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Testbed Configuration

For our today’s SSD test session we put together a special system on an Intel H67 based mainboard. This chipset provides support for two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports, which we use to connect the tested SSDs.

Since Corsair Force GS 240 GB is a second SSD on SF-2281 controller with 24 nm SanDisk flash memory, which we got our hands on, we decided to compare it not only with solid state drives featuring different hardware configurations, but also against its earlier prototype – SanDisk Extreme SSD 240 GB. As for the other competitors, they were a pretty common crowd and included three different modifications of the SandForce platform: Intel SSD 520 with its exclusive firmware; Corsair Force Series GT with synchronous ONFI memory; Mushkin Chronos deluxe with previous generation 32 nm Toggle Mode NAND. Besides, we also included into the diagrams the results of a few popular high-performance SSDs based on other controllers, such as Crucial m4 and Plextor M3 on Marvell 88SS9174, Samsung SSD 830 using Samsung’s own controller and flash-memory, and OCZ Vertex 4 on Indilinx Everest 2.

Overall our testbed was configured as follows:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Foxconn H67S mainboard (BIOS A41F1P03);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force GS Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGS-BK, firmware version 5.03);
    • Corsair Force GT Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGT-BK, firmware version 5.03);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 000F);
    • Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i);
    • Mushkin Chronos deluxe 240 GB (MKNSSDCR240GB-DX, firmware version 5.0.2);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5);
    • Plextor M3 256 GB (PX-256M3, firmware version 1.05);
    • Samsung SSD 830 256 GB (MZ-7PC256D, firmware version CXM03B1Q);
    • SanDisk Extreme SSD 240 GB (SDSSDX-240G, firmware version R201).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.3.0.1019;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver 15.22.54.2622;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 11.1.0.1006.

Performance

Random and Sequential Read/Write

We use CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 benchmark to test the random- and sequential read and write speed. This benchmark is convenient to work with as it can measure the speed of an SSD with both incompressible random and fully compressible recurring data. This feature is important for testing SSDs based on SF-2281/2282 controller, which tries to compress the data before writing it into memory. So, there are two numbers in the diagrams below that reflect the maximum and minimum SSD speed. The real-life performance of an SSD is going to be in-between those two numbers depending on how effective the controller data compression is.

Note that the performance tests in this section refer to SSDs in their “Fresh Out-of-Box” state (FOB). No degradation could have taken place yet.

We’ve studied the behavior of SSDs with second-generation SandForce controllers and fast flash memory quite extensively, so the Force GS can’t really add anything to our knowledge base. Its 24nm flash memory with Toggle Mode interface is close to the popular ONFI 2.0 flash in its characteristics. So, Corsair’s Force GS and Force GT series turn out to be similar not only in their exterior design but also in performance. We can notice a few discrepancies, though. The newer SSD is faster at random reading, which may make it preferable for real-life usage scenarios.

The Force GS series drive is also different from the SanDisk Extreme which has the same hardware design. Oddly enough, the SanDisk is a little faster. We can only explain it by some firmware optimizations.

Overall, the Corsair Force GS seems to be quite a typical SandForce-based SSD with synchronous flash memory. SandForce-based SSDs with 25 nm ONFI flash or 32/24 nm Toggle NAND flash differ in synthetic benchmarks by just a few percent, actually. It’s hard to feel this difference in practical applications, so price becomes the most important factor if we are to choose between the Force GS and other SF-2281 based products. The Force GS is currently somewhat more expensive than SSDs with synchronous flash manufactured by IMFT, but this situation can easily change into the opposite.

There’s still one outstanding product in the SandForce generation. Thanks to its custom firmware, the Intel 520 SSD is completely different from any other SandForce-based product.

 
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