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ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review – You Only Install The Heatsink Once
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ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review – You Only Install The Heatsink Once

by March 20, 2024
Overview
Warranty

5 years, or if TBW endurance limit reached (whichever first)

Price

RM 579

Positives

+ Solid performance
+ Can be installed with motherboard heatsink instead

Negatives

- Heatsink sled is non-removable once installed

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Pokde Rating
Appearance
8.5
Features
7.5
Materials
7.8
Performance
8.3
Value
7.8
Bottom Line

The ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX offers solid amounts of speeds and some degree of flexibility - though you can't change your mind if you've decided to use its own heatsink.

8.0
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Unboxing & Appearance

Here, we have the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB SSD – and unlike its gamer-centric XPG counterparts, the design is more subtle, with gold accents laid on the heatsink. Inside the box, you’re greeted with the SSD itself, the heatsink cover, and the heatsink sled. Oddly, there’s no user manual included – not even a QR code that leads to such.

Click here to purchase the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX (via Shopee)

Some SSDs with heatsinks come with everything pre-installed, meaning you’ll have to first remove the integrated heatsink from your motherboard if you intend to install one of those drives. For the most part, it isn’t an issue – but some may prefer a cleaner-looking setup. For that, ADATA provides you with the bare hardware if direct installation is what you’re going for. Since the heatsink is meant to be installed above, the sticker is placed on the flip side, with holographic markers to verify the product’s authenticity.

Luckily, since the SSD is uncovered entirely, we can take a look at its components. This SSD uses the Silicon Motion SM2264F controller, paired with four ADATA NAND packages (though these are rebranded Micron 176-layer TLCs, which are commonly used in most SSDs). Two 512MB packages on both sides of the SSD form a total of 1GB DDR4 DRAM to accelerate file transfers.

Heatsink Installation

If you intend to use this drive with the heatsink, ADATA also provides the heatsink and the sled to allow the SSD to sandwich between both parts. However, there’s one major problem – at first, I thought the sled uses a thermal pad, and most people would think the same; but it turns out to be a piece of extremely sticky adhesive that you practically can’t remove the SSD from it once it’s stuck in place.

Due to the sled’s design, installing the SSD requires you to slowly slot across, and you must have very delicate hands to avoid it getting accidentally stuck at an angle or a partial section. When you get past this stage, you can slide the heatsink through two notches on either side and gently push it downwards to make contact with the drive’s chips.

I’m not sure why such a strong adhesive is needed, since thermal pads already have some levels of adhesion and you can easily remove it should you wish to. So, make your choice carefully, because once you install the heatsink, you can’t go back. Not without a generous application of the heat gun that is – which we obviously wouldn’t recommend.

Specifications

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB

Capacity 1TB (as tested), 2TB, 4TB
Form Factor M.2 2280, optional heatsink
Interface PCIe 4.0 x4, NVMe 1.4
Controller Silicon Motion SM2264F
NAND Type ADATA/Micron 176-layer TLC NAND
DRAM 1TB: 1GB DDR4
2TB & 4TB: 2GB DDR4
Read/Write Speed (Rated) 1TB: 7,400 MB/s (Read), 6,000 MB/s (Write)
2TB: 7,400 MB/s (Read), 6,800 MB/s (Write)
4TB: 7,400 MB/s (Read), 6,800 MB/s (Write)
*Read speed limited to 6,400 MB/s on all variants installed on PlayStation 5
Random I/O 1TB: 730,000 IOPS (Read), 610,000 IOPS (Write)
2TB: 750,000 IOPS (Read), 630,000 IOPS (Write)
4TB: 700,000 IOPS (Read), 550,000 IOPS (Write)
Write Endurance 1TB: 780 TBW
2TB: 1,560 TBW
4TB: 3,120 TBW
Max Power Draw Unspecified
Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) 2,000,000 hours
Warranty 5 years / until TBW limit exceeded
Dimensions 80 x 22 x 3.3 mm (SSD)
80.6 x 23.2 x 10.65 mm (SSD + heatsink)
Click here to purchase the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX (via Shopee)

Test System

CPU Intel Core i9-13900K
Cooling Cooler Master MasterLiquid PL360 Flux 30th Anniversary Edition
Cooler Master MasterGel Maker
Motherboard ASUS ROG Maximus Z790 HERO
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080 Ti Founders Edition
Memory Kingston FURY RENEGADE RGB DDR5-6400 CL32 (2x16GB)
Storage Samsung SSD 980 PRO 256GB (Boot)
Kingston NV1 1TB
ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB (as tested, heatsink installed)
Power Supply Cooler Master MWE Gold 1250 V2 Full Modular 1250W
Case VECTOR Bench Case (Open-air chassis)
Operating System Windows 11 Home 23H2

Performance

Note: The ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX is effectively using the same hardware as the non-heatsink version. The “MAX” moniker denotes the presence of a heatsink – in the following tests, you may see the drive name registered as “ADATA LEGEND 960 1TB” instead.

CrystalDiskMark

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review - You Only Install The Heatsink Once 23

Starting with the CrystalDiskMark test, the LEGEND 960 MAX performs in line with what you’d expect from the top-of-the-line PCIe 4.0 SSDs. Interestingly, the reported read speed is slightly lower than advertised, whereas the write speed ended up slightly higher instead. Note that 2TB and 4TB variants are rated for even higher write speeds. However, the random I/O performance is not quite up there, when you compare it to the PNY CS3140 SSD.

AS SSD Benchmark

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review - You Only Install The Heatsink Once 24

AS SSD benchmark has reported an average throughput of 5.7GB/s on both modes, and the speed is still respectable with the random 4K blocks involved. All in all, solid performance.

Anvil’s Storage Utilities

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review - You Only Install The Heatsink Once 25

It turns out that the LEGEND 960 MAX is particularly good in high queue depth workloads – take 4K QD16, it managed to maintain nearly 2.6GB/s of throughput, and the combined scores for reads and writes allowed the SSD to surpass the MSI SPATIUM M570 1TB HS as well.

ATTO Disk Benchmark

Here’s how the SSD performs depending on the block sizes (smaller blocks often resemble random I/O, whereas bigger blocks are more sequential-like). The performance is very consistent from 256KB onwards, with no dips or spikes beyond this point.

Write Endurance

 

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review - You Only Install The Heatsink Once 26

 

ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB Review - You Only Install The Heatsink Once 27

For the sustained write test, we use DiskSpd, a tool designed by Microsoft to test the storage systems in various metrics. In this case, we’re simulating a drive-fill scenario via a synthetic sequential write test to see its DRAM and cache limits. (Monitoring is done via HWiNFO64.)

As observed, the peak 6.6GB/s throughput only sustained for 15 seconds before it fell to around 1.8GB/s for the majority of this 30-minute test. This roughly calculates to around 100GB of pseudo-SLC cache available, and at this speed, it takes around 7 minutes to fill the entire drive. As a result, in the 8th to 10th minute we see the speed further dropped to 800-odd megabytes per second, but it was later recovered to maintain at 1.8GB/s for the remainder of this test (with occasional spikes every 9 minutes or so).

Value

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The honeymoon period for cheap SSDs is officially over – as the production was reduced industry-wide to perform a course correction on the NAND pricing, SSDs have gotten more expensive than a year ago, when oversupply issues have caused the price to drop so low that the chipmakers were suffering losses.

Compared to the drives we’ve tested in the past, the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX is more expensive than PNY’s offerings (the closest equivalent being the PNY CS3140, performance-wise) but significantly cheaper than the PCIe 5.0 SSD that is the MSI SPATIUM M570 1TB HS. At the time of this publication, we’ve seen price drops on the LEGEND 960 MAX that pretty much land on identical pricing to the PNY SSD.

Conclusion

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All things considered, the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX is a solid drive among the PCIe 4.0-powered offerings. It’s not quite the fastest, but it’s close enough – and the onboard DRAM helps it maintain consistent performance on long-term workloads. If you’re often dealing with large file transfers, it won’t disappoint you.

However, there’s this big flaw that is honestly avoidable on ADATA’s part. The heatsink sled uses a layer of adhesive which requires extreme care to make sure the SSD doesn’t sit the wrong way or end up misaligned, and if you do – removing the SSD is nearly impossible without at least damaging the label, or even worse – the drive itself. (Yes, that’s how sticky it is. Prying tools are pretty much mandatory if you end up doing this.) A layer of thermal pad would’ve done the job just fine, so I’m not sure why the adhesive is involved here.

Finally, at RM579 – it’s also not quite cheap by PCIe 4.0 standards. There are plenty of SSDs out there that can offer better performance, or cheaper, sometimes even both. Hopefully, the next iteration improves on value, or at the very least, the adhesive – though if there are discounts for this drive at some point in the future, it wouldn’t be too bad of a choice.

Pokde-Bronze

Click here to purchase the ADATA LEGEND 960 MAX (via Shopee)

Special thanks to ADATA for providing the LEGEND 960 MAX 1TB for this review.

About The Author
Low Boon Shen
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