We were always big fans of OCZ’s Barefoot 2–powered Vertex 4 SSDs. Heck, we even ran two of them in the almighty Dream Machine 2012. If that’s not a stamp of approval, we don’t know what is. But the SSD game moves quickly, and you have to keep up or you get left behind, so this month OCZ has put the Vertex 4 out to pasture and ushered in a new drive bearing the moniker Vertex 450. Unlike the Vertex 4, which ran a Marvell-based controller with custom OCZ firmware, this bad boy is juicing via OCZ’s very own Barefoot 3 controller, which we first examined in the Kick Ass–caliber Vector SSD. The Vector is so fast that it currently sits atop the leaderboard of our SSD benchmarks, right next to the equally Kick Ass Samsung 840 Pro, and both drives are as good as it gets in the SSD world. But like Samsung, OCZ needs a drive to appeal to the common folk with a bit less cash in their PayPal accounts, so it’s done what Samsung has done with its vanilla 840 drives and released this midrange SSD with a 3-year warranty to compete at a lower price point than the Vector. These are hotly contested waters, though, so the Vertex 450 has its work cut out for it.
Note: This review was originally featured in the August 2013 issue of the magazine.
Samsung is kind of a big deal. In addition to manufacturing everything from tablets to televisions to turbines, the Korean giant is one of the world’s largest producers of DRAM and NAND flash memory, and it has long provided SSDs to OEMs and systems integrators. Samsung entered the retail SSD market in late 2010, with its 470 Series SSD delivering performance on par with the first-gen SandForce drives that owned the top end of the market. It’s now late 2011, and the goalposts have shifted. Samsung’s Series 830 drive boasts a slimmer look, a refreshed controller, and a 6Gb/s SATA interface. Can the new part compete with today’s top SSDs?
It’s about damn time. 6Gb/s SATA is old news now. It’s been half a year since we saw the first 6Gb/s SATA–enabled hard drive, and it was a frickin’ mechanical drive. Talk about unnecessary. Solid state drives, on the other hand, have been bumping at the ceiling of 3Gb/s SATA’s available bandwidth for a while now. So why not slap a 6Gb/s SATA controller on a solid state drive? Duh. Crucial, apparently alone among flash memory vendors, heard the call. Thus, the Crucial C300, a 6Gb/s SATA–enabled SSD that comes in 128GB and 256GB flavors.
But does the C300 actually benefit from a 6Gb/s SATA connection? Yes and no. In sequential read tests, it blows every other drive out of the water, with a maximum sequential read speed of 317MB/s and an average read of over 300MB/s! That’s more than 50 percent faster than the SandForce-based drives, like OCZ’s Vertex 2, that comprise our favorite SSDs and typically top out at around 200MB/s read speeds. On a standard 3Gb/s connection, the C300’s read speeds were a still-impressive 222MB/s—about the same as a Barefoot Indilinx-based drive, like the Patriot Torqx or Corsair Nova.
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.
Covering both ends of the solid state drive (SSD) spectrum, Corsair today announced the addition of two new drives to its Nova Series SSDs in 32GB and 256GB form.
The 32GB model is now the lowest capacity Nova drive Corsair carries. Read and write speeds check in at 195MB/s and 75MB/s, respectively, and like the other Nova drives, the 32GB model supports the TRIM command used by Windows 7.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the 256GB model is Corsair's largest Nova SSD to date, but it's not just about capacity. The largest drive ups the performance ante with 250MB/s read and 195MB/s write speeds. Both drives sport the popular Indilinx Barefoot controller, 64MB of cache, and a SATA II interface.
Corsair didn't announce a price for either drive, but give the street prices of the 64GB and 128GB models, we expect the 32GB to check in at around $100 and the 256GB somewhere in the vicinity of $700.
We've seen a plethora of new SSDs come to market this past year, some of which have been geared towards upping the performance ante while others have attempted to make the price-per-GB ratio a bit more appealing. Corsair's new Extreme Series X256 focuses solely on the former and turns a blind eye towards the latter.
"The new 256GB Extreme Series X256 is a response to the growing popularity of high-capacity SSDs, and it joins our Performance Series P256 at the top of its range, for enthusiasts who want the fastest speeds and plenty of space available for their pictures, music, and videos."
The new drive combines the Indilinx Barefoot controller with Samsung MLC NAND flash memory and is aimed at "enthusiasts who don't want to compromise on speed or capacity." To that end, the 256GB drive boasts read speeds of up to 240MB/s and write speeds of up to 170MBs, 64MB of cache to help prevent stuttering, and user-upgradeable firmware.
One of the biggest hurdles preventing solid state drives from bursting into the mainstream continues to be the relatively high price points compared to traditional hard drives. Recent strides have started to reverse this trend, with OCZ pushing its lower cost Core series and Super Talent slashing the price tag on its MasterDrive MX line, but SSDs still have a ways to go if they're to challenge HDDs for the bang-for-buck crown.
Stepping to the plate is Micron, who today announced it will ship a series of speedy SSDs up to 256GB in capacity as part of its next-generation RealSSD line. But the real story here is that Micron's new line will check in at one third the price per gigabyte of existing drives.
Hit the jump to see what Micron has to say about the RealSSD's pricing strategy after the jump.