SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Review

Waco - 2013-06-05 17:52:49 in Storage / Hard Drives
Category: Storage / Hard Drives
Reviewed by: Waco   
Reviewed on: June 17, 2013
Price: $229.99

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!

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Specifications:

Available capacities:
120 GB, 240 GB and 480 GB
Dimensions:
2.75 x 3.96 x 0.28 in. (69.85mm x 100.5mm x 7.0 mm)
Operating temperature:
32ºF to 158ºF (0ºC to 70 ºC)
Storage temperature:
-67ºF to 185ºF (-55ºC to 85ºC)
Interface:
SATA Revision 3.0 (6 Gbit/s)
Shock:
Resistant up to 1500 G @ 0.5 m/sec
Vibration (Operating/Non-operating) :
5 gRMS, 10-2000 HZ / 4.9 gRMS, 7-800 HZ
Power Consumption (active):
0.22w
Support:
Five-year limited warranty in the US; five-year warranty elsewhere

 

 

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Features:

 

 

 

Information provided by: http://www.sandisk.com/products/ssd/sata/extreme-ii/?capacity=480GB

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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, these 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 test drive itself. This would give performance results that emulate real-world usage more closely. Testing will be completed with the Z68-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 6 Gb/s port on the motherboard, in an effort to eliminate any possible bottlenecks with performance.

Test Setup:

 

Comparison Drives:

 

Benchmarks:

  1. HD Tune 4.60 Pro
  2. HD Tach
  3. SiSoft Sandra 2012
  4. Crystal Disk Mark
  5. ATTO Disk Benchmark
  6. AS SSD
  7. IO Meter
  8. PCMark Vantage
  9. Windows Startup / Shutdown

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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:

 

 

 

In the HD Tune testing the SanDisk drive, well, as you can see above it literally beats the snot out of every comparison drive in almost every single test.

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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 2012: 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.

 

 

In the HD Tach testing the SanDisk Extreme II really led the pack. The drive index testing in Sandra has the Extreme II somewhat in the middle of the field but still very fast overall.

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With CDM 3.0 the SanDisk Extreme II either leads the field or comes close in every test.

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Testing:

Atto Disk Benchmark v2.47: Atto Disk Benchmark is another aged, but good hard drive benchmark utility designed to test read and write speeds for different file sizes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With small block sizes the SanDisk Extreme II really benefits from the new SLC layer of cache. At larger block sizes it falls towards the top of the pack and never really trails by much.

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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.






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow. The Extreme II essentially dominates these tests. AS SSD doesn't even make it break a sweat with it returning some of the highest scores I've ever seen!

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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.





 

 

 

 

 

 








 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I, for one, didn't see that coming. While the SanDisk Extreme II clearly leads the field in the read tests it also absolutely destroys the competition in the write tests! It nearly triples the nearest competing drive's speeds when writing.

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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 Extreme II is a bit of a mixed bag here, sometimes falling into the middle of the pack but sometimes leading it by a substantial margin. Overall not a bad showing here (especially if you're a gamer)!

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD 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 more quickly. Not to mention the older you get, the greater the chance is that 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 time should be easier to attain with the speed of an SSD, but the only way to tell is to test it. 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 completely.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 






 

 

 

There's not a whole lot of difference between the various high-end SSDs in this test but the Extreme II surely doesn't disappoint. You won't be waiting for this drive when booting or shutting down!

SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB SSD Conclusion:

If you've read through the results pages you probably already know what I'm going to say here. At a very reasonable (in SSD terms) price of around 95 cents per GB, the Extreme II offers extreme value for the performance-minded enthusiast. In nearly every test the SanDisk Extreme II not only beat the field but in more times than expected it simply annihilated the competition! Clearly SanDisk has hit a home run here with its "nCache" system that utilizes the pseudo-SLC behavior of newer MLC flash dies. This does bring the cost up from very slightly over budget MLC-only drives from other manufacturers but the performance you get from the Extreme II more than makes up for that increase.

So what really is the takeaway here? SanDisk has delivered a drive with MLC-like pricing, SLC-like performance, and SLC-like durability. At $229.99 for the 240 GB version it's hard to complain about the price or the capacity with the amazing performance that the Extreme II delivers. I remember paying well over $300 for my first 128 GB SSD back in 2009 and it is eclipsed in every metric many times over by this new offering from SanDisk. If you've been on the fence about buying into the "SSD hype" look no further for your solution. There's nothing quite like the snappiness of a machine running off of a fast SSD. The SanDisk Extreme II is definitely fast and the price isn't as painful as the performance it delivers would normally demand.

 

Pros:

 

Cons: