Up to the test
To get to its advertised 120GB capacity, the drive uses four of SanDisk’s own 05091032G, 32GB 24nm Toggle MLC NAND chips. All the flash memory sits on one side of the board, leaving the Sandforce controller on its lonesome on the other side of the PCB. Once formatted, the drives capacity drops to 111GB.
CrystalDiskMark and AS SSD benchmarks
In use the drive took just 11 seconds to get to the Windows 7 desktop after the motherboard BIOS had finished loading while duplicating a 40GB folder of mixed file types and sizes took 8m 45s. Loading a copy of Office 10 Professional took just 5m 30s from hitting the instal button to completion.
SanDisk quotes sequential read/write figures for the Extreme 120GB of 550MB/s and 510MB/s respectively. A quick test with the ATTO confirms these figures as the test gave up figures of 551MB/s for reads and 510MB/s for the writes.
ATTO test results
These figures prove that SanDisk have been doing their homework with the drive as it puts the Extreme 120GB firmly in amongst the fastest drives around at the current time. For instance, Intel’s new 240GB 520 drive produces read/write figures of 552MB/s and 519MB/s respectively.
CrystalDiskMark 3 Results
Longer bars are better
The figures for both reads and writes drop when the drive is tested with the incompressible data that both the AS SSD and CrystalDiskMark benchmark use. Yet in both benchmarks, the read performance holds up reasonably well, which is a good sign that the custom firmware is doing a good job – handling incompressible data is something that Sandforce controller often struggles with.
An empty toolbox, but a good price/performance match
While SanDisk backs the drive with a three year warranty, it doesn’t provide any tools to help keep its performance in tip-top condition. It's a shame, as two of its competitors bundle really good software tools with their drives – Samsung offers SSD Magician and Intel has the excellent SSD Toolbox.
With a second generation of drives under its belt, the SanDisk Extreme SSD is really rather good, blending great performance with a price tag that’s not too eye-watering either. ®
More SSD Reviews
|Intel 520||Samsung 830||
SanDisk Extreme 120GB SSD
It's the old school method of changing scales.
Manufacturer: 1 GB = 1,000,000,000 bytes.
OS: 1GB = 1,073,741,824
120,000,000,000 / 1,073,741,824 = 111.7587 GB
What I want to know is - have the reliability problems of SandForce controllers been solved?
and the extra 8GB will be used by the drive for wear leveling...
2 points to make:
1 : Yes, this has been a marketing ploy for a very long time. Base 2 and Base 10 being interchanged as required in order to "appear" to provide disks bigger than they really are.
2 : If the percentage that is not available is so important, then you really should be looking for larger disks.
"Once formatted, the drive's capacity drops to 111GB"
I'm sure there's a very valid technical reason why you lose such a big chunk of storage space when formatting a drive but I wonder if there's reason why manufacturers tend not to provide an oversized drive so that - in this case for instance - a 128GB drive could be marketed as a 120Gb drive so that once it was formatted, you'd actually get the storage the box was claiming. My first thoughts are "bigger is better and therefore able to be sold for more dosh" but there's perhaps more to it than that.
I'm presuming, of course, that there's not some clever way to 'access' all 120Gb on this drive, thereby justifying its 120Gb description.
To my not-very-technical way of thinking, it feels a bit like buying a pint of beer, only to find that once it's placed into the glass, 10% of your pint will remain trapped at the bottom of the glass.
Icon for obvious reasons.