SATA III SSD Round-Up: OCZ, Corsair, Patriot, Crucial

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We’ve opened our last few SSD round-ups with comments regarding the break-neck pace at which the solid state storage market has advanced these last few years. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the SSD market continues to show no signs of slowing down. New drives are being introduced constantly and along with updated interfaces, drivers and firmware, manufacturers continue to push the envelope.

Consider this; Solid State Drives have gone from essentially non-existent on the desktop to the preferred storage medium of enthusiasts in less than three years. And they’ve offered significant performance improvements along the way. Many would even argue (myself included) that upgrading your boot volume from a standard hard drive to an SSD will have the most significant impact on day to day computing, provided the rest of the system is up to snuff, of course.

With all of the new products to hit the market recently, we thought it was a good time to pull together a varied sampling of cutting edge SATA III solid state drives to see how they stack up. We’ve got six drives on tap for this piece, two apiece from OCZ and Corsair, one from Patriot and another from Crucial. Their main features and rated specifications are outlined in the table below, but we’ll follow up with more details and a full performance profile on the pages ahead...


Over 1TB of cutting-edge Solid State Storage -- that'll work.

SATA III SSD-Round Up - OCZ, Corsair, Patriot, Crucial
Specifications & Features
Total
Capacity
Drive
Controller
SATA
Interface
Max.
Read
Max.
Write
Max. 4K
IOPS
TRIM
Support
Warranty
Crucial M4 256GB Marvell 88SS9174 SATA III 415MB/s 260MB/s 50K Yes 3-Years
OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB SandForce
SF-2281
SATA III 550MB/s 520MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
OCZ Agility 3 240GB SandForce
SF-2281
SATA III 525MB/s 500MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Corsair Force GT 120GB SandForce
SF-2281
SATA III 555MB/s 515MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Corsair Force Series 3 120GB SandForce
SF-2281
SATA III 550MB/s 510MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Patriot Wildfire 120GB SandForce
SF-2281
SATA III 550MB/s 520MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years

As you can see, five of the six drives we’ll be featuring in this article are based on the same SandForce SF-2281 controller, but that doesn’t mean they’ll perform identically. The drives have different capacities and different flash memory configurations which will impact performance in some workloads.

We should mention that we've already covered the underlying technology at the heart of both controller types used in these drives in previous articles. If you'd like a more technical deeper-dive into the SandForce SF-2000 familiy of controllers, we'd recommended perusing this article from back in February and the Marvell controller used in the M4 was covered in this piece detailing Micron's C300.


From Left To Right: Corsair Force GT, Corsair Force 3 Series, OCZ Agility 3, Patriot Wildfire, OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS, and Crucial M4

What all of these drives have in common are their 2.5” form factors, which is the de facto standard for desktop and notebook SSDs, and their SATA III interfaces. They also have similar 3-year warranties. These drives, however, for the most part at least, offer different performance as our testing will show. So, picking the right drive for your next build may be more difficult than you think. Take a look—OCZ’s up first.

Article Index:

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"Nice round up, good to see Corsair coming out on top, their product investment and development is paying off, RAM, Cases, Power supplies, Coolers now very positive SSD's reviews, how long until they start going in the Motherboard business, maybe partner up with Nvidia and AMD for GPUs?"

-Optimus

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I'm always impressed by the numbers put up by SSD's. That increase in speed can really save time over the long run as well as increase productivity. Thanks for the comparisons Marco :)

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Thanks for the great review :) The OCZ vertex drives have seemed to come out on top in most reviews of course they are also the most expensive drives in this review. It is pretty impressive how close in performance all these drives were.

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Great review, it's nice to see all of these SSD's even though they perform similarly to every other and OCZ really comes out on top...

Still, it's nice you took the time to do this.

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Thanks for the look at SSD's again. You guys make it easy for us to keep up with the newest innovations with these timely reviews. (you should send them to us for field testing though)

OCZ seems to be the most affordable when I go to Newegg and shop around there. I just bought a 60GB OCZ Solid III drive that is supposed to do 500 read and 450 write. Plenty fast enough for the i7-2500K Z68 system that it's going into. I should get it on Thursday or Friday and that means that I get to build two systems this weekend,......(dig-it!) One of them is an AMD F1 socket, A8-3850 system.

At $114.00 ($94.99 after the rebate) and free shipping, I had to jump on the deal for that SSD.

While some of these drives put forth better performance numbers than the others, all of them are smokin' fast in my book.


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I have been saying since the first review on that OCZ 3 drive came out I will be looking for new drives come Black Friday. I am glad to see so many performing at around the same area with 4/5 being roughly the same, and 1 the crucial not near those number for read or write, but still close enough to see it as a performance part the companies have two options. The first is to lower price, and the second is to make faster ones quickly. In the end we the consumer's win all the way around.

Yes; I have an SSD, but it is only big enough to run as an OS drive. I would love to have games etc on an SSD as well. I do have two SATA 3.0 6MBS plug ins on my board, and 4 SATA 2 ones which my big mechanical drives run on 2 of. I would love to have both an OS, and a Game drive added to those two 750Gb data drives, so I am hoping we see a OCZ Solid 4 or it's like from one if not all of them by November, which would of course tank the prices on these series 3 drives. Then I could grab either a couple 120Gb ones or a 60 Gb OS drive (with performance numbers like these) and either another one or a 120Gb one for games as well as other software which would make good use of a performance drive.

Of course I still remember when I got my 80Gb WD screamer (or what was one back then at it's lofty 7200 rpm data speed's), and at that time thought it was one of the most awesome things period along with my PII 400, and ATI all in wonder pro!

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Great review here. I've been contemplating going with a SSD but am concerned about the catastrophic failure rate (supposedly on par with 1-2TB HDD) and more so seen with the SandForce controllers vs. an Intel solution. Is it true that there seems to be a tradeoff between very high speeds and reliability?

As a side note and for those of you interested in ridiculous transfer rates, I needed a quick solution for my 5400rpm that I was trying to do uncompressed video capture with.  Since it was too slow & stuttering, I used the free RAMdisk solution from Dataram to assign a drive letter to a portion of my RAM.  Below are the results including data transfer rates of 2433 MB/s read & 4132 MB/s write!  Of course, it is volatile storage but from a transfer speed perspective and a quantifiable comparison, the numbers are pretty cool.  The numbers compare the RAMdisk solution with my WD VelociRaptor.

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I wouldn't say there's a tradeoff between the higher performance drives and reliability. I would say, however, that drives from companies with more resources for qualification and testing (i.e. Intel) do seem to be more reliable according to some reports.

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In the news:

Intel Bug Causes Failed SSDs Turn 600GB to 8MB

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-bug-ssd-320-series,13076.html#xtor=RSS-181

I guess it goes back to backup, backup, backup but that downtime w/o the SSD would really stink.

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mados123:
I guess it goes back to backup, backup, backup

It always WAS,................and it always will be too.

A failure can occur anywhere with any hardware. I suffered a lightening strike that  knocked out one of my three desktops and didn't phase the other two at all. The one that was hit was utterly destroyed with nothing salvageable in the entire system. It was the brand new wazoo one that I had just built a month before. Insurance paid for the parts and I ended up with better hardware when all was said and done,.....but I lost very little data because of my backup drives.

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