A few weeks ago we received an e-mail asking our opinion on the VisionTek mSATA SSD as the writer had found an amazing deal on that SSD, yet there wasn’t a review in site. Admittedly, even I wasn’t all that familiar with VisionTek and didn’t even know they were marketing SSDs. In conducting a quick search, I had to laugh at not being familiar with this SSD; after all Dell had it listed among the few in their sales site. A bit of background, a quick introductory explaining our review policies and we’re happy to report that the VisionTek mSATA 480GB 6Gbps was on our bench a short time later.
VisionTek is an all-inclusive company that manufacturers several different PC components to include graphics cards, memory, power supplies, productivity cards, wireless and USB 3 adapters, as well as…you got it…SSDs. Surprisingly, their representation in SSD form factors includes PCIe form factors, in addition to common 2.5″ notebook and mSATA SSDs; this placing them amongst the very few that market PCIe SSDs at the moment. WE are happy to report that, not only do we have the notebook and mSATA SSD in hand, but the VisionTek Data Fusion PCIe SSD is on its way as well.
VisionTek mSATA SSDs 6Gbps SSDs and are available in capacities of 60, 120, 240 and 480GB and come with a three-year warranty. They speak to ‘RAISE’ which means they are ‘LSI SandForce Driven’ SSDs and their performance specifications list speeds of 540MB/s read and 425MB/s write with up to 60K IOPS at low 4K random aligned write disk access. A quick check of Amazon shows pricing at $80 (60GB), $127 (120GB), $233 (240GB), and $527 (480GB) with mass availability across the board.
The most intriguing characteristic of the VisionTek mSATA 480GB SSD is that it is a dual-PCB design, meaning that it has a mother and daughterboard pressed together by three fasteners. It is so thin that we totally overlooked that it may be two PCB’s until we counted six modules of memory, vice the necessary eight. That was a clue.
For anyone not taking a closer look, this is what you see on the front and back of the SSD:
This SSD is controlled by a LSI SandForce flash storage processor and it is the most recent release of SF-2281 VB2 which is intended to speak to lower power consumption.
Once disassembled, inside of the two boards are displayed as such:
There are eight modules of MLC NAND flash memory and each is 64GB in size for a total RAW capacity of 512GB. As this SSD utilizes 7% overprovisioning and has specific firmware needs, the formatted capacity available to the consumer is actually 447GB, just down from the advertised 480GB. —SSD Database Check—
One may have also noticed that the branding of the NAND flash memory does not reflect the manufacturer, or any number that might allow us to more accurately identify it. We believe it to be asynchronous and will update this review if and when complete information is received from VisionTek.
But, is this an SSD that you use by plugging in in just like a Samsung Pro SSD, or do you need anything else? I ask because Linus on youtube said on a review for the Asus Z87 Maximus IV that a mSATA dongle would use the PCI-Express to run the data on an mSATA SSD device….
……………….. And I can only assume he means Windows 8.1 etcetera? Implying it would run quicker than a Samsung Pro SSD or Samsung Evo ??
But who knows, as it all seems to be `inside information`.
This SSD is an mSATA and plugs in diferently than the 840 Pro and EVO. There may be motherboards with the proper host connector but one must ensure that the connector is a SATA 3 connector, and not SATA 2. Conversely, adapters can be purchased anywhere to plug this in through PCIe…still via SATA 3.
Ok; I am halfway there.
Thank you for putting some detail there.
1. I had confirmed the mSATA part.
2. I confirmed Linus said a `dongle` (connection unit [PCI-e `3` to mSATA]) is included in a Z87 Maximus IV, which would connect to the PCI-e `3` on that Motherboard for an mSATA SSD.
(A) I still dont know if you can run Windows 8.1 off it or if it is used for swop files or an extension of memory or a place to store games or files or film.
(B) I still dont know if its any better (more reliable/faster) than a normal SSD.
(C) I still don`t know why anyone would want it if they were to use it on an older motherboard with `only` a SATA 2 port (requiring connecting it via PCI-e), when a `known standard` SSD would be the preferred available option.
*Franky it may be too difficult for the public to ever know for sure, and due to that it may not sell well.
*The price doesn`t seem to be interesting enough to move people from the Samsung SSD Pro or Evo to that product, as things stand.
I just bought a 960GB PCIe SSD (which formats down to 894GB available) from VisionTek (it is actually two PCIe SSDs in one package that default to a RAID0 configuration)… net price to my client, including tax, was barely over $1000! I put it in a Dell workstation where the user is doing NGS analysis, which is very I/O performance dependent. No real world experience yet, and after the previous Samsung 840 SSD crashed and burned after less than six months, I’m restricting it to functioning as a secondary drive (Windows 7 system), and telling the user to make sure his data is backed up to the external SSD and server (esp. since it is RAID0, and coming from a relatively unknown vendor). This plugs into the 4x PCIe slot.
Still… the price… and they claim 100,000 IOPS (which I can believe, given that this is a PCIe SSD, not bottlenecked by the SAS/SATA controller)… my 2013 MBP with a 512GB 2x PCIe internal SSD (10GBps of actual bandwidth) nets out to 700MBps transfer rates per a benchmarking application.
If this works, I’m seriously thinking about having one of my clients build a screaming VMware cluster using VSA or the equivalent. Think about it: ~2.7TB of 100,000 IOPS class storage performance for under 10k (3 cards each in three servers)… EMC will charge you $10,000 for a single shelf with six SAS disks in it, with total IOPS under 1000.
I’m also pondering the idea of rolling my own flash based storage server, by sticking 8 of these in a server, and putting OpenFiler or somesuch on it.
We have the DataFusion PCIe in hand and will be looking at it shortly. Tx for the input.
That’s just two Sandforce ssds on a raid card. Nothing special about it.