What's new
  • Please do not post any links until you have 3 posts as they will automatically be rejected to prevent SPAM. Many words are also blocked due to being used in SPAM Messages. Thanks!

SanDisk Extreme 240GB SSD Review

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
SanDisk may not be a household name within the SSD market but as one of the primary flash memory suppliers, their products have been used in countless storage products throughout the years. While people typically associate the SanDisk name with SD cards or flash drives, their manufacturing lines are now being leveraged to supply advanced 24nm toggle mode NAND for a new lineup of SSDs. Dubbed the Extreme SSD series, these new drives have capacities up to 480GB and are focused upon delivering high performance while maintaining class leading price points. In this review we will be taking a look at the 240GB version.

Ironically, the first time we saw SanDisk's new 24nm ICs being used, they were within a Corsair Force GS 240GB and paired up with an LSI / SandForce SF2281 controller. The result was quite impressive as the GS remained near the top of our charts and offered a surprising amount of value considering its $210 price tag. SanDisk meanwhile has taken very much the same route as Corsair (minus a few small changes of course) by using the 24nm + SF2281 route but where does that leave it from a value standpoint? Well, that Force GS still hovers around $210 before rebates but the Extreme SSD 240GB can be found for about $185. This actually makes for an interesting situation since SanDisk is able to outprice one of their own customers by virtue of cutting out the middle man and selling directly to retailers.


SanDisk obviously manufactures the NAND housed inside their Extreme series, so this should provide the Extreme 240GB with an advantage over most of the competition who have to rely upon third party manufactures for their NAND supply. Much like every other manufacturer of cutting edge NAND, SanDisk branded devices receive only the best of any batch via increased screening practices. If experience with Intel and Micron/Crucial are any indication this should translate to improved long term durability and a noticeable performance improvement.

This situation provides the perfect opportunity to see exactly how good 24nm SanDisk Toggle Mode NAND can really be. Both the Corsair Force GS 240GB and SanDisk Extreme use the same controller and use the same 24nm Toggle Mode ICs. Both also use standard SF2281 firmware and we have ensured each is using a very similar firmware revision for the subsequent pages' tests. So on the surface of things the screening of the NAND itself should play a pivotal role.


From the outside, the Extreme’s all black aesthetics does not appear to have anything in common with the bold red clad Corsair GS. In fact, the Extreme with its conservative appearance looks much like any typical 2.5” form factor solid state drive.


Opening up the Extreme drive we can see that there appears to be another major difference –besides screening - between the Corsair and SanDisk products: number of NAND ICs used. Unlike the Corsair GS which uses 16 modules, SanDisk has opted for only 8 ICs. This does help explain the lower than usually power rating of the drive (it is rated at just 0.6W) but it may result in slightly lower performance in some scenarios due to interleaving and controller load balancing.


The minor changes that differentiate this drive from the Corsair branded solution do go a long way towards explaining how SanDisk is able to offer the Extreme 240GB model for a mere $175 or 77 cents per GB. With such a low asking price, if the Extreme's performance is even remotely close to that of Corsair's GS 240GB we may be looking at the best bang for your buck SSD on the market today.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing a drive is not as simple as putting together a bunch of files, dragging them onto folder on the drive in Windows and using a stopwatch to time how long the transfer takes. Rather, there are factors such as read / write speed and data burst speed to take into account. There is also the SATA controller on your motherboard and how well it works with SSDs & HDDs to think about as well. For best results you really need a dedicated hardware RAID controller w/ dedicated RAM for drives to shine. Unfortunately, most people do not have the time, inclination or monetary funds to do this. For this reason our test-bed will be a more standard motherboard with no mods or high end gear added to it. This is to help replicate what you the end user’s experience will be like.

Even when the hardware issues are taken care of the software itself will have a negative or positive impact on the results. As with the hardware end of things, to obtain the absolute best results you do need to tweak your OS setup; however, just like with the hardware solution most people are not going to do this. For this reason our standard OS setup is used. However, except for the Windows 7 load test times we have done our best to eliminate this issue by having the drive tested as a secondary drive. With the main drive being a Kingston HyperX 240GB Solid State Drive.

For synthetic tests we used a combination of the ATTO Disk Benchmark, HDTach, HD Tune, Crystal Disk Benchmark, IOMeter, AS-SSD, Anvil Storage Utilities and PCMark 7.

For real world benchmarks we timed how long a single 10GB rar file took to copy to and then from the devices. We also used 10gb of small files (from 100kb to 200MB) with a total 12,000 files in 400 subfolders.

For all testing a Asus P8P67 Deluxe motherboard was used, running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate edition. All drives were tested using AHCI mode using Intel RST 10 drivers.

All tests were run 4 times and average results are represented.

In between each test suite runs (with the exception being IOMeter which was done after every run) the drives are cleaned with either HDDerase, SaniErase or OCZ SSDToolbox and then quick formatted to make sure that they were in optimum condition for the next test suite.

Please note:
Due to the unique nature of the hybrid setup certain tests results have been omitted as they require an unformatted drive to test or gave erroneous results.

Processor: Core i5 2500
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 Deluxe
Memory: 8GB Corsair Vengeance LP “blue”
Graphics card: Asus 5550 passive
Hard Drive: Kingston HyperX 240GB, OCZ 480GB RevoDrive3 x2
Power Supply: XFX 850

SSD FIRMWARE (unless otherwise noted):

OCZ Vertex 2 100GB
: 1.33
OCZ Vertex 3 240GB: 2.2
OCZ Vertex 3 MI 240GB: 2.2
Patriot Pyro SE 240GB: 3.3.2
Crucial M4 256GB: 000F
Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB: 5.0.2
Intel 520: 400i
OCZ Vertex 4 512GB: 1.5
Corsair Force GS 240GB: 5.0.2
SanDisk Extrene 240GB: R201
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Read Bandwidth / Write Performance

Read Bandwidth


For this benchmark, HDTach was used. It shows the potential read speed which you are likely to experience with these hard drives. The long test was run to give a slightly more accurate picture. We don’t put much stock in Burst speed readings and thus we no longer included it. The most important number is the Average Speed number. This number will tell you what to expect from a given drive in normal, day to day operations. The higher the average the faster your entire system will seem.



Write Performance


For this benchmark HD Tune Pro was used. To run the write benchmark on a drive, you must first remove all partitions from that drive and then and only then will it allow you to run this test. Unlike some other benchmarking utilities the HD Tune Pro writes across the full area of the drive, thus it easily shows any weakness a drive may have.



The SanDisk Extreme 240GB may be slightly slower than a Corsair GS 240GB in sequential read and write scenarios but that is not the same as saying it is a slow drive. Simply put, the reduction in number of NAND ICs does not appear to noticeably impact sequential performance.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
ATTO Disk Benchmark

ATTO Disk Benchmark


The ATTO disk benchmark tests the drives read and write speeds using gradually larger size files. For these tests, the ATTO program was set to run from its smallest to largest value (.5KB to 8192KB) and the total length was set to 256MB. The test program then spits out an extrapolated performance figure in megabytes per second.







As with the sequential file performance, the power curves of the SanDisk Extreme are very good. They are not as good as a Corsair GS 240GB but for a drive with only half its slots filled with NAND it is surprisingly peppy. We doubt many consumers – besides benchmark junkies – would notice the difference as it does post some very good numbers.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Crystal DiskMark / PCMark 7

Crystal DiskMark


Crystal DiskMark is designed to quickly test the performance of your hard drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and random read/write speeds; and allows you to set the number of tests iterations to run. We left the number of tests at 5 and size at 100MB.







While the 4K test results are lower than we had hoped for they are still very reasonable.


PCMark 7


While there are numerous suites of tests that make up PCMark 7, only one is pertinent: the HDD Suite. The HDD Suite consists of numerous tests that try and replicate real world drive usage. Everything from how long a simulated virus scan takes to complete, to MS Vista start up time to game load time is tested in these core tests; however we do not consider this anything other than just another suite of synthetic tests. For this reason, while each test is scored individually we have opted to include only the overall score.





A score of over 5.5K in PCMark 7 really does underscore how peppy this drive really is. We are truly amazed that any SF2281 controller based SSD with so few NAND IC’s is able to post a score this good. Though we do wish SanDisk had fully populated the PCB as we have a sneaking suspicion it would have easily bested the Corsair GS 240GB and may have boosted performance enough to take on the 512GB Vertex 4.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
AS-SSD / Anvil Storage Utilities Pro

AS-SSD


AS-SSD is designed to quickly test the performance of your drives. Currently, the program allows to measure sequential and small 4K read/write speeds as well as 4K file speed at a queue depth of 6. While its primary goal is to accurately test Solid State Drives, it does equally well on all storage mediums it just takes longer to run each test as each test reads or writes 1GB of data.





Much like the Crystal DiskMark results, the numbers SanDisk's Extreme posts are indeed lower than we would have liked to see, but they are still very reasonable. In many ways this half populated drive strongly reminds us of the OCZ Vertex 3 MaxIOPS.


Anvil Storage Utilities Pro


Much like AS-SSD, Anvil Pro was created to quickly and easily – yet accurately – test your drives. While it is still in the Beta stages it is a versatile and powerful little program. Currently it can test numerous read / write scenarios but two in particular stand out for us: 4K queue depth of 4 and 4K queue depth of 16. A queue depth of four along with 4K sectors can be equated to what most users will experience in an OS scenario while 16 depth will be encountered only by power users and the like. We have also included the 4k queue depth 1 results to help put these two other numbers in their proper perspective. All settings were left in their default states and the test size was set to 1GB.





There obviously is a performance impact from SanDisk opting for fewer NAND ICs, but SanDisk has been able to limit the impact of this decision quite nicely.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
IOMETER

IOMETER


IOMeter is heavily weighted towards the server end of things, and since we here at HWC are more End User centric we will be setting and judging the results of IOMeter a little bit differently than most. To test each drive we ran 5 test runs per HDD (1,4,16,64,128 queue depth) each test having 8 parts, each part lasting 10 min w/ an additional 20 second ramp up. The 8 subparts were set to run 100% random, 80% read 20% write; testing 512b, 1k, 2k,4k,8k,16k,3xk,64k size chunks of data. When each test is finished IOMeter spits out a report, in that reports each of the 8 subtests are given a score in I/Os per second. We then take these 8 numbers add them together and divide by 8. This gives us an average score for that particular queue depth that is heavily weighted for single user environments.





As with all the other synthetic test results, IOmeter does show that any advantage the increased screening SanDisk does is obviously lost to the fact that there is only eight NAND ICs. When the controller is really stressed this lack of interleaving noticeably impacts overall performance. The end result is while the SanDisk Extreme still posts some downright great numbers it is not the fastest LSI SandForce SF2281 controller based drive we have seen.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Windows 7 Startup / Adobe CS5 Load Time

Windows 7 Start Up with Boot Time A/V Scan Performance


When it comes to hard drive performance there is one area that even the most oblivious user notices: how long it takes to load the Operating System. Where Windows 7 has become nearly ubiquitous for solid state drive enthusiasts we have chosen Windows 7 64bit Ultimate as our Operating System. In previous load time tests we would use the Anti-Virus splash screen as our finish line; this however is no longer the case. We have not only added in a secondary Anti-Virus to load on startup, but also an anti-malware program. We have set Super Anti-Spyware to initiate a quick scan on Windows start-up and the completion of the quick scan will be our new finish line.




It seams that most of the performance loss we saw in the synthetic results doesn’t amount to much in the real world. Simply put this is a fast drive and SanDisk really have been able to minimize the performance impact from using fewer NAND ICs.


ADOBE CS5 LOAD TIME


Photoshop is a notoriously slow loading program under the best of circumstances, and while the latest version is actually pretty decent, when you add in a bunch of extra brushes and the such you get a really great torture test which can bring even the best of the best to their knees. Let’s see how our review unit faired in the Adobe crucible!




Once again the reduction in real world performance caused by the fewer NAND ICs is not all that great.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
Firefox Portable Performance / Real World Data Transfers

Firefox Portable Offline Performance


Firefox is notorious for being slow on loading tabs in offline mode once the number of pages to be opened grows larger than a dozen or so. We can think of fewer worse case scenarios than having 100 tabs set to reload in offline mode upon Firefox startup, but this is exactly what we have done here.

By having 100 pages open in Firefox portable, setting Firefox to reload the last session upon next session start and then setting it to offline mode, we are able to easily recreate a worse case scenario. Since we are using Firefox portable all files are easily positioned in one location, making it simple to repeat the test as necessary. In order to ensure repetition, before touching the Firefox portable files, we have backed them up into a .rar file and only extracted a copy of it to the test device.





While the SanDisk Extreme does fall behind its immediate competition by a of couple seconds, it is doubtful anyone would ever notice the difference between most top level drives.


Real World Data Transfers


No matter how good a synthetic benchmark like IOMeter or PCMark is, it can not really tell you how your hard drive will perform in “real world” situations. All of us here at Hardware Canucks strive to give you the best, most complete picture of a review item’s true capabilities and to this end we will be running timed data transfers to give you a general idea of how its performance relates to real life use. To help replicate worse case scenarios we will transfer a 10.00GB contiguous file and a folder containing 400 subfolders with a total 12,000 files varying in length from 200mb to 100kb (10.00 GB total).

Testing will include transfer to and transferring from the devices, using MS RichCopy (set to 1 file depth) and logging the performance of the drive. Here is what we found.







As expected the SanDisk Extreme's benchmark numbers in this test are very good. They may not be best in class – or even the best we have seen from the SanDisk 24nm Toggle Mode NAND – but the results do speak for themselves: this is one high performance drive. It really is amazing how SanDisk has been able to create both a high performance drive and an excellent ‘budget’ drive all at the same time.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,274
NON-TRIM Environment Testing

NON-TRIM Environment Testing


In many ways, a SF2281 should be severely handicapped in an environment that doesn’t support TRIM. To recreate this, we first modified our testbed so that it would not pass on the necessary cleaning commands. Meanwhile, to artificially induce a degrade state we ran eight hours of IOMeter set to 100% random, 100% write, 4k chunks of data at a 64 queue depth across the entire array’s capacity. At the end of this test, the IOMeter file is deleted and the drive was then tested. This will replicate drive performance after extended heavy usage prior to any self maintenance routines kicking in and is indicated by the “Dirty” results below.

In order to allow each drive’s self-maintenance routines to kick in, we then wait 30 minutes (Dirty + 30 results) with the system at idle and rerun the tests.


Real World Results

For a real world application we have opted for our standard Vista load time test.




It is unfortunate but even those highly screened, ultra high performance NAND ICs can't accomplish miracles. At the end of the day this drive may use excellent NAND but it only has half the typical amount to work with. This is why it is unable to hide its degraded state as well as others; and this is why we usually don’t see half filled PCBs inside high performance drives.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Top