for 120GB, RM399 for 240GB and RM669 for 480GB)

Specifications

Capacity
120GB / 240GB / 480GB / 960GB
Interface
SATA III 6Gb/s
NAND Flash Type
TLC
Sustained Read Performance(MB/sec)
120GB: Up to 495 MB/s;240GB: Up to 515 MB/s;480GB: Up to 520 MB/s;960GB: Up to 545MB/sec
Sustained Write Performance(MB/sec)
120GB: Up to 385 MB/s;240GB: Up to 475 MB/s;480GB: Up to 480 MB/s;960GB: Up to 545MB/sec
IOPs (4K Random Read)
Up to 95,000
IOPs (4K Random Write)
Up to 39,000
ECC Support
Up to 72bit/1KB
Shock
1500G/ 2ms
Vibration
80~2000Hz/20G
Low Power Consumption
Active: 1,200/ Idle: 150 (Unit: mA)
MTBF
1,000,000 hours
Humidity
RH 90% under 40°C
Standard Operating Temperature
0 ℃ ~ 70 ℃
Storage Temperature
-40°C to 85°C
Dimensions
100(L) x 69.9(W) x 7 (H)
Warranty
3 years

Unboxing

As its name suggests, the Apacer AS681 Armor ships in a black, minimalist box with the image of the Arc reactor from Iron Man’s armor printed at the front. Details such as the capacity, product model and the interface is all the details you’ll find at front of the box, nothing more.
Brief details on operating system compatibility, company details, product number, etc are the details you’ll find at the back of the box. There isn’t any relevant details on the read and write speed this SSD is capable of, which I personally think that should be included for the ease of reference.
Compared to most of the TLC NAND flash based SSD or lower cost SSD we’ve came across, the AS681 is among the few that actually uses metal enclosure instead of going straight for the low cost solution, which is plastic.
There’s nothing much else you’ll find behind the SSD except for the product label and warranty seal that you shouldn’t be tampering with. Removing the label or the warranty seal will result in the void of the 3-year global warranty from Apacer.

Synthetic Benchmark

CrystalDiskMark

Developed by a Japanese coder that goes by the nickname Hiyohiyo, CrystalDiskMark is one of the most frequent used SSD Benchmark utility to measure SSD’s read and write performance. There’s 2 option for the test data used, compressible (0 fill) and incompressible (1 fill).

ATTO Disk Benchmark

The most frequently used benchmarking utility by many manufacturers for performance specification. As ATTO Disk Benchmark uses compressible data rather than incompressible data, it results in higher benchmark scores. We’ve run the benchmark with transfer size ranged from 0.5KB to 8192KB and a total length of the test to be 256MB.

Anvil’s  Storage Utilities

By far the most complete SSD Benchmark utility available. The Anvil’s Storage Utilities not only comes with the standard SSD Benchmark function, it also includes other functions such as endurance testing and threaded I/O read, write and mixed tests and option to configure the compressibility of the test data.

AS SSD Benchmark

Widely used SSD benchmarking utility that uses incompressible data to simulate the worst possible scenario for an SSD and thus giving a much lower sequential read and write speed result than what has been stated by the manufacturer as a result of the heavy workload.

Real World Usage

Performance

We’ve conducted several test that with several SSD with at least 40% capacity occupied with various commonly used software to simulate the real world scenario. 

Software / Firmware Update

Lacking of dedicated software available for the AS681 to perform SSD optimization might not be a big deal to most of us as you can definitely see the same on other brands, but the AS681 can be a pain when it comes to updating the firmware if your technical knowledge is limited. 
Final Thoughts
For a TLC SSD,we’d say that the Apacer AS681 ARMOR SSD 480GB is a pretty solid performer for its price of RM 669. We’ve have tested the SSD for almost a month and it gets the job done pretty well not only as a primary drive, but a secondary drive for storage as well. The only complain I have with the  is the lack of a dedicated software to perform firmware update. The updating process can be a pain for the non-technical users as the steps involves creating USB bootable DOS media and performing the update via DOS.

Other than doing our test on our test bench, we took our chance to actually use it as an external storage device for the XBox One and PS4 in the lab, and it’s definitely a hell of an experience which we really recommend console gamers who is looking for a high speed external storage device to free up some space for their console units to give it a try.

Pros
  • Good value 
  • Decent performance 
  • Uses metal enclosure instead of plastic
  • Backed by 3-year global warranty from Apacer
  • 480GB model makes an ideal portable storage for daily usage and consoles like the XBox and PS4

Cons

  • No extra accessories provided 
  • No technical specifications on the box
  • Firmware update can be a pain for non-technical users
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Writer at Tech Critter, mainly focus on topic related to PC components.
Loves everything related to PC, doggo, and rhythm games.