August 2010

avatar

Corsair Force F100 Review

Man, we are all about SandForce these days. The controller company burst out of stealth mode early this year, and proceeded to rock our socks with every drive that uses its SF-1200 firmware. The Corsair Force F100, like all drives of its ilk, relies on commodity NAND and the rock-solid SandForce SF-1200 controller, which eschews DRAM cache entirely in favor of not sucking. And though it doesn’t reach the unprecedented reads and writes offered by the OCZ Vertex 2 and its custom firmware, the Force F100 performs on par with the next best drives out there, which all happen to be SandForce-powered.

Continue reading this review after the jump.

avatar

Patriot Zephyr 128GB Review

The JMicron JM602 controller, paired with insufficient cache, hobbled the first generation of consumer SSDs—once the cache filled, write speeds slowed to a crawl. Random-write latencies could get as bad as a fifth of a second (compared to .1ms for most modern SSDs), pulling average sustained writes down as low as 20MB/s in some cases. Manufacturers responded by adding more cache or by building future generations of drives on different controllers, such as the Barefoot Indilinx part. Since then, JMicron has been pretty quiet, but now Patriot’s Zephyr line has arrived, powered by JMicron’s new JMF612 SATA controller. Is this new effort enough to the put JMicron into our good graces?

Continue reading this review after the jump.

avatar

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB Review

 

 

In June, we tested OCZ’s Vertex Limited Edition, one of two drives we had that used the SandForce SF-1200 controller. At the time, we wondered why OCZ would artificially limit supplies of an SSD with such great performance. And now we know: It was a trial run to help SandForce, a recent startup, gain capital to scale up production. It’s since done that, and in gratitude to OCZ has granted the company exclusive random-write-IOPS-boosting firmware for its Vertex 2 drives. The new firmware will be available to other SF-1200 drives (probably by the time this issue hits stands)—but as of press time, it’s an OCZ Vertex 2 exclusive deal. Ethics of “exclusive firmware” aside, is the Vertex 2 any better than its Limited Edition stable mate?

Continue reading this review on the next page.

avatar

A Sharper Image?

Ask the Doctor LogoI’ve been contemplating purchasing a 120Hz monitor for some time. After reading the May 2010 review of the Acer GD235HZ, this now looks like more of a possibility. I currently have a GeForce 275 GTX, and my understanding is that in order to take advantage of the 120Hz, I need to connect to the monitor with dual-link DVI. However, will this 120Hz monitor do for games what 120Hz has done for movies and TVs? Does it deliver that same crisp image that makes it feel like you are right there with the cast? Also, would a streaming service, such as Slingbox, have that same feeling if I’m steaming at HD speeds (2Mb/s+)?

—John Paul Scarpatti

Read the Doctor's advice for John after the jump.

avatar

Disappearing RAM

Ask the Doctor LogoI have two 1GB DIMMs of DDR/400 installed on an Intel D875PBZ mobo. The board has four slots, and I have the DIMMs arranged in dual-channel mode. I have double-checked it and I have one DIMM in channel A, slot 0 and one DIMM in channel B, slot 0. About once a week, every few restarts, the machine reboots with the error saying that the RAM amounts have changed. When I check, it shows each DIMM as 512MB instead of 1GB. On occasion, it will show the correct amount, but it will be in single-channel mode only! Keep in mind, I swapped in these 1GB DIMMs recently from a pair of 512MB DIMMs. I tried updating the BIOS but have had no success at all.

—Jeff Copeland

Read the Doctor's advice for Jeff after the jump.