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Testbed and Methods

The special testbed we are going to use for this test session is based on a mainboard with Intel H67 chipset which offers two SATA 6 Gbit/s ports. We connect our SSD testing participants to these particular ports.

We will compare Zalman F1 120 GB SSD against three other SandForce based products with the same storage capacity, which represent three different platforms: Patriot Wildfire is based on 32 nm Toggle NAND, Corsair Force Series GT is based on 25 nm synchronous memory, and Corsair Force Series 3 is an SSD with asynchronous memory. Besides, we also included 240 GB SSD models from Corsair Force Series GT and Corsair Force Series 3, as well as a 256 GB Crucial m4 with a Marvell controller inside.

Here is the full testbed configuration:

  • Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge, 4 cores, 3.1 GHz, EIST and Turbo Boost turned off);
  • Foxconn H67S mainboard (BIOS A41F1P01);
  • 2 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 SDRAM DIMM 9-9-9-24-1T;
  • Crucial m4 256 GB system disk (CT256M4SSD2);
  • Tested SSDs:
    • Corsair Force 3 Series 120 GB (CSSD-F120GB3-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Corsair Force GT Series 120 GB (CSSD-F120GBGT-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Corsair Force 3 Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GB3-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Corsair Force GT Series 240 GB (CSSD-F240GBGT-BK, firmware version 1.3.3);
    • Crucial m4 256 GB (CT256M4SSD2, firmware version 0009);
    • Patriot Wildfore 120 GB (PW120GS25SSDR, firmware version 3.3.2);
    • Zalman F1 120 GB (SSD0120F1, firmware version 3.3.2).
  • Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 Ultimate x64
  • Drivers:
    • Intel Chipset Driver 9.2.0.1030
    • Intel HD Graphics Driver 15.22.1.2361
    • Intel Management Engine Driver 7.1.10.1065
    • Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.8.0.1003.

Performance

Random and Sequential Read/Write Speed of FOB Drive

We benchmark the speed of random- and sequential-address reading and writing with CrystalDiskMark 3.0.1 test. This benchmark is convenient to work with as it can measure the speed of an SSD with both random incompressible and fully compressible recurring data. 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 effectively the SF-2281 controller can compress the data.

The performance tests in this section refer to SSDs in their “fresh” out-of-the-box state (FOB). No degradation could have taken place yet.

We can see that the Zalman F1 cannot meet its specifications in terms of sequential read speed. This SSD turns out to be no faster than any other SF-2281 based drive with synchronous flash. The Zalman F1 is similar to the Corsair Force GT in every key parameter, being faster than low-end products with asynchronous flash like the Corsair F3, but slower than toggle-NAND products like the Patriot Wildfire. It is also expectedly slower than the large-capacity SSDs. Its 240GB cousin is going to be faster, too, thanks to 4-way interleaving.

 
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