Solid state drives have made up one of the most rapidly developing segments of the computer component market. The number of SSD products has been growing along with the number of brands offering them. Some of those brands are quite surprising, just like the recent news that Zalman, the well-known Korean maker of cooling systems, has joined their ranks. The news is interesting, so we've managed to get a 120GB SSD from Zalman's F1 series which features the popular SandForce SF-2281 controller.
Yes, it’s rather odd to see an SSD sport the brand of a renowned manufacturer of coolers, system cases and power supplies, yet this might have been expected, really. Zalman has been making attempts to expand its product range in different ways. For example, Zalman’s 3D monitors have long been on the market and the company has also voiced its plans to start making graphics cards as well. Considering this diversification trend, Zalman's entering the SSD market makes sense. After all, SSDs are the kind of computer components that are extremely simple to develop and manufacture.
Today, producing SSDs is similar to any assembly-line manufacture. This is largely thanks to SandForce which offers its second-generation SSD controllers along with a full-featured platform for assembling SSDs that supports different types of flash memory and includes a reference PCB as well as firmware. Thus, it only takes assembly workers to start your SSD manufacturing business as you won’t need qualified developers, engineers or programmers. It’s even simpler than to manufacture graphics cards based on reference design because there are fewer chips and other components that need to be soldered to PCBs. So, the only problem for SSD market newcomers is to find customers. Zalman should have no problems with that, however. Besides a recognized brand with good reputation, the company also has a well-developed distribution network. We won’t be surprised to see Zalman’s F1 series SSDs become as broadly available as products from old-time SSD market players.
On the other hand, Zalman could not have come up with an original product. The F1 series is likely to be similar to many other SSDs from competitor brands that are based on the SandForce platform, too. Zalman’s promo materials want us to think differently, though.
In this review we will see if the Zalman F1 series is indeed faster than other SandForce-based SSDs by benchmarking the 120GB SSD0120F1 model.