The SanDisk Extreme 240GB utilizes a LSI SandForce SF-2281 controller alongside Toggle NAND to achieve some fairly impressive performance. Inside the SanDisk Extreme is NAND from the Toshiba and SanDisk joint venture which puts SanDisk at a bit of an advantage since they have a secured supply of NAND which all vendors do not enjoy. SanDisk also enjoys a very well known brand name and extensive channel operations. go to an online or retail shop and SanDisk products will be featured, even at large retailers such as Costco, WalMart and Target where companies like OCZ will have little chance of penetrating. With prices falling dramatically in recent months, I did want to take a look at a newer generation LSI SandForce drive with 24nm Toggle NAND at the 240GB capacity as I have recently reviewed the Samsung 830 256GB, OCZ Vertex 4 256GB and Crucial M4 256GB drives and LSI SandForce based solid state drives have been absent. Let’s take a look at SanDisk’s mainstream SSD entry.
I am using a Sandy Bridge test bed here as the Cougar Point SATA 6.0gbps controller is perhaps the best 6.0gbps SATA controller on the market at the moment.
- CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K
- Motherboard: ASUS P8H67-M EVO
- Memory: 8GB 1600MHz CL9 DDR3 (4x2GB)
- OS Drive: OCZ Agility 2 120GB
- Additional Drives: SanDisk Extreme 240GB
- Additional NICs: Intel Gigabit CT PCIe x1 network adapter
- Enclosure: Supermicro SC731i-300B
- Power Supply: Supermicro 300w (included in the SC731i-300B)
As with any modern SSD, set the controller to AHCI mode or RAID mode for best performance. Also, installing the Intel RST 10.xx series drivers over the default Windows 7 drivers showed a nice performance gain.
I do think that I will begin using the Intel Z77 chipset in the near future but wanted to provide a baseline using the H67 for the solid state drive reviews.
It is important, especially with SSDs not to take a single test result at face value. One should look at a few different tests to get an idea of how the drives perform in different scenarios. To this end, AS SSD benchmark, CrystalDiskMark, ATTO, HD Tune Pro and Anvil’s Storage Utilities all show different facets of performance.
AS SSD Benchmark
AS SSD is a solid benchmark that does not write compressible data to drives. The result is perhaps one of the best workstation SSD benchmarks available today.
Here performance is in-line with the Crucial M4 256GB drive and the Samsung 830 256GB. What is a bit eye-popping is the difference between the drive and the OCZ Vertex 4 256GB with v1.5 firmware. I did want to call out that compared to the Corsair Force 3 120GB, we can really see the benefit of the larger drive and SanDisk’s Toggle NAND versus the Corsair unit’s asynchronous NAND. For those that do not want to look at the previous Corsair Force 3 benchmarks, the SanDisk unit just about doubles the Corsair unit’s overall score. Bottom line, if you are buying a SSD today, get synchronous ONFi or Toggle NAND and this is a clear indication regarding why.
CrystalDiskMark is another benchmark which gives non-compressible read/write numbers. This is in contrast to the ATTO Benchmark used by LSI/ Sandforce and its partners when they market a given solid state drive.
For non-compressible data, the SandForce based SanDisk Extreme 240 shows a bit of a mixed bag in terms of performance. Probably the most similar profile I have seen from a similarly sized non-SandForce drive is the Crucial M4 256GB.
The ATTO Benchmark shows some fairly strong performance, I will note that the value of the ATTO benchmark is really to show the best-case scenario. ATTO is known to write highly compressible data to drives, which inflates speeds of controllers that compress data like LSI/ SandForce does prior to writing on a given solid state drive.
ATTO is known to be very friendly towards the LSI SandForce architecture because the data written can be compressed. Huge numbers here which are to be expected in the benchmark performance, however, real world performance ATTO is less relevant at this point.
HD Tune Pro
HD Tune and its Pro version have been longstanding disk drive benchmarks. I started including the basic benchmark in reviews since I do test a mix of hard drives and solid state drives.
Overall this is a fairly decent read graph. One very interesting data point (for me at least) is that the access times do show a decent amount of variability.
Anvil’s Storage Utilities
Anvil is quickly becoming one of the new de-facto benchmarks for hard drives and solid state drives as it allows a lot of customization. This benchmark has been added to the ServeTheHome test suite due to user demand.
The SanDisk Extreme 240GB does very well here. From a total score perspective, the LSI SandForce SF-2281 with Toggle NAND ended up beating the Samsung 830 in every test except the sequential write tests.
I think the SanDisk Extreme is an excellent drive. I am currently recommending that users purchase drives in the 240-256GB or larger range because prices have really fallen recently. The SanDisk Extreme 240GB does not wow in terms of aesthetics, it provides very good LSI SandForce SF-2281 performance but some drives are emerging as being faster and price wise SanDisk is stuck fighting with other LSI SandForce licensees. I came away with this basic thought, the SanDisk Extreme is certainly something that I would be comfortable to have in my own workstation and I would be perfectly happy with the performance. Realistically, only in some benchmarking scenarios will a user see a marked difference between the SanDisk Extreme 240GB and other competing drives. Recently there have been some great deals on the SanDisk Extreme so it is certainly a good drive to look out for. One also needs to take into account that the SF-2281 is a very mature controller at this point with a long list of design wins and a product LSI put there name behind making it a good fit for SanDisk the issue of TRIM being missing from the original shipping firmware should be fixed very soon (I haven’t started doing long term tests on these drives yet to show the issue.) If you are in the market for a reasonably priced but high performing solid state drive to replace a hard drive or older generation solid state drives, the SanDisk Extreme 240GB is worth a strong look.