Sandisk X210 256GB Business Class Solid State Drive Review

Final Thoughts


Pricing

Although the X210 is a prosumer business class SSD that is aimed for a slightly different market to that of a mainstream SSD, it is still readily available to buy for those small businesses that have laptops and entry-level servers that they want to give the SSD treatment to. In the US, Newegg have the 256GB drive available for a shade under $200 whilst in the UK, Dabs.com stock of the drive (at the time of writing) and a price of £159.99. 128GB and 512GB models are also available, although not every retailer appears to have all three drives on sale.

Overview

Moving up from the mainstream enthusiast market and on to the prosumer and enterprise markets means that the way in which we look at a product for the purpose of a comparative review has to change ever so slightly. It is similar to looking at a gaming notebook and a ultrabook and saying that an ultrabook is no good for gaming. Whilst this is generally the case, we have to take the target audience for a product into consideration and question how well that item works for that group of users.

In the case of the X210, top end sequential read and write speeds and/or IOPs performance is not going to be enough to make a drive the best option to choose. The X210 is a prime example of this statement with a fairly similar specification to the Extreme II which I looked at a few months ago. The Extreme II may on paper be faster than the X210, but in a server environment for example where there is going to be a large amount of write/erase cycles performed, the mainstream drive will quickly start to fall short due its shorter life span. In a server environment we can expect to see around 45GB of data being written to a drive each and every single day, however a consumer level drive is not going to see such heavy usage and thus the reason why we have a totally separate line of drives for this type of application.

By taking the Extreme II as a starting point for the X210 and re-tuning its settings to offer a longer lifetime and more importantly, better reliability there does have to be trade-off somewhere along the line. In this case we do see some of the performance being lost, but what is left is by no means slow. On top of this, there is no over provisioning on the drive as standard. This means that out of the box, the full RAW capacity of the drive is free to use, but the over-provisioning can be set by the user depending on the type of workload that the drive will be used for. In a workstation laptop for example, an over provisioning allowance of around 8-10% is typical for this drive, whilst in a server environment it’s not uncommon to see this figure raised to around 30% in some cases. Add on to the list full S.M.A.R.T. attributes and what you’ve got here is a drive that is capable of meeting the demands that both servers and workstations alike long for.

When we put all the variables into one basket and look at the drive as an entire package, it’s probably not going to be the drive that a mainstream user will consider getting; by all means you can get one and use it perfectly fine, but there are drives that offer faster sequential speeds and higher IOPs for the same amount of money. In the server and workstation markets however, the X210 ticks virtually all the right boxes and when you take into account that this drive is rated for well over 80TB if write cycles, that is a lifespan that stretches right past that of a mainstream disk. The choice as always comes down to the need and as far as the server and workstation markets go, this is a great drive to consider.

Pros:

  • Firmware optimised drive for reliability and longer lifespan
  • Same 3-layer storage medium as class leading Extreme II SSD
  • High write endurance of over 80TB
  • 7mm form factor for laptop deployment
  • Leading vendor

Cons:

  • Not as suitable as Extreme II for mainstream applications

“By taking the class leading Extreme II SSD and re-working the firmware to improve the reliability and lifespan of the MLC NAND, Sandisk have created a highly affordable drive that is suitable for a number of enterprise class applications including entry-level server deployment but also for the end-user in business grade workstation laptops. The performance my be a little down on the of the Extreme II, but in this type of market that is not as much of an important factor as much as reliability and endurance is. A cracking drive for a cracking price at this user level.

Sandisk X210 256GB Business Class Solid State Drive

Thanks to Sandisk for providing this review sample.