Corsair Neutron XTi 480GB SSD Review
Due in large part to Corsair’s outside the box thinking, the Neutron XTi does precisely what it claims to do – offer outstanding performance. We must admit to having a certain amount of skepticism when we first heard about this new model’s speed claims. After all, the PHISON S10 controller is a known entity, having already proven itself to be one hell of a budget/mainstream controller equally capable of providing excellent value and excellent performance. Therefore, the idea that simply doubling the onboard RAM would unlock a new level of performance did leave us skeptical to say the least.
After testing and working with this model, we can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Neutron XTi is easily the best showcase of the S10 controller to be released to date. Throughout our testing, this model showed a deftness and refinement that – only in retrospect – was missing from ‘stock’ PHISON S10 models…even those equipped with equally high performance Toshiba NAND. It may not sound like that big of a tweak, but by giving this controller more RAM than it could ever possibly need Corsair really have created a model that is unique, innovative, and packed with exemplary levels of performance.
This increased performance is what makes it rather interesting when comparing this model to the Crucial MX300. Yes, the Neutron XTi may lack the ‘wow’ factor that 3D NAND bestows upon the MX300 series, but at the end of the day the Neutron XTi easily holds its own against Crucial’s best and it comes with an extra two years of warranty.
With that said, make no mistake, this still is a PHISON S10-based device and it does not exist in a vacuum. Recently released models such as Toshiba OCZ’s VX500 has very little to be worried about. The same hold true of Intel’s upcoming 5 and 7 series models. Basically, Corsair may have worked miracles turning a value-oriented controller into a true mainstream competitor, but there is something to be said for the better data loss protection, better RMA process (Toshiba OCZ’s is the best in the industry right now with even Canadian RMA depots), even higher real world performance, and most importantly of all a better price per gigabyte that the larger manufacturers are able to offer.
By pricing it nearly 50 percent higher than other Phison-based models, Crucial has created an anvil upon which the Neutron XTi 480GB gets hammered hard. Because of its elevated price point, recommending this model over similarly-priced drives is rather difficult proposition for all consumers in all scenarios.
This is a shame since this model is an excellent drive with excellent real-world performance. If it just came with an asking price of thirty to thirty-three cents per gigabyte, it would be a veritable game changer. Sadly, it does not cost $155-$160. It costs 35 cents per gigabyte, or a whopping $180. That may not sound like that big a difference, but it pushes the Neutron XTi into enthusiast territory. Here the Neutron XTi can almost hold its own, but it is up against rather stiff competition. So until it gets a price cut people interested in this model have to understand that they are paying a premium for the Corsair brand name. To put that into further perspective, that is nearly thirty dollars more than the recently released Toshiba OCX VX500 512GB, and $5 more than a 750GB Crucial MX300. That is a lot to spend for – an admittedly superlative – brand name.
As such, the XTi may not be right for all consumers, but it does show that Corsair are back in the game with an offering that is every bit as innovative as anyone could ever hope to ask for… and does so without worries about 3D TLC NAND not living up to its projected durability. We recommend keeping a close eye on this model and if its price is reduced to $150 (USD) price range we strongly recommend picking one up. Until then, it is a great example of the innovative thinking Corsair are known for, but it does come with too much of a price premium.