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Closer Look at Corsair Force GS 240 GB

We’ve seen a lot of Corsair SSDs, so this packaging is quite familiar to us. Besides a colorful picture and promo slogans, you can find the product’s specs and part number on the sides of the small cardboard box.

 

The SSD is protected by a transparent plastic wrap. It is accompanied by a set of mounting screws and an adapter that helps install this 2.5-inch drive into a computer’s 3.5-inch bay. We guess these accessories are quite sufficient.

As for the exterior design, the Force GS resembles Corsair’s Force GT series. Its case is the same color and shape. The red top of the case has a rough texture. The case is made of aluminum and has a standard height of 9.5 millimeters, which prevents this SSD from being installed into ultrabooks. Of course, color doesn’t affect its consumer properties, yet we can’t but notice that the Force GS (and the Force GT, too) is one of the most beautiful SSDs we’ve seen. The only external difference from the GT series is the label that helps easily identify a GT series product.

 

It is the interior design that we should examine to find more substantial differences between the new Force GS and the old Force GT series. There’s something interesting waiting for us there.

 

The PCB is smaller than usual, suggesting that Corsair developed a custom PCB design (and saved some PCB material in the process) instead of using SandForce’s reference one. The 240 GB model is based on the well-known LSI SandForce 2281 Flash Storage Processor connected to 16 memory chips (SanDisk SDZNPQBHER-016GT). It is these chips that make the Corsair Force GS special. The 24 nm Toggle Mode HBL (hierarchical bit-line) NAND flash we’ve only seen so far in the SanDisk Extreme SSD is a competitor to synchronous flash memory from Intel and Micron.

The 240 GB SanDisk Extreme SSD employed 32-gigabit chips but Corsair prefers 16-gigabit ones. This isn’t a serious difference, though. Each of the 16 flash memory chips inside the Force GS 240 GB contains two 64-gigabit NAND devices, so the controller can use 4-way interleaving to access the memory array. This structure makes the Force GS similar to SSDs with synchronous ONFI 2.0 flash whereas SSDs with 32 nm Toggle Mode flash used to have a higher level of the memory access interleave. So, from a theoretical standpoint, the higher interface bandwidth of the SanDisk flash is the only edge the Corsair Force GS has against the popular SSDs with SF-2281 controllers and synchronous flash from Intel or Micron.

In other words, the Force GS is quite a typical SandForce-based drive, as is also indicated by the 14% reduction in its user-accessible capacity. The 14% reserve pool is required by the RAISE technology (Redundant Array of Independent Silicon Elements) to improve the drive’s reliability. The user can only access 223 gibibytes out of the drive’s total 256 gibibytes.

Here are the official Force GS 240GB specifications:

  • Controller: SandForce SF-2281;
  • Interface: SATA 6 Gbps;
  • Flash-memory: synchronous 24 nm Toggle Mode NAND;
  • Size: 240 GB;
  • Cache-memory: none;
  • Sequential read speed: 555 MB/s;
  • Sequential write speed: 525 MB/s;
  • Random write speed (4 KB blocks): 90000 IOPS.

It’s hard to analyze specifications of any SSD with the SF-2281 controller. The specified parameters depend on the type of processed data, so it’s up to the manufacturer’s marketing department to choose what exactly numbers to write in the specs. However, we can note that Corsair specifies almost the same speed for the Force GS series as for the Force GT, and that’s higher than the specified speed of the SanDisk Extreme which has the same hardware as the Force GS. This doesn’t seem logical to us, but perhaps we are just not aware of some nuances.

The firmware can make a difference, for example. The Force GS’s current firmware is based on the latest reference firmware (version 5.03) which has been adopted by all Corsair products already.

Like the majority of other SSDs with SF-2281 controller, the Corsair Force GS is shipped with a 3-year warranty.

 
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