SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD ReviewWaco - June 17, 2013
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
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SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Introduction:
Who doesn't want a fast SSD? The answer is pretty much nobody. However, the cost of entry into the SSD club has been quite high ever since SSDs hit the market in large quantities back in 2009. Ever since they were introduced onto the market people have been clamoring for a lower-cost but high-performing solution to ease the pain of the initial cost. SanDisk, debuting its Extreme II SSD, seems to think that it has the solution. The Extreme II combines the performance aspects of the extremely expensive SLC-based Flash drives with the price and capacity bonuses of the more-dense but slower MLC-based Flash drives. This new approach to storage, dubbed the "nCache", uses MLC Flash configured as SLC Flash to support very fast small reads and writes with the larger transfers going directly to the bulk MLC Flash that makes up most of the capacity. This new approach, along with 256 MB of DDR3-1600 RAM cache, is intended to boost performance and reliability across the board with no real drawbacks.
So, those of you who have been on the fence about updating, is this drive the one you’ve been waiting for? The Extreme II stands to deliver SLC-like speed, SLC-like reliability, and MLC-like cost. What's to complain about? Keep reading to see if the SanDisk Extreme II lives up to the promises of its maker!
SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Closer Look:
The SanDisk Extreme II jumped into my arms in a bit of unusual packaging. As far as I can tell this is only ever sent out to reviewers. The all-black box sports a huge label with the namesake of the company and the model of the drive emblazoned in large font. The overall box is much larger than anything I would expect the retail drive to be shipped with but I wanted to give everyone a taste of how products sometimes arrive to my doorstep right after release.
Ah, here we go. The Extreme II looks exactly like the box it was delivered in and I have to say it looks quite snazzy. The all-black casing with red and white accents doesn't scream "I'm expensive" but it does have a sort of ready-to-go look to it. The backside of the drive reveals the capacity and other various specifications that are probably not very interesting to anyone. The main thing to note here is that this drive utilizes the SATA 6 Gbps bus for fast speeds and also sports a five-year warranty to go along with its 240 GB capacity and an 80 TB lifetime write guarantee. This is the same write capacity associated with the smaller 120 GB sibling so I imagine you'll have to write a lot more than 80 TB to get the Extreme II to run out of spare cycles.
It's hard to tell on-edge like this but the SanDisk Extreme II is of the thinner 7mm variety of 2.5" drives. This means that unlike the larger (and more standard) 9mm drives you can fit this drive into many Ultrabooks and ultraportables without any hassles. The notebook retail version ships with a shim that allows it to fit snugly into a bay designed for a standard 9mm height drive but my pre-release sample did not include such niceties. The desktop variant will ship with a 2.5" to 3.5" converter for those of you without a case with native 2.5" drive support. Under the skin of the drive lives a Marvell controller, 256 MB of DDR3-1600 RAM cache, 32 GB of "SLC" cache, and 240 GB of MLC flash.
Popping open the drive (and voiding the warranty, but hey, this is OCC!) reveals a single PCB housing all of the drive components. The rear of the board sports very few components while the front holds the Marvell 88SS9187 controller, the DDR3 cache, and the eight 32 GB Flash chips. Each of these components has a thermal pad that dissipates heat into the aluminum enclosure while the top plate (which is plastic) is merely cosmetic. The SLC cache is embedded within the MLC chips (manufactured by SanDisk on a 19nm process) seen here. Keep reading to find out just how this unique drive architecture stacks up to the competition!