Corsair Force GT SATA 6Gb/s 120GB Review

tacohunter52 - 2011-04-07 19:10:18 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: July 20, 2011
Price: $289

Introduction:

Let's talk about cars for a moment. While some simply buy and drive them, there are some who wish they could own even the most expensive models. Why? In some cases, they may bring unique aesthetics or a sense of luxury. Much of the time, however, the more expensive cars have an unparalleled potential for pure speed. Who wouldn't want to sit in a Lamborghini Diablo GT on an empty road and drive at double the speed limit? I know I would! Keep in mind that I chose the Diablo GT not only because it is an exotic car, but for the reason that it is one of the few cars with the "GT" in its name – only some of the fastest cars in the world share this moniker. Thus when you hear someone mention the Corsair Force GT, you should automatically know that this is not your average SSD. Equipped with the new Sandforce 2281 controller and SATA III 6Gb/s interface, this drive is sure to be blazing fast! Having I/O speeds rated up to 85,000 IOPS, read speeds up to 555Mb/s, and sequential write speeds up to 515Mb/s, this drive is definitely a "Force" to be reckoned with. Currently, there are three models available in the Corsair Force GT Series; 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB. Today, we will be taking a detailed look at the 120GB model. Can this drive take the top spot on our charts? Let’s buckle up and find out!

Closer Look:

Taking a look at the front of the packaging, we get a good glimpse of the drive's physical appearance. Located on the top corner and the right side is the Corsair logo and the Force GT branding, respectively. There is also information such as the 555Mb/s read speed and 515Mb/s write speed. The drive's 120GB capacity and SATA III interface specifications are also listed on the front of the packaging. On the back, there is a quick debriefing as to the Force GT’s capabilities at giving your system a performance boost. It also highlights the included 3.5" adapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Removing the contents of the packaging, the Corsair Force GT is revealed to be fit nicely in a plastic clamshell container. It is also accompanied by a 2.5” to 3.5" adapter and two packages of screws – they are used to mount the SSD into the adapter and then into a 3.5” hard drive slot for installation into a chassis.

 

 

Now that we've seen the Force GT's packaging and accessories, let's take a closer look at the drive itself.

Closer Look:

The Corsair Force GT is enclosed in a plastic and metal chassis of a uniquely bright, Ferrari red color. Similar to the external packaging, the Corsair and Force GT logos are located on the top of the drive. Additionally, we can see the drive's storage capacity and part number (CSSD-F120GBGT-BK PK1). Flipping the drive over, the black backside and the SATA III connector are revealed. Unlike other SSDs, the Force GT's PCB is held in place by four screws and two plastic nubs. These screws aren't necessary to secure the PCB in place, though it displays the excellent build quality that Corsair puts into its products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Force GT's PCB is equipped with sixteen 25nm Micron synchronous NAND flash memory modules. Synchronous memory should allow the Force GT Series drives to perform better than those in the standard Corsair Force Series, which use asynchronous memory. There are eight modules on each side of the PCB – each module containing 8GB. For those who are counting, this 120GB drive has a total of capacity of 128GB. That being said, the extra 8GB of memory are not available for storage, as they are intended for over-provisioning, wear levelling, and defective cell replacement. The Force GT is connected to the rest of your hardware via the SATA III 6GB/s connector and SATA power connector – these can be found at the edge of the PCB.

 

 

The Force GT gets its speed from Sandforce’s new 2281 8-channel controller. It is equipped with connectivity support for SATA III 6GB/s, Windows 7 TRIM, and Duraclass technology, for improved security.

 

From first impressions, this drive looks to be a beast in terms of speed. However, we cannot tell for sure without actually putting the drive through our performance tests. So without further delay, let's go into high gear and find out just how fast the Force GT can go!

Specifications:

Unformatted Capacity
120 GB
Read Performance (Max)
555 MB/s
Write Performance (Max)
515MB/s
Random Write 4k (Max)
85k IOPS (4k aligned)
Form Factor
2.5”
Interface Type
SATA 3 6Gb/s
Onboard cache
NA
Operating Temperature
0c to +70c
Storage Temperature
-20c to +85c
Operating Humidity
5% to 90% RH (-10c to +60c)
Maximum Operating Altitude
3,048m (up to 10,000 ft.)
Maximum Non-Operating Altitude
12,192m (up to 40,000 ft.)
Warranty
Three Years
Dimension
No
SSD Unformatted Capacity
120GB
Max Sequential Read/Write (using ATTO Disk Benchmark)
555MB/s sequential read
515MB/s sequential write
Max Random 4k Write (using IOMeter 08)
85k IOPS (4k aligned)
Interface
SATA 6Gb/s
Technology
No
DRAM Cache Memory
No
Weight
80g
Voltage
5V ±5%
Power Consumption (active)
2.5W Max
Power Consumption (idle/standby/sleep)
0.6W Max
S.M.A.R.T. Support
Yes
Shock
1500 G
MTBF
2,000,000 hours

 

Features

Available in 60GB, 120GB, and 240GB models

Operating temperature: 0° C to +70° C

Storage temperature: -20° C to +85° C

Operating Humidity: 10% to 90% RH (0° to +40° C)

Maximum Operating Altitude: 3,048 m (up to 10,000 ft.)

Maximum Non-Operative Altitude: 12,192 m (up to 40,000 ft.)

Backward compatible with SATA II and SATA I

TRIM Support

Force Series GT SSDs feature support for the Windows® 7 TRIM command. This allows them to store only the data they need and perform memory optimization to ensure the fastest possible write speeds.

Reliability

Because SSDs have no moving parts, they can handle shock, vibration and temperature changes far in excess of traditional hard drives. That's important for desktop PCs, and essential for notebooks.

Cool and Quiet, with Low Power Consumption

Traditional mechanical hard drives spin at thousands of revolutions per minute. This takes power, and generates noise and heat. Since SSDs have no moving parts, there's no noise or vibration, and the lower power consumption helps keep things cool inside your PC.

3.5" adapter

The 2.5" form factor allows for installation in most notebook PCs with no adapter required. If you're adding a Force Series GT SSD to your desktop PC, use the included 3.5" adapter to mount it in any standard hard drive bay.

 

All information courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com/solid-state-drives/force-series-gt/force-series-gt-120gb-sata-3-6gbps-solid-state-hard-drive.html

Testing:

Testing of hard drives can be done in several different ways. One method involves leaving the drive bare and connecting it as a secondary drive in an existing system. By simultaneously cleaning the drive after each benchmark run-through, this allows you to see its theoretical peaks in performance. However, the results would only represent a best case scenario – one that you may never see unless operating a bare drive. The second method, which OverclockersClub employs, involves loading the operating system and benchmarking suite onto the tested drive. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the P67-based system listed below, alongside a fresh install of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit that is updated to SP1 and fully patched as of the date of testing. The latest Intel Rapid Storage technology drivers and software have also been installed. All tests are conducted with the drive connected to a native SATA III 6Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Testing Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2011
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. I/O Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

Testing:

HD Tune 4.60 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 4.60 Pro version, the user can measure not only drive performance as a whole, but run more precise file and random access benchmarks as well.

Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

File Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Random Access Benchmark:

 

 

 

 

Throughout this benchmark, we see that the Force GT performs similarly to the other two drives that also share the Sandforce 2281 controller. However, the OCZ Vertex 3 seems to have a slight advantage over the Corsair Force GT.

Testing:

HD Tach v3.0.4.0: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark measures the average read speed, random access time, and CPU utilization during operation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. It allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.

 

 

Once again, we see the Corsair Force GT performing similarly to the other two Sandforce drives. However, it comes out on the lower end of the three – just behind the Patriot Wildfire.

Testing:

Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds of drives by using 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data. For the test, we chose the 1000MB option.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corsair Force GT provides us with roller coaster performance in the Crystal Disk Mark benchmark. It appears to perform superbly in majority of the Read benchmarks, but loses momentum in the Write benchmarks, where there is seemingly a limitation at 171Mb/s.
 

Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.34: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Again, the three drives using the Sandforce 2281 controller perform on par with one another, and way ahead of the others. In the 1M black size tests, the Force GT reaches its rated specifications. It may not outperform its direct competition, but this kind of speed hardly disappoints.

Testing:

AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark specifically designed to test the speed of solid state drives. However, it also works for traditional hard drives. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds, as well as access times for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write, and overall performance of the drive.






 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corsair Force GT returns average results in the AS SSD benchmark. This is, of course, with the exception of the 4k Write benchmark, where the Force GT comes out on top of the Vertex 3.

Testing:

IOMeter is an I/O subsystem measurement and characterization tool for single and clustered systems. It was originally developed by the Intel Corporation and announced at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) on February 17, 1998. Since then, it has seen widespread use within the industry.





 

 

 

 









 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once again, the Corsair Force GT performs as the average drive. It does, however, perform exceptionally well in response times and CPU utilization. Running a 4k aligned random write test, the drive easily surpasses its rated 85,000 IOPS speed.

Testing:

PCMark Vantage: With this benchmark, I will be running the hard drive test suite. The measurement for the hard drive suite will be the total score, then the scoring for each test will be broken down. There are a total of eight hard drive tests within PCMark Vantage and all eight will be run to gauge the performance of each drive tested.




















 

 

 

 

 

 

The Corsair Force GT outperforms both the OCZ Vertex 3 and the Patriot Wildfire in four of our PCMark Vantage benchmarks. In the remaining benchmarks, it performs on par with the two.

Testing:

In the world of computing, everyone likes a computer that can start up and shut down quickly. The ability to boot into your system as fast as possible allows you to start the tasks you set out to do that much quicker. Not to mention that the older you get, the greater the chance you'll forget what you wanted to use the computer for in the first place! The sweet spot is about 30 seconds or less. It is possible with conventional hard drives, though very difficult to attain this "golden" 30-second time. This should be easier with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it out. To run these tests, I used a stopwatch to calculate the number of seconds it took from pressing the power button on the case, to having a fully-functioning desktop. For the shut down test, I began timing from the click of the shut down button in the start menu, and stopped when the system power was off.




 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

Compared to a standard SATA HDD, the Force GT allows the system to start up and shut down much more quickly. When compared to the other SSDs using the Sandforce controller, the Corsair Force GT performs comparably.

Conclusion

Having tested this drive, it is without doubt that an SSD can potentially give your computer a viable performance boost. In case you are still skeptical, let me put it this way – the upgrade in speed that you get from installing an SSD, like the Corsair Force GT, is like the 100 horsepower boost you'd get from adding a 100 shot nitrous system into your car! Don't believe me? Just take a look at the large performance difference between the Force GT and the Seagate Barracuda in each of our benchmarks. The Force GT even presents a performance boost over previous generation solid state drives. This should be expected, of course, due to the move to the SATA III 6Gb/s interface. When comparing the Force GT to two other drives that share the Sandforce 2281 controller, however, we can see that they are all comparable in performance to one another. How does the Force GT perform compared to other Corsair drives, you ask? Corsair claims that the Force GT is the fastest drive that they have created. Equipped with the Sandforce 2281 controller and Micron 25nm synchronous NAND flash modules that promise 85,000 IOPS and 555Mb/s read speeds, I definitely believe them. In comparison to asynchronous modules, these synchronous NAND modules will not only allow more efficient data transfers, but greater lifespan. On top of its blazing fast Sandforce engine, this SSD also comes with a sweet leather interior in the form of the “Cool and Quiet” operation and TRIM support. Together, they allow lower power consumption while maintaining fast write times, provided that your operating system supports TRIM.

When someone asks me about upgrading their computer for the most noticeable performance gain, I commonly tell them to install an SSD. The reason is that both your start-up and shut-down times will drastically decrease. Likewise, you will experience shorter transfer times and faster loading on any program installed on the drive. These are only some of the perks that you'll quickly gain by using an SSD, such as the Corsair Force GT. Having said that, the reduced power consumption in SSDs make them ideal for use in laptops and netbooks. This upgrade does, however, come at a cost.

On Newegg, the 120GB version of the Corsair Force GT that we used is priced at $255. The 60GB drive is $100 cheaper, but it comes at the cost of having only half the capacity. The 240GB model has the greatest capability, though currently unavailable on Newegg or other retailers, as far as I know. However, expect this larger model to have an even greater price premium. While it is a large amount of cash to drop on a hard drive, you are definitely getting your money’s worth with this Corsair product. Each model of the Force GT series comes with a nice three year warranty, which the drive should hopefully outlast. So while the Corsair Force GT does not come equipped with a 12-cylinder engine and a turbo charger, it is still one of the fastest SSDs currently available on the market!

 

Pros

 

Cons