PNY CS2211 XLR8 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Today’s review is a special one for me as it is the first time I get to review a PNY SSD. I got the XLR8 CS2211 2.5-inch gaming branded SSD on the test bench today and it will be interesting to see how well it does. The PNY CS2211 SSD is available in three capacities from 240GB over 480GB to 960GB from which I’ll be testing the 240GB model today.

PNY is no stranger in the SSD market and they created some great drives in the past for all sectors of the market, but they’re probably most known for their graphics cards. But we aren’t here to talk about graphics cards, it is about storage today. PNY has taken what they have learned from their previous drives and created the XLR8 branded CS2211 drive, and it shows in the performance ratings.

The drive is rated for a sequential performance of up to 565 MB/s reading and 540MB/s writing, which is about as good as it gets on the SATA3 interface. The random input-output performance is equally impressive with 95K IOPS ratings for both reading and writing. Those are at least the ratings for the larger models and the small 240GB version can’t keep fully up with that. It still comes with impressive ratings despite being a little slower ,with an 87K IOPS rating and a drop in sequential writes to 470MB/s.

It is no surprise that the drive has such good ratings as it is built with only the best components. It utilizes 15nm Toshiba MLC NAND and a Phison PS3110-S10 controller aided by 256MB DDR3 cache package

PNY gave the CS2211 the XLR8 styling as a gaming product, but the design has been toned down a bit in comparison to the previous XLR8 drive design. It is a beautiful design that makes the drive stand out and also makes in an optimal candidate for systems that proudly shows what components they are made off.

There are a lot of products that get a ‘gaming’ label in order to appeal to that market segment, but the CS2211 does deserve this label. It is a perfect gaming drive thanks to its high IOPS performance on top of the high sequential performance. You’ll copy fast, load fast, and should experience even less loading times in-game.

Feature wise we find the basic Trim and SMART capabilities, but the CS2211 also comes with background garbage collection, end-to-end data protection, and error correction code for up to 120 bits per 2K sector. Overall, we see a drive that presents itself very well and PNY agrees with a 2 million hours mean time before failure rating and a full 4-year warranty.

The 7mm slim drive is perfect for usage in both desktop and notebook systems where it also will fit well in 9.5mm drive bays thanks to the included adapter bracket. The SSD doesn’t feature the DevSleep function that I really like to see in drives, but that isn’t a deal breaker and most gamers don’t want power saving features, they want pure and raw performance which the CS2211 delivers.

Aside from the beautiful brand sticker on the top, the drive is built with a standard 2-piece snap-together enclosure that holds the PCB and doesn’t require any screws that could loosen themselves over time in high-vibration environments.

The PCB itself is a two-thirds length one with a total of eight NAND chips distributed over the front and back. The Phison PS3110 S10C controller sits firmly in the middle of the PCB. Next to it we also see the Nanya DDR3 cache chip that helps the drive to achieve the great speeds that it can.

Specifications

  • Capacity: 240GB
  • Part Number: SSD7CS2211-240-RB
  • Form Factor: 2.5 inch
  • Height: 7mm
  • Interface: SATA-III 6Gb/s; backward compatible with SATA-II 3Gb/s
  • Max Sequential Read Speed: 560 MB/s
  • Max Sequential Write Speed: 470 MB/s
  • Max Random Read Speed: 87,000 IOPS
  • Max Random Write Speed: 95,000 IOPS
  • NAND Type: MLC
  • Ideal For: Gaming, Hard disk drive replacement, photo and video storage, and boot drives

Packaging and Accessories

The PNY XLR8 CS2211 solid state drive came packed in a simple black box with the PNY logo on the side.

Inside the box is the SSD itself as well as a 9.5mm adapter for usage in notebooks and laptops designed for the 9.5mm thick drives. By adding the adapter to the drive, you make sure that it’s firmly seated in the system and doesn’t rattle around.

Normally you’d get the drive in a more colourful wrapping and with an included registration key for the Acronis True Image cloning software. Review samples like this one sometimes come with a few things missing because the company is in a hurry to get the drives to us so we can test them for you – and they know that we don’t need the extras.

OCUK Offers Free SSD with ASUS GTX 970 Graphics Cards

Who doesn’t like to get free stuff? And especially when it is something as sweet as a solid state drive. That is what you currently can get, at least if you purchase one of the participating ASUS GTX 970 graphics cards at Overclockers UK.

For a limited time, and as long as stock lasts – as always – you can get a Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB solid state drive for free on top of the Nvidia based GTX 970 graphics card that your purchasing. It isn’t just some cheap SSD either as it comes from Kingston’s HyperX division. The 7mm slim 2.5-inch SSD delivers a solid performance, and for free, who can complain. You still get the bundled game Tom Clancy’s The Division on top too, making this a very good deal for a well-performing graphics card.

Speaking of the graphics card, the first of the two participating ASUS graphics cards are the GTX 970 DirectCU II OC Strix with 4GB GDDR5 memory, a core clock of 1141MHz, and a boost clock up to 1253MHz. The second card is the GeForce GTX 970 Turbo OC which also comes with 4GB GDDR5 memory, but a slower clock speed. The Turbo OC has a core clock of 1088MHz and a boost clock of 1228MHz.

Which of the two cards you pick for your setup is based on optical preference, amount you want to spend, and probably more things too – but it is safe to say that both are great graphics cards where you get a lot of bang for the buck, especially considering the extras you get in this deal. The DirectCU II OC Strix will set you back £299.99 while the Turbo OC will cost a little less and set you back £275.99.

Will you be picking up one of these deals? And if, which of the two cards will you go for. Let us know in the comments.

OCZ Trion150 240GB and 480GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction



OCZ introduced us to the Trion series about half a year ago and the first drive already impressed us with its performance versus value offering and now OCZ is back with the next generation of Trion drives. The newly released Trion 150 series brings the newest in TLC NAND technology coupled with a great controller in order to provide an amazing drive for people on a budget. Today I’m taking a closer look at this series as I’ll be testing the 240GB and 480GB models.

The OCZ Trion 150 SSD is aimed at people who want to make the move from traditional mechanical hard disk drives and into the modern flash-based storage. There is no comparison when it comes to performance and access speeds, the SSD wins this by miles. Traditional storage does however have the benefit of more capacity per dollar and that is where TLC-NAND based drives come into play. They offer a great capacity at a lower price compared to MLC or SLC-based drives.

The new drives are built around Toshiba’s own controller and their latest Triple-Level-Cell NAND. This combination allows the drive to achieve a performance up to 550 MB/s when reading and 530MB/s when writing while the random performance still provides up to 91K IOPS reading and 64K IOPS writing. With a performance like this, you’ll seriously decrease your system’s boot-up times as well as any other loading process. It’s also one of those upgrades every system should have, an SSD.

The OCZ Trion 150 is available in a wide variety of capacities which means that there is a size for everyone’s need. It is available in capacities of 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB. One of the downsides to TLC NAND is that it doesn’t have the same endurance as MLC and SLC NAND, but that isn’t something that should scare you away as a normal user. Despite the lower endurance, these drives will easily outlive their time of operation in most systems and it shouldn’t be something you need to worry about. The Trion 150 has an endurance rating of up to 240TB total bytes written which should be plenty for almost any normal scenario.

The new 15nm Toshiba TLC NAND used in this series is quite a bit better than the previous 19nm thanks to the optimized manufacturing processes and it shows in this drive. Ordinary flagship drives can easily handle write loads of 50GB data at once, but that’s a problem for most TLC drives. They are just as fast with small area writes as the bigger brothers, but when they have to write more than a few GB in one instance, they suffer some performance loss. To combat this, a part of the NAND is being run in SLC mode as a kind of burst area. You can easily copy large amounts of data to the drive at once, but once the SLC cache has been exceeded, the performance will drop a little bit. The good news here is that the new series offers almost twice the write speed that the Trion 100 was able to offer during these scenarios. That’s a bold statement and one that will be interesting to see if the drive can live up to in the tests.

Despite being a budget drive, the OCZ Trion 150 is still backed by a 3-year warranty and it isn’t just a normal warranty either. OCZ gave the Trion 150 the ShieldPlus Warranty for the entire time and it’s pretty much the best drive warranty you can get anywhere. Especially for free and included. In the unlikely event that a drive needs to be replaced, you got a worry-free customer service experience which eliminates all the hassle and cost surrounding traditional support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with; OCZ has you covered.

OCZ packed the Trion 150 series with the basic features such as Trim, Garbage Collection, and SMART monitoring, but other than that they don’t feature much. They are, after all, basic drives.

As most SSDs these days, the Trion 150 is also built with a snap-together screwless case that holds the PCB in place. The two drives look the same once I got them opened, but there are a few differences. The most noticeable difference is actual not a difference – the amount of NAND chips. Despite the capacity difference, OCZ used the full set of chips in both models. That’s most likely also one of the reasons that these drives promise as great a performance as they do.

Once we remove the PCBs from the case, we also find another difference on the other side. The 480GB model is utilizing a Micron cache chip while the 240GB has a Nanya chip. Both drives use the same Toshiba controller and 15nm NAND chips.

Feature Highlights

  • Next Gen TLC Technology
  • Superior balance of price and performance
  • 100% Toshiba technology
  • Optimized for lower energy consumption
  • ShieldPlus Warranty

Specifications

Packaging

The Trion 150 comes in a colourful box showcasing the drive design as well as the capacity on the front.

The rear of the box lists the drives features as well as little about OCZ and the Trion 150 drive itself.

Inside the box is a reminder not to return the drive to the shop where you bought it and instead handle possible RMAs through OCZ directly as well as a setup guide and naturally the drive itself.

Silicon Power Slim S70 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Continuing our reviews of the Silicon Power solid-state drives, we’ve gotten to the Slim S70, a mid-ranged performance drive in the 7mm thin Slim series perfect for notebooks as well as desktop systems.

The Silicon Power Slim S70 is available in 5 capacity version all the way up to 960GB. The smaller capacities available are 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, and 960GB and I am taking a closer look at the 240GB model today. The drive is rated for a sequential read performance up to 550MB/s reading and 500MB/s writing, which shouldn’t be any trouble to achieve for the hardware inside.

The Silicon Power Slim S70 SSD is built with a Phison S10 controller which has proven itself in numerous drives and comes with synchronous NAND flash. The Slim S70 has all the basic features that an SSD needs to have, including S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, Garbage collection, NCQ, and wear leveling. It is also RAID ready for those who want even faster setups with all the features available. Silicon Power also included error correction code to guarantee data transmission reliability.

Making the upgrade from a mechanical hard disk drive to a solid-state drive is something that everyone needs to experience, there simply isn’t any comparison. An SSD isn’t just a lot faster, it also consumes less power which is great for stationary systems as well as mobile ones. There are no moving parts and thereby no noise or vibration and it makes it more shockproof than traditional storage drives. You also eliminate latency delays and seek errors.

The SP Slim S70 is also available as upgrade kits that include a shockproof enclosure, screwdriver, and NTI Echo cloning software for an easy upgrade in three steps. It also allows you to use your old drive as an external portable drive afterward. The included enclosure provides rugged protection against shocks, scratches, and abrasions, and it features a cable wrap-around design for easy portability.

Inside the two-piece screwless enclosure, we find a 2/3 sized PCB with four NAND chips on each side. The controller is a Phison PS3110-S10 and the NAND should be Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND from the DP58G5LAPA inscription. There is also a Nanya 128MB cache chip on the top. Funny enough, it looks to be the exact same layout and parts as we saw in the SP Slim S60.

Features

  • 7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
  • SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Super-high transfer rate: 520MB/s max. Read speed / 460B/s max. Write speed
  • Random 4K write speed up to 86000 IOPS
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Equipped with wear leveling, to extend endurance
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • Low power consumption
  • Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
  • Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
  • 5-year warranty

Packaging

The Silicon Power Slim S70 comes in a simple blister package displaying the included drive itself on the front. At the same time, it also displays the main features, 5-year warranty period, and slim drive height.

The rear of the package has the basic feature list in multiple languages as well as the average performance increase one would gain compared to a mechanical drive.

The leaflet inside the package opens up for a simple installation guide, feature list, and specification.

Silicon Power Slim S55 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


I have already had the pleasure to review a few storage products from Silicon Power and today I’m having the second solid state drive of theirs on my test bench for a closer look at what it can perform: The Silicon Power Slim S55 240GB solid state drive.

Silicon Power’s Slim series of solid state drives all come with a 7mm thickness, making them perfect for ultrabooks and similar portable computers that require this form factor. Traditional 2.5-inch mechanical drives mostly come with a 9.5mm thickness, ruling them out as an option. The Slim S55 SSD is the little brother in this series, but it doesn’t need to be ashamed of that.

The Silicon Power Slim S55 is designed for the budget minded consumer that doesn’t want to compromise performance at the same time. Taking the move up from a mechanical hard disk drive or a solid state hybrid drive and to a real SSD can make a world of difference and the SP Slim S55 would be a great option here. It is available as just the drive itself, as I’m testing and reviewing today, but it is also available as an upgrade package with included shockproof external enclosure and cloning software to make the switch as easy as possible. A few clicks with the included NTI Echo 3 cloning software and your laptop is ready to rock with solid state drive speeds.

A solid state drive is an optimal choice for any portable computer, it has a higher reliability and durability than a mechanical HDD does. It doesn’t have any moving parts that generate noise, it consumes less power, has a higher shock resistance, and a throughput that is a lot higher.

The Silicon Power Slim S55 connects through a default SATA3 interface that’s also backward compatible with previous generations. Connecting it to a slower bus naturally also impacts performance, but it is one of the nice things about the SATA connector: Combability. The Slim S55 is rated for a performance of up to 520 MB/s while reading and up to 460 MB/s when writing.

Feature wise we find all the basics and as well as a little more. The Slim S55 supports TRIM and Garbage Collection, Native Command Queuing and it is RAID ready. S.M.A.R.T. is also supported and it comes with built-in Error Correction Code. The only thing that’s missing a little bit is the DeviceSleep feature and maybe encryption support, but you can’t get it all when you go down the budget route.

Silicon Power offers the Slim S55 solid state drive in five different capacities, making sure there is an optimal choice for everyone. Users that only need a little space because they run an Android or ChromeOS, or possible store most data in a personal or commercial cloud environment will find great options here just as users that require more space for a complete windows installation with games and programs will. The Slim S55 is available with 32GB, 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB capacity. All of them are backed by a 3-year warranty.

Opening up the drive and having a look inside and we see what the drive is made of. We find a 2/3 sized PCB featuring a quad-core Phison PS3110-S10 controller that should give a great performance at both sequential and random operations. There are four NAND chips on the top and another four on the rear, making up the total of 240GB capacity. We also see a Nanya 128MB DDR3 cache located on the top.

Features

  • 7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
  • SATA III 6Gbps, backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • ATTO high transfer rate: Read speed: 520 MB/s max; Write speed: 460 MB/s max
  • Smartest Choice for System Upgrade
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • Low power consumption
  • Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
  • Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
  • 3-year warranty

Packaging

Silicon Power wrapped the Slim S55 in a blister package that displays the included drive directly through the front while it also highlights the drives features and 7mm slim-type.

On the rear, we can find a few more information such as how much better it is than a traditional hard disk drive as well as a list of the basic features NCQ, TRIM, and RAID readiness in several languages.

Inside the blister pack is the drive itself and the leaflet folds out into a small manual and getting started guide that highlights the features, specifications and setting description.

ADATA Premier SP550 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


I’ve had the pleasure to review several new drives with triple-level-cell (TLC) NAND recently and today it is time to take a closer look at ADATA’s Premier SP550 solid state drive. The drive is equipped with said TLC flash and an SMI controller to provide an affordable performance upgrade. The ADATA Premier SP550 is available in capacities from 120GB and all the way up to 960GB, I’m however taking a closer look at the 256GB model today.

Let us start with the basics. The ADATA Premier SP550 is a 2.5-inch solid state drive with a 7mm height that makes it a perfect fit for ultrabooks. ADATA also packed a drive spacer along for notebooks that require a 9.5mm drive. This makes it suitable for almost any system, mobile or stationary.

As previously mentioned, the SP550 utilities TLC flash and an SMI2256 controller that comes with all the features that you want and a couple more. The drive naturally supports the basics such as NCQ, SMART, TRIM and Garbage collection, but it also features a low-density parity check error correction code (LDPC ECC) and RAID engine. The drive also supports SLC Caching and comes with a DDR3 DRAM cache buffer for sustained transfer speeds. All that along with Data Shaping technology should ensure data integrity and stability.

The endurance is rated for 90TB total bytes written (TBW) and the SP550 has a mean time before failure rating of 1.5 million hours. The 240GB model is rated for a sequential read performance up to 560MB/s and a sequential write performance up to 510MB/s. That is pretty good for a small drive that’s TLC based. The random performance is rated for 75K IOPS on both read and write operations. Part of the good performance rating comes from the intelligent SLC caching algorithm of the drive that allows NAND flash memory to operate in SLC mode and boosts SSD read and write performance.

A feature not mentioned above is the DevSleep, or Device Sleep, that in supported systems will send the drive to an even deeper sleep state where it consumes close to zero amount of power. Instead of keeping a data channel open for a wake-up signal, the DevSleep uses a power signal to wake the drive back up.

ADATA also got an SSD toolbox that makes maintenance of the drive an easy thing. You can quickly and conveniently configure, optimize, and monitor SSDs, from overall status to specific drive health and lifespan info. Speaking of lifespan, the ADATA Premier SP550 is backed by a 3-year warranty.

Inside the two-piece encasing, we find a 2/3 sized PCB where we see that nothing but quality components were used. The NAND is rom SKhynix, the cache from NANYA, and the controller from Silicon Motion.

Features

  • TLC flash with SMI controller Capacity Model Number EAN Code
  • Advanced LDPC ECC Technology
  • RAID Engine & Data Shaping for ultimate protection
  • Intelligent SLC Caching for improved performance
  • High TBW for extended drive longevity
  • DEVSLP (Device Sleep) supported

Specifications

  • Capacities: 120GB / 240GB / 480GB / 960GB
  • Controller: SMI
  • NAND Flash Memory: Toggle TLC (3-bit MLC)
  • 7mm 2.5-inch SATA 6Gb/sec (SATA III) interface
  • ECC Capability: Advanced hardware LDPC engine
  • Dimensions (L x W x T): 100.45 x 69.85 x 7mm *Varies depending on exact configuration
  • Operating Temperature: 0~70°C
  • Storage Temperature: -40~85°C
  • Shock Resistance: 1500G/0.5ms
  • Weight: 68g / 2.4oz
  • MTBF: 1,500,000 hours
  • Warranty: 3 years

Package and Accessories

ADATA packed the SP550 in a simple white box that has a transparent window showcasing the included drive itself. The front also features all the relevant features that the drive sports.

The rear of the box has all the details in multiple languages as well as the rated speeds.

Inside the box we find the drive itself as well as a 9.5mm drive adapter and a quick start guide.

Silicon Power Slim S60 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Continuing our reviews of the Silicon Power solid-state drives, we’ve gotten to the Slim S60, a mid-ranged performance drive in the 7mm thin Slim series perfect for notebooks as well as desktop systems.

The  Silicon Power Slim S60 is available in 5 capacity version all the way up to 960GB. The smaller capacities available are 60GB, 120GB, 240GB, and 480GB and I’m taking a closer look at the 240GB model today. The drive is rated for a sequential read performance up to 520MB/s reading and 460MB/s writing, which shouldn’t be any trouble to achieve for the hardware inside.

The Silicon Power Slim S60 SSD is built with a Phison S10 controller which has proven itself in numerous drives and comes with synchronous NAND flash. The Slim S60 has all the basic features that an SSD needs to have, including S.M.A.R.T., TRIM, Garbage collection, NCQ, and wear leveling. It is also RAID ready for those who want even faster setups with all the features available. Silicon Power also included error correction code to guarantee data transmission reliability.

Making the upgrade from a mechanical hard disk drive to a solid-state drive is something that everyone needs to experience, there simply isn’t any comparison. An SSD isn’t just a lot faster, it also consumes less power which is great for stationary systems as well as mobile ones. There are no moving parts and thereby no noise or vibration and it makes it more shockproof than traditional storage drives. You also eliminate latency delays and seek errors.

The SP Slim S60 is also available as upgrade kits that include a shockproof enclosure, screwdriver, and NTI Echo cloning software for an easy upgrade in three steps. It also allows you to use your old drive as an external portable drive afterward. The included enclosure provides rugged protection against shocks, scratches, and abrasions, and it features a cable wrap-around design for easy portability.

Inside the two-piece screwless enclosure, we find a 2/3 sized PCB with four NAND chips on each side. The controller is a Phison PS3110-S10 and the NAND should be Toshiba 19nm MLC NAND from the DP58G5LAPA inscription. There is also a Nanya 128MB cache chip on the top.

Features

  • SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Super-high transfer rate: 520MB/s max. Read speed / 460MB/s max. Write speed
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • Synchronous flash built-in
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Equipped with Wear Leveling to extend endurance
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • Low power consumption
  • Shockproof & Anti-Vibration
  • Noiseless operation, no latency delay and no seek error
  • 3-year warranty

Packaging

The Silicon Power Slim S60 comes in a simple blister package displaying the included drive itself on the front. At the same time, it also displays the main features, warranty period, and slim drive height.

The rear of the package has the basic feature list in multiple languages as well as the average performance increase one would gain compared to a mechanical drive.

The leaflet inside the package opens up for a simple installation guide, feature list, and specification.

Team Group Announces L3 EVO Series SATA3 SSD

Team Group just launched their all new L3 EVO SSD that thanks to its SATA3 interface is compatible with almost any system. While M.2 and U.2 along with PCIe might be what the future looks like right now, SATA is still the most compatible interface out there and the one that most people can take advantage of.

The name, L3 EVO, suggest a budget drive and it is, but the Team Group L3 EVO still provides some good performance figures. The drive is also available in a wide variety of capacities, ranging from 120GB over 240GB and 480GB onto the biggest version with 960GB capacity.

The bigger the capacity, the better the performance rating. The 120GB model is rated up to 530MB/s read and 400MB/s write while the 960GB version can read with the same, but write with up to 500MB/s. The figures look about the same when we look at the random performance where the 120GB model can do 70/20K IOPS in 4K read/write benchmarks and the 960GB model performs with up to 85K/60K IOPS.

The new Team Group L3 EVO series has an MTBF of 1 million hours and comes backed by a 3-year warranty. Team Group didn’t announce what NAND or controller they used at this time and a release date and price wasn’t revealed either.

Samsung Unveils New Class of Solid State Drives for SMBs

Samsung have been incredibly successful with their 840 and 850 series of drives in the consumer market and the drives have been well received for their performance vs price ratio. But Samsung also makes drives for the more business oriented sector and they’ve just introduced the latest high-performance SATA solid state drives for small and medium-sized businesses (SMB), the Samsung PM864 and SM863 SSDs.

The PM863 and SM863 solid state drives are the ideal solution for SMBs as they offer a much higher density in the 2.5-inch form factor which in return saves IT managers precious real estate in the data center without sacrificing power or performance.

The PM863 and SM863 deliver outstanding performance and reliability thanks to the V-NAND technology. The 3-bit MLC V-NAND-based PM863 is developed for mixed pattern applications and ideal for use in content delivery networks and streaming or Web servers. Alternatively, the write-intensive SM863 based on 2-bit MLC V-NAND is an optimal choice for online transaction processing (OLTP) and serves as an ideal choice for email and database servers.

There are plenty and great capacity choices in these two drive series. The Samsung PM863 comes in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.9TB and 3.8TB capacities and offers sequential read speeds up to 540 MB/s and random read speeds of up to 99,000 IOPS.

The Samsung SM863 provides more options for configurable over-provisioning and is available in 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, and 1.9TB capacities. It features read speeds up to 520 MB/s and write speeds up to 485 MB/s. Both drives will be available to SMBs in early August 2015 and are already available for the enterprise customers now.

The price isn’t all that bad, but it is of course a premium price over ordinary desktop drives such as the Samsung 850 series. The PM863 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB, 1.92TB, and 3.84TB capacities have an MSRP of $124.99, $159.99, $289.99, $1099.99, and $2199.99 respectively. The SM863 drives will cost you $139.99, $179.99, $329.99, $869.99, and $1259.99 respectively for the 120GB, 240GB, 480GB, 960GB and 1.92TB drives.

OCZ TRION 100 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


I recently took a closer look at the TRION 100 480GB solid-state drive from OCZ and today the time has come for the 240GB TRION 100. The TRION 100 series is the new value series from OCZ where you don’t get the fastest drive on the market, but instead an unbeatable value for very little money. A lot of good things have come from OCZ since they became a part of Toshiba, and the TRION 100 is surely one of them.

This TRION 100 SSD is a cost-effective performance upgrade that creates an optimal mix of value and performance for both notebooks and desktop systems. The drive is based around a Toshiba SSD controller and also uses Toshiba’s A19 TLC NAND. It is the first OCZ drive series to feature TLC NAND and the first consumer SSD on the market with Toshiba’s TLC NAND.

Ultrabooks, laptops, and netbooks can all benefit greatly from this drive over a mechanical solution. The TRION 100 is OCZ’s first drive to feature DevSleep, making it a perfect companion in a mobile system with its lower power consumption. It only consumes 6mW in DEVSLP mode, 830mW while idle, and 4.8W when active. But the drive is equally great for desktop upgrades on a budget. Home theater PCs, family PCs, and even entry-level gaming rigs can get a great performance boost from this drive for a low cost.

OCZ is now basing their endurance rating on the JEDEC industry standard instead of the previously used worst-case scenario. This 240GB model is rated for 60TB Total Bytes Written (TBW) or 55GB per day and a Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) of 1.5M hours.

The series is also backed by OCZ’s amazing ShieldPlus warranty where you got a no-hassle, no trouble customer service if the worst case should happen. All you need is the serial number and you’ll get a replacement and a return label for the old one. That is a warranty that everyone should provide and the TRION has 3-years of it.

This might be a value series, but the TRION 100 still performs pretty good with a sequential performance up to 550MB/s while reading and 520MB/s while writing. The random IOPS come in at 90K for reading and 43K for writing.

The drive is assembled without any screws or other parts. The cleverly designed chassis allows the PCB to slide right on in and into position after which the two part case can snap together. No need for any screws at all.

The PCB fills about two-thirds of the drive and it is only one side of it that is used. The controller is a Toshiba TC58NC and each of the four TLC NAND packages is 64GB big. We also see a Nanya 128MB RAM chip.

The TRION 100 supports SMART, NCQ, TRIM, Idle Garbage collection, and the aforementioned DevSleep. It is backward compatible to earlier SATA revisions.

Being a budget drive, we only find the drive in itself and the installation manual inside the box. Notebook users won’t need any mounting kits as the 7mm high drive just slides into the appropriate slot. Neither will most desktop users as there aren’t many PC cases out there that don’t support 2.5-inch drives natively by now.

Features

  • Next Gen TLC Technology: Built with premium Toshiba TLC NAND flash
  • Toshiba Controller & Firmware: Leverages Toshiba SSD controller technology
  • Performance Made Affordable: Superior Balance of price and performance
  • Better Battery Life: Optimized for lower energy consumption for longer battery life
  • World-class Quality and Reliability: 100% Toshiba technology built into every drive, keeping data secure
  • ShieldPlus Warranty: Provides an elite, worry-free customer service experience

OWC Released the Thumb-Sized Envoy Pro Mini USB 3.0 SSD

OWC released a new mini SSD drive in their Envoy line of storage drives, the new Envoy Pro Mini. The Envoy Pro Mini is a full-fledged SSD drive packed into a tiny thumb-sized aluminium stick that you can connect directly to a USB 3.0 port.

Taking a lot of data with you on the road doesn’t need to take a long time nor take up much space. The Envoy Pro Mini can perform sequential speeds up to 433MB/s and it comes with the choice of 120GB or 240GB capacity. Aggressive data management keeps the Envoy Pro Mini working at maximum potential even when full. Hardware error correction yields superior data retention and drive health, and gold-standard compression and data distribution maximizes write performance and drive endurance. Inside the drive is an ASMedia 1153e USB 3.0 controller.

“This isn’t your average thumb drive,” said Larry O’Connor, Founder and CEO, Other World Computing. “The pocket-sized Envoy Pro mini delivers full-sized, desktop-class SSD performance and doesn’t slow down with use like competing SSDs. And because it’s both lightweight and rugged, it’s the ultimate go-anywhere storage companion for anyone on the move.”

The new pocket-sized USB 3.0 Envoy Pro Mini SSDs are available now and backed by a 3-year limited warranty The 120GB is set to $119 and the 240GB is set to $199, that is about $1 per GB and that’s a nice price considering what we get.

Silicon Power Slim S80 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Silicon Power has been in the storage business for a long time and I’m glad to finally be able to put one of their drives on the bench and take it for a test run. Today I’m taking a closer look at the SP Slim S80 solid state drive that comes with promises impressive performance and is available with capacities up to 960GB. It is however, the 240GB model that I’m taking a look at today.

The Slim S80 is equipped with a Phison PS3108-S8 SATA-to-Flash micro-controller to deliver sequential transfer rates up to 550MB/s reads 500MB/s writes while offering impressive 4K random speeds of up to 80,000 IOPS. With such a performances, the Slim S80 can significantly reduce both boot times and quickly load applications as well as provide a higher reliability than traditional hard disk drives and provide higher reliability over traditional hard drive.

Silicon Power’s Slim S80 is carrying its name thanks to the 7mm height for use in ultrabooks, ultra slim notebooks, and similar narrow spaced usage areas; on top of that it only weighs 63 grams. Solid state drives are perfect to use in mobile devices thanks to the lack of mechanical parts so they aren’t affected by shocks and vibrations in the same way.

Built with both S.M.A.R.T., Wear Leveling techniques, and Error Correction Code, the Slim S80 should guarantee data safety on top of the great performance and a long lifespan. The used Phison controller also supports AES encryption to keep your data safe and DevSleep for a low power consumption in mobile devices.

Specifications

  • Capacity: 32GB/60GB/120GB/240GB/480GB/960GB
  • Dimensions: 100mm x 69.85mm x 7mm
  • Weight: 79g
  • Vibration Resistance Test: 20G
  • Shock Resistance Test: 1500G Max
  • Read up to 550MB/s、Write up to 500MB/s
  • 7mm slim design suitable for Ultrabooks and Ultra-slim notebooks
  • SATA III 6Gbps backward compatible with SATA II 3Gbps
  • Supports TRIM command and Garbage Collection technology
  • NCQ and RAID ready
  • Implemented with ECC technology to guarantee data transmission reliability
  • Built-in with SMART monitoring system
  • 3-year warranty

Besides the Phison controller, the S80 has 16 of Toshiba’s 19nm flash chips and a 256MB Nanya RAM chip.

GALAX Enters the SSD Market with New Gamer Series SSD

GALAX is a company mostly know for the graphics cards, but now they’re venturing into the storage market with their new Gamer series solid state drives. The new drives are powered by the JMicron Heracles SATA III controller and boosted by an SLC Cache Auto-Release which streamlines the data pipeline and prevents cache bottlenecks.

The new SSDs are created with both high-end desktop PCs and notebooks in mind and excel at both random read/write operations for multitasking and sequential operation for fast loading times; two things a gamer wants. Other features include a high physical durability and 2 million hours MTBF, built-in wear leveling and Error Correct Code (ECC) to ensure that the data remains secure and transfers reliable even after years of heavy use.

The performance of the Gamer SSD is pretty good with sequential read and write speed of 540 and 480 MB/s respectively. Random 4K read and write performance is rated to 74,000 and 76,000 IOPS.

The GALAX Gamer SSD follows the form factor of most solid state drives with a 7mm height and comes is 2.5-inch big. “Demonstrations have shown the GALAX Gamer Series to have among the lowest power consumption of any drive in their class during even the most intense activity, with power usage practically nil during idle.” That sounds pretty good and the Gamer series SSD could be amazing for improving both performance and battery life of your notebook simultaneously.

The new GALAX Gamer SSD are available now as a 120GB model for $59.99 and 240GB model for $104.99 directly at GALAX. I couldn’t find it available in Europe at the time of writing.

Thanks to GALAX for providing us with this information

Kingston Unveiled HyperX Predator PCIe SSD

Kingston has presented their new HyperX Predator M.2 PCIe 2.0 x4 Solid State Drive. The new SSD is based upon the Marvell 88SS9293 controller and comes as both a half-height half-length (HHHL) PCIe card and as bare M.2 2280 gum stick module.

The new PCIe SSD has some great figures with reading speeds up to 1.4 GB/sec, writing speeds up to 1 GB/sec, and will comes as 240 GB, 480GB, and 960GB capacity options. It also uses AHCI instead of NVM Express, making it bootable on standard desktop boards. NVMe still has some issues in this area.

The two small cards are coming February while the big one is announced for mid-2015. They will be backed by a three-year warranty and free technical support, but no word on pricing yet.

Thanks to Kingston for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Kingston

Patriot Torch SSD Listed and Available Ahead of Launch

Some people just have a keen eye when being at the right place at the right time, and as such the Patriot Torch SSD has been spotted as listed on Amazon ahead of its launch. While the drive isn’t even listed on the product pages yet, we do get some information about the drive from this listing. It actually already has one user review dated the 4th November 2014.

The Patriot Torch is built around the Phison SSD controller and paired with qualified 16nm Synchronous MLC NAND flash chips to deliver a good performance and reliability while staying cost-effective. The sequential read and write speeds are listed up to 545MB/s and 430MB/s for the 120GB model while the 240GB model can achieve 555MB/s reading and 535MB/s writing.

The only two features mentioned are TRIM and Advanced wear-leveling, but we can assume that SMART is present just as well, and DevSleep is a good bet. It’s backed by a 3-year warranty and supports Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, Mac OS, and Linux.

It’s listed as available and ready for dispatch at a price of $106.01 (MSRP $109.99) for the 240GB model while the 120GB capacity will cost you $66.63 (MSRP $79.99).

Thanks to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of Amazon

OCZ Introduces Saber 1000 Enterprise SSD

OCZ announced its new enterprise-class Saber 1000 SSD series designed for read-intensive applications and targeting high-volume deployments such as hyper-scale, web-hosting, and distributed computing environments. Where we’ve seen many recent enterprise-class SSDs come in other form factors, the Saber 1000 comes as a standard 2.5-inch SATA3 drive.

Using the A19nm NAND flash from Toshiba and OCZ’s own Barefoot 3 controller is a combination that can deliver consistent and sustained I/O performance to the drive that will be available in 240GB, 480GB and 960GB capacities.

Designed for read-intensive applications such as front-end web servers, virtual desktop management or video-on-demand streaming, and many other areas, the Saber 1000 can deliver up to 550MB/s and 470MB/s in sequential reading and writing. The random performance is rated to 98K IOPS reading and 20K writing.

The components used ensure a low power consumption and the drive is said to only drain 3.7 watts during typical usage. While speaking of power, the Saber 1000 SSD uses a technique called Power Failure Management Plus (PFM+) which holds up the circuitry long enough to ensure the integrity of the device in the event of a power failure.

The OCZ Saber 1000 SSD has an MTBF of 2 million hours and features AES-256-bit encryption and Device Activity Signal (DAS). It’s backed by a 5-year warranty and can endure 0.5 full drive writes per day (DWPD).

OCZ has also added the StoragePeak 1000 SSD Management system that enables IT managers to centrally monitor and administer connected Saber 1000 SSDs as well as other OCZ enterprise-class solutions from a web-based management interface. It is a cross-platform system and will work on both Linux and Windows systems and includes warning features as well to alert administrators of impending trouble.

Thanks to OCZ for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of OCZ

VisionTek Launches Pocket-Sized USB 3.0 Solid State Drive

VisionTek just announced the new USB Pocket SSD line of thumb drive-sized Solid State Drives for creative professionals, IT power users, and performance enthusiasts seeking ultra-fast media and large file transfers. VisionTek USB Pocket SSD comes in two sizes of either 120 or 240GB while being compatible to nearly all Windows, Mac OS X and Linux based systems with USB ports.

While this drive only has the size of an ordinary thumb drive, it can do a lot more as it’s basically a full SSD that is inside this drive. The drive itself is built from aircraft-grade aluminium. The internals are powered by a LSI SandForce 2281 controller that can deliver up to 455 MB/s reads and up to 440MB/s writes with a UASP compatible motherboard or USB controller.

One of the really cool features more and more external USB drives have lately, is the ability to download Boot Camp drivers and install a full and working version of Windows 8 or higher directly on the thumb-drive. This allows you to take your own Windows version with you anywhere and have your personal settings and files available on any system that can boot from USB. Another added bonus is that no external power supplies are needed, the drive can get enough power from the USB port itself to run, making it truly portable.

The drive also features the LSI DuraClass Technologies to offer better performance and power efficiency. DuraWrite is said to extend the drives endurance 20 times or more compared to other SSD controllers and the Advanced Wear Leveling and Monitoring ensures equal distribution of the data across the drive. RAISE (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) is another feature in the DuraClass technology that protects your data on the drive from flash block failures without typical RAID inefficiencies. The drive also features ECC correction, but there is no mention of how many bytes it can recover.

The new thumb drives have a 7 percent over-provisioning to ensure real-time redundancy and the error correction mentioned above. The random 4K performance is rated up to 39k IOPS and the drive itself measures a tiny 93mm x 24mm x 12mm, weighs 57 grams. It has a 2-year warranty attached beside the lifelong technical support from VisionTek US.

Both the 120GB ($109.99 MSRP) and 240GB ($174.99 MSRP) models are designed and built-in the US, and are available immediately from VisionTek, and select e-tailers such as Newegg and Tiger Direct.

Thanks to VisionTek for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of VisionTek

AMD Radeon R7 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


AMD is most known for the CPU’s and Graphics cards, more recently also their APU’s and the AMD branded memory. Now the company is taking the next step towards a complete AMD system with the custom branded AMD Radeon R7 Solid State Drives. An OCZ rebrand featuring the Barefoot 3 controller and Toshiba A19nm MLC Flash, but with a twist.

Like it already was with the memory, the solid state drives aren’t built by AMD themselves but rather just AMD branded. In this case it is OCZ that makes these drives and AMD has slammed a sticker on top. But that is not all AMD has done, far from. Not only is this drive packed with the sweetest of OCZ treasure chest, it also has a special tuned firmware optimised for gaming systems.

AMD has created this SSD based on feedback from their customers, asking to be able to build an all AMD system. They realise this isn’t for everyone, but a lot will like it. Having an all AMD system will allow for quick and easy assembly, it’s a simplified purchase procedure and the parts know how to work together. For anyone else, the AMD Radeon R7 SSD is still a fast and economical solution.

Both OCZ and AMD have a reputation for performance and fast PC’s for the consumers, and combining OCZ new Barefoot 3 controller and the Toshiba high speed A19nm NAND chips will guarantee a great drive.

Three main things set this drive apart from any other SSD on the market. It is the first gaming class drive to use the new and faster A19m MLC NAND that also gives improved reliability. It uses the Barefoot 3 controller that we’ve already seen perform great, but this time it comes with a custom AMD firmware. The controller also has a higher clock-speed and said to have an even better reliability then the standard firmware. It’s capable of writing 30GB a day for 4 years with sustained performance and without any degradation.

Adding to the value, the Radeon R7 SSD comes bundled with a 3½” adapter and Acronis cloning software. It will be available in 120GB, 240GB and 480GB models, so most needs should be covered.

The Radeon R7 series is designed for gamers that are looking for a fast reliable solution when it comes to storage and as an easy inexpensive upgrade for anyone else. AMD has put a lot of effort into the development of this drive and out has come an unique offering. A performance class drive at consumer class price.

OCZ ARC 100 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


There is absolutely no shortage on the market any more when it comes to Solid State Drives (SSD), but not all of them are aimed at the same users and setup scenarios. So to add one more to the list, OCZ has just launched its new range of ARC 100 drives. A budget friendly series of highly reliable drives.

The ARC series is where performance meets affordability. The platform is built for a sustained performance and mixed workloads while keeping an IO consistency. Built upon the brand new Toshiba A19nm Multi-Level Cell (MLC) flash and with a heart in form of OCZ’s own Indilinx Barefoot 3 M10 controller.

With OCZ now a part of Toshiba, this could be considered a complete in-house product. This is also one of the reasons the drive can be offered at such a low price and the new ARC 100 comes in three sizes. 120 GB for a MSRP of $74.99, the 240 GB for $119.99 and the 480GB  can be had for $239.99.

The main target group for this drive are those who wish to upgrade their consumer notebooks and home desktops to some solid performance, or to those who just want to build a system on a budget without sacrificing the power of Solid State.

All ARC 100 SSDs are engineered and tested to ensure superior quality, reliability, and compatibility and also come backed with OCZ’s brand new “ShieldPlus Warranty”, an industry-leading approach to service that eliminates all the hassle surrounding support and warranty claims consumers often have to deal with. With no original proof of purchase required, end-users simply provide their ARC serial number and a dedicated OCZ customer service representative will provide troubleshooting and support. In the event that the product is determined to be defective, a brand-new ARC SSD of the same capacity will be advanced shipped to the customer. When the replacement is received, end-users will only need to place their original drive in the box and send it back with the included pre-paid return label. OCZ ShieldPlus is available in both North America and EMEA at time of launch, and additional supported regions will be announced in the future. Customers will have the peace of mind that they not only have a quality solid state drive, but also the very best service and support should they ever require it.

Where many SSD’s will fail, the ARC promises to keep up with you. Running multi-read-write instances can force many drives to their knees, but not this one. We’re promised sustained performance around 20k IOPS throughout the most tasking processes where most competition drives scramble between 3 and 5k when it comes to mixed workloads. Other features worth mentioning are the 256-bit AES encryption and ultra slim 7mm formfactor.

This sounds like a solid drive with a small price tag. The expectation are high to see if the drive will show the same results on our test bench.

AMD Unveils Radeon Series SSDs

 

It’s been a while since AMD expanded their product range, the last we saw was the Radeon branded memory. Now they are at it again, and this time it’s gaming SSDs. The Radeon R7 Gaming SSD will come in the usual sizes of 120, 240 and 480 GB.

The disks will be build upon the A19nm Toshiba Multi Level Cell (MLC) Flash design and the Barefoot 3 controller. Encryption will be supported in the form of 256-bit AES and the disk is rated for 30GB/day and come with a 4 year warranty.

The drives are rated for 550 MB/s read speed at 100k random IOPS and 530 MB/s write speed with 90k IOPS. Having those great figures, AMD has lined up a comparison with the competition in form of a graph.

At the time of writing there are no news on pricing yet. Considering both the R7 name and AMDs overall business model one could assume them to be very affordable.

Thank you WCCF Tech for providing us with this information

Images courtesy of EXPReview.com

Kingston HyperX Fury 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


The SSD market today is bursting at the seams with various types of solid state drives catering for every level of budget and with varying degrees of performance including drives that are now pushing the SATA !! interface to its absolute limits along with drives which pack insane amounts of storage compared to those drives which were around only a year ago. Similarly the number of manufacturers on the market is slowly growing, but those who have been in the business for a number of years are those that stand out above the rest and this includes Crucial, OCZ, Corsair, Plextor, Sandisk and Kingston of whom we’re looking at today.

Like the SSD, the HyperX line of products has been around for some time now and when we look at their SSD line up, we are somewhat limited in choice with only one mainstream HyperX drive available – namely the HyperX 3K, which replaced the first generation HyperX, offering a better price point with good levels of performance. Even though the 3K brings a more attractive price point over the [now end of line] HyperX, it is still somewhat expensive compared to drives from a number of other brands and with the launch of the HyperX Fury product line, Kingston have come up with an even cheaper drive to open up the doors into HyperX to a larger group of users.

Designed purely to offer a lower price tag for the budget conscious buyer, the HyperX Fury SSD is built around a SandForce SF-2281 controller with Kingston’s own MLC NAND. This combination of components allows the drive to offer compressible read and write speeds of around 500MB/s and incompressible speeds of 470MB/s read and 220MB/s write. Kingston stress however that this drive is all about offering a compelling price point for an enthusiast grade drive not its out-and-out performance.

Where we find the HyperX 3K coming in a large box with drive bay adaptors, screws and manuals and this all adds up nudging the price of the drive up as well. The Fury restricts this additional cost by shipping in a slim card packet with a plastic cover holding the drive in place. Inside all we get is a 2.5mm shim for installing the drive into 9.5mm drive bays and a HyperX sticker for your notebook or gaming rig.

OCZ Vertex 460 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Over the last few months, OCZ have been in the limelight with the news of imminent bankruptcy and to be quite honest, for us reviewers and particularly those of use that review their products it has been very had to ignore the facts and what was going on. As a result I was very sceptical that I was going to get any more products from them and these were the last days of one of the best SSDs names out there. Fortunately though, help was on hand and following a buyout from Toshiba, OCZ are once again back in the game. With Indlinx controllers at their heart and now having Toshiba’s own NAND packages spread around, OCZ have now got a stable supply of components for their SSDs and with this set of critical changes taking place, there is no other way to display their come back but to release a new drive.

Following in the footsteps of the Vertex 450, the Vertex 460 is home to the same Indlinx BareFoot 3 M10 controller, however on the NAND front the younger and fresher drive takes advantage of Toshiba’s 19nm MLC NAND packages and the resulting combination sees a drive that on paper looks quite promising. The rated performance figures put it up with some of the class leading drives, although it has been priced in the region of other mainstream drives.

Whilst some people are sceptical that the buyout from Toshiba will help out OCZ in the longterm, OCZ  are still going to run under their own name and the essence of OCZ’s previous products is still going to be there. I personally have high hopes for them and I look forward to seeing a number of class leading products roll off the production line in the near future. There is only one way to see how the rejuvenation process has gone and that is to put the drives to test and see what they are made of.

Bundled in with the Vertex 460, we are provided with a typical OCZ array of extras including a 2.5″ to 3.5″ drive bay adaptor, a copy of Acronis True Image Home for drive to drive migration, screws for installation and a ‘I my SSD’ sticker.

Intel Launches Lightening Fast New 730 Series SSD

Intel are looking to take back the performance crown and steal some of the thunder from drives such as the Samsung 840 Evo and OCZ Vector.  It hopes to do this thanks to some hefty internal overclocks that have seen the controller bumped up by 50% and the NAND boosted by 20%, making it faster than previous Intel drives, however it remains to be seen if it’ll be fast enough to compete with the rest of the market.

Performance and reliability are certainly the focus and the drive is capable to writing 70GB of data a day, every day, for five years. This is more than three times as much as most other drives would be comfortable with. This makes it ideal for gaming, content creation such as video rendering and basically anything that is going to run the drive at or close to its full potential, because you wouldn’t need anything like this just for booting into Chrome a couple of times to check Facebook.

Available in 240GB and 480GB options means that storage space shouldn’t be an issue, but it does mean that there is no cheaper 120GB option and worse still, you’ll only get the new max performance on the 480GB model, as the 240GB maxes out at a yawn inducing 270MB/s, incredibly short of the 470MB/s of the 480GB!

Both drives are set to ship sometime in March and prices are expected to be $249 and $489 for the 240GB and 480GB respectively.

Thank you Fudzilla for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Fudzilla.

Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


Earlier in the year we saw Kingston come out with another revision of their popular HyperX line of SSDs. Sadly we wasn’t able to get our hands on one of these new drives at the time, however even though the drive has been on the market for a few months, I’ve managed to get a sample in for review so its time to see how this drive stands in the SSD pecking order. The HyperX 3K, as the name suggests, is part of the HyperX family of products, but over the original HyperX SSD which comes with a blue trim (and which we use in all of our test benches) there are not that many differences in terms of specification. The changes that have been made however, make a huge impact on not only the drives performance, but also its position in the market as far as pricing goes.

When we look at SSDs on the whole, the NAND used has a huge impact on the lifespan of the drive in regards to complete write and erase operations and consequently the price. Early drives to appear on the market typically ran on 50nm silicon and whilst this was great in terms of the total number of write / erase cycles that could be made over all of the NAND, the prices were not favourable to the mainstream market. Like all advances in technology though, silicon has been getting smaller and today we typically see 25nm NAND being used with a life span of 3-5000 cycles achievable. The first generation of HyperX drives used Intel’s 25nm NAND that was slightly more expensive, meaning that it was rated a for a longer lifespan and with the market moving on fairly rapidly, the first generation HyperX drives have quickly been superseded by other vendors. Like the full fat HyperX drives, the first HyperX 3K drives came out with Intel flash on-board but in the same way that Kingston updated their lineup to offer a cheaper alternative, the HyperX 3K lineup has been given a refresh and we now see Toshiba 19nm NAND being used instead of Intel’s 25nm offering.

It takes no expert to guess that the 3K in the newer revisions name refers to the number of write / erase cycles that this drive is built for. With cost in mind, Kingston have chosen to use the cheaper NAND, which carries the lower rated cycles, but as a result they have been able to drop the overall price of the drives whilst keeping the performance up. Smart thinking on Kingston’s part. SandForce’s SF-2281 controller does remain an integral part of the HyperX specification with little more than a newer revision of the popular controller being used.

When we look at the overall package that is available for the money, Kingston’s HyperX drives are almost certainly one of the best dressed. In the well padded box we find [alongside the drive] a 3.5″ drive bay adaptor, two sets of fitting screws, a blue SATA cable, a CD with the user manual on, case badge as well as an external USB3.0 enclosure and cable and a screwdriver with changeable tips. It’s safe to say that they literally give you everything you need; well bar the system to install it into.

Sandisk Extreme II 240GB Solid State Drive Review

Introduction


The SSD market as many people know it is inundated with drives that have one of LSI’s SandForce SF-2281 controllers at their heart and whilst this is not a bad thing – given that they have proven reliability and some of the best performance to be had, they are not without their faults.

SSD owners today, use their drives for a multitude of tasks and breaking these tasks down to the way the drives see the data, we have two data types; compressible and incompressible. SandForce based drives typically use lossless data compression to minimise the write cycles to the flash in order to prolong its life span, however not all data sets can be compressed in this way and consequently when these controllers meet this type of data, the write speeds consequently slow down as the data takes more time to process.

SanDisk’s Extreme series of drives as we have here today, are now on to their second generation and following the success of the original Extreme that was based around the SF-2281 controller, SanDisk want to take the performance up a notch to give this drive a huge selling point against every other drive out there. To do this, the SandForce controller had to be laid to rest as the way it handles incompressible data was not going to be right for an ‘extreme’ drive. As a result, Marvell has been brought in with its top end controller and this teamed with SanDisk’s own 19nm Toggle NAND MLC flash and a 256MB cache is what is set to give this drive the grunt it needs to push it to the top of the SSD performance charts.

OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD Review

When it comes to SSD line-ups, its safe to say that OCZ has got virtually every inch of ground covered with budget, performance and all round value drives with the Octane, Vertex 3 & 4 and recently the Vector series of drives. At the same time of covering all price points, OCZ have proven reliability and a huge following of users, but now that the SSD has become more mainstream and the number of users that are adopting the faster technology grows, the market is become heavily inundated with new models meaning that for some the choice is too great and for those vendors that have been in the SSD sector for a while now, their now older models are not getting the same attention that they used to.

OCZ’s Vertex line of drives in my option are some of the best selling drives out there and now that they have been around for a good couple of years and then they were one of the pioneers of using MLC NAND flash to store data on their drives, pairing it with one of the most successful controllers of the SSD world – the SandForce SF-2281. Believe it or not, this is the second re-release of the Vertex 3 and this time round OCZ have made the point of making it clear about the update to the drive.

When the Vertex 3 was first released it included 34nm MLC NAND and following the move to 25nm NAND without much of an announcement from OCZ, there was a lot of upset from the consumers with some buying the 34nm drives without a clue that 25nm were also available with some improvements to the performance. Moving forward to now, OCZ are yet again shrinking the size of technology on their drives and we now are seeing 20nm NAND – that’s almost half the original Vertex 3 of two years ago. Not wanting to make the same mistake twice however, OCZ this time round are making it well known that they have updated this drive and this includes a slight tweak to the name to reflect the 20nm NAND – hence Vertex 3.20.

For the end user this shift to newer technology means a drive that is even more affordable than before whilst still retaining the same roots as the original Vertex 3 with great performance and capacity and on the factory side for OCZ this also means reduced manufacturing costs – hence the drop in end user price. Whilst the drive itself will look 99.9% the same on the outside, there is one notable difference to the packaging. We’ve for a long time got used to the small card boxes that OCZ have used that open out to house the drive inside in an anti-staic bag and a set of screws and a drive bay adaptor behind, but with more and more chassis natively supporting SSDs with specific mounting points and trays compatible with 2.5″ drives, OCZ have made the decision to drop the extras and give the user just what they need – a simple no fuss packaging – also another way to reduce the cost overall.