I’m debating switching to water-cooling. I was initially worried about maintenance or the unit leaking, but those issues seem to be a thing of the past. What happens, however, if the fan stops working on the radiator? Is the fan difficult to replace? Would you have to replace the entire unit? Anytime I see reviews or ads, they never specify whether the fan is replaceable or permanently attached to the radiator unit.
It’s no secret that Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 480 cards are the hottest piece of technology people want to gawk at right now. Hell, we were barely able to obtain one of these coveted babies for our feature on Fermi this month.
So we were pretty impressed to crack open Maingear’s new Shift system and find three GTX 480 boards running in tri-SLI. That the company could rate such bounty is testament to its street cred among power users.
The Shift isn’t just about the Fermi cards, though. Maingear also managed to get that other big star of the PC world in for the ride: Intel’s Core i7-980X, which, with help from the Acetek water cooler, Maingear pushes from the stock 3.33GHz to 4.2GHz.
With all the fancy new controllers out there—the SandForces, Toshibas, Da Vincis, and what have you—we were a little concerned that vendors would forget the little controller that made it all possible: the Indilinx Barefoot controller. Yep, the one that powers our current Best of the Best Patriot Torqx, as well as every other top-performing SSD of the past year. In this land of the new, can Corsair’s Nova V128, which sports the classic Barefoot controller, still push bits with the best of ‘em?
Yep. Though the SandForce-based drives in the roundup push the best sustained write speeds yet, the Nova V128’s Indilinx controller with 64MB of cache still sustains the fastest reads of the drives in this roundup, averaging 210MB/s on our test bed (the Torqx’ read speeds are slightly higher). And the V128’s average writes of 163MB/s are right up there with the 128GB Torqx.
OCZ clearly hopes the perceived rarity of its Limited Edition Vertex drive will increase desire for the product. A limited run of 5,000 is one way to do that. But if you’ve got a drive with performance this good, wouldn’t you want everyone to buy one?
Like the OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise, the OCZ Vertex Limited Edition is a 100GB drive built on the SandForce SF-1500 controller. It’s the same architecture as OCZ’s cancelled Vertex 2 Pro, and when the 5,000 Limited Edition drives run out, there will doubtless be a successor waiting.
The SSD market is a meritocracy. Controller companies live and die on the strength of their products. Who had heard of Barefoot before its Indilinx controller pushed SSD speeds to new heights? SandForce is another promising young company whose controllers have started appearing in drives, including this month’s OCZ Vertex LE and the OWC Mercury Extreme Enterprise.
OWC markets mainly to Mac users, but don’t hold that against its SSD. It’s a modern, SandForce SF-1500-powered drive that supports TRIM. And given that OS X doesn’t support TRIM, well, we don’t even think that platform deserves performance this good.
We’re not mad. We’re just disappointed. When Plextor announced in February that it, too, was entering the SSD market, we were cautiously optimistic. After all, more competition is always a good thing, and Plextor wouldn’t put out a subpar product just to try to capitalize on a trend—would it?
The Plextor PX-128M1S is the first drive we’ve tested that is built on the Marvell 88SS8014-BHP2 “Da Vinci” controller—and if its performance is indicative of the platform as a whole, we hope it’s the last.
Western Digital has finally dipped its toe into the SSD pond, a move we’ve been expecting since last year’s acquisition of SiliconSystems. The first consumer SSD to be born of this acquisition is the SiliconEdge Blue. Can one of the biggest names in mechanical hard drives compete in the solid state world?
Western Digital seems to be banking on two things with the SiliconEdge Blue: first, that seeing Western Digital’s name on an SSD will draw consumers, and second, that the strength of its custom firmware and rigorous performance testing will enable it to compete with drives running the high-performing SandForce and Barefoot Indilinx controllers. WD won’t say whose controller the SiliconEdge Blue uses, but it’s not developed in-house and it isn’t SandForce or Barefoot.