SanDisk manages to make a fashionably enticing entrance with the Extreme II series SSDs. These little critters are fast, SERIOUSLY fast. Even the 120GB models will easily pass 500 MB/sec in most scenarios in read performance. Where the SSD series shows massive strength is trace based testing, sustained read performance and writing compresses files. The Achilles heel of the product series will be writes overall. The 120GB model will suffer from this the most, the 240G and 480GB perform very nicely in the extensive mix of 2013 SSDs available in the year 2013. Now I never worry about write performance, if an SSD is writing 300 MB/sec instead of 400 Mb/sec. I honestly doubt you'd ever notice the difference. Now I like SSDs that read extremely fast, and that's a golden nugget for the Extreme II series as in some of our tests, these SSDs are the fastest in the ranks. So overall SanDisk is releasing an incredible fast product series. The good thing is, they shouldn't be too expensive either as SanDisk embeds their own manufactured 19nm NAND flash memory, and by doing so SanDisk can keep the prices much lower. Combined with the Marvell 88SS9187 the end result is a product series that rocks hard. I mean, we've passed 550 Mb/sec today for read performance.
Okay, a quick rundown of observations. When we tested the Extreme II series and it was exceptional in it's overall IO. Yes, write and specifically IOPS write performance is a bit slower at more average SSD levels, but this product comes with a very refined firmware. And that did show in a couple of read tests alright as overall it is amongst the fastest read performance based SSDs we have ever had the pleasure to test with. That is testimony towards the latest Marvell 88SS9187 controller versus the new SanDisk NAND memory. Sandisk has a very fast SSD series in their hands. Where the SSD really shines are the trace tests and realistically I personally always focus on the trace tests as it's the best test for your real world experience.
Overall SSD Usage
An SSD is enjoyable, very much so. If you put a drive like this into your SATA 3 compatible laptop or SATA 3 compatible PC, you'll have no idea what is about to hit you. As stated, we very much enjoy the grand overall performance of this SSD series, so when you copy a vast amount of compressed data, then the SSD will perform seriously fast in performance. Make no mistake, replacing a HDD with an SSD in your desktop PC or laptop eliminates the random access lag of the HDD head, it is no longer mechanical. That, combined with the performance SATA3, is simply a massive difference and probably the best upgrade you can make for your computer anno 2013.
Some overall recommendations then. Should you be in the market for a SATA 3 SSD then we have a couple of hints; first and foremost if you have a SATA2 controller only on your motherboard, then you'll get limited at roughly 270 MB/sec read and writes. SATA3 (6Gbps) will free you up from that allowing the SSD to perform in the 500 MB/sec range. It however is important that you connect your SSD to the proper controller. We absolutely prefer the performance of the Intel Series 6 and 7 (H67/P67/Z68/Z77/H77/X79/Z87) integrated SATA 6G controller over anything else available in the market. If you run the SSD from a 3rd party controller with say a Marvell 6G controller, you will see lower performance. The new AMD 85X chipsets also offer fantastic performance. The more recent Asmedia controllers we spotted lately on motherboards are also offering good performance, albeit still 20%~25% slower than Intel's controllers. Also make sure you run your drive in AHCI mode, it does make such a difference in performance -- really guys, a big difference.
Prices - HDD VS. SSD
First, a generic rule that I always apply; you probably should stop looking at the Solid State Disk technology as if it were a traditional HDD. We all will be old and grey before SSDs reach the same prices or top the multiple TB volume storage the HDD offers for less money. Comparing an SSD with an HDD is making a comparison in-between an integrated IGP or a dedicated graphics card, that last one will cost you a heck of a lot more yet you gain incredible overall performance. It is the very same with an SSD, use it as boot drive on Windows and applications and you instantly have removed a huge bottleneck, namely load and access times. It is a difference in-between night and day (in a proper system). For massive storage like movies, MP3 files and bulky data you do not access on a regular basis, sure, that's where the HDD remains the winner as a cheaper storage solution. Guru3D's rule of thumb; the magic simply is finding a good combination in-between the two and to balance things out. Use a nice 240GB SSD for your operating system and applications, and park those movies and MP3 files onto a separate TB HDD. That's where the magic happens. I kid you not, all my test systems and work systems run on SSDs, not once have I considered going back to HDDs. The benefits of a good SSD are simply grand. But that doesn't mean I do not understand the budget and cost dilemma that many of you are facing though.
The SSD is available in three volume sizes: 120GB, 240GB and 480GB are available. Expected MSRP prices are (in USD) $129.99, $229.99 and $439.99 respectively. Not bad eh ? And do keep in mind that this is a near-enthusiast class SSD, and that 240GB model is very attractive. You'll receive a five year carry-in warranty with this SSD, that is just an awesome warranty policy.
The Extreme II SSDs are really fascinating products. If you want faster writes, then go for the 240 GB model. This is the recommended size by us for a modern age PC anyway. Once installed you'll be amazed by the sheer performance thrown at you. These SSDs are top of the line, and though each and every brand has a small quirk in terms of a specific benchmark versus result, overall the Extreme II series is just downright impressive.
Honestly we do have to say though that we really hope to see SATA4 anytime soon. All high-end SSD products these days perform in the upper class of performance, and that is the 500 Mb/sec segment. While that is fantastic, it slowly is becoming more of the same. That is not the problem of the SSD manufacturers of course, but the limitation of SATA developers like Intel. Seriously we need faster connectors as NAND technology needs to move faster in terms of evolving. So yeah, SSDs have reached a cycle where they are slowly bump into the limitations of the SATA3 interface. Weirdly enough there is a good side to the SATA3 limitation though, the top binned segment is getting saturated with a lot of players, and that means more competition. So you'll see manufacturers offers extra software, extended warranties and lower prices overall to sweeten the deal.
The SanDisk Extreme II SSD series overall shines bright like the sun at read performance and is fast at write performance, especially sustained and compressed. Do bare in mind that the specs for the 128GB model are chunk slower on writes though. From today's tested SSDs the 240GB and 480GB versions obviously are massive winners in our books. SanDisk did a fantastic job with this series, a terrific product that we can recommend very much. Combined with a very strong 5 year carry-in warranty, it's total storage sweetness and whether you place it in your laptop or PC, you'll have no idea what's coming at you as it really is seriously fast.
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