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Corsair Neutron 240GB & Neutron GTX 240GB SSDs Review

AkG

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Joined
Oct 24, 2007
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5,283
Partial and Full Drive Performance

Partial and Full Drive Performance


While it is important to know how a drive will perform under optimal conditions, more realistic scenarios are just as important. Knowing if a solid state drive will behave differently when partially or even nearly full than when it is empty is very important information to know. To quickly and accurately show this crucial information we have first filled the drive to 50% capacity and re-tested using both synthetic and real world tests. After the completion of this we then re-test at 75% and 90% of full capacity.

Synthetic Test Results

For our synthetic testing we have opted for our standard PCMark 7 test.





Real World Results

For a real world application we have opted for our standard Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance test.





After a long string of excellent results, these partial and full drive test scores are disappointing. Simply put, both the synthetic and real world numbers take a nose dive when the drive has a lot of data on it. To be fair, this is very common with new controllers and unrefined firmware. A similar issue recently happened with OCZ’s Everest 2 controller and if the advancements that firmware team made are any indication, Link A will sort this issue out in short order. In the meantime the results are rather mediocre, but taken as a whole still does not change our overall opinion.
 

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,283
SATA 2 Performance

SATA 2 Performance


In a perfect world everyone investing in a new solid state drive would have access to a SATA 6GB/s controller which could pass on the TRIM command. In reality not everyone has this and for many the decision comes down either giving up TRIM – never a good idea with most controllers – and running it off a secondary controller; or taking a performance hit and running in SATA 2.0 mode.

These tests will consist of some of our real world and synthetic benchmarks run on our standard 1155 test-bed; but the drive will be attached to an SATA 2 port.

For synthetic we have opted for the newcomer to our charts: Anvil Storage Utilities Pro. For real world we have opted for our Adobe test. These two tests should give you a very good idea of the level of performance impact you can expect from running a modern SATA 6 drive in compatibility mode.





Unlike the partial and full drive performance results, the Neutron's SATA 3Gb/s numbers are very good. While the amount of performance loss really is no better – or worse – than the competition, the Neutron GTX drive really has performance to burn and even in SATA 3Gb/s mode it still offers more performance than most of the competition. The combination of Toggle Mode NAND and the Amber controller real is a potent fusion of technology and performance. By the same token the standard Neutron results are only decent and again the controller does show a strong preference for Toggle Mode NAND.
 

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,283
Conclusion

Conclusion


This review may primarily be looking at the new Neutron series from Corsair but it can also be considered a proving ground for Link A Media’s new LM87800 Amber controller. This is the first –yet certainly not last- time we have come across it and the capabilities and versatility it offers has certainly left an impression.

In this industry the young Turks seem to be the ones pushing the boundaries more than the established brands. Even OCZ’s Everest 2 controller builds upon a previous successful design and it can be held up as a perfect demonstration of the differences between evolutionary and revolutionary designs. This ‘inside the box’ thinking almost guarantees success, but it allows for very little true innovation in the industry.

Link A Media on the other hand needed to make its presence felt within the SSD market and they did just that. They had an almost blank slate to start with and nothing but their imagination and engineering constraints to limit the possibilities. When a new company pulls it off, they hit the reset button on what an enthusiast grade drive can be and can do. This is exactly what Link A Media may just have done with their Amber controller. They have come out of nowhere and have potentially changed the face of the industry overnight by teaming up with tier-1 partners like Corsair. The only potential sticking point is firmware and how fast they can improve it.


Neutron GTX 240GB


Before testing the Corsair Neutron GTX 240GB, we thought we knew what a powerful 240GB drive could accomplish, but we were wrong. Even though its firmware is a little rough around the edges, the combination of insanely fast 24nm Toggle Mode NAND with a truly next generation controller is a game changer.

Even though the GTX comes equipped with 8 instead of 16 NAND ICs, it didn’t exhibit any of the telltale performance drop-offs normally associated with similarly equipped SandForce-based drives. There’s genre-defining performance in nearly every benchmark despite its sub-$250 asking price despite a slight misstep when it drive actually has some data on it.

While the Neutron GTX offers up some jaw-dropping performance, what really impressed us the most is how forward thinking it is. Clausewitz, in his classic Principles of War, once said: “For great aims we must dare great things” and Corsair has indeed dared great things. Much like what OCZ did when they released the original Vertex SSD; Corsair has released a juggernaut against the unsuspecting competition. While others are still trying to rub some more life out of the SF2281 genie’s bottle, Corsair went out and found another bottle with a potentially bigger genie inside it. Hopefully this move will spur on other companies to look for additional controller options and expand their product ranges. At the end of the day this is the only way to keep the market from turning back into a sea of blandness it has become.

This level of innovation truly is a breath of fresh air and harkens us back to the original Vertex 1 days. It really has been long overdue, but someone has finally proven the SF2281 + Toggle Mode NAND combination to be inferior in nearly every way possible. That really is saying a lot as the Corsair GS –for example – is no slouch, but compared the Neutron GTX it is like comparing a BMW to a Bentley. One is good, but the other is great. Corsair’s expanded 5 year warranty is just icing on an already appealing cake.





Neutron 240GB


With the standard Neutron 240GB, Corsair has obviously taken a more conservative approach to their mainstream non-SF2281 offerings. This version does indeed use the great Amber controller which graces the GTX, but pairs it with lower priced Micron ONFI 2 NAND in an effort to keep costs down. This is a fairly safe combination, but in some ways we wish Corsair had taken a page from OCZ and released this drive first, waited a while and then released the Neutron GTX. By simultaneously releasing both models, Corsair has stolen much of this drive’s thunder.

The Neutron 240GB is actually a great drive with tons of potential as firmware matures but it does suffer from “middle brother syndrome”. For a bit less you can purchase the Corsair Force GS and get a great value drive with mature firmware. On the other hand, for about $30 more we have the barn-burning Neutron GTX. This is certainly a potent 3 drive line-up, but it is not exactly a great situation for the Neutron to be in from a performance or value perspective. In addition, the inevitable questions surrounding future firmware developments aren’t offset by spectacular out-of-box benchmark numbers as with the Neutron GTX 240GB.

This model has good performance, but is not tangibly better than what comparably priced SF2281 based drives have to offer. By the same token, the Neutron 240GB is still a very good drive with an excellent warranty and is sure to interest consumers who – no matter how good the NAND- are not interested in purchasing a cookie cutter SandForce-based product.


 
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