Corsair Force Series 100GB SSD Review
Reviewed by: gotdamojo06
Reviewed on: July 4, 2010
Are you trying to get the most overall performance out of your computer that you possibly can have? Perhaps you have spent much time and money making sure that you can get the best overclock on your processor and memory kit that you can and those speeds give you quite a performance boost, but you are not very happy with your operating system's load time or the load times of your programs. Well, this is where getting a Solid State Drive (SSD) for your system will give you that performance boost you have been looking for. With every new technology that comes out, it will start out at a large premium and work its way down to a more mainstream price range while loosing a little bit of performance. This has been one of the main issues with SSDs, the large price premium: the price per GB ratio. Well let's see if the high price tag of the drives are actually worth all the money, while we take a look at Corsair's Force Series 100GB SSD.
The packaging for the Corsair Force Series 100GB SSD is completely white with a large image of the drive itself on the front of the box; you will also find the Corsair logo printed in the top left hand corner of the package. Solid-State Drive is printed in large font at the top of the package to grab your attention and let you know exactly what is inside of the box. The bottom right hand corner of the front is where you will find the series and capacity, in this case it is the Force Series with a 100GB total capacity. The back of the packaging is where you are going to find a quick little blurb about Corsair's SSDs and letting you know that they are perfect for faster system start-up, quieter operations, quicker game and application load times all done at a lower power consumption. It does also let you know that you can use this drive in either a notebook or a desktop (with the included 3.5" desktop SSD Kit).
Once you open up the package and grab everything from inside, you will notice that you get the Corsair CSSD-F100GB2-BRKT drive, a 3.5" drive adapter to allow you to use the drive inside of your desktop chassis, and two bags of screws. The adapter is very easy to use. All you will need to do is place the SSD down on the drive and screw four of the included screws through the adapter into the pre-drilled holes on the back of the drive to hold it in place, then place the whole assembly inside your chassis in an empty 3.5" drive slot.
The Force Series F100 drive looks similar to a standard mechanical HDD, however that is where the similarities end. The Corsair SSD is not only smaller in size to a typical 3.5" HDD, it is also feather like in comparison when it comes to overall weight of the drive. The front of the Force Series 100GB drive, you will find a sticker that is going to give you all of the information about the drive that you need to know, the Corsair logo is printed in the top left hand corner with the tag Storage Solutions printed along the top next to the logo. The model is printed in large text in the center "F100" with the Force Series printed above. Under that, you will see the capacity of the drive which happens to be 100GB. The part number is printed on the front of the drive on the sticker as well CSSD-F100GB2. The back of the drive is not very exciting as it is just completely black. There is a screw in each of the four corners to allow you access to the innards of the drive, which we will get into shortly. At the back end of the drive, you will find another similarity to any other SATAII drive - the SATA power adapter as well as the SATA Data cable adapter. Both must be plugged in to make the drive functional.
The first side of the PCB that you will see when you open up the casing is the back side, you will find eight memory modules on this side as well as eight on the opposite front side of the PCB. Each of the modules are Micron 29F64G08CFABA MLC flash memory with a total density of 6.25GB a piece giving you a total of 100GB (6.25GB x 16 = 100GB). In the center of the PCB on the front side, you will find a ninth module. This lonely module is the heart of the Corsair Force Series SSD, it is the SandForce SF-1222TA3-SBH memory controller, which is part of the SF-1200 SSD controller chip series. The SF-1200 controller chip is new to the industry and many manufactures are hailing it as a the new replacement for the Barefoot processor. The SF-1200 does claim to be the best when it comes to endurance, performance, and power consumption. The SF-1200 chip does come with native TRIM support, SMART technology, and keeps all information on the NAND grid. You will not find any cache buffer modules on the PCB due to the SF-1200 processor, which is going to allow the drive to transfer information faster, but this does come with a bit of a capacity reduction.
Now that we know what the Corsair Force Series 100GB SSD looks like and what it comes packaged with, it's time to take a look at the specifications and features of the drive.
High-reliability MLC NAND flash
SATA II (3.0Gb/s)
Backward compatible with SATA I
285 MB/s sequential read
275 MB/s sequential write
- Fast Performance—Games, applications and files load faster, while your system is more responsive
- Compatible—Proven technology with installations on tens of thousands of systems worldwide
- Flexible use—2.5" form factor for your notebook or netbook needs, or use with included 3.5" bracket for your desktop computer
- Silent operation—No moving parts means zero noise and high reliability
- Low Power—Extend battery life for notebook and netbook users
- Relable—Over 1,000,000 hours mean time between failures
- Backed by Corsair—A respected name with a passion for great service and support
- Maximum sequential read speed 285MB/second
- Maximum sequential write speed 275 MB/second
- Latest generation Sandforce controller and MLC NAND flash for fast performance
- Internal SATA II connectivity
- TRIM support (O/S support required)
- No moving parts for increased durability and reliability and quieter operations over standard hard disk drives
- Decreased power usage for increased notebook or netbook battery life
- 2.5" form factor for your portable computer needs
- Included 2.5" to 3.5" bracket for installation on your desktop computer
- Two year warranty
All information courtesy of Corsair @ http://www.corsair.com/products/ssd_force/default.aspx
To test the drives, I started with an image of Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP2 with all the latest updates and patches and the testing software. Each drive was filled with data, then imaged to simulate a used drive. Testing is accomplished by using the test drive as the main drive containing the OS. This is done so that the testing is not just plugging in a raw drive and showing stellar numbers. That's not real life - you don't purchase a new drive to let it go unused. Write testing was completed before the drive was imaged. As many of you probably already know, solid state drives slow down as the pages in the flash memory are filled and must be rewritten to each time data is stored. This is the basis for loading the drives up first and then loading an image to the drive with Acronis True Image. Comparisons will include both SSDs and standard hard drives.
- CPU: Intel Core i7 920
- Motherboard: MSI X58 Eclipse
- Memory: Mushkin HP3 12800 7-7-7-20
- Video Card: NVIDIA GTX 260-216
- Power Supply: Mushkin 800 watt Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive: Corsair SSD Force Series 100GB
- Optical Drive: Asus DVD-R
- OS: Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1
- Comparison Drive: Corsair SSD Force Series 100GB
- Comparison Drive: Kingston SSD NOW V Series 128GB
- Comparison Drive: Mushkin Io Series 128GB
- Comparison Drive: Seagate 1TB 7200.11 SATA
- Comparison Drive: Seagate 2TB SATA
- Drive Tests:
- HD Tune 3.50 Pro
- HD Tach
- SiSoft Sandra 2009
- Crystal Disk Mark
- ATTO Disk Benchmark
- AS SSD
- PCMark Vantage
The benchmarks will give a broad picture as to how each of the drives performs, so you can make your conclusions based on the performance of each drive. Most benchmarks are not yet optimized for solid state drives, but included in the benchmark suite is a new benchmark designed for testing SSDs, AS SSD.
HD Tune 3.50 Pro measures disk performance to make comparisons between drives or disk controllers. In the 3.50 Pro version, the user can not only measure drive performance as a whole, but also more precise file benchmarks, and a random access benchmark as well.
Random Access Benchmark:
During the HD Tune testing, the Force Series 100GB was able to beat out every single one of the drives in all except four of the tests, where it was barely beaten.
HD Tach v188.8.131.52: HD Tach is another hard drive benchmark utility, much like HD Tune. This benchmark will measure the average read speed, the random access time, and the amount of the CPU used during operation.
- Quick Test 8MB Zones
SiSoft Sandra 2009 SP3: SiSoft Sandra is a diagnostic utility and synthetic benchmarking program. Sandra allows you to view your hardware at a higher level to be more helpful.
The Corsair F100 was able to keep up with the other SSDs in the HD Tach testing, coming in third in the first test and a close second in the second. When it came down to SiSoft Sandra, the Corsair drive was able to beat out all of the competition.
Crystal Disk Mark 2.2: Crystal Disk Mark is a hard drive benchmark designed to measure the read and write speeds for the drives in 4k blocks, 512k blocks, and sequential data.
The Corsair Force Series 100GB SSD was able to beat out all of the other drives in half of the tests by a large margin, however the Mushkin IO Series drive gave it a run for its money in the other testing, just barely beating the F100.
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.
During the read testing using the ATTO benchmark, the Corsair Force Series 100GB drive was able to beat out every single drive it was compared to. The other SSDs come somewhat close in 50% of the benchmarks.
AS SSD v1.1.3466.29641: AS SSD is a benchmark designed for the speeds of solid state drives, however it will also work for traditional hard drives as well. It is designed to measure the read and write speeds and access time for set block sizes. It also assigns a score to the read, write and overall performance of the drive.
The Corsair Force Series drive was able to beat out every single drive in a majority of the testing here.
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 Series 100GB SSD was able to easily beat out all of the other drives in the PCMark Vantage 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 become very wide spread within the industry.
4k Read & Write Tests
When it came down to the read testing, the Mushkin Io drive was able to put quite a pounding on the Corsair drive, however the tables were turned when it came to the write testing. The Corsair drive was the quickest to start up, but it was average when it comes to the shutdown of the computer.
When it comes down to benchmarking the Corsair Force Series 100GB SSD, I was quite happy with the results that it was able to provide, despite a few benchmarks that gave it a bit of trouble when it was compared to the Mushkin drive. However, it was still able to beat the other drives in a majority of the testing. The write speeds that the F100 was able to produce were amazingly fast, while the read speeds were about where the other drives were in about half of the testing. The Corsair drive's write speeds are what make it shine. The SandForce Controller was able to prove itself in that aspect. The fact that the drive has native TRIM support does give it additional value, which will allow for a longer lasting main drive in your system and will keep the performance from dropping during continued usage throughout the upcoming months. With the drive coming in with only 100GB of total size, space was also a disappointment, however this is typically how most SSDs are produced with a smaller capacity to keep the price down. Speaking of price, at the time of the review, you can pick one of these drives for just over $400 at CompUSA. For the performance that the drive was able to give, it would be a good investment to give your setup that extra little bit of performance, when you have overclocked everything as much as you possibly can and cannot squeeze any more performance out of the other components.
- Overall Performance
- SandForce Controller
- TRIM support
- SMART Technology