A definite plus in the SSD arena these days is the range of configurations available to meet consumer needs.
Corsair was one of the first to jump in with its Performance 3 series which is now followed by the Force 3 for those seeking the power of a ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD minus the cost premium seen in enthusiast SSDs such as the Force 3 GT.
Today we will be reviewing the Corsair’ Force Series 3 6Gbps 120GB SSD.
UNDERSTANDING TODAY’S SSDS
Lets first take a moment to explain performance as it relates to SATA 3 SSDs in order to help the reader along with their purchase decision.
The heart of the SSD is its controller or ‘processor’ as this is the engine that provides for the transfer speed of data for the most part. In SATA 2.0 SSDs we were able to reach transfer speeds of roughly 280MB/s read and 275MB/s write which was followed by Marvell’ introduction of the first SATA 3 controller reaching speeds as high as 355MB/s read and 210MB/s write if you had a SATA 3 computer.
More recently, SSDs such as the Corsair Performance 3 have been introduced with Marvell’s new 9174 controller which have shown speeds of 480MB/s read and 320MB/s write. SandForce then followed suit with their new SF-2000 series of SATA 3 processors which are capable of equal read and write transfer speeds in excess of 500MB/s.
Today we are seeing specifications list performance as high as 555MB/s read and 525MB/s write but, with this new found speed, another factor has entered the picture with respect to the SSDs NAND flash memory.
SYNC VS ASYNC NAND FLASH MEMORY
For the most part, the consumer price of a solid state drive is driven by the cost of its NAND flash memory. Synchronous memory costs more than asynchronous and we are not going to confuse you with the difference between the two but to say that asynchronous memory does not perform as well with incompressible data as synchronous memory.
Since it is suggested that the typical user makes more use of incompressible data than the former, one might think that we would definitely want a SSD with synchronous NAND.
What manufacturers such as Corsair have discovered is that use of asynchronous memory in SSDs (such as the Force 3) seems to fit the need of the typical user who is a bit more value conscious while the Force 3 GT (using synchronous NAND), might be better suited for the ‘prosumer’ or enthusiast needing their SSD for specific tasks.
Unfortunately, the type of NAND isn’t listed on the exterior of the SSD and most can only take an educated guess as the price if considerable less than the same size with synchronous memory. At has been suggested however, at least with Micron NAND, that the last letter of the product code might suggest ‘A’ for async and ‘B’ for sync.
As well, todays NAND flash memory is being found in 2Xnm configurations compared to that of 3Xnm configurations just a short time ago. Larger capacity and cheaper costs are the benefit although a shorter total write cycle has the concerns of some who believe the total lifespan of the SSD might be reduced significantly. Unfortunately, solid state drive technology is still in its infancy and adequate ‘end life’ data isn’t available from the first consumer SSDs released in 2007. Lets just trust the fact that your SSD will outlast any hard drive and, if you ever reach SSD end life, there will not be the sudden crash and loss of data we have grown accustomed to. With a SSD, end life simply means the drive cannot be written to any further, however, all information stored is still very accessible and will be for some years to come.
CORSAIR FORCE 3 SATA 3 120GB SSD INTRODUCTION
The Force 3 is available in sizes of 60, 120 and 240GB with listed performance specifications of 550MB/s read, 510MB/s write, and 85,000 IOPS at 4k aligned random write disk access. A 3 year warranty is standard and a quick check with e-tailers at the time of this report shows pricing of the 120GB version at $194.99 ($30MIR) compared to a few others that are typically $100 higher as a result of their choice of synchronous NAND flash memory. The Corsair Force 3 GT Series SSD (sync NAND) is available for those seeking the next step up in SSDs and competitively priced at $289.99 for the 120GB version.
The exterior packaging of the Force Series 3 is of an attractive black and blue glossy finish which contains the SSD within a plastic shell and a 2.5″ to 3.5″ SSD adapter inside. The SSD itself is of a two piece black metal design with only two security stickers visible on the rear to avoid tampering.
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