Struggling with ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD on HP 2133 Mini-Note

For the past few days, I have been taking a break from OpenChrome development. This is because I have been getting annoyed by my ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD occasionally failing to come back to life after standby resume, so I decided to apply  firmware upgrades to the SSD.

Going back to late Year 2016, I purchased two ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSDs at Fry’s Electronics since they were being sold at very low price points (128 GB model for $30 after mail in rebate and 256 GB model for $50 after mail in rebate). I had no problems getting both rebates back after 3 months, but the problem was that 256 GB model never worked very well. It will occasionally disappear as a storage device after some minutes of use (30 minutes to a few hours; sometimes it won’t even boot Xubuntu), and this pretty much ensures that I need to hard power off the computer every time this happened. The problem is, this happens pretty randomly, so at some point, I pretty much had to abandon the use of the 256 GB model for OpenChrome development purposes. The 128 GB model worked better, but once in a while (i.e., once a week), the OS will no longer see the device after I resume from standby.

Under normal circumstances, most people would have returned the product to the retailers right away. In my case, I had several reasons why this did not happen.

  1. Bought the item right before a month long trip (I did bring it with me.)
  2. It was an open box item (the only item available)
  3. Did not notice the stability issue right away
  4. The “Warranty Void If Removed” sticker was damaged by the previous owner (this is the risk of buying an open box item)
  5. Did not feel like dealing with the RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization) process

Maybe I got stuck with this open box item because the previous owner returned it because it did not work . . ., and Fry’s Electronics just returned the item to the shelf. Since the item came with a 3 year warranty, I did finally contact ADATA technical support for an RMA around late February 2018. I got the RMA form and filled it out.

Since it does cost postage to ship the item back, I decided to give a firmware upgrade one last chance before shipping it back. Regarding the firmware for ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD, there are two known versions available as of this writing.

  • Version Q0125A available since March 2017
  • Version Q0518BS available since late December 2017

When I think about it, these release timings were pretty bad. When I first tried the 256 GB model, I gave up on it around late February 2017. Almost right after that, the first firmware upgrade was released (Version Q0125A). The second time I tried it, it was around mid-December 2017. At that time, I knew about the first firmware upgrade, but it was not clear which issues the new firmware version fixed, so I did not really think about the upgrade. Furthermore, I did not have access to a Windows 10, Windows 8.1, or Windows 7 computer during that time.

Anyway, I finally got tired of the ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD issues even with the fairly functional 128 GB model, so I decided to upgrade the firmware of both models. To do this, I dragged out a Windows 7 computer I have not used for more than a year. The firmware upgrade for 128 GB model went without a hitch. Please note that I performed two upgrades. First, the original firmware is upgraded to Version Q0125A. Then, the unit is powered down. Power on the computer again and upgrade the firmware to Version Q0518BS. For the 256 GB model, the upgrade to Version Q0125A went without a hitch, but when I tried to upgrade to Version Q0518BS, the initial attempt to upgrade the firmware failed. I powered down the computer, reconnected the SSD to a different SATA port, and tried the firmware upgrade again. This time the firmware upgrade succeeded.

Since the next step for 256 GB model was an RMA return, I decided to test the model to see if anything has changed. I find compiling the Linux kernel to be a good way to stress test a piece of hardware, so I decided to compile drm-next-4.17 branch of OpenChrome DRM. Since I am doing this on HP 2133 Mini-Note, it takes about 20+ hours to do this (due to the very slow VIA Technologies C7-M 1.2 GHz processor . . .). To my surprise, the unit has not had the same issue of the SSD suddenly disappearing during normal operation that plagued the unit back in February 2017. I have not finished the compilation yet, but I am surprised that ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD is working so well with just two firmware upgrades.

I also retested the 128 GB model and it appears to be working fine. The jury is still out on how it will behave after standby resume, but so far, I have not seen the issue. That being said, I usually need about 2 weeks of heavy use to see if the issue is still there. That’s it for my review of ADATA Ultimate SU800 SSD. If you are struggling with the SSD’s stability, you will definitely like to apply the firmware upgrade as soon as possible.

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