Solid-state drives (SSD) using the PCIe 4.0 standard are gaining popularity, and leading storage manufacturers are padding their lineups with the faster drives. Kingston's selection of consumer drives currently includes two PCIe 4.0 SSDs: the Kingston KC3000 and the Kingston Fury Renegade. I recently picked up the former to test out how well it performs, how it compares to competing SSDs, and whether or not it's worth a buy.
Bottom line: Kingston's KC3000 delivers on performance for gaming and productivity. It comes with a generous TBW rating, has a five-year warranty, and can be had in up to a 4TB size. It's not the most affordable PCIe 4.0 SSD on the market, but you get what you pay for.
- Incredible performance
- Generous TBW rating
- Up to 4TB size available
- Acronis True Image HD software included
- Five-year warranty
- No true heatsink included
- No built-in AES encryption
- Can find more affordable PCIe 4.0 drives
Kingston KC3000: Price, availability, and specs
The Kingston KC3000 PCIe 4.0 SSD is available in 512GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB sizes, accommodating those who need a lot of fast storage. The drives can be found at major online retailers like Amazon and Newegg, or you can buy straight from Kingston. I purchased the 1TB version for review.
List prices vary due to availability and depending on the retailer, though Kingston has some set prices that I used to calculate the price per GB. The 512GB model should cost about $100, the 1TB model should cost about $162, the 2TB model should cost about $317, and the 4TB model should cost about $884. That's a big increase for 4TB, but that's normal with the large-capacity drives.
The Kingston KC3000 works best with compatible PCIe 4.0 PCs and it also works with the PlayStation 5 (though a heatsink should be required).
Here's a look at the specs that make up the Kingston KC3000.
|NAND||176L 3D TLC|
|Cache (DRAM)||512MB DDR4 (512GB)|
1GB DDR4 (1TB)
2GB DDR4 (2TB)
4GB DDR4 (4TB)
|Durability||512GB: 400 TBW|
1TB: 800 TBW
2TB: 1,600 TBW
4TB: 3,200 TBW
|$ per GB||512GB: $0.20|
Kingston KC3000: What I like
The Kingston KC3000 uses a single-sided design that allows the drive to fit into more slots and be better served by a heatsink. It's an M.2 2280 drive with two 76-layer 3D TLC NAND chips, 1GB of DRAM, and an eight-channel Phison E18 controller. This is all covered with a thin graphene aluminum sticker that helps spread heat. It won't work as well as a full heatsink, but it's certainly better than nothing. The back of the PCB has a sticker with drive information and not much else.
There doesn't seem to be too many PCIe 4.0 drives with a 4TB option, so that's a welcome change here for anyone who wants to go all out with storage space. The 1TB model I'm testing has an 800 Terabytes Written (TBW) durability rating, and all models come with a five-year warranty. If you're using the drive every day over the course of that warranty period, you'd have to be writing more than 430GB of data per day to theoretically exhaust the SSD.
This is a generous TBW rating that beats out the likes of the Crucial P5 Plus, the XPG Gammix S70, and the Samsung 980 Pro. It extends beyond the 1TB model, with generous coverage for all sizes in relation to how many gigabytes you're buying. Most people won't ever hit the threshold for high-end drives, but it's something to keep an eye on if you quickly burn through data.
Kingston includes a key for Acronis True Image HD cloning software to make the transition from your old drive to the KC3000 just a bit easier. You also have access to Kingston's SSD Manager software so you can monitor drive health, status reports, secure data deletion, and more. These are optional features; the drive can be physically installed and initialized through Windows in just a few minutes without any extra software required.
The Kingston KC3000 looks great on paper, but how does it really perform? I ran a bunch of tests using an ABS Challenger (ALI589) with Intel B560 chipset on a Gigabyte DS3H motherboard, 16GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM, and 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400F CPU.
Sequential read and write speeds in CrystalDiskMark are excellent, beating out the Samsung 980 Pro and Crucial P5 Plus. The XPG Gammix S70 and the Sabrent Rocket 4 Plus scored better, though they were the larger 2TB models that generally offer better speeds.
In ATTO Disk Benchmark, the Kingston KC3000 bested all other drives we've tested at the 256KB read speed and came in second only behind the XPG Gammix S70 for write speed.
PCMark 10's system drive benchmark can give a real-world idea of how well an SSD performs with files and apps. The Kingston KC3000 performed as well or better than the Crucial P5 Plus and the XPG Gammix S70 across all metrics, including access time, bandwidth, and overall score.
Not only does the KC3000 work well for general use, it can also handle high-end gaming. The 3DMark storage benchmark gives a good idea how well the drive handles game loading, saving, installing, moving, and recording. The KC3000 beat the Crucial P5 Plus in bandwidth and access time.
Overall, the Kingston KC3000 offers impressive performance whether you're using it for gaming or productivity. This should make up for the price difference for anyone who needs the best speeds possible.
Kingston KC3000: What I don't like
The Kingston KC3000 is a top performer with a great TBW rating, but it does cost more than some of the top competition. I go more into this in the next section, but know that you're not getting the most affordable PCIe 4.0 drive on the market. If you don't mind as much about the boosted TBW rating and can get away with slightly lesser performance, you can save some money and still get a great SSD. In the same vein, if you're concerned about data privacy, you might want to look elsewhere since built-in data encryption isn't available here.
Though there's a graphene sticker included with the KC3000, there's no real heatsink included. There's not even an M.2 screw in the package, which is a bit annoying. Temperatures during regular use hovered around 60 to 70 degrees Celsius, but those without PC cases with good airflow or a PS5 will want to add something more substantial. And if you're really putting the SSD through its paces with sustained load, it will likely hit its heat threshold and begin to throttle.
Kingston KC3000: Competition
I most recently reviewed the Crucial P5 Plus before the KC3000, so it's top of mind. It's available in 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB sizes, with the smallest starting at about $85. Savings climb as you scale up, with the 1TB model costing about $30 to $40 less than the KC3000. The P5 Plus is affordable, but it doesn't have the same performance or TBW rating. It does come with built-in AES encryption.
The Samsung 980 Pro is another top option that's available in sizes from 250GB-2TB. Prices are slightly less than the Kingston KC3000, though it does have a slightly lower TBW rating. The KC3000 came out on top in benchmarks, though we did test a smaller 500GB 980 Pro which could affect speeds.
The XPG Gammix S70 comes with a beefy heatsink, has a high TBW rating, and is super fast. The 1TB model is about $130 or $260 for the 2TB model. This is a top option if you're looking for a drive in those two sizes.
Sabrent's Rocket 4 Plus uses the same controller as the Kingston KC3000 and comes in sizes from 500GB to 4TB. It also comes with a slim heatsink. The 500GB model starts at $100, while the 1TB model climbs to $180. It has a slightly lower TBW compared to the KC3000 but it offers great performance.
Be sure to have a look at our collection of the best SSDs for more great storage options.
Kingston KC3000: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want one of the faster PCIe 4.0 SSDs available
- You need a drive between 500GB and 4TB in size
- You have a compatible PC or PS5
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You want the most affordable PCIe 4.0 SSD
- You want an SSD with an included heatsink
- You need a drive that's smaller than 500GB
Kingston's KC3000 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is easy to recommend to anyone upgrading or building a modern PC. It's available in 500GB, 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB sizes, it comes with cloning software to better manage your upgrade, it has an excellent TBW rating and a five-year warranty, and it performs extremely well. You don't get a true heatsink or built-in AES encryption, but these won't matter to everyone.
The Kingston KC3000 might cost more than the likes of the popular Crucial P5 Plus and Samsung 980 Pro, but those who want the extra transfer speed and durability shouldn't find the price difference too extreme.
Cale Hunt is formerly a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full-time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.