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SSD Drive Review

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by Linux3, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. Linux3


    Dec 31, 2008
    The May 2010 issue of CPU, Computer Power User, mag has a roundup of 10 SSD drives. If you are thinking of jumping in it might be worth a read first.
    My OCZ Vertex is still looking good.
  2. Can you give us a brief summary of what the article said? Are SSDs worth it or not?

  3. MavsX

    MavsX The Dude Abides

    Jan 19, 2009
    Arlington, VA
    CPU is awesome! i love that mag. it's the only mag i still subscribe too. Well other than playboy..but i got playboy for $11.00 a year!!!
  4. MavsX

    MavsX The Dude Abides

    Jan 19, 2009
    Arlington, VA
    i think my copy of CPU arrived a few days ago. I still gotta unwrap it first.
  5. Linux3


    Dec 31, 2008
    [SIZE=+3]If you are in the market I encourage you to pick up the mag as there are tables and comparos I can't put here. But....

    Solid-State Warriors [/SIZE]

    [SIZE=+1]Top Picks From The Latest In Storage [/SIZE]
    The solid-state storage market is advancing at a breakneck pace. It seems that if a given manufacturer isn’t announcing a new SSD product line every few weeks, a new firmware or optimization utility hits the scene that changes the performance landscape, usually for the better. The rapid pace of innovation in the SSD market is a sign that consumer interest is currently very high. And despite the excellent performance already offered by many SSDs, the products are still in their relative infancy.

    Solid-state drives may still have a lot of maturing to do before they are as widely accepted as traditional, spinning hard drives, but over the last year, SSDs have definitely become more than just quirky, niche products for power users with deep pockets. Whereas some early SSDs suffered from numerous performance and compatibility issues, today’s offerings are far more stable, and it’s becoming much more difficult to differentiate the drives in terms of performance alone. Prices, while still extremely high compared to standard hard drives from a cost per gigabyte perspective, have even dropped to the point where SSDs are now attainable by mainstream PC users. And capacities have increased, too.

    With the knowledge that power users are increasingly looking to solid-state storage and that many manufacturers (such as Intel, OCZ, Crucial, Kingston, Corsair, and Western Digital, to name a few) have released a slew of new products recently, we decided to round up as many SSDs as we could to give you all a snapshot of what the market currently has to offer. And, in addition to an impressive influx of fresh drives, some companies have introduced updated firmware for a couple of longtime favorites, adding new features and pumping up performance.

    [​IMG] Oldies But Goodies

    Since their initial releases, Intel’s second-generation X25-M 160GB drive and OCZ’s Vertex have emerged as two of the most popular SSDs available. We reviewed both of these drives in previous issues of CPU (see page 28 and 35 in the December 2008 and July 2009 issues, respectively), but well after going to press, new firmware for the X25-M and Vertex was released that completely changed their performance profiles. Intel’s latest firmware boosted the X25-M’s write speeds by about 30% and enhanced its garbage collection algorithm. The OCZ Vertex received a new garbage collection algorithm, too, as well as official support for TRIM. Because these drives are so popular and their performance has changed so much since our original reviews, we decided to include them in this roundup as baseline performance comparisons. (Performance numbers are available online.) As you’ll see, as good as these drives are, they’re no longer the kings of the hill.

    OCZ Vertex Limited Edition 100GB
    CPU Rating: 4

    The OCZ Vertex Limited Edition’s claim to fame is its SandForce SF-1500 controller . . . sort of. Technically, the SF-1500 is designed for enterprise-class applications, and drives based on the controller will command hefty price premiums; the SF-1200 will be more consumer-targeted. But because of OCZ’s close working relationship with SandForce, the former company was able to score a few thousand SF-1500 controllers, which are based on an early revision of the chip and not qualified for the above-mentioned enterprise applications, at a big discount. The chips were perfectly suitable for consumer duty, so OCZ branded the chips with its own logo, and the Vertex LE was born.

    The controller in the OCZ Vertex LE is unique in a couple of ways. For one, it doesn’t require any DRAM cache. Rather, it uses the same NAND flash that’s used for storage as a data cache and for garbage collection and date management. It also significantly reduces write amplification, which improves write performance, and offers impressive read bandwidth. The sum of the Vertex LE’s parts equate to one seriously fast solid-state drive. In fact, it’s the fastest we tested when paired to a 3Gbps SATA interface. Factor 6Gbps SATA into the mix though, and Crucial’s RealSSD C300 has an edge in many tests.

    Crucial RealSSD C300 256GB
    CPU Rating: 4.5

    There is a lot to like about the Crucial RealSSD C300. The drive conforms to the same 2.5-inch form factor as all of the other drives represented here, but Crucial doesn’t use a common black case adorned with a boring sticker overloaded with specs like most of the others. Instead, the RealSSD C300 features a good-looking, gun-metal textured enclosure with a stylized decal on top; the specs are relegated to a second decal on the bottom.

    Inside the drive is where the real interesting stuff is going on, though. The Crucial RealSSD C300 is outfitted with a Marvell 88SS9174-BJP2 controller, which gives the drive native support for 6Gbps SATA transfers—the only one in the roundup. The C300 also features 34nm Micron ONFI 2.1-compliant MLC NAND flash memory and a fast DRAM cache. Overall, the Crucial RealSSD C300 turned out to be one heck of a performer, especially when connected to a 6Gbps SATA controller. When connected to a more common 3Gbps SATA controller, the drive still performed exceptionally well, but it needs a 6Gbps interface to really open up.

    Western Digital SiliconEdge Blue 256GB
    Western Digital
    CPU Rating: 3

    Although Western Digital is known for its excellent hard drives, acquiring Silicon Systems in March of last year was an obvious sign that the company planned to enter the SSD market at some point. Well, there is no longer a need to speculate, because the WD SiliconEdge Blue has arrived.

    Externally, the WD SiliconEdge Blue is much like the other drives in the roundup. It has a 2.5-inch form factor and a sturdy metal case, although the metal used on the SiliconEdge Blue seems more rigid than the others. The particular drive we tested was a 256GB model outfitted with Samsung MLC flash memory and a WD-branded controller. Although the controller in the drive has WD markings, it actually comes by way of JMicron. We’re told WD custom engineered the SiliconEdge Blue’s firmware, however. The drive has gone through extensive qualification and shouldn’t behave exactly like other JMicron-based drives. As for performance, the drive’s “Blue” branding hints that it will not be WD’s flagship SSD. Performance was good in our testing, but not as good as some of the other drives in the roundup.

    Patriot Memory Torqx 128GB
    Patriot Memory
    CPU Rating: 3.5

    Patriot’s Torqx 128GB SSD, like OCZ’s original Vertex Series, sports Indilinx’s Barefoot solid-state controller. Patriot’s drive, however, features different firmware and faster cache memory that gives the Torqx a performance edge over OCZ’s popular offering, albeit only a small one.

    Overall, performance of the Patriot Torqx 128GB drive was very good, and its cost per gigabyte is fairly competitive, falling somewhere in the middle of the pack. Patriot’s 10-year warranty, however, is much better than the competition.

    Corsair Nova Series V128
    CPU Rating: 3

    Corsair seemed to take a relatively conservative approach to the solid-state storage market at first, unlike archrival OCZ. Whereas OCZ has released drives based on virtually every controller type, Corsair originally stuck with Samsung only. Recently though, Corsair has stepped up its game and released three new series of SSDs, namely the Reactor, Force, and Nova, the last of which we’ll cover here. We took the Nova Series V128 for a spin.

    As its name suggests, the Nova Series V128 is a 128GB drive. Like the other drives represented here, it uses a standard 2.5-inch form factor. And other than a couple of decals, the V128’s only outward features are its power and data connectors. Internally, this SSD is equipped with an Indilinx controller and 64MB of DRAM cache, which, as our benchmark scores show, makes it perform much like the Patriot Torqx. They’re priced the same, too. Give Patriot the edge if you favor a long warranty; otherwise, a Torqx-Nova drag race will more than likely end in a photo finish.

    A-Data S596 128GB
    CPU Rating: 4

    A-Data’s S596 128GB drive stands out from the rest of the pack in a couple of ways. Its performance was very good for the most part, but not spectacular in light of some competing drives (such as the Vertex LE, for example). However, the S596 was the only drive of the bunch to feature a built-in mini-USB port, which is extremely handy when upgrading an existing system with an SSD. In addition, the S596 was also the only drive to sport an integrated activity LED, and, perhaps best of all, this drive's price per gigabyte was the lowest of the bunch.

    The A-Data S596 is built around a JMicron controller and is outfitted with 128MB of cache. Performance was in line with WD’s offering, but its warranty is only two years. But with a sub-$300 price tag, handy built-in features, and a firmware update on the way, this is one drive we can easily recommend. And, if you can be patient, SandForce-based A-Data SSDs should arrive later this year.

    G.Skill Falcon II 128GB
    CPU Rating: 3.5

    The G.Skill Falcon II 128GB is yet another drive built around the popular Indilinx Barefoot SSD controller. From a feature and specifications standpoint, the Falcon II is very similar to drives such as the Patriot Torqx and Corsair Nova Series. As is typically the case with G.Skill products, though, the Falcon II is priced aggressively and can be had for about 10% less than similar drives, while offering similar performance.

    The 128GB Falcon II we tested featured 128MB of cache and performed right on top of the Corsair Nova Series V128.

    Kingston SSDNow V+ Series 128GB
    CPU Rating: 3

    When Kingston’s relationship with Intel broke down a few months ago, the company turned to Toshiba to help produce a new line of SSDs. Kingston’s new SSDNow V+ Series 128GB drive is the only one represented here that features a Toshiba controller, but its other specifications match up well to the offerings built around JMicron’s controller (A-Data and WD).

    Performance-wise, the SSDNow V+ Series offered better sustained writes than the JMicron-based drives, but random writes were among the lowest of the bunch. Reads were competitive across the board.

    We should point out the Kingston SSDNow V+ Series is offered in two configurations—either as a bare drive or in a “desktop upgrade kit” that includes an external USB drive enclosure and software to help transfer data from an existing installation to the SSD.

    Intel X25-V 40GB
    CPU Rating: 3

    The Intel X25-V 40GB is designed to be used solely as a boot volume. Install your OS and a couple of your most commonly used apps and that’s it. In that respect, it will work very well. But because of the drive’s low capacity, and hence fewer flash chips, only half of the drive controller’s channels are utilized. This results in vastly decreased write performance, as our benchmarks show.

    On a technical level, the X25-V is identical to the popular X25-M Gen. 2 160GB drive. But its sustained write performance can’t come close to the larger drive. Regardless, as a boot drive, it would be a significant performance upgrade from a standard hard drive. And at only $125 it’s relatively cheap.

    [​IMG] The Bottom Line

    Ultimately, all of the SSDs we tested here offer access times and read/write performance that are vastly superior to standard hard drives, with the sole exception being the Intel X25-V’s relatively low write performance. Switch to any one of these drives from an HDD, and you’ll immediately perceive the performance benefits. [​IMG]
  6. stooxie

    stooxie NRA Life Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    Northern Virginia
    WTF is up with that article? Typical media horse manure, I'm sorry.

    First they say the Intel X-25M isn't king any more and that they'll include in the new evaluation. Then they trot out the Value line version of it with HALF the chips.

    Is there anyone in any media publication that won't say anything just to hold readers' attention?