Final words and conclusion
Final Words & Conclusion
Sandisk is making a clever move with this Ultra II TLC based SSD series. The trick is to bring the prices down in a very competitive market. The latest iterations from Micron and Samsung make this a hard to dominate domain. With the 240GB Ultra II you will see prices of 41 cents per GB purchased, that's equal for EURO and USD at the moment of writing. By redesigning the PCB and using the latest batches of their 19 nm TLC NAND flash memory, SanDISK has created a product series that uphold a good price/performance ratio. The performance of the Ultra II series however shines mostly in read performance. Write performance after heavy usage will drop down significantly. For the average laptop or PC user we doubt if you'd ever notice the difference though. SanDISK has been placing a focus on lifespan more recently. It is the most dreaded conundrum everybody faces, when will the SSD run out of its writable cell cycles and starts moving its data towards healthy cells. Well, these days there are so many factors that it is very difficult to determine how long an SSD will last. Even if the SSD starts dying, you'd still not notice it as the data that cannot be written on bad memory cells will be written to healthy ones. Basically Sandisk claims that this SSD series can handle as much as 50.000 Gigabyte of writes. Though we feel that even that is a conservative number. If you write 20 GB of data each day for every day of the year, this would result into a 7 years lifespan, but I still need to find somebody that actually writes that much data 365 days a year. It is a respectable number, Sandisk will give you a limited warranty of 3 years on the Ultra II SSD products as well.
Performance wise the read performance is fast, high-end class fast. Even the 240 GB models would easily pass 500 MB/sec in most scenarios in read performance. Where the SSD series shows massive strength is read trace based testing and sustained read performance. Sustained writes however on a massive scale will result into write performance that is below par. Overall though Sandisk has a fast SSD series in their hands, unless you write out all the time on a professional scale.
Overall SSD usage
An SSD is enjoyable, very much so. 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 performance wise. Make no mistake, replacing an 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 offers these days is simply a massive difference and probably the best upgrade you can make for your computer anno 2014.
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 is however important that you connect your SSD towards the proper controller. We absolutely prefer the performance of the Intel Series 6 and 7 (H67/P67/Z68/Z77/H77/X79/Z87/H97/Z97/X99) 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 motherboard controller, you will see lower performance. The new AMD series 8 and 9 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. New with H97 and Z97 motherboards is the SATA Express and PCIe M.2. SSD interface. These slots offer even faster bandwidth at 10+ Gbps, but do not use the SATA interface. If interested, then be sure to check out one of our articles on that.
Prices HDD versus SSD
First a generic rule that I always apply; you should probably stop looking at the Solid State Disk technology as if it were a traditional HDD. We all will be old and grey before the two 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 in 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 is simply finding a good combination in-between the two and balance things out. Use a nice 240GB SSD for your operating system and applications, and park these 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.
All four models are already listed. And admittedly, the prices of these SSDs are going to be competitive alright (remember these are mainstream class SSDs and not enthusiast grade):
- SDSSDHII-120G-G25 – 120GB - 75 EURO / 0.62 EURO per GB
- SDSSDHII-240G-G25 – 240GB - 99 EURO / 0.41 EURO per GB
- SDSSDHII-480G-G25 – 480GB - 199 EURO / 0.41 EURO per GB
- SDSSDHII-960G-G25 – 960GB - 385 EURO / 0.40 EURO per GB
The Sandisk Ultra II is the competitive and affordable model SSDs in the mainstream segment of the PC market, and an ideal SSD series for any laptop. We noticed very fast read performance with high-end class speeds. Write performance overall is more than fine, but in certain scenarios can be sub-par. But unless you write out all the time on the SSD we do not think you would really notice a difference. But sure, read performance wise whether it is sustained, compressed, trace or IOPS, all the numbers rock hard with this product series in all scenarios. 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's slowly becoming more of the same. That is not the problem of the SSD manufacturers of course, but the limitation of SATA developers like Intel. We need faster connectors as NAND technology needs to move faster in terms of evolving.
The SanDisk Ultra II SSD series overall is a good alternative series that is very competitive at 41 Cents per GB. Sandisk offers these units in 120, 240, 480 and 960 GB versions.