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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 Neutron and Neutron GTX SSDs are the primary candidates for the leading performance positions, they will be competing against the best products from other manufacturers with comparable capacity. The Corsair products on LAMD LM87800 controller will be racing against the drives on SandForce SF-2281 with synchronous ONFI as well as synchronous Toggle Mode NAND, including the Intel SSD 520 with its unique firmware; OCZ Vertex 4 on Everest 2 controller with synchronous flash-memory; Samsung SSD 830 built with Samsung’s own controller and flash-memory, which is one of the today’s fastest SSDs; and a couple of popular SSDs on Marvell 88SS9174 controller: Plextor M3 Pro with Toggle NAND and Crucial m4 with synchronous ONFI memory, which performance Crucial has recently tried to boost by releasing a new firmware version for it.

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);
    • Corsair Neutron GTX 240 GB (CSSD-N240GBGTX-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Corsair Neutron 240 GB (CSSD-N240GB3-BK, firmware version 2.06);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 010G);
    • Intel SSD 520 240 GB (SSDSC2CW240A3K5, firmware version 400i);
    • OCZ Vertex 4 256 GB (VTX4-25SAT3-256G, firmware version 1.5);
    • Plextor M3 Pro 256 GB (PX-256M3P, firmware version 1.04);
    • Samsung SSD 830 256 GB (MZ-7PC256D, firmware version CXM03B1Q).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver;
    • Intel Graphics Media Accelerator Driver;
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology


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 the flash-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.

It’s clear right away that we’re dealing with something new here. The SSDs based on the LAMD platform behave in their own special way even in synthetic benchmarks. While not being very fast in terms of sequential reading, Corsair’s Neutron and Neutron GTX can boast a very high speed of processing 4KB data blocks at a long request queue, proving the high potential of the LM87800 controller and its intellectual firmware algorithms. In practical terms it means that these Corsair SSDs are going to be superior under heavy loads typical of server applications. As for desktop usage scenarios, they may be mediocre under low loads but will probably feel at ease processing multiple disk requests from several applications running in parallel.

It must also be added that the performance of the Corsair Neutron and Neutron GTX does not depend on the type of processed data. The LAMD LM87800 controller does not compress data, so the new SSDs are consistent in terms of speed.

As for practical differences between the ordinary Neutron with 25nm synchronous ONGI flash and the Neutron GTX with Toggle Mode NAND, we can only see them at writing but write operations are less important than reading in typical SSD usage scenarios. That’s why we think that the basic Neutron is going to be a perfect option for the majority of uses while the GTX version is meant for computer enthusiasts in the first place.

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