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

Introduction and Specifications

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
Max. 4K
Crucial M4 256GB Marvell 88SS9174 SATA III 415MB/s 260MB/s 50K Yes 3-Years
OCZ Vertex 3 Max IOPS 240GB SandForce
SATA III 550MB/s 520MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
OCZ Agility 3 240GB SandForce
SATA III 525MB/s 500MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Corsair Force GT 120GB SandForce
SATA III 555MB/s 515MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Corsair Force Series 3 120GB SandForce
SATA III 550MB/s 510MB/s 85K Yes 3-Years
Patriot Wildfire 120GB SandForce
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.

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