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Maximum PC Staff Apr 15, 2009

CSX 128GB SSD

At A Glance

Fear

Takes second place in read performance. Decent price/capacity ratio.

Loathing

Unacceptable latency cripples write performance.

As the price of NAND flash memory drops to record lows, more and more hardware vendors are getting into the solid state drive business—and why wouldn’t they? A standard hard drive has lots of moving parts, but a solid state drive is nothing more than a few NAND flash modules, a controller chip, some PCB, and an enclosure. CSX is well known in Europe as a producer of aftermarket RAM for Apple products, and its Diablo gaming RAM has started making waves in the United States. But this 128GB multilevel cell (MLC) SSD marks the company’s first foray into the solid state market.

Single-level cell (SLC) SSDs typically have better write speeds than multilevel cell drives, but MLCs are more common because they’re much cheaper. We’ve tested a few standout MLCs, including Intel’s X-25M, but most of the multilevel cell drives we’ve benchmarked have suffered from poor write speeds.

The CSX SSD’s read performance of 114MB/s is second only to that of Intel’s X25-M, which clocked in at 206.6MB/s. However, write performance, at 25.58MB/s, is only slightly better than that of bottom-of-the-barrel drives from RiData and Super Talent (reviewed as part of our SSD roundup, http://tinyurl.com/9qvwyd ). It’s no match for SLC drives like Memoright’s MR25.2-032/64S ( http://tinyurl.com/9jnjqg ), but, more importantly, it doesn’t come close to reaching the 100MB/s write time the company’s literature claims the drive can achieve.

The CSX garnered the worst Premiere Pro score of any SSD we’ve tested and a PCMark Vantage score that puts it firmly in the middle of the pack—it’s better than RiData’s Ultra-S Plus and Super Talent’s MasterDrive DX, worse than the other drives in our roundup, but not even close to our reigning champion: the Intel X-25. Large-file (greater than 504MB) random-access write times were similarly poor at 107.7ms, with max latency at nearly a full second and average large-file latency hitting 218.8ms. The Intel X25-M, by contrast, has an average random-access write speed of just .09ms.

A peek under the hood of this drive revealed the same JMicron JMF602 controller that’s used in other write-crippled drives, such as Super Talent’s MasterDrive DX and OCZ’s Core. Most SSD manufacturers have stopped using this controller; we hope CSX will do the same in future iterations of the drive.

Benchmarks

CSX 128GB SSD
Intel X25-M
Western Digital Velociraptor
Capacity 128GB
80GB
300GB
Average Sustained Transfer Rate Read (MB/s)
114.56
206.65
98.31
Average Sustained Transfer Rate Write (MB/s)
25.58
64.30 98.22
Random Access Read (ms)
0.18
0.12
7.24
Random Access Write (ms)
107.7 0.09
3.42
Premiere Pro (sec)
708
621 383

Best scores are bolded. All drives were tested on the same machine; a stock-clocked Intel Q6700 on an EVGA 680i SLI board with SATA II connections, using h2benchw, HD Tach Raw 3.0.1.0, Premiere Pro CS3, and PCMark Vantage 2005.

THE VERDICT

CSX 128GB SSD

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