It is good that solid state drives have made their way from early samples to mature market products. They have got rid from most of their childhood diseases that used to plague early models of flash-based drives such as low speed of sequential operations and low writing performance.
Of course, SSDs are not ideal. Their performance is rather unpredictable and their service life is not very long (it depends on how much writing they have to do). This may repel some customers. However, every SSD tested in this review can be characterized as a compact small-capacity storage device that is capable of delivering excellent speed (far better than that of hard disk drives) at low power consumption.
As soon as SSDs get rid of the two mentioned drawbacks and as soon as they become larger in terms of storage capacity and more affordable, they will have a good chance of ousting HDDs out of the market altogether. We guess users are going to like that. Computers will only be better if cooling fans are the only rotating thing in them. Unfortunately, we cannot expect a quick victory of SSDs over HDDs. The difference in the cost of storage is huge and is diminishing too slowly. So far, we can see the following uses for SSDs:
- As the main disk in a computer or notebook that is operating under strong vibration (a traveling notebook, an industrial computer, etc)
- in disk subsystems of top-performance servers that are mostly meant for reading
- in high-performance workstations
Of course, you can use your SSD for any other purpose, but you should be aware that this is not only a fast but also a very expensive storage which can also fail quickly from too much writing. If you replace the hard disk with an SSD in your home all-purpose computer, applications will be loaded and data will be copied faster, yet not instantaneously.
Finally, we’d like to say a few words about each product tested in this review.
The Intel X25-E is the fastest model because it is based on SLC rather than on MLC memory as the other tested SSDs. Its capacity is small at 64 gigabytes. That’s about the contents of two Blu-ray discs with movies. However, it is far more reliable and its writing speed is much higher than that of the other SSDs. Alas, its price is high, too. With all these characteristics and with the high speed of writing and excellent random reading it has, this SSD is going to be a perfect choice for enterprise disk subsystems.
The less expensive Intel X25-M with capacities of 80 and 160 gigabytes seem to be universal products. Like every other SSD, they deliver excellent speed of reading, both sequential and random. You should not expect them to be fast at sequential writing, though. They are merely comparable to HDDs in this respect. However, they do cope with random writing nicely, their controller boasting high efficiency. The only downside of these SSDs is that their performance is rather unpredictable, often depending on the type of previous load.
The Corsair P128, representing the latest generation of SSDs based on Samsung’s platform, differs from Intel’s X25-M series. It has a higher speed of sequential writing, which leads to faster processing of large files, but its random writing is slower. This SSD should be given credit for delivering very stable, if not always very high, performance. Looks like Samsung has developed a worthy alternative to Intel’s products.
Hopefully, we will see more products with other controllers very soon.