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Unfortunately, Zalman’s claims that their new "racing" SSD is faster than competitors are not well-grounded. In fact, the Zalman F1 is an ordinary SSD based on the SandForce platform. It is a fast and high-quality product but no better than similar SSDs offered by other brands.

Generally speaking, our tests of numerous SSDs based on SF-2281/SF-2282 controllers suggest that their speed depends only on the type of flash memory employed. Take two SSDs with a second-generation SandForce controller, identical capacities and identical flash memory type, and they are going to deliver the same performance both in benchmarks and real-life applications. Firmware optimizations that might theoretically affect performance do not do so in practice. Intel’s upcoming 520 series may become an exception, but so far we haven’t seen any.

Thus, you can get an accurate notion of performance of an SSD with a second-generation SandForce controller without any tests by simply looking up its flash memory type.

We can put together all SandForce-based SSDs into a single table and see that they fall into three groups in terms of performance. They do not differ much in terms of speed within each group, but the different groups do perform differently.

The Zalman F1 is just another mainstream SandForce-based SSD. Its speed is similar to that of many popular products. It comes with the latest firmware, which is expected to be stable and problem-free, and has a standard 3-year warranty. If Zalman puts an attractive price tag on this SSD, provides good tech support and ensures broad availability, the F1 can become quite a bestseller.

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